Terms Of Use

The toppings you may chose for that TV dinner pizza slice when you forgot to shop for foods, the paint you may slap on your face to impress the new boss is your business. But what about your daily bread? Design comps, layouts, wireframes—will your clients accept that you go about things the facile way? Authorities in our business will tell in no uncertain terms that Lorem Ipsum is that huge, huge no no to forswear forever. Not so fast, I'd say, there are some redeeming factors in favor of greeking text, as its use is merely the symptom of a worse problem to take into consideration.

You begin with a text, you sculpt information, you chisel away what's not needed, you come to the point, make things clear, add value, you're a content person, you like words. Design is no afterthought, far from it, but it comes in a deserved second. Anyway, you still use Lorem Ipsum and rightly so, as it will always have a place in the web workers toolbox, as things happen, not always the way you like it, not always in the preferred order. Even if your less into design and more into content strategy you may find some redeeming value with, wait for it, dummy copy, no less.

Consider this: You made all the required mock ups for commissioned layout, got all the approvals, built a tested code base or had them built, you decided on a content management system, got a license for it or adapted open source software for your client's needs. Then the question arises: where's the content? Not there yet? That's not so bad, there's dummy copy to the rescue. But worse, what if the fish doesn't fit in the can, the foot's to big for the boot? Or to small? To short sentences, to many headings, images too large for the proposed design, or too small, or they fit in but it looks iffy for reasons the folks in the meeting can't quite tell right now, but they're unhappy, somehow. A client that's unhappy for a reason is a problem, a client that's unhappy though he or her can't quite put a finger on it is worse.

But. A big but: Lorem Ipsum is not t the root of the problem, it just shows what's going wrong. Chances are there wasn't collaboration, communication, and checkpoints, there wasn't a process agreed upon or specified with the granularity required. It's content strategy gone awry right from the start. Forswearing the use of Lorem Ipsum wouldn't have helped, won't help now. It's like saying you're a bad designer, use less bold text, don't use italics in every other paragraph. True enough, but that's not all that it takes to get things back on track.

So Lorem Ipsum is bad (not necessarily)

There's lot of hate out there for a text that amounts to little more than garbled words in an old language. The villagers are out there with a vengeance to get that Frankenstein, wielding torches and pitchforks, wanting to tar and feather it at the least, running it out of town in shame.

If that's what you think how bout the other way around? How can you evaluate content without design? No typography, no colors, no layout, no styles, all those things that convey the important signals that go beyond the mere textual, hierarchies of information, weight, emphasis, oblique stresses, priorities, all those subtle cues that also have visual and emotional appeal to the reader. Rigid proponents of content strategy may shun the use of dummy copy but then designers might want to ask them to provide style sheets with the copy decks they supply that are in tune with the design direction they require.

Websites in professional use templating systems. Commercial publishing platforms and content management systems ensure that you can show different text, different data using the same template. When it's about controlling hundreds of articles, product pages for web shops, or user profiles in social networks, all of them potentially with different sizes, formats, rules for differing elements things can break, designs agreed upon can have unintended consequences and look much different than expected.

This is quite a problem to solve, but just doing without greeking text won't fix it. Using test items of real content and data in designs will help, but there's no guarantee that every oddity will be found and corrected. Do you want to be sure? Then a prototype or beta site with real content published from the real CMS is needed—but you’re not going that far until you go through an initial design cycle.

Lorem Ipsum actually is usefull in the design stage as it focuses our attention on places where the content is a dynamic block coming from the CMS (unlike static content elements that will always stay the same.) Blocks of Lorem Ipsum with a character count range provide a obvious reminder to check and re-check that the design and the content model match up.

Summing up, if the copy is diverting attention from the design it’s because it’s not up to task.

Typographers of yore didn't come up with the concept of dummy copy because people thought that content is inconsequential window dressing, only there to be used by designers who can’t be bothered to read. Lorem Ipsum is needed because words matter, a lot. Just fill up a page with draft copy about the client’s business and they will actually read it and comment on it. They will be drawn to it, fiercely. Do it the wrong way and draft copy can derail your design review.

Asking the client to pay no attention Lorem Ipsum isn't hard as it doesn’t make sense in the first place, that will limit any initial interest soon enough. Try telling a client to ignore draft copy however, and you're up to something you can't win. Whenever draft copy comes up in a meeting confused questions about it ensue.