There are many lessons to learn out there as a designer, and please let this be at the top of your list: when designing something – whether it be a business card, a brochure, or a web site – use real content.
Lately – when doing any design work for a client – we always make sure they provide us with actual content so they can see their content in a working design. Often clients will see another site they like – want you to use similar ideas – but in actuality – their content is completely different or would not work. (We see this a lot). When working with clients who have their own designers or some pre-designed mockups – we always allot for more time – as there are bound to be changes because the designer only showed a few items (which in reality is a lot of items) – and then the client does not like the layout of their “real content”.
If the client does not have real content – red flags should go up. Not only are you setting yourself up for a potentially longer than expected engagement (if they do not know what their actual content is – do they really even know what they want anything to look like?) – but a lot of changes and headaches will follow. If they provide the content up front – everyone’s expectations are set right away and the end result will match the design. No questions/confusion.
In conclusion – save yourself a lot of time, frustration, and potentially endless change cycles by making the client provide real content for your designs.