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"Getting Real" design tip: Just say no to Lorem Ipsum

02 Mar 2005 by Jason Fried

This is the second post in the Getting Real series. The first post suggested you don’t write a functional spec. This post takes on a lighter subject — the unfortunate use of lorem ipsum dolor filler copy when designing web-based applications.

Lorem ipsum dolor has long been known as the designer’s best friend. We think it should be your enemy. Using lorem ipsum dolor reduces text-based content to a visual design element (a “shape” of text) instead of valuable information someone is going to have to enter and/or read.

We recommend that when you build out interfaces you use real and relevant words not “lorem ipsum” representative text. If your site or application requires data input, enter real and relevant words and type the text, don’t just paste it in from another source. If it’s a name, type a real name. If it’s a city, type a real city. If it’s a password, and it’s repeated twice, type it twice.

The goal here is to get as close to the real customer experience as possible. Don’t abstract yourself from the real experience. Every layer removed pushes you further and further away from the actual customer experience.

While building your interface, you may find it easier to just run down the forms and fill the fields with garbage (“asdsadklja” “123usadfjasld” “snaxn2q9e7”) in order to plow through them quickly. That’s not real. That’s not what your customers are being asked to do. Why take a shortcut and not feel the pain of filling out a long form? If you just enter garbage in rapid fire fashion how will you ever know what it really feels like to fill out that form?

Bottom line: Do as your customers do and you’ll understand them better. When you understand them better, and feel what they feel, you’ll build a better interface.

48 comments so far (Post a Comment)

02 Mar 2005 | Dan said...

At first, I was thinking, "Get rid of lorem ipsum? Blasphemy!" But then I realized that no only are you correct, but I do the same thing.

02 Mar 2005 | ML said...

Using real copy also helps you discover spacing issues that might otherwise go unnoticed until later in the process. When people use lorem ipsum, they tend to plug in the same amount of text which can give you a false sense of security.

When you use real text, you see how things really look. You start to discover that lines wrap in unexpected places, columns are too wide/narrow, fields need to be bigger/smaller, etc. Solving these issues upfront prevents headaches later.

02 Mar 2005 | Don Schenck said...

I agree. Jason, it's nice to see that you're finally learning from my expert tutelage.


02 Mar 2005 | Fred, the real Fred said...

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Cras at dolor. Aenean a risus. Suspendisse vitae felis rutrum odio laoreet elementum. Ut placerat eros quis justo. Quisque diam orci, dictum ut, vestibulum quis, pharetra ut, justo.

Sorry, it had to be done, but you are so correct.

Clients don't care about code, CSS, Ruby, PHP or any of the stuff we geeks beat into the ground. Clients care about their image, spelling and ease of use.

See Don, you have valuable things to contribute to the World Wide Web, keep blogging.

02 Mar 2005 | Jeremy Flint said...

I will admit that we do use Lorem Ipsum. Although I would love to be able to plug in relevant text to the project I am working on, it doesn't always work out that way.

When you are designing for a new client, sometimes they are not as prompt as you would like them to be when trying to get content from them.

02 Mar 2005 | Pedro - Brazil said...

I think the problem is that sometimes clients lack the part of brain responsible for abstraction. If they see any readable text they think its final and theyll devote their time reading everything and requesting changes instead of getting the big picture.

Sometimes, depending on the development strategy, you need their opinion on the whole - and Lorem Ipsum works just fine (in this strategy, with those clients).

02 Mar 2005 | Dan said...

I think the problem is that sometimes clients lack the part of brain responsible for abstraction. If they see any readable text they think its final and theyll devote their time reading everything and requesting changes instead of getting the big picture.

Ha, that's so true. I've definitely had to say "Look, forget about the copy, okay? It's fake." on more than one occasion.

But it's an important to make the distinction that for general web design, lorem ipsum is an important tool to see how chunks of text will flow down the page, around images, etc.

02 Mar 2005 | Trenton Davies said...

Obviously making it as "real as possible" -- doing as your customers do -- is the important principle here. That's good advice. But whether or not you use Lorem Ipsum or rapi-type "asdf" in the initial stages of a project's development is irrelevant.

