Lorem ipsum be damned! And, 10 tips to avoid waffle-laden copy

They’re two little words. Just two. They sound harmless enough. But they must go, I tell you! Let’s ban them, ostracise them and evict them from a website in design near you! The offending words are (drum roll please): *LOREM IPSUM* Oh, go on, you know you want to because…

  • As a designer this ‘placeholder text’ probably means you’ll spend ages wrestling some words out of your client before you can go live with a project
  • And if you’re the intended audience the words that end up filling the space will more than likely be pure waffle

So why should you avoid lorem ipsum placeholder text?

Because it signifies that probably no-one’s thought about the content before the page was designed.

And a page that doesn’t have a purpose yet is…well, not really a page worth having.

The alternative scenario is that the page does have a purpose – it’s just that no-one’s told the designer yet – also an approach to avoid!

Believe it or not there are some large, high-profile websites designed at great cost that go live before anyone thinks about organising the content (naming no names here, I know which side my bread is buttered on).

So here are my TOP TIPS FOR AVOIDING LOREM IPSUM SYNDROME* – with a few BONUS COPYWRITING TIPS too.

*Yes I know in reality it will always have its uses

  1. Don’t create space for text unless you know what you want to say.
  2. Work with your designer on the site map to make sure every page has a purpose and you both know what it is.
  3. Think about your key messages (and audiences) – and then about how to convey them.
  4. What action do you want your audience to take as a result of reading your words? Keep them focused with calls to action.
  5. Less can be more – work with your web designer to see if there’s a case for your key message being presented as a graphic rather than a wordy three-paragraph blurb.
  6. Break up copy with sub-heads and bullet points for ‘scan-ability’.
  7. Try the two sentences rule – tell a colleague what the page is about in two sentences. Write them down.

And the bonus copywriting tips…

  1. Don’t use flowery language when plain English will do.
  2. Get your grammar, spelling and punctuation right (don’t rely on spell-check, get a real person to read it).
  3. Don’t over-use capitals, especially for job titles and in headlines. Too many caps make for difficult-to-scan copy.

ends

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