Published December 3, 2019

The Lorem Ipsum Debate: Web Developers Vs Graphic Designers

What copy do you use in your wireframes or your design compositions?

Well, apparently that’s a heated debate. As a web design agency, we use what’s known as ‘Lorem Ipsum’ – a conflicting practice that can help internal web design teams with projects but make graphic designers rage in the process. The common Latin term Lorem Ipsum, has become synonymous with ‘dummy text’ or ‘filler text’ and is commonly used throughout web page design. Essentially used as placeholder text, it’s a way of signposting text location through a web design and build project, helping all parties to understand the relationship between text layout and typography.

In case you’re not familiar with it, this is the most common form of lorem ipsum text:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod porro quisquam est qui labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut labore et dolore toil and pain veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco quia dolor sit amet ut aliquip ex de finibus bonorum et malorum.

The text is typically a section of Latin by Cicero. Words are altered, added and removed. Lorem Ipsum doesn’t really mean anything, it consists of many words that do not actually exist in the Latin language. It’s basically nonsense but significant for web design projects.

Why do web developers and graphic designers use it?

Lorem Ipsum helps us to present design concepts to clients without the actual meaning of the copy distracting them. The random text enables people to fully focus on the aesthetics and/or the user journey in the case of web design projects. Today, many designers use Lorem Ipsum generators to obtain the random Latin text. Otherwise, they would have to waste huge amounts of time typing irrelevant text or sourcing content that’s still subject to change.

Lorem Ipsum has gradually evolved to ease the web page design process. It now portrays a more realistic appearance of type on a page compared to previous gibberish. The generators also do a great job of estimating a normal distribution of English words and spaces. This enables clients to work out how much copy they need for their website, graphics, print etc.

Seems good, what’s all the fuss about then?

More often than not, the reality of the final design is different when the real copy fills in the placeholders. In some cases, a bit of redesigning and restructuring must be done.

Here’s what our graphic designers had to say:

“A wireframe’s purpose is purely functional, demonstrating how a user will get from point A-to-B. This method saves time and money at the early stages of the UX process and allows all decision makers to focus on the objective for each web page, making sure those targets are met, before design begins. Since copy influences structure, having it finalised at this point allows for more accurate CTAs and better layouts of content to be implemented.”

Callum Bedward-Brooks
Creative Designer

“It’s better to design with content in mind; rather than designing an idealistic outcome first and then trying to cram the content in afterwards. This methodology always produces more satisfying outcomes and allows attention to detail. Also, there is always a slight chance that web developers may forget to replace the Lorem Ipsum placeholders when building a website. We’ve heard some horror stories from clients and their past web projects where Lorem Ipsum copy has been found months down the line when the site is live.”

Kristen Voisey
Creative Manager

Yet, our web team stands by Lorem Ipsum, saying it’s a key component to web page design:

“Lorem Ipsum is a quick and, from a project budget point of view, cost-effective UI element filler for wireframing stages of a website. It helps with laying out the elements and estimating content needs without worrying about the real copy; that often itself undergoes several rounds of amends prior to the sign-off. Using Lorem Ipsum allows us to fully focus on constructing the user journey. In addition, during the web build stages, it’s easier to spot any text areas that are yet to be updated. If a miscellaneous ”along-the-lines-of” copy is used, there is a higher risk that it might go unnoticed.”

Kristiana Briede
Digital Project Manager

You can see the points made from each side of the project are valid. From our experience, filler text is useful during very early stages of design, when you’re brainstorming layouts and compositions. It gives a rough idea of the aesthetic in low-fidelity prototypes, which is why web designers rely on it to help solve the above-mentioned problems. However, it can have a domino effect if it’s still used during the later stages of a project. For graphic designs, it can affect their designs drastically. If the copy is left until the last minute they’ll need to change the composition of the copy layout and design around it.

For web design projects, it’s incredibly useful, especially when it’s used in combination with some actual copy sign-posts that help to illustrate the user journey. Because the phrase ‘Lorem Ipsum’ is used throughout the filler text, prior to the web project launch, a simple database scan be carried out to ensure that all of the text is found and updated. In conclusion, Lorem Ipsum is a useful tool but the implementation and use of it need to fit your project’s goal.

“Lorem Ipsum is just like every other tool in a designer’s toolkit. When used intentionally, it can help the design process.”

Karen McGrane

What’s your view on this debate? Join in the conversation with us on Twitter.