Stop posting lame client testimonials

You’ve just finished a project with your client. They love the work you’ve done for them. The design is perfect. The price is right. And the moment couldn’t be more perfect.

So you pop the question: “Can I get a testimonial from you?”

When they say “yes,” you get all excited and can’t wait to post a new positive testimonial on your web site or portfolio.

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But a few weeks later when your client gets around to sending a testimonial via email, it turns out to be really lame.

A bust. Worthless.

Lame testimonials

I visit a lot of designers’ web portfolios. You may not know it, but I try to visit the portfolio or web site of every commenter here at Millo.

And there’s a particular part of design portfolios that I have noticed going downhill lately. Testimonials.

It’s not our fault…or is it?

We can’t help it if our clients give us lousy testimonials…or can we?

Most designers think if they give the best service possible and produce the most marvelous work possible, that the world’s best client testimonial will just magically appear upon request.

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Not so.

5 tips to make your testimonials rock!

There are a few things you can do to make your client testimonials rock the socks off of your site visitors and future clients. If you have more tips, leave a comment and let me know.

1. Use live, personal quotes as testimonials
There’s no law that says you have to have a client testimonial sent to you in written form. Sometimes the exclamations your clients make when they see their new site for the first time are much better than a boring, well-thought-out email a week later. Pay attention to your clients’ genuine response to your work and then turn that into your next testimonial.

That being said, if you mostly work with clients remotely, use their email responses after they receive the completed project as a testimonial. There’s nowhere that says you have to officially receive a notarized testimonial in order to publish it on your web site.

2. Don’t just stick to clients
There’s also no rule in existence that says you have to only post testimonials from clients. If other, reputable people acclaim your work, post it. If a fellow designer, a colleague, or a critic says something positive about your work, post it as a testimonial on your site.

Avoid citing your mother’s compliments or your best friend’s kind words, but branch out. Don’t just stick to official clients.

3. Avoid heavy, boring vernacular lingo
It can be really easy to post the word-for-word, heavy, boring testimonial a client sends you in an email. Try to take the heavy, emotionless words, out of the picture. If a client gave the following testimonial:

“The site Preston designed for us will help us further our business objectives by captivating customers on our newly created landing pages. We are pleased with the great work that will now allow us to increase profit-sharing and ultimately increase our bottom line.”

or some sort of garbage like that, I would cut out everything and post the following testimonial:

“We are pleased with the great … site Preston designed for us.”

See what I did there?

4. Don’t delay
One of the quickest ways to kill a testimonial is to let a lot of time pass between the completion of the project and the posting of the testimonial. Why?

There are two reasons.

First, it gives them time to forget how much they loved your work.

Second, it gives them more time to make up some complicated testimonial instead of just sending something simple and genuine.

Give your clients deadlines by which they should send you a testimonial (if you don’t capture it in the moment when you first deliver the project).

5. Keep it short
No one, no matter how interested they are in working with you, is going to read a series of full-paragraph testimonials. Keep your testimonials short and sweet, capturing the most emotion-packed and potent phrases you can.

How do you capture killer testimonials?

How do you get testimonials that rock for your web portfolio or site? What do you ask your clients? If you’ve got some good testimonials posted somewhere, leave a comment and share a link with us so we can all take a look.

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About Preston D Lee

Preston is an entrepreneur, writer, podcaster, and the founder of this blog. You can contact him via twitter at @prestondlee.


  1. Great advice as always Preston.

    I tend to have a shortened version on my homepage:

    and then the full client version on a testimonial page:

    As suggested pick out the good and simple bits and leave the jargon out as much as possible. This post has inspired me to take another look and also add some more.


    • Preston D Lee says:

      That’s a great idea: posting a short version that leads to a longer version. I love it. Glad you feel inspired to update your site. Let me know how it goes.

  2. I write it myself based on the conversations I’ve had with the the client and then ask the client to approve it.

    • Preston D Lee says:

      That’s another great option! That way you have 100% control over what your testimonial says, how long it is, and how lame it isn’t. Thanks for sharing.

  3. so you visit every portfolio dont you? 😛

    • Preston D Lee says:

      I knew I would get at least one comment like this one. If you ever post a link like that again, I will ban you from commenting on this blog. Millo is a high-quality blog with educated readers and we have no need of your filth. (To everyone else, I took down the link so you didn’t have to see what I did when I clicked through on his name.)

      At Millo, we comment with a little more class than that, Gustavo.

  4. Great advice, I’ll have to take note to this article when I request a testimonial from future clients.

  5. If you do a great job as a designer you can probably get an audio or video testimonial which is fantastic and really speaks to your credibility and the quality of your work if they are willing to put their face and voice to a testimonial about what you’ve done for them.

    Failing that you can read their testimonials on camera which still speaks to your credibility since you are putting your own face and voice out there in their stead. Obviously the first option is better but either is impressive and more “impactful” than a lousy text blurb.

    • Preston D Lee says:

      That’s an amazing idea! I love it. I had never thought of it. Have you tried this before? How did it turn out?

      I was reading through your blog and would love to have you do a guest post sometime here at Millo. Whattya think?

  6. We typically don’t publish our testimonials, but we do collect them.

    One of the best tips I’ve picked up for testimonials was actually from Duct Tape Marketing:

    The 1 Question Testimonial – short, sweet, and to the point. We’re still collecting more testimonials to provide on demand, and the tips you’ve provided here are fantastic, as well. I’ll have to start pulling client quotes from email.

    • Preston D Lee says:

      Out of curiousity: Why do you collect them if you don’t publish them? Just to provide when a client asks? Like a reference? Is that how I’m understanding your comment? Interesting.

  7. Thanks for this bit of advice… Some of the best compliments I’ve gotten have been facebook comments from fans of my business page. I never included them anywhere because they were just short little offhanded quips, and I just figured they were not the client so they didn’t count…

    One fan said something like… Wow! You created that cover too? That’s the whole reason I bought that book! (that was one of the nicest compliments I’ve ever gotten)

    And another said…

    25 October 2011 at 20:49 · Like
    Gorgeous!!! I want to read the Book now!

    I’ll definitely have to rethink my position on that…

    • Oooh, and…. I always ask my authors to autograph my books. They always have such lovely things to say on the inscription. Bet I can find some testimonials there too… Wow, you’ve really got me thinking… Thanks


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