“Lorem Ipsum” are the first few words of the sentences and subsequent paragraphs that designers use as placeholder text. Also known as “greeking,” you might see this type of text if you happen to get hold of a design comp.

This placeholder text has been used since the 1600s in the graphic, print, and publishing industries for previewing layouts and visual mockups.

When the designer is working and has yet to receive content from the client, they drop in the greeked text as a way to generally show what the text will look like in relation to other elements. Though the temporary text appears to be nonsensensical words, it’s actually jumbled Latin taken from Cicero’s works around 45 B.C.—fun fact you can use to impress your colleagues. Indeed, we can recommend On A Life Well Spent, one of his seminal works.


Content should precede design. You wouldn’t ask a tailor to design a dress for a model if the measurements aren’t known.

Great design tells a story and telling that story comes first. What the website is “saying” is an extension of its brand and the design is simply expressing that content in the most engaging way possible.

The reason Lorem Ipsum is such a mistake is because you are actively acknowledging that you have no idea what the content for a product is or even what it should be. You don’t know who the audience is or what the message is.

How is the designer supposed to move the brand forward if they don’t know what is being said or who they’re saying it to?

If you can’t create hierarchy and layout without copy, and design is about shaping the content, then why do designers start designing if they don’t know the content?


Designing a website with Lorem Ipsum dummy text can be detrimental because when the real content comes in, it can completely change the design and the contextual cues that support the content, like an appropriate image. This can cause the project to be delayed and can mean added costs.

We won’t be able to design the website’s true potential without content and achieve an excellent user experience. The more context an agency has the more they can highlight the amazing things about the company they’re designing for.

Every website has a message and purpose to:

  • Bring more awareness
  • Build trust and admiration
  • Engage and convert


Content-first represents one of the major philosophical viewpoints on the design process, it states that, in order to build the right design for any given project, you have to know what the content is before you start designing.

After all, a designer doesn’t start typesetting a book before the book has been written. And an architect doesn’t start creating blueprints until they know the basic details of the project, like whether it’s a house or an office building. 

For both of these professions, form has to follow function, and for most websites, function is achieved via content.

Content is not just copy. Content encompasses a variety of media, including graphics, videos, audio, and, yes, plain old, words.

In short, content-first design is all about knowing what your design’s purpose is, and how it’ll achieve that purpose, before you start designing.

Ideally, you’ll actually have content in hand before you design anything.

A global team of digerati with offices in Washington, D.C. and Southern California, we provide digital strategy, digital marketing, web design, and creative for brands you know and nonprofits you love.

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