Chances are we’ve seen it somewhere or been guilty of doing it. Inserting placeholder text, or fake text in to our web design before filling it with content. We often think nothing of it and know that eventually we’ll plop in some real content to fill that space. You might not see the problem, but this motion is perpetuating the idea that content comes second after design. We all know by now that content is the life blood of our websites, and should be created in juncture with the site design. So then why are we treating it like it doesn’t matter?
In the very early stages of your website’s birth, filler text can be beneficial. You’re still trying to figure out what design would look the best and haven’t quite settled on anything yet. Once you have started seriously building your site, that filler text should take a proverbial hike.
Content should be the driving force behind a website, not a last minute thought before launch. Utilizing filler text trains your brain to think that the content is a mere commodity.
Designers have explained this phenomenon of relying so heavily on this placeholder text as a desire to complete the build of the website as quickly as possible, with the thinking being that creating content will only slow down the process. They also believe that the content should fit into the design, when really the design should be built around the content. Editors, designers, developers, and writers should all work together when a website is still in the building process to ensure that content and design complement one another.
One of the main problems seen when content takes a backseat to design is that the actual content doesn’t fit nearly the same as the placeholder text did. Your whole design could end up skewed, with your content looking meek in comparison. This ultimately results in a less than mediocre website, which will have a negative impact on engagement, traffic, revenue, and any other aspect of your original goal. Letting your content take a secondary approach can also lead to mistakes such as forgetting where you had filler content and accidentally leaving it there at launch.
Now we’re not saying the content needs to be finished before the design, but it at least should be started. This way, you have an idea of the style and formatting that will work best with both the content and design. If you’re working on a redesign, let the current content serve as a placeholder until fresh content is applied. This will still give you a better idea of design elements than placeholder text would.
The important thing to remember is that content is the backbone of your website, so it should be treated as such and given a great deal of consideration when building or redesigning your website.