When I'm searching for the source of a bug in a web app, I happily type crap into my forms. And when I need to see what an initial design looks like with "lots of words", I happily add whatever text is easiest to find -- and Lorem's the easiest.

However, when presenting progress to a client, or fine-tuning a web app, you're right. We should get as close to the real customer experience as possible.

02 Mar 2005 | dmr said...

Where are these fantastic writers you are always talking about? How can regular folks hire these guys to write about boring topics, technical reports and bureaucratic/corporate non-sense? In most working environments the designer isn't the project manager, or the editor, or the writer. How can 37 Signals speak in such ideal terms on the subject of writing?

Some writers think of their text as blocks to be manipulated by the designerwhat are we to do then? How can you begin to speak of a paradigm shift with designers when writers and project managers are a larger shortcoming in this process (in my experience).

Getting Real? Hardly.
Getting Ideal is more like it.

02 Mar 2005 | Jamie said...

I agree about ditching greek text wherever possible, but sometimes you just can't do it (especially when you're working in larger teams — unlike the 37Signals paradigm). If you're designing something like a catalogue (for instance the Crate and Barrel catalogue), you have a few groups developing assets in parallel — photography, design, copy. The design comes together by using polaroids for placement (not the real photography) and placeholder text blocks (not "lorem ipsum" per se but not final copy either). Sometimes the "real" stuff doesn't get in there until a few days before press. I realize that I'm talking print here which is a totally different animal, but there is still some need for greeked copy of one form or another.

02 Mar 2005 | Dolor Consectetuer said...

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Praesent lectus. Aenean faucibus felis in wisi. Pellentesque tincidunt, lorem non accumsan condimentum, augue nibh lobortis est, in vulputate eros tellus sit amet urna. Morbi scelerisque tincidunt nisl. Phasellus massa purus, mollis et, varius a, mollis a, turpis. Nam leo est, sagittis id, venenatis vitae, dignissim eu, turpis. Integer mi risus, bibendum et, sagittis ac, aliquet quis, sapien. Sed eros erat, interdum ut, euismod ac, vestibulum non, felis. Pellentesque id est vitae erat vehicula sagittis. Donec blandit dapibus lorem. Suspendisse potenti. Morbi nibh tortor, tincidunt at, vehicula eu, euismod sed, nunc. Nulla dui.

Cras a magna eget metus bibendum congue. Quisque libero nunc, varius a, sollicitudin vitae, lacinia et, odio. Sed tincidunt, ipsum et dapibus nonummy, libero odio tempor elit, non hendrerit tortor leo ut libero. Nunc elit massa, viverra sed, sollicitudin eget, imperdiet sit amet, nibh. Aliquam orci augue, tincidunt ac, molestie eget, sodales in, massa. Pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus et netus et malesuada fames ac turpis egestas. Aenean ac justo. Praesent mauris nisl, egestas ac, sagittis ut, dapibus nec, tellus. Ut at est. Aenean facilisis. Suspendisse arcu nulla, lacinia nec, egestas sit amet, vestibulum vitae, turpis. Curabitur euismod, neque a tristique rutrum, tellus lacus interdum nulla, eu laoreet lorem metus non mauris. Ut molestie lacinia eros.

02 Mar 2005 | JF said...

Where are these fantastic writers you are always talking about?

I'm not talking fantastic, I'm talking real. Lorem ipsum isn't real. It gives you a shape, but it doesn't give you meaning. Using Lorem ipsum doesn't make you think much about font size, column width, page length unless you are purely looking at these text variables from a visual standpoint. You can't look at Lorem ipsum any other way than visual because you can't read it. How do you know what it's like to read the page if you can't (and don't) actually read it?

That's my point.

02 Mar 2005 | Jim Coudal said...

There are times in the design process where it's not practical to use "real" copy. When I do layout studies that include longish blocks of text I grab some paragraphs from a novel or short story from here

That way I get the added benefit of aborbing some litertaure while evaluating my design options.

