Websites, ancient printers, and The Fly

C15 printing press
Ancient workers in the Lorem Ipsum factory

Websites! Everybody who’s ever worked on or with one knows they’re hell, and making a website on your own is just double-hell. All minuscule details, going over the whole thing over and over and over getting everything to match up, every setting and field and style and page, every header and photo. The navigation. And the fact that you need to have all the skills yourself. All the design,  photo-editing, UX (which is user experience),  software, general internet, SEO, copywriting, editing, proofreading, marketing, and everything else you can think of skills. There’s no team behind you. It’s just you, the internet, your laptop, and the void.

And there’s no one to cast a look over something. well, not till the very end, because if you’re asking favours you keep it to when you’ve made all the mistakes so your friend can find them. (Here’s a heads-up for my friendly checker, without whom, etc…)

One of the things you do when you’re making pages to work out the UX, and the best and most flexible way  to shape the pages one they have text on them — and actually kind of remind yourself of all the stuff you do that needs to be on the website — is put some sample text on them, to work around. This is useful in two ways. One, you can put sample text on instead of having had to write the text already. We all know that writing the text is the hard part, and it’s even worse if you’re a writer; as the great novelist Thomas Mann wrote, A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people’.

The second way it’s  useful is that sample text isn’t going to distract you with its meaning. To make it as undistracting as possible, the usual sample text used is in Latin, a quotation from Cicero, and is known as Lorem Ipsum. This is time-honoured stuff: printers have been using Lorem Ipsum since the 16th century. There is a good feeling you get, when working with literally space-age technology, when working with the same tool, the same words, your forefathers (and probably a good few foremothers, too, if we but knew about them) used before you. We writers, editors, coders and compositors do stand on the shoulders of the dedicated professionals who came before us. 

But, you know. Printing used to be the work of a team. there is an atomised feel to  modern life. Increasing numbers of us are working all on our own, sitting by ourselves in a room. Sometimes you just need to feel there’s a human voice behind your work. One you can actually understand. Most of the time, this is what leads us to Facebook,  and even worse, to procrastination.

Jeffsum website header
There’s a little Jeff for everyone

Then, one day recently, my Facebook threw up a link posted up by my friend Sam Harrington-Lowe, who edits a magazine called Silver. Like me, she is a person who  mocks up pages and needs to use sample text. She has an active mind that likes to have a lot going on in it.

More to the point, she also loves — I mean really loves — Jeff Goldblum. It stands to reason that she would lead me to the incomparable Jeffsum page

Go on. Download some Jeffsum today. You know you want it. Mine was so good I was tempted not to write the rest of my homepage at all, but just to leave it like that. 

draft homepage with Jeffsum text
You know you think it’s better…
%d bloggers like this: