I know, I know. We shouldn’t be using lipsum or indeed wireframes as everyone knows good designers only sketch in code with an iPad or something but for the rest of us, here’s a slight tweak I’d like to throw out there which might make lipsum a little more useful.

Here’s how most designs tend to end up. Delightfully crafted wireframes with just the right amount of content to make everything look nice and tidy and for the layout on whatever device just align and “work”.

mockup
How your site looks while you have control

Now, for years, designers and developers have been under the impression that CMS stands for Content Management System. It’s nearly right, what it often stands for once it’s been released to a wider team who input with gay abandon is Content Mangling System. I’ve lost count of the number of interesting ways I’ve seen a CMS break a layout, content formatting or both.

This is how a site can sometimes look a couple of months down the line with actual content in place.

mockup_2
How a site sometimes looks once it’s been live a few months

It’s often tricky to design and develop defensively for some of the more outlandish use cases that crop up but I’d like to suggest a small tweak to all Lipsum generators out there (or if someone wants to build this..) and that’s adding in the Surprise element.

The Idea

Instead of generating a known amount of Lipsum, say 40 words, (or in the case of Lipsum.com a number of paragraphs where word count varies slightly) and then dropping them into your wireframes or HTML prototypes, I think a tag that outputs a surprise amount of content would be potentially more useful.

So where that blog excerpt is, put in a tag that could act in a similar way to placehold.it urls where you could configure some rough parameters to at least stop a million words being rendered. This surprise element would mean your prototypes are constantly changing in places allowing you to make them that little bit more bullet proof once the Content Mangling System is released to client editors.

If you don’t think I’ve completely lost my mind and want to make something like this as a little bit of fun, go right ahead!

Update: Thanks to the awesome @AndyPike, this is now a thing!! Surprise Lipsum on GitHub

James Young

Written by James Young

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