02 Mar 2005 | Don Schenck said...

Some things about writing:

Writing is easy.
No one likes to write; everyone likes having written.
There's no such thing as "Writer's Block"; just lower you standards.

02 Mar 2005 | Jeff Koke said...

Jason, I think it would help if we understood at what point in the design process does the copy need to be real. For example, I often sketch several page designs on paper to get a feel for placement, balance, etc. I don't use lorem ipsum here, but I use lines and squiggles to represent text. Obviously, you're not suggesting I write meaningful copy for these sketches (or are you?).

02 Mar 2005 | JF said...

I love it when people don't read what I said. I'm suggesting getting real which means using text you can actually read. I'm saying NO to "Lorem ipsum" -- not to what Jim Coudal is suggesting which is using text that at least means something to you.

Yes, it's better to use real text that is real and relevant for what you are building, but if you can't then you should use the next best thing (which is text that you can read and absorb). Lorem ipsum isn't the next best thing (unless you can read Latin).

Again: The goal here is getting as close to the customer experience as possible. If you are designing it you better understand it and the best way to understand it is to experience it as your customers experience it. They're going to read something real so you should too.

02 Mar 2005 | Bryan said...

Geez, I have violated both major rules

1. Using Lorem Ipsum
2. Copying and pasting from other sources

I won't be doing that from now on :)

02 Mar 2005 | Adam Michela said...

I hear you J. I agree too.

In determining whether or not your design is worthy, you need to use your design like a user. You need to READ your design just like a user would. You might discover that the big "Black and Yellow" graphic linking to your other blog is pretty to look at but distracting while reading a passage (no I'm not referring to the Defensive Design book graphic above... I'm thinking of some place ekse :) heh).

You can't read Lorem ipsum. Have you ever noticed, that while mocking up a design using "Lorem ipsum" you tend to jump right over the areas filled with the dummy text?

This might give you a decent idea of how your design LOOKS but not how it feels from a user perspective.

I dig Coudal's suggestion... grabbing some meaningful text from a book passage is a great way to fill in your design with readable text in a prompt fasion.

Makes perfect sense actually.

02 Mar 2005 | Keith said...

Just an aside -- am I the only one who's used Lorem Ipsum in the past only to have a client say something like, "Well, I like it, but I can't read Italian..."

This has happened to me on several occasions, the ensuing discussion was so time consuming and, well, painful that I've since abandoned the use of Lorem Ipsum all together.

I've had a much easier time showing designs and ideas since.

02 Mar 2005 | LB said...

I must say that I disagree to some extent, from a practicality point of view. Sure, with forms or anything else that requires the user to 'take action', then yes you should use real text. However, when it comes to standard copy, such as a company bio for example, unless you have the time and resources to commit to what you suggest, it's simply not viable. I would also disagree with using copy from a book for example - in my experience it's far too easy for it to 'slip through the net' and be made live. For the sake of 5 seconds searching your entire site code for the word 'Lorem', its a much less painful scenario.

I don't think that making sure the client provides you the content from the outset would help much either - I find that in alot of cases, the design / layout dictates the content (or flow of). Remember that to most 'non-savvy' clients, they don't realise that having a 2-page bio on a single page is a bad idea - showing them a block of 'Lipsum' helps steer them into the mindset of how much they *should* say.

02 Mar 2005 | Dave S. said...

Something tells me most commenters saw the keywords and missed the context.

We're talking about data entry when testing web applications, right, and not filling mocked up content areas with Lipsum? There's a difference.

In regards to the former, which I believe was Jason's point, I think it's a great idea. Using representative data when testing input and display functionality is a good heads-up for what the final product is going to be. How many times have we all meticulously lined up first name 'Lorem' with last name 'Ipsum', only to have 'Apu Nahasapeemapetilon' come along and ruin the layout once its live?

Additionally, I'll kick in that testing with a few frg hractrs is smart too.

02 Mar 2005 | Jamie said...

JF. Ah I see. My bad. Yes yes. I agree with you completely!

02 Mar 2005 | 8500 said...

Design should enhance the content, right? Then how can you start the process without the most important piece? Down with Lorem Whatchamacallitsum!

