Putting your foot down with ipsum?

November 2nd 2011 - Typography

Recently read a thought provoking article called “The effects of themed Lipsum on design” by Andrew Fox where he wrote that Loren Ipsum had a negative impact on design and we as designers should demand most of the content upfront,

“How can you design a message without knowing what the message is?”

Now although I agree with him in principle in practice this can cause a lot of issues. Putting your foot down might work if you’re a freelancer but if you’re in an agency or an internal design team you probably won’t have that freedom.

Even with freelancers it’s in their best interest to get the job up and running as quickly as possible although could charge at least a quarter of the project upfront, give the client deadlines, telling them that their work gets pushed back if they don’t meet them.

With that said though I think designing something that won’t be used and doesn’t represent accurately what it will be is extremely flawed. And the problem is even worse for print because everything is fixed. At least on the web you know in the back of your mind that a page must look and work good with a lot, little or UGC content. But at least have mechanisms that help us this (page numbers, hiding / showing content / animating things in etc.).

For print designers you create something with Ipsum and the sentence can be a whole lot longer or shorter, making you revise the design again as you go.

For example;

  1. You design a perfect layout with Ipsum.
  2. Then the real copy comes along which can mean things that you didn’t consider can crop up, for example the titles that are longer or shorter.
  3. You redesign to fit, but by this point you have placed constraints on yourself and it’s hard to break the grid you fooled yourself into using without starting from scratch.
  4. Copy gets changed again and then you begin to question your own existence.
  5. Repeat – 1.

What would be ideal is if we had an industry wide “best practice” that was taught at university and enforced by designers a bit like open source projects or the MIT License then you could see real change.

In perfect world we as designers would have all of the ingredients from the start creating delicious bits of design to inspire society and bring real change. Sadly this isn’t the case as we are more like chiefs who are cooking the meat, adding the sauce, salt and salad in front of the customer while they are eating.