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Why you should never use lorem ipsum.

Lorem ipsum has long been a favorite of designers in publishing and graphic design. It’s easy to implement by simply heading to one of the many online Lorem Ipsum generators, copying a few lines and dropping it into your designs. But is this generally a good idea?

The answer used to be a resounding yes. However, the scope of a designer’s responsibility has changed and now designers are required to do much more. In the past, designers delivered hi-fidelity renderings or “comps” to development for coding. They would receive sketches or wireframes from information architects and copywriters were responsible for filling in the copy in the form of copy decks. Did this work well? Yes. So what happened? 

User experience. Oh right, that stuff. 

Somewhat recently, a new discipline has emerged that is part visual and web design, business strategy, content strategy, copywriting and interactive design. It’s called user experience design and it is most definitely the future. 

A user experience designer, which could now be someone from any background is responsible for examining the entirety of a user’s experience from when they first encounter a user interface. This starts at the initial conception of an idea or question, which usually is preceded by a need. For instance, said user thinks to herself “I am thirsty”. Great, why is she thirsty? Did she just walk briskly to catch a bus? What time of day is it? Where is she? In class? At work? At home? You get the idea. 

A shift has occurred in the web design world to attempt to align user needs with the presentation of a front end user interface. Why? So that users actually do what you want them to do on a site, and so that you understand distinctly why you are designing a certain web application and for what audience. 

Therefore, should a designer use Lorem Ipsum? NO. 

Why? Because it implies that you don’t understand the user and that you also don’t understand your business. 

Imagine an eCommerce checkout experience in which a web site asks you to upload a copy of your driver’s license. The user would instinctually ask “Why?”. Therefore, you would likely want some help copy to explain to the user why you are asking for this information. If you don’t provide it, the user will likely bail. 

As the designer of this experience, if you go into a meeting with your managers there is a vast difference between displaying this in your designs:

Lorem Ipsum

Lorem ipsum dolar sit amet. 

and

Why do we ask for you driver’s license?

Well, government regulations require that we verify your identification because you are buying a product that is restricted for individuals 18 years of age and older.  

The latter implies that you get it. You understand the needs of the user and you have mitigated or removed all attempts for the user to bail on what it is that you want them to do. In this case, you are designing a checkout funnel. What happens to a business if all users bail before providing their credit card information? A decrease in revenue, which means unhappy managers. 

Unhappy managers = unhappy designers. 

And nobody wants that. Therefore, let’s help everyone out by removing all use of Lorem Ipsum in our designs and replacing it with understandable, directional copy. That way, everyone wins. 

Lorem ipsum dolar sit amet. The end.