Isn’t it about time we kill off Lorem ipsum?

23rd December 2013 in Content for Conversion

What is Lorem ipsum?

For those who don’t have any idea what Lorem ipsum is or haven’t heard of it, the name Lorem ipsum is derived from classical Latin literature “de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum” (The extremes of Good and Evil). It became the printing industry’s standard dummy text in the 1500s when an unknown printer took a gallery of type and scrambled it during production of a book.

The Latin text became very popular in the 1960s with the release of Letraset sheets containing Lorem ipsum passages and more recently with desktop publishing software which included Lorem ipsum as standard dummy text.

Problems with Lorem ipsum

The first and most annoying problem with using Lorem ipsum is when sending designs back to clients to review, who then feedback on the content as “not in English, doesn’t make sense, who is Lorem?”, even though you might have said in the email that dummy text has been used instead of real content. Seeing something they don’t recognise or can’t make sense of, such as simple text, can put the client off the rest of the design and have them actually focus too much on the content and miss the actual qualities of the design.

Using Lorem ipsum also makes the designer lazy and turns them into a pixel pusher instead of actually being a problem solver. With Lorem ipsum, the designer is easily able to fit the content around the design as the content doesn’t have to make sense, as long as it looks right. But when using actual content, the designer has to make the design fit around the content and think twice about how they are going to utilise the space in the most efficient way, thus having to use their problem-solving skills instead of just slapping text in to make it look pretty.

A problem content writers may find frustrating when a designer has used Lorem ipsum, is that the quality of the content could slip as they are basically handcuffed to make their words fit within the design or the design will not look right - or even worse break. So, they have to cut words out if it’s too long or even add words if it’s short to make it fit, which can have a negative impact on the user, who could be trying to read why they need to buy this product from this website.

Content before design

Business objectives and audience needs drive content, and content should influence the design decisions. If content is provided first, the designer can then use their skills to create a ‘killer’ page design and have the guarantee that the content and look will work together perfectly.

With content provided first, the designer will also know exactly what he or she is working with. No assumptions, no guessing and no time spent going back and forth with the client to get the content looking right. Time may also be saved, as the designer will know what needs to go on each page and not have to spend time trying to take educated guesses to get it correct.

My opinion

As a designer, I will put my hand up first and admit that using Lorem ipsum is the easiest way to make my design look pretty, as I’m able to have the text line break where and how I want it. But when it comes to the build of the website, the actual content is nowhere near the same as the dummy text and I see my design work being ruined and ripped apart by the content; which can be very frustrating, as it no longer looks as nice as the original PSDs.

I also think designers who believe design is the most important thing on the website are naive. In my experience, I can say that the content is most important, followed by the design. The website can look like the hottest site ever, but if the content is rubbish nobody is going to take anything from what the website is trying to offer, and visitors won’t spend long on it or return.

Here at Smart Arts, we always do our design work with content provided to make sure the design process and development of the website is done in the smoothest and most efficient way for the content team, the design team, the development team and, most importantly, the client.

Do you agree that Lorem ipsum should finally see its death? Do you also think that content provided first before starting the design stage helps out a lot? Or do you actually think everything I have said is rubbish and that design is always the first and most important thing? Let us know your thoughts in the comments. I’m looking forward to reading what our readers think about web design trends.

For now, from everyone at Smart Arts, we hope our readers have a great Christmas and an excellent start to the New Year. Hopefully, you will come back next year to read more of our blog stories.

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