02 Mar 2005 | LB said...

Lorem ipsum dolor has long been known as the designers best friend. We think it should be your enemy.

I think I finally see where Jason is coming from now, but myself and I'm sure others were taken 'off track' because of the above quote (meaning I took the context as Lipsum was bad for *everything*).

I agree though that using it for form input would be lazy.

Off topic for a moment, but still on usability - why do the RSS feeds give the comments box, when you can't actually use them?

02 Mar 2005 | dmr said...

JF said "I'm saying NO to "Lorem ipsum" -- not to what Jim Coudal is suggesting which is using text that at least means something to you."

And replacing relevant and contextual information is ok so long as the text means something to the designer? I cannot agree; that's just as disconnected to the customer experience. Meaningful is contextual, and text without any context or relevance to the subject (forget about the designer's likes and dislikes about prose) is as worthless as greek text; they're BOTH filler text.

When much body text is treated simply as blocks and containers, what's the difference?

On the subject of writing talent, where does 37 turn for good writing? Does anyone have recommendations for talented freelance writers?

02 Mar 2005 | One of several Steves said...

Another peril of "lorem ipsum" - once in a design study, no matter how well we instructed people to ignore the body copy (that used lorem ipsum, but headers and navigational elements were as they were planned for the actual site), we received numerous comments along the lines of "it's confusing to have the site in both English and French." (Yes, that's a verbatim comment.)

ML hit exactly on where fake text can be problematic. You don't see where there's insufficient space for people to enter real information on a form or read vital instructional text.

The one case where I think it can maybe be OK is if you're simply showing a long page of copy, like a news article. Even then, I prefer my designers to simply paste a paragraph over and over, with the paragraph usually saying something like "This is where a description of the product goes. The product will be described here." That way the client or test subject knows what the text is supposed to be, even if it's not in a final form.

02 Mar 2005 | JF said...

dmr, read what I said...

Yes, it's better to use real text that is real and relevant for what you are building, but if you can't then you should use the next best thing (which is text that you can read and absorb). Lorem ipsum isn't the next best thing (unless you can read Latin).

1. Real and relevant FIRST
2. If you can't do that, then something else that is readable SECOND
3. Lorem ipsum after that (and only after 1 and 2 aren't possible)

Re: writing. We do all our copywriting in house.

02 Mar 2005 | One of several Steves said...

Writing is easy.
No one likes to write; everyone likes having written.
There's no such thing as "Writer's Block"; just lower you standards.

Sorry, Don, you're wrong on all counts.

It's easy to plop words down on a page. Writing effectively and well is far from easy.

I love to write, and everyone I know who considers themselves a writer and who has done it for a living like I have loves to write. It may drive us absolutely crazy at times, and we may hate it at the time, but we love to write. We love the actual process, let alone the finished product. In fact, I more often love the process of writing than what I have written.

And there is definitely such a thing as writer's block, and lowering your standards is not the way to get through it. That's like asking an architect to lower their standards when they're stumped on how best to get their design to fit in with surrounding buildings. The way around it is to come at things from a different angle. When I've had problems starting something I'm writing, I'll go write some stuff in the middle or even the end, where I might have some concrete ideas on what I want to do. And then I can usually come back to the part that I'm stuck on later, because working on those other areas sparks ideas that weren't coming earlier. No lowering of standards necessary. Or desired.

02 Mar 2005 | sloan said...

All of it comes down to focusing on what "makes sense" instead of blind process. I have that problem all of the time. If a client takes things too literally, then Lorem Ipsum is a decent solution. I had one client where we used president's names for all names in the documents and elements from the periodic table, only to have Beryllium shot down because that WAS one of their clients' names! We had to change everything to foods like shitake mushrooms!

02 Mar 2005 | Jonny Roader said...

In certain situations - e.g. wireframing, layout prototypes - greek text is definitely a good idea. People do get distracted by real words, no doubt about it.

But once you move past that very early stage then it's good to get real text in as soon as possible. Text is utterly central to (almost) any website and should be tested with the same rigour as any other design element.

