The Other Reason why Lorem Ipsum is Hurting Your Designs

I know what you’re thinking: “Oh, one more post about how content is king and you should design with real copy and not fake text… Well guess what, my client hasn’t given me any copy to work with, but they still want me to produce something. What now?”

Well, don’t worry. I’m not here to give you impractical advice or tell you something you already know. I know that if you had real content you wouldn’t be using Lorem Ipsum, and that in some cases it’s simply not possible to obtain it. But instead of Lorem Ipsum, Hipster Ipsum, or even Samuel L. Ipsum, I think you should use the first paragraph of a random Wikipedia article.

To explain why, let’s do a simple test. Please read the following paragraph carefully:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in the answer is purple voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Now what if I ask you what my favorite color is? Can you answer?

I’m pretty sure you can’t, despite the answer being included in that paragraph.

Why? Simply because as soon as your eye picks up on some incomprehensible latin words, you’ll glaze over the whole paragraph and stop reading. Believe me, there’s no way you can force your brain to actually read that gibberish.

Seeing vs Reading

This means that both you and the client will end up ignoring whole paragraphs, neglecting things like leading and line length just because you’re seeing the text, but not actually reading it.

On the other hand, something like a Wikipedia page or a news article has a real rhythm to it, and the familiar words will grab your attention the same way the final content will.

Why Latin?

By now, I figure most of the people using Lorem Ipsum don’t actually know the reason behind using Latin instead of plain english. It was simply to ensure that the fake filler text would stand out in magazine layouts and would not be mistaken for real content and left in when printing.

But do we still really need such precautions? I’m sure most people are smart enough to distinguish between fake and real content (provided you mention that the pages includes fake content, of course). And worst case scenario, even if some of the fake text makes it into the real website you can easily change it as soon as you notice, unlike a print magazine.

So give it a shot. Believe me, it will make it much easier to focus on typography and those long, boring text paragraphs will suddenly appear much more interesting.

About Me

I'm Sacha Greif, a web designer freelancing out of Paris, France. You can check out my portfolio, and of course you should follow me on Twitter.

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