The importance of client testimonials

Client testimonials can be the decisive factor when you’re chosen over another designer. Clients will want to know who else you’ve worked with, and what your working relationships have been like. They’ll want to know that their hard-earned money is in safe hands, and that once they pay the initial deposit, you aren’t going to ride off into the sunset.

Yesterday I added a new page to my website, focusing specifically on the client feedback I’ve received. View my client testimonials here.

design client testimonials

It’s not that I’ve suddenly realised their benefit, but previously I had these endorsements tucked away at the bottom of my about me page. Who’s to say that potential clients could find them? After all, some might first view my portfolio, then decide to go ahead and contact me for more info.

Now if you look at the top of my site you’ll notice an addition to the navigation menu — “testimonials.”

For some time, and rightly so, there has been a general stigma about testimonials, and it’s easy to let them do more harm than good. A lot of companies write fake testimonials, given by fictitious people in a random location, thinking that the more of these on show, the more people will believe their product or service is worth buying. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Fake endorsements of your product or service can be very easy to spot, and there are few faster ways to turn-off a potential customer.

It’s for exactly this reason that I do two things to help improve the credibility of my client testimonials:

  1. I provide a link to the client’s website
  2. I show a photo of the actual person (when available)

Two small details, but ones that make a big difference.

If you’re looking for an example of how not to post testimonials, look no further than the DVDDropShip example. That’s why you should get permission before using a photograph – especially if the person in the photo doesn’t even know who you are!

It’s a good idea to show testimonials on your actual portfolio entries, too.

Have you seen any examples of good/bad practice by companies showing client quotes? Is there anything you’d improve about my testimonials page?

Here’s an article about how word-of-mouth endorsements can improve the credibility of your website.

26 responses

  1. Good move.

    You’re right about highlighing testimonials on a creative professional’s website.
    And by providing “atleast” a link to the person who gave it, that makes it look much more credible.

    Besides that aspect, I’ve been trying to find a better way to show/provide past client testimonials for future/potential clients and I thought of something new. Some of my clients don’t have a website to link to so I had to figure out other ways to do this.

    I’m not sure if you know your clients locally, but what I’ve been doing is recording a 15 second or so long tape having them tell me their honest opinion of how they felt about my services, and if they would recommend me to another. It gets pretty funny after a while, and my clients thought it was the most creative thing ever.

    This method has been working quite well and hope to add this to my blog in the next design revision.

  2. Hi David, I think making the testimonials a more prominent feature on your site is a good move. With our new site, one of the main aspects of our re-design was to have a testimonial display at the top of most pages, along with a testimonial page for all of them.

    This is something the old site was really lacking, and we are now trying to get pictures of the clients for them. One client also said that he would be happy to organize a video testimonial for me which is definately something I think I will look into in the near future. A video testimonial cannot be faked! That seems like the best way to do it….although a little time consuming.

    What are your thoughts on a video testimonial?

    ps. I have now started playing with WordPress on a new site, and I am shocked at how much more powerful it is than blogger. I played with expression engine also, and compared it to wordpress…..right away I was leaning towards wordpress….and I am now building my personal blog outside of the company using this platform.


  3. Hi Brian,

    A video testimonial would make for a creative feature, though as you rightly say, it’s time consuming. If an overseas client created a video for me, I’d feel compelled to use it, due to the time they’ve taken over it. But what if the standard isn’t great? Not an ideal situation to be in. Of course, I’d be sure to use a local client so I could be at least partly involved in the creation, and I’m guessing it’s the same for you too.

    Off-topic, I’m not all that familiar with how Blogger works, but I’ve heard that it’s limited compared to WordPress, so I’m glad you’ve tried out the switch.


    Nice way around those clients without websites. I’d be interested to see this on your blog after the design revision.

  4. It’s a very strong addition to your blog David.

    Particularly like the usage of accompanying images that puts a face to the comment. Even though some are immistakably screen captures it’s adding a measure of weight to their words. And I doubt a standard Avtar would do likewise.

  5. Hi, David –

    I *really* love the photo addition to the testimonials…I don’t know why that never occurred to me! They make them more real when we can see the face of the person behind the words!

  6. This is something I really should get onto, thanks for the reminder. I never realised how important it is. You have some very kind testimonials on your website as well, very inspirational. I have added it to my to do list. You still haven’t submitted an entry to the contest from David Airey ;)

  7. David, I’m thinking more and more about this.. what are the benefits of having client testimonials on a separate page rather then having it on your “hire” page, or even “portfolio” page?

  8. I already have this thought of creating a special page for client’s testimonials. But I can’t find the proper way to present it.

    Thanks for giving the examples, David.

  9. Regan,

    I’m glad you approve. You’re right about the screen captures, and Nate Whitehill’s photo in particular was lifted from one of his YouTube video podcasts. Not ideal, but I think it’s more effective than text only.


    I agree that the testimonials seem more real with an accompanying picture, and thanks again for your very kind endorsement.


    Looking forward to reading your own client testimonials, and you’re very welcome for the reminder.


    No worries buddy.


    I think the ideal way to present your testimonials is to show them on a separate page and within your portfolio, as I mention above.

  10. David

    As everyone agreed on your post, testimonials pays a major part in selecting a individual or company for any kind of work. Even though this sounds obvious …lot of us miss out on this (including me)  anyway its time to get started!