It still surprises me how little attention is paid to web readability. For all the well-known warnings and chatter about 'scannable' text etc., huge blocks of meaningless 'happy talk' are still everywhere to be found. Getting real text into the design early on in the testing process would help nip this in the bud.

02 Mar 2005 | Matthew Oliphant said...

When I design web apps, I use fake text. But I use the fake text as an opportunity to inject some humour.

Just this week I made Dr. Evil a customer of dayjob. Took a couple of walkthroughs before people started asking, "Is there a reason this customer is listed as a mad scientist bent on world domination?"

From a Privacy perspective, I am not allowed to use actual customer data to populate the mockups. I can't get too close to the customer experience for potential legal issues.

So I make due with just making stuff up. It takes longer, but the look on a project manager's face during that moment of discovery is worth the time.

02 Mar 2005 | Darrel said...

I think the problem is that sometimes clients lack the part of brain responsible for abstraction.


I don't even use Lorem Ipsum, because it looks like real text. Clients don't even bother to read their own site half the time.

I've since started using Xes:

Xxxx xx x xxxxx xxxx. Xxxx xx xxxx xxx xxxx xx xxxx.

It's much more obvious that *look here...we need text for this*.

I think JF is right should make the site as close to the user experience as one can from the start. But, in some ways, this is exactly what a functional spec is for.

Clients, often, just will never fully absorb the site as the customer will until you go live...and even then they may never take the time to do so (as we all know from dealing with the many crappy million dollar sites out there). This is where user testing comes in real handy.

The one danger of using real text is that the client will ignore that moreso than if you just leave it as XXXX or something. Granted, if you wrote good text to begin with, that might's just that you might loose the client 'check off' when doing that.

02 Mar 2005 | Dr_God said...

(JF said:) While building your interface, you may find it easier to just run down the forms and fill the fields with garbage (asdsadklja 123usadfjasld snaxn2q9e7) in order to plow through them quickly. Thats not real. Thats not what your customers are being asked to do.

When testing web apps, sometimes the key is not to use "Lorem ipsum" or "real" stuff. Lorem ispum text, as JF said, makes no sense, but neither does using "real" input after a certain point during testing.

You always build your web app based on the assumption that the users will, for the most part, follow the rules. Entering "real" data makes sure your web app works for these good users. But it's the bad users you have to really test for, and entering real data doesn't work. You have to watch out for the guy who enters his name as John "Big Daddy" Smith and his address as "on your mama." In this case entering unreal (e.g. "asdsadklja 123usadfjasld snaxn2q9e7) is best. This tests the limits of your app to make sure you're handling all the crazy users out there.

02 Mar 2005 | JF said...

But it's the bad users you have to really test for, and entering real data doesn't work.

Of course -- you need to make mistakes as well. We have a book on that ;)

02 Mar 2005 | Don Schenck said...

Silly you. You lower your standards to get by so-called "Writer's Block". You can always *edit* later.

Given that, yes, writing *IS* easy.

Finally, your enjoyment of writing? Aha ... the Exception proves the rule!

I stand UN-corrected! "I'm Don Schenck, bitch!"


02 Mar 2005 | Julian Scarfe said...

Are we talking about building 'interfaces'? - as in: form labels, buttons, navigation? I don't think I've ever seen anyone use greeking for these, but if it happens, you're right, it should stop ;-)
Are we talking about laying out blocks of extended content? If we are, then your critique doesn't address the benefits lorem ipsum brings:
a) the writing tasks needn't be nailed down and signed off before interface building can start
b) it helps the client evaluate layout without getting hung-up on the finer writing points. I understand your argument that the writing is what makes the interface coherent, but you must admit that there are (at least equal) problems in the opposite direction - writing that doesn't please the client can drag the client's perception of the interface/layout/design with it.
c) suggesting appropriate content length when design preceeds writing.

I've never believed that separation of content from presentation was either 100% feasible or even desireable; but it certainly is often helpful to aim for it. The idea that lorem ipsum is a hurdle to interface design implies that content and separation need to be fully married even at the design stage.

02 Mar 2005 | SH said...

"Writing is easy..."

