We are reminded by Joe Pulizzi of Content Marketing Institute that content without design is just stuff! But, we should also note that design without content is hardly more than an empty page.
So, when the client asks to design a layout for content to be inserted later, you might consider the following responses.
The designer is thinking – “Of course, not a problem at all. You have no content whatsoever, no idea about colors, not a slogan and not even a title idea. I’ll have absolutely no idea what it should look like. Maybe I could insert some doll faces and curly cues and mock up the text in Comic Sans. I’m sure that will work perfectly with what you had in mind, Right?”
What we really want to say is, “Go elsewhere and stop wasting my time!”
However, to be civil and polite, “I do need to know what the content will be and what objectives you have in mind before an actual layout template can be designed.”