“Kill Lorem Ipsum” is one of the five items listed in Dan Willis’ blog post “Five Things Every UX Designer Should Do Well”. Whether or not designers can kill lorem ipsum “well” is beside the point, according to a few Catalytes, who shared and discussed their own take on the impact of lorem ipsum on UX design.

Chris:
I disagree that “Lorem ipsum…and other for-placement-only nonsense text is the designer’s way of saying ‘I haven’t really thought through this content, so you know, whatever’.” In wireframes, lorem ipsum is to copy what gray boxes are to images — they’re simply placeholders intended to focus the client’s attention on the big picture.

Janine:
When doing user research we try not to ask users to respond to a screen with placeholder text. One reason is that we have no idea what the person expects to appear in these areas, and we run the risk of misinterpreting their feedback.

Similarly the client can’t accurately respond to our designs without a sense of what we envision would be there. I know we often have to wait for clients to provide real textual content, but you must have some idea of what belongs there or you wouldn’t be able to properly design the page. It seems easy enough to find representative text that illustrates your assumptions.

Even if you get off track talking about the text with the client, it will give you an opportunity to learn more about what’s in their heads, or even to uncover a lack of alignment on the client team, which is always better done earlier rather than later.

Ray:
I think it depends on the audience for the document (wireframe for developers, prototype for user testing, comp for stakeholder presentation, etc.). In some cases I think either dummy text or “real” copy could be distracting.

Generally speaking, I agree with Chris in that it’s not simply “I haven’t really thought through this content, so you know, whatever.” Sometimes it’s a waste of time and effort to construct copy. That said, I try to use real words whenever I can. When I have time I even like to have some fun with it.

My biggest problem with this list item is that it lays down a seemingly arbitrary rule, and assumes that people who don’t follow it are being lazy.

Meredith:
I agree with everyone here. It’s critical not to have lorem ipsum in designs that are about to be tested. Whether or not I use lorem ipsum depends on whether it’s easy to find representative text online or not. Often it’s actually more confusing to the client or research participant to put in faux text that isn’t genuine copy.

What I typically do is use the space to describe the content that should go there, but also include at least one word of lorem so it’s clear that it’s placeholder.

For instance, for text in a promo box, I would write:
Very brief sentence explaining what the article is about lorem ipsum.

For paragraph text, I would write:
Short paragraphs here about why this product is better than other products lorem ipsum dolor sit amet lorem ipsum dolor sit amet lorem ipsum dolor sit amet.

To me, this has the convenience of lorem ipsum while still conveying thought and intent. It also saves me writing extensive content for items in the design that might not even survive another iteration.

Should UX designers “kill” lorem ipsum? Whatever the answer, we hope that “Samuel L. Ipsum” is exempt from the threat.

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