You're breaking my heart, Don! You mean for years and years I could have taken the easy route instead of trying to do well with my chosen craft? All this time I've wasted! Why didn't you tell me sooner!?

02 Mar 2005 | Don Schenck said...

SH, you never asked! :)

Besides, I didn't say GOOD writing was easy!

02 Mar 2005 | Bryan C said...

Another advantage to using real, relevant text is that it prods the client into actually creating or editing real, relevant text when they're supposed to create it. Instead of sometime after the site design is "completed" but filled with latin nonsense. In my experience getting the content is always the hardest part. A page of text, even if it's unreadable filler, seems to lull them into a false sense of security.

We're in-house and generally have a reasonable idea of what the text should say, so we often write a first draft ourselves. They don't usually like it very much, which inspires them to get us the real stuff even faster!

02 Mar 2005 | David E. said...

2 points:

1. The same applies to numbers. Get out a calculator and make them add up.

2. There is a deeper level of mockup content; narrative. Often, (always?) interfaces present data that the user can interpret and take action on. I image a plausible story that would drive an obvious decision. Then I make data and content that tell that story.

One benefit is that, during usability tests, you can watch for the user to start talking about the story and not the interface, a sure sign that the interface is successful. If they never get the story, the interface needs work.

02 Mar 2005 | dmr said...

David's points sit well with me; narrative can lend itself to interesting exploration and structure. Finding a balance between something abstract yet functional is always a fun challenge.

Marketingspeak and blahblah is what many of us work with on a daily basis. Much of the good writing for the web is driven by utility and often loses personalty and flavor thru web distillation. Good writing demands one to become an expert of a given subject prior to writing a single word; this is the consuming part many of us simply can't manage. Becoming an expert for many designers at a large organization would be almost impossible without 10 or 20 years investment and by that time you've corrputed your thinking and lost a lay perspective.

This subject could lend itself to great dialogue about how many in-house shops and writers beat the mediocracy. And that's my blahblah.

02 Mar 2005 | Bronwyn said...

Perhaps someone should test out this sample text:

Hey! A reader! I haven't had one of those before. Uh-oh -- I just realized that there's nothing here to read yet. [Turning aside, whispering] We got a problem here, boss -- I'm still just an empty page. [pause] What do you mean the writers still haven't given you the content for me? I've got a reader here; what am I supposed to do? You can't mean that. They'll click back and never come see me again! [sweating] Oh lordy, I guess I'll just have to bluff. [Back to the reader, stalling]

So, how do you like that weather, huh? [pause] I'll have to take your word for it, because, you know, I'm just a web page, so I can't even take a look out that window. Heck, I don't even know if there is a window. Maybe there's just some featureless cubicle.

Do you like sports? No? Me neither. What's your favourite series on TV?

[reader clearly getting impatient, looking at the navigation links]

Anyway, I'm sure that you came here for a reason. So, why don't you tell me what it is? Oh. [glancing around, but no real copy in sight] That's a great reason to be here, and you're definitely at the right page, but I can't help you yet. How come? Well, as a webpage, I just show what the webmistress puts in my file, right? You see, the webmistress hasn't put anything in my file yet! She tells me that's because the writers haven't given her the copy yet.

I agree with you; this state of affairs is completely unacceptable. Unfortunately, being a powerless webpage, there's nothing I can do. I need somebody like you to tell the people responsible for me to get their act together.

So, d'you think you could maybe click on that Contact Us link down there, open it in a new tab? Maybe you could write an email explaining how you need me to have some content, so that you can do your thing, and, incidentally, give my owners some money. My owners like money. Maybe they'll get a move on if they realize that my being empty means that you don't give them any money. But please don't be mean to the webmistress -- it's really not her fault. She doesn't have any authority over those writers; just over me.

The Contact Us page doesn't have any content either? Not even a single email address? Instead it's full of Latin with no links, and it starts with "Lorem ipsum dolor?" [almost at nervous collapse] I'm truly sorry for this horrendous oversight. No, I don't know any of the contact information -- that's the Contact Us page's job, so they didn't put any of it in my file. I'm really sorry.

[pleadingly] There isn't any chance that you know the writers, is there? You DO? Oh, thank goodness. I'm sure that you'll tell them that we really need some quality content over here pronto. You will? Thank you SO much. You can't imagine how grateful I am for this; I'm just mortified at being empty when my job is to inform you. Thanks again. Let me direct you to our newsfeed, so that your feedreader can notify you when I'm updated. It'll save you some clicks, and that's the least I can do after this. I agree, syndication is so convenient. Thanks for visiting. I'm sure I'll love having real content so that I can be useful!

[reader leaves]

I am SO embarrassed. That was one of the owners, the one in charge of the website redesign! No wonder he knows the writers. He's gonna have me deleted for being so useless and rude, I just know it. It'll be into the bitbucket, and I'll die a virgin. I didn't want to be rm'ed before I had a chance to have some content! It's not fair! I'm just a helpless webpage -- all I wanted in life was to be viewed in standards-compliant browsers and bookmarked for future reference! [sobbing and wailing]

02 Mar 2005 | Jeff said...

Worst. Comment. Ever.

03 Mar 2005 | Kris said...

Why take a shortcut and not feel the pain of filling out a long form? If you just enter garbage in rapid fire fashion how will you ever know what it really feels like to fill out that form?

The difference is that you are the developer, thus having to fill and fill and refill and fill again that long form you coded. Filling it as the user should is a waste of time. Your recommandation is right, but I'd apply it to the test phase of the project, that's when you act like a real user.

03 Mar 2005 | Andy Budd said...

I can see the reasoning behind using real content in designs. However it's often the case that you're doing design before the copy has been finalised. Then you get into the situation where you show clients designs/wireframes and they end up copy editing them rather than focusing on the design and layout.

On the other hand, when testing form inputs it's important to use real text as certain letter/character combinations can trip up poorly written code.

03 Mar 2005 | Mark Boulton said...

I agree with you Andy. It all depends on finalised copy.

From a client/agency role point of view it's easier to tell the client "here's the designs" - The client is then focussed on what they think design is; colour, pictures, their branding and logo. They generally aren't focussed on the words, because they don't understand them - it's easier for them to focus on something they may not have done before - the design. By using Lorem Ipsum in this way it is actually very effective in getting what you want form the client - comments on the design.

From my experience when a client is presented with real copy in a design their mode of engagement changes from one of being focussed on what they think design is to one of copy proofing. The design is generally ignored.

For applications however, real words are important to use if they are integral to the application's function. Simply put, brochures are read therefore copy can be abstracted if the focus is to be on the design. Applications are used, therefore where copy is part of the function of the application it's more difficult for it to be abstracted, real copy should be used.

03 Mar 2005 | Mike Wilkerson said...

I have to disagree with the writer: The Lorem Ipsum is especially helpful as a "to do list marker" on jobs, especially ones where getting the client to even participate is a chore.

Rather than them needing to meander through every page, they can clearly see that the insert that is literally "greek to them" is the stuff that needs to be submitted/filled.

Really great discussion and I see both sides, but I'll gladly stick with Lorem Ipsum.

Mike Wilkerson

03 Mar 2005 | Jough said...

You write "Using lorem ipsum dolor reduces text-based content to a visual design element (a shape of text) instead of valuable information someone is going to have to enter and/or read."

That's exactly right, but of course sometimes there's a need to reduce text content to a visual design element.

It's useful even on a site re-design when the content has already been written, to remove all traces of meaning from the content and focus entirely on the shiny box in which the content will arrive.

If it was feasable, I'd make the text just look like jagged edged lines:


to further reduce the readability, especially if you're trying to show a design to a client and need them to focus on the layout, not the content (for now).

Of *course* the content is king and you will have to see the content in its proper context, although it's often useful to work on the typography outside of the layout too - it's the opposite of lorem ipsum - focusing *entirely* on the content rather than the design.

If you're in charge of both the content and the presentation you can keep one in mind while working on the other and marry the design and content seamlessly. If not, then you need to get together with the other producers and make sure you're both on the same page (pun intended).

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