Death to Lorem Ipsum

by Luke Wroblewski October 22, 2009

I've long believed that real data delivers really effective design. Using actual content, information, and activity throughout the design process to inform and guide decisions results in product designs that scale well and communicate effectively.

This philosophy could be thought of as "death to lorem ipsum". Lorem Ipsum, in case you are wondering, is dummy text originally used in the print industry to lay out page designs. It has since been re-appropriated by Web designers (and worse yet software designers) to lay out Web site and application designs.

Using dummy content or fake information in the Web design process can result in products with unrealistic assumptions and potentially serious design flaws. A seemingly elegant design can quickly begin to bloat with unexpected content or break under the weight of actual activity. Fake data can ensure a nice looking layout but it doesn't reflect what a living, breathing application must endure. Real data does.

"Death to lorem ipsum" seems to be popping up a lot these days. Which is personally gratifying.

  • Designing in code allows you to see how real data works inside a layout. -Facebook design team
  • Prototyping lets you play with real data and adjust experiences accordingly. -Kip Voytek
  • Know what the actual content on your site will be before you finalize your design. -Jeffrey Zeldman
  • Stop using lorem ipsum and boxes –think through real content implications. -Kristina Halvorson
  • When you sell your client on static mock-ups you are setting yourself up for problems when those designs do are not mirrored in the browser. -Andy Clarke