It’s not art, it’s a website

Picasso Fine artists sign their works.  I get that.  It’s art.

Apparently many web designers are aspiring Picassos.  There’s a trend initiated by web design companies that I just don’t get.  It’s the "signature line" that they believe they’re entitled to place at the bottom of their clients’ websites.

"Website designed by XYZ" is a prevalent footer on many commercially designed websites.  I am here to tell you, as a client — just say no.

I have no idea how this trend started.  Can you imagine seeing a TV spot and then, as part of the close hearing "this spot was created by Weiden + Kennedy?"  Or seeing McLellan Marketing Group at the bottom of a print ad in one of our client’s trade pubs?  Sounds ludicrous, doesn’t it?

And yet, clients across the land don’t blink an eye when the company they are paying decided to use that site as an advertisement for themselves!

I think the ONLY acceptable exception to this rule is if the web design company donates their services.  Then, they deserve the credit line.

If you’re a client out there — check your site and if there’s a fine art signature at the bottom, e-mail your web company and ask them to remove it immediately.

If you’re a web company — why not differentiate yourself in the marketplace by acknowledging that you understand you’re creating a business tool for your clients and will treat it accordingly.

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6 comments on “It’s not art, it’s a website

  1. Patrick says:

    Our company does provide web design services and yes we do this however we do ask our clients first if it is ok and most say it’s fine and we in turn post the link to their sites on our portfolio page. I have no problem at all not having the link their but it’s also more than a pride issue. Occasionally a visitor to one of the sites will have a problem and we have been quickly contacted and were able to fix a customers site based on a visitors feedback. I prefer a clien’s site to be as clean and clutter free as possible but it’s often a good think to provide a link and acknowledgement of the web designer. They are other links and things that are a lot less useful like the “Made on a Mac” or this site designed with “such and such” software. The customer or site visitor could care less about what platform or software is used but as web development/designers are often “contract employees” unless the site was done in-house it good to have the resource listed. However I do think the less flashy the better.

  2. Gavin Heaton says:

    I agree, Drew. But I am also surprised that so many companies allow this to happen … because the web is still so new for many businesses, the “shonky” practices of some make it harder for the more “professional” groups out there. Let’s see a little more honesty and a little less “smoke and mirrors”.

    Web design is not a dark art … and it certainly isn’t magic. And yet applied to a cause, a business challenge or opportunity it really can transform the way that we look at the world/engage with issues. Just remember, it is just another channel to reach and engage your audience — and tell the web developers that.

  3. Patrick,

    Here’s the rub for me. Putting a “if you run into trouble, here’s how to get help” is a very different thing “this site built by ZXC Web Design” which is more typically what I see.

    The first is to benefit the client and their customers. The second is to benefit the web company.


  4. Gavin,

    Good to see you got your voice back!

    To me, having the web developers info on the bottom of your site is akin to having your cell phone manufacturer interrupt your calls to run a :15 ad!


  5. Patrick says:

    I see what you are saying. It’s never my intention to use my clients sites as an advertising forum (although some “clients” are friends and family and they actually want me to put the link on their for that reason). However I’m the kind of person who will rip a logo off a shirt (i.e. the old Izod Alligator) however I love Apple computer so much I love the fact their classy logo is displayed on the back of the laptop however I think the “wordy” ones from Dell, HP, etc. are cheesy. I’ll bring this up at our next staff meeting. I do want web visitors contacting me for web issues instead of my clients