Words from the Wall of Shame

Here is some interesting feedback I have received from A wall of shame for website testimonials   and I thought I’d spend 5 minutes sharing it with you today. There were not many apologies but plenty of excuses.

  • ” We didn’t mean to use your testimonials, they were just filler text on our web site” from a company who stripped out my company name and added their own.
  • “The content has been removed. This is not a business website and did not intend to create profit from displaying it– so it’s ok to steal if you don’t plan of making any money?
  • “A copy writer produced the content for our website”
  • “Go Daddy has shut me down and I want you to help me get my site back online” …umm why?
  • “I’ve learned a valuable lesson”
  • “They are not so great testimonials that I want to keep them for life.” This made me laugh
  • “I am not a Cyber thief but a TALENTED website designer who creates real stuff for the client and take due regards from them in return
  • “We do apologize for this action and have since removed them and fired the designer that did this. Again we do apologize for this as we had our own testimonials.”
  • No idea how this happened,  I have asked our web supplier in India to fix the issue.”

My plan of action in cases like these is always to contact the site owner first. If they ignore my requests I will then approach their hosting companies and  a file a DMCA. This can result in the sites getting shut down.


© 2011 Chicago Web Designer

Wall of Shame : Website Testimonials

With over 10 years in the web and graphic design business, we have amassed a fine collection of testimonials from our clients, heart felt words that reflect the quality of our work and the level of our service.

Funnily enough we frequently come across those same testimonials on other people’s sites. How could that be? Did the magic testimonial fairy wave her wand and give them duplicate versions? Did multiple satisfied clients just miraculously happen to come up with the same words, accurate down to the last detail? We routinely contact people and ask that these testimonials be removed, and you would be amazed at the explanations that people come up with for how they ended up with multiple identical testimonials to us. You would also be amazed at the unrighteous indignation exhibited by some of these same firms when they are outed for having these duplicate words on their site.

We list below some of the websites in question, and leave it to you, the reader, to wonder what could have caused our hard-earned and genuine testimonials to somehow find their way onto other people’s sites. Far be it from us to question their motives, integrity or need in this matter.

Media Majik
3 testimonials
.>> View our testimonials on a screenshot of the Media Majik site.

Fast Web Designz
All 5  testimonials
>>View our testimonials on a screenshot of Fast Web Designs

Systemtek Technologies
5 of our testimonials
>> View our testimonials of a screenshot of Systemtek Technologies

SeizePro Design
2 of our testimonials and even kept the client names intact.
>> View our testimonials on a screenshot of SeizePro Design

Mpire Solutions
three testimonials on their site and 2 are ours.
>> View our testimonials on a screenshot of Mpire Solutions

Compuask Group
2 testimonials from our site.
>> View our testimonials on a screenshot of Compuask Group

All 5 testimonials on their web site are from us
>> View our testimonials on a screenshot of Nexxpoint

360 Scenes
At least 2 of the testimonials
>> View our testimonials on a screenshot of 360 scenes

Moynahan Multimedia
1 testimonial  used on many pages of their site
>>View our testimonial on a screenshot of Moynahan Multimedia

Pittsburgh IT Solutions
1 testimonial
>> View our testimonial on a screenshot of Pittsburgh IT Solutions

Technical CAD
1 testimonial
l>> View our testimonial on a screenshot of Technical Cad

Website Design City
2 stolen testimonials
>>View our testimonials on a screenshot of Website Design City

Best Coder
2 testimonials from our site
>>View our testimonials on a screenshot of Best Coder

BML Design
1 of our testimonials
>> View our testimonial on a screenshot of BML Design

Crystal Eye Design
1 testimonial
>>View our testimonial on a screenshot of Crystal Eye Design

Hire Web Developer
1 testimonial
>>View our testimonial on a screenshot of Hire Web Developer

Iqra Creation
1 testimonial
>> View our testimonial on a screenshot of Iqra Creation

Outsource Website Development Company
2 testimonials
>> View our testimonials on a screenshot of Outsource Website Development Company

Vikas Kapoor
A whopping 7 testimonials.
>> View our testimonials on a screenshot of Vikas Kapoor

BrightZone Design
2 testimonials
>>View our testimonials on a screenshot of BrightZone Design

All 3 of the testimonials on their site belong to us. They even “forgot ” to remove our company name.
>> View our testimonials on a screenshot of Simple

Prosites Online
all 3 of the testimonials on their site belong to us including 1 for Pro Bono work
>> View our testimonials on a screenshot of Prosites Online

SpinWeb Creations
tA estimonial I received for pro bono work
>> View our testimonial on a screenshot of Spinweb Creations

2 testimonials
>>View our testimonials on a screenshot of SmartHO

2 testimonials
>> View our testimonials on a screenshot of WebTotal

May 2012 …the latest offenders

stolen testimonialsIdea RGV
All 4 testimonials on their site
>>View our testimonials, displayed on the footer of every page , on a screen shot of Idea RGV

AM2 Internet Design
1  testimonial used on multiple pages of their site
>>View stolen testimonial on a screen shot of AM2 Internet Design

A freelance web designer
All three testimonials on this freelancer’s site belong to us
>>View three testimonials on a screenshot of this site

Sylvester Marketing Group
Both testimonials on their site >>view stolen testimonials on Sylvester Marketing Group


Prestige Web Innovations
one testimonial
>>View screen shot of stolen testimonial


Fraudulent use of website testimonials

Would you believe it if I told you in just a few hours today I have found 22 web design companies using my client testimonials as their own, yes TWENTY TWO.