  11. Testimonials are an essential element for building trust.

    When someone comes to your web site with the intent of hiring you… they’ve got all kinds of WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) questions running through their head.

    While you can try to “answer” those questions (and you should), it’s always nice when a satisfied customer can provide support for the answers you’re giving.

    I once hired a designer who gave me an impressive list of his “work”. When he presented the assigned project to me, it was OBVIOUS he hadn’t done the work listed on his web site.

    As for testimonial presentation…. I recommend that clients “sprinkle” those THROUGHOUT their web presence in addition to giving them their own page.

    When people are considering hiring you, they’re certain to go to your testimonials page. However, people who are “in process” of researching need to see those testimonials as well.

    In other words, as you’re creating a post, slip in your own little “testimonial” ad for your own service in addition to listing them on your testimonial page.

    A huge problem with featuring testimonials is that the shysters have seen their “power” and have no problem creating fictitious ones. I think that’s why the pictures help to “authenticate” the testimonials.

    I have a client who features video of his client’s testimonials. It’s painfully obvious that these are NOT rehearsed and are NOT professionally produced… and personally, I think it adds to the “validity” of them. There’s no doubt these are “real”.

  12. I think that client testimonials CAN play an important role in advertising your services, but personally, and like many aspects of the web, dishonesty is abound—and prevalent in even prestigious looking sites.

    There are some of you stating that testimonials can’t be made up? Of coarse they can. Some folks may even search the net for testimonials to copy and paste. I can’t prove this, but look at this example – i’ve seen a fair few logo design sites out there boasting portfolios containing hundreds of logo designs (no sites mentioned) , making out there are professionals because of this. But, if you go to the web sites of these alleged client customer logos are from, you’ll find not their design, but some other! Why—because the logo portfolios are full of failed design concepts that clients actually rejected from logo design contests at SitePoint, etc (just google the company names).

    So, the next time you want to enlist the services of a company based on testimonials, I think it’s a good idea to be prudent and do a little research first.

  13. @Andrew Kelsall:

    Your totally right.. I’ve seen hundreds of websites boasting client testimonials for their products, not just logos.. the most prevalent of them all are landing pages trying to sell some bogus product. For some odd reason though, I love laughing at those kinds of people trying so hard but its so obvious their fake.

    And because of the massive amounts of dishonestly on the web, it’s going to be harder for legitimate people like David for example to have client testimonials too. But what he’s doing with his testimonials in addition to his popularity status for logo designs and his blog, I think his credibility is far from questionable.

  14. It helps tremendously that David’s niche is design.

    A well written testimonial, good quality picture and a live link to the client’s site showing the new design in use is probably the bext case scenario of most niches. I’m not able to do that with mine.

  15. Kathy,

    Sorry to learn of your prior hiring experience where the designer wasn’t responsible for the work he claimed. I’m sure it’s not doing said designer any favours at all.


    Why not add some testimonials to your ‘read more’ sections in each portfolio piece? You could always add one or two to the homepage as well (something I’ve thought about, although I’m not sure it’d be the right fit for my homepage.


    You certainly can’t rely on word of mouth if you’re doing a bad job! ;)


    Sickener for those people to get caught out like that. You missed that I mentioned one of the examples in my article.


    I’m not sure who was saying that testimonials can’t be faked, but you’re right that you need to be wary. Doing your research is a great suggestion, I’m sure everyone would agree.


    Great news that you’re not questionning my credibility. ;)


    The design niche certainly helps, especially as the majority of my work nowadays is displayed online in some shape or form. Perhaps one day I’ll add video testimonials into the mix.

  16. I have seen your testimonials section before David and I my first impression was that it looked most professional. I have not got any on site testimonials as I have a link else where for my reviews but have been planning an on site testimonials page for sometime. After reading this article I think it’s probably time I added the page. Thanks for the post.

  17. A few years ago I started collecting my clients’ testimonials on file and a couple of years ago I decided to include a Testimonial button in the main menu. In my latest revamp I have included testimonials as an image feature on my home page as well to draw attention to it as they are so valuable.

    Many clients have told me that reading my testimonials was one of the deciding factors in hiring my design services. So I am really glad I went this route a while ago. It has paid off.

  18. Hi David,

    Do you generally ask clients to write a “testimonial” for you, or ask them for general feedback? I was thinking about creating a feedback form for clients to fill out after a project’s completion.

    I dig the new color updates to the site by the way.


  19. Hi David,
    Just a quick question to you / all – I’m busy updating my portfolio and a particular past client has now decided they don’t want me to put up article about work I did for them – it has since been superseded by a new design and my case study example made explicit note of this (I’m not wanting to take credit for the new design, only to reference the good work I did for them previously).

    Where do you stand on this, am I within my rights to put up what I want or do I need their permission?

    Any comment would be appreciated,

  20. Hi Matthew, I ask for a few comments about what it was like to work with me. Asking for a testimonial is a bit presumptuous in my opinion. Glad you like the colour change here. I think it’s an improvement, too, but then, I had been looking at the old version for quite a while.

    Hi David, it depends on the terms of your previous employment. It’s standard practice for a contract to state that any work carried out during the period of employment is owned by the employer, so it’s likely they’re within their rights to refuse permission (unfortunately).

    Check your contract.

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