If you’re a designer, you’ve likely been asked to design something without content before. It’s among the harder challenges I’ve faced during my time as a designer. Of course, to aid with this predicament, we have Lorem ipsum, the placeholder text commonly used to demonstrate the visual form of a document or a typeface without relying on meaningful content. How do you feel about using Lorem ipsum in your designs? Do you think it does more good or harm?

I think Jeffrey Zeldman’s tweet hits the nail spot on, the tweet reads:

Content precedes design. Design in the absence of content is not design, it’s decoration.

Jeffrey Zeldman

When I used to work for small tech startups, I churned out “designs” with pretty pictures and lorem ipsum as placeholder content all the time. Sometimes the final products ended up being half-decent, whether by the efforts of good copywriters, design tweaks, or dumb luck. However, just as often, when real content was added to already completed designs, they would fall flat.

The problem with Lorem ipsum

When working with placeholder text, designers tend to work for the best-case scenario. You can chop off placeholder text at any point you like without losing any meaning, so blocks of text can be made to fit the design perfectly. Add real content, however, and all of a sudden blocks of content might be too short or too long, throwing off the layout.

The other big problem is most of these clients would rush to market without quite having figured out their products/services yet. They just wanted a website that “looked good.”

What should we do instead?

Content is king. You’ve heard the statement before, but it’s more important now than ever. At the very least, before touching a design, companies need to figure out the following:

  • Why someone needs their product/service.
  • What exactly their product/service is.
  • Who their product/service is for.
  • How they are going to speak to their audience.

Using the above points, a company/brand can create content that is targeted towards the ideal potential customers, using a consistent tone that creates a cohesive brand identity. Quality content will inform your design so it can clarify and amplify your message. If there’s no message, no amount of pretty pictures will convince anyone to use your product/service.


Lorem ipsum is generally used to speed up the design process. However, taking shortcuts has a way of coming back to bite you. Design isn’t merely making your website look pretty. A good design will use your content and present it in a meaningful way to get your message across to potential customers. If there’s no message at the time of design, your final product is likely to end up as an incohesive, ineffective mess.