This investigation was kicked off by a call from a client over the weekend, who had found the wonderful testimonial she had given me, on an unfamiliar site.  I found that they had not only used hers,  but testimonials from two more of my clients, including one I did for some pro-bono design. The only change they had made to the testimonials was to replace my company name with theirs.

This is not the first time I have had content stolen from my web site but it is the first time for testimonial swipes. Luckily I have a tried and tested method for dealing with this highly unethical behavior.

  1. Take a screen shot of the offending page. Always good to have visual proof of the “offense”
  2. Contact the offending web site and request immediate removal of material. I prefer to do this via email than over the phone so I have a paper trail of communication. If the only contact is through an online form I make sure I take a copy of what I send.
  3. Visit whois.net and run a search on the domain name to see where the site is hosted – you can establish this by copying the nameservers and running them through Google.
  4. Contact the hosting company and alert them to the fact they are hosting a website with fraudulent or copyrighted content. Hosting companies take this very seriously and will quickly shut a site down if the webmaster does not rectify the situation.
  5. Contact Google and get any ranked pages excluded from their search

The initial offending company responded quickly to my email this morning and called me to say that it had been a mistake and they were just in the process of building their web site and were using my client testimonials as filled text. Ummm,  if that is the case why bother removing my company name and replacing it with your own? They did take down the fraudulent page but the testimonial swipe was by no means a “mistake”. They must think I was born yesterday.

So that is 1 down and 21 to go. It is going to be a busy week but I will not stop until I have addressed everyone of these pathetic web site companies. Even found a couple of companies here on my own turf in Chicago

I am considering creating a wall of shame and naming names to bring to light all of these unscrupulous web design companies, got quite a stash of screen shots to share.

© Copyright 2011 Chicago web designer

What is a call to action?

Its all very well getting a ton of traffic to your web site but are your visitors doing what you want them to do, or quickly bouncing off your site? If you don’t have some serious “call to actions” in place chances, are they are wandering around aimlessly or worse still hitting that back button and leaving your website all together.

What is a call to action?

Simplistically, it is a set of actions you would like your users to carry out, for example signing up for a service, filling out a contact form or subscribing to a news letter. It gives your visitors focus and is a great way to measure how your site is performing.

Lets look at a couple of  “call to actions” in operation.

The website for  hardscapestl.com, an excellent resource for landscaping ideas and a fine oiled lead generation machine.

The home page offers a number of routes into the site depending on visitors needs but two recently added components are highlighted with splashes of red to create primary call to actions; register to win a gift card and Free download of patio plans.

Website call to action

The gift card call to action leads to a simple sign up form.

The Free patio plan button leads to this page which offers a number of plans to download with a call to action for each plan.

call to action button for website

When the visitor has selected their plan they are taken to this page

fill in form call to action

and need to fill in a form to download their plan. The visitor gets a free plan and hardscapestl.com get an excellent  qualified lead to follow up on.

A win win for both.

Does your website have call to actions?

© 2011 Chicago web designer

Extreme Couponing for Web Designers

I watched my first episode of  TLC’s Extreme Couponing last week and was amazed at the ingenuity and lengths some people go to,  to get stuff for free. The internet plays a huge part in their ability to get the best deals on all sorts of products.

So in the spirit of that program I thought I’d do a series on Extreme Couponing for web designers.

Let kick off with What you can get for FREE – no coupons required for this stuff

Google Products:  Google offers a load of free products, from the  igoogle home pageyou can fill with gadgets to manage your bookmarks ( even have a folder for all your coupon web sites), see the weather for the week, read the news etc, to Gmail for your email needs. They even offer free storage of photographs through Picasa and you can build a basic website using Google sites

Blogging Platforms
Google’s blogger is great for simple blogs but WordPress is better for the more complex.

Content Management Systems
WordPress is being used more and more these days as a CMS system ( I read recently that 14% of all new web site being built today are built using WordPress).  Joomla is a great application for building member type web sites, Drupal is another good contender.

Internet Marketing
Set up free social networking  accounts with Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and monitor traffic and SEO efforts with the wonderful Google Analytics

Next time coupons for domain names hosting and stock photography.

© 2011 Chicago web designer

Eye of the Chicago web designer: Creativity on my Desk

As a web and graphic designer it is my job to be creative, to come up with new a novel ways of presenting things, to create designs that are visually alluring and engaging.

Well the creative aspect of my job tumbles into my everyday life and there is nothing like this little pop of color on my desk to make me pick up one of these lovely home made pens and start sketching out logo ideas or architectural wire frame details.

Creativity on my desk


© 2011 Chicago web designer

New website for Solon Gershman Inc

Launched today is a re-designed web site for Solon Gershman Inc, a St Louis commercial real estate company.

New web site for Solon Gershman

We completely reworked their old site, creating a fresh new professional look which is easier to use and consistent throughout. The home page features a slide show of properties with easy access to property search tools and the latest company news. The  site  integrates data from a 3rd party property listing service and offers the site visitors a seamless experience.

Solon Gershman website

Just in case you were wondering here is what the old site looked like.

©: 2011 Chicago web designer