“Getting Real” design tip: Just say no to Lorem Ipsum 02 Mar 2005

7 comments Latest by GOETE

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.

7 comments (comments are closed)

Andrew 10 Mar 05

Many of my friends laugh at me when looking over my design comps because of Lorem Ipsum. I’ve tried to get away from it but latin is just so dead sexy.

But lately I’ve found that famous presidential speeches fill my urge to be an intellectual while designing. Give it a spin for yourself and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

giovanni 11 Mar 05

The problem is, if you put a real-looking dummy text in a design comp, the client could (and will) fixate on the content and not on design or structure. This is the source of many designer ‘horror stories’… lorem ipsum is just an obvious temporary text. Obviously when your focus is not design but information architecture you’d better get some real content.

Alex 12 Mar 05

I strongly disagree. In some situations, like designing a simple blog layout, it is easiest and most effective to use Lorem Ipsum. Writing your own content often takes too much time when trying to fill large spaces with text. And as Giovanni said, it really does take attention away from the design when you enter in real filler text.

David 13 Mar 05

Dubious advice. The word text itself comes from the “shape” of words on a page—it’s texture. Abstracting content allows one to see this.

john 20 Mar 05

Lerum speak is fine for 1st round comps. But after it’s narrowed down it’s important to use the real actual text, not fake real text, because the client will fixate on that without impending the rest of the project.