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  1. #1
    SitePoint Guru bronze trophy
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    Just say "No" to Lorem Ipsum filler content

    How many people say "content drives design," only to stuff a layout with Lorum ipsum filler?

    37Signals "Getting Real" design tip: Just say no to Lorem Ipsum says just don't do it....

    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.
    The web is supposed to be about content. However, technology is often so time consuming it makes you forget the layout container is there to support great content. It isn't there to win the designer an award.

    There was little content and even less user science.
    Many sites submitted had no concern for the user on the most basic levels. Rarely could you identify an idea or purpose behind the site, or name a possible user goal the site was intended to facilitate. There was no flow, no legibility, no usability. It wasn’t so much that the designers had contempt for their users as that they seemed never to have been taught to think about users at all.
    -- Zeldman: The rebooter’s children go rebootless
    Most sites use content as filler, often a reason is the purpose for the site is to have a site. So yet another "me too" site is born. When you spend 5k for a site structure and then load it with filler, you've just created some expensive cammoflage.

    And when the layout is what people notice, you've got some problems.

    Too often these great looking sites sell a lot. They sell PhotoShop and Macromedia Flash ...and they sell web design and graphics services -- even if that wasn't what the client wanted. Worse yet, Lorem ipsum creates content irrelevant web sites. Far too many sites built from scratch look like templates due to dull, lifeless writing which might just as well be Lorem ipsum.

    Again from 37Signals "So, there are plenty of sites showcasing well-designed web sites (of course “well-designed” is subjective, but you get the point), but where’s the list of well written web sites?

    Copywriting is still the web’s biggest weakness (more on this soon). We could all use some inspiration and examples of great corporate/marketing writing online. Who’s doing a great job of explaining their product or service? Who speaks like a human and not like a computer or a marketing machine? Who gets their point across quickly, concisely, and clearly?"

    So who is going to list a well written site in this thread? Is copywriting "the web's biggest weakness"? If so, what changes the story? If not, where's the Sitepoint thread debating well written websites?
    Last edited by DCrux; Mar 27, 2007 at 06:48.

  2. #2
    SitePoint Addict SilentBobSC's Avatar
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    While I agree with you on the idea of quality content, my primary purpose in using Lorum is that when mocking up a design in Photoshop, I don't want to get into a proofreading quagmire as I have in the past. When I started years ago, I would find myself spending more time explaining that the mockup is simply that, a mockup. However the customer couldn't see past his/her wording and so we would push the design ahead so they could see their content fleshed out and interactive (menus). So we would spend hours nitpicking the minutia of the wording to wind up at the deadline with a customer who "doesn't really like the color, and can we move the menu to across the top instead of down the side, and I'd like to have a picture of my dog Woofy...etc ad nauseum"

    More recently, we have deployed an open-source CMS system for most of our major projects and we have never been more productive. It allows us to focus on the design and function of the site, while an independant copywriter / customer can fill in their content as needed (or they can send us the DOCs and we'll put it in).

    Basically, LI text still has a need, but it should never make it past the development mockup, imho.

    SB

  3. #3
    SitePoint Guru bronze trophy
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    That's an interesting response. The opposite can also happen...
    In this case, Lorem ipsum had the opposite of its intended effect and I rewrote the whole thing to avoid using it. The lesson I learned is just as I shouldn’t bother with Hungarian notation in my programming, I should avoid greeking my web pages and text graphics.

    -- Lorem ipsum
    One of the comments is even better, "Yeah, I had the same problem with a client once. I used the Lorem ipsum text in a mock-up, and he actually said (in all seriousness), “Our site’s not going to be in Greek, is it?” So, we couldn’t use it for him anymore because (for him) it detracted too much from the design."

    Exactly opposite of your own experience.

    However, it shouldn't take much to imagine an alternative. I've often found -- in about two minutes of research -- content which is several orders of magnitude better than anything which was going to go into the "content hole."

    What you can do with such "killer content" is inform the design process. Is the goal to just get the site up? ....Or is it to put up a site that can face competition? The underlying problem is separating content from structure so completely the site is content irrelevant.

    What is important to note is that content almost always should lead design, and by design here I mean the “container” of the content. As part of that, content should be “designed” as well. I realize that might not make sense right away, so let me illustrate.

    When you start a project you’ve got goals. With most Web projects those goals relate to some sort of content. That content can be a number of things. It could be textual information, a task-based process, images, sound, heck (ironically) even a graphic design. In an ideal world you’d have written, programmed, gathered, edited, etc. that content before you got to the “design” stage.

    With Web sites this is especially true. However, what usually happens that that you design first and slap, plunk, pour, or plop the content in later. Now, tell me, how does that make sense?

    Without content, what sense is design? I don’t know either, but look at the hundreds of thousands of Web sites our there that were launched, and continue to languish, in this very way. .... And, yeah, I don’t think “lorem ipsum” counts as real content. Real content can help direct and lead a design, resulting in a better end product.

    -- Content vs. Design
    A good question for this thread might be would outrageously good content cause a change in the design of the site? I'm not talking about "Let's rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic" nitpicking here.

    I'm talking about English text that is so tepid as to hardly be better than Lorem ipsum. I'm talking about saying content driven design with a straight face.

  4. #4
    SitePoint Addict SilentBobSC's Avatar
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    Hrm.... good point, and I too have had the "Why is it going to be in Latin?" question on more than one occaision... Unfortunately, I think my reaction was a bit knee-jerk, as others have said it's a habit well ingrained to many of us. I also agree that it becomes too much of a crutch at times... but it's worth weening ourselves off of.

    ~SB

  5. #5
    Brevity is greatly overrated brandaggio's Avatar
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    If it were easier to allow for truly iterative, abstracted, layered development and cosmetics, this would be so much less of an issue.

    To get stakeholder buy in you need cosmetic richness and a certain completeness, but to have a truly content driven design (like the new Ars) patience must be spent with many iterations of CSS (and possibly some reordering of the flow) - most clients require a much quicker sense of tangibility which they have a hard time feeling when things are looking really vanilla, even if they are ever less so by the day.

    This state of nakedness should be a HUGE SHOUT to the stakeholders about the importance of copy, which you tend to notice when that is all there is. But to them (and to the detriment of the designer's emotional well being) it appears a design issue. Copy writing is always someone else's responsibility and it is infuriating. You can't win - you try to write something real and passable and the client does not like it (not that they have an alternative mind you) or you use the Lorem Ipsum and get weird looks. Frack!

    I too have heard the, "our site is gonna be in English, right?". Those that think that humans represent the highpoint of intelligence on this planet are quite mistaken - makes me sad. I love people, but damn, we are generally a really dim lot. These same mental giants that run companies can't tell what placeholder text is, and wish to pass the buck of copy writing responsibility to anyone but their organization (you would think they would have a story to tell beyond just needing a website because XYZ competitor has one), as if the content would just appear by magic .
    Last edited by brandaggio; Apr 1, 2007 at 20:34. Reason: Fixed spelling error

  6. #6
    SitePoint Guru dojo's Avatar
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    I used Lorem ipsum once or twice. Now I just don't use anything. Not a text no nothing. I create the mockup design and the menu (I know the site's structure when we close the deal and I start the design) so I just work on the layout, menu and leave the content side empty. I tell my client: "the text goes here". And so far .. no one said anything. Maybe I have smarter clients .. anyway... I dislike the lorem ipsum text and would rather not use it. Don't know why, it's a personal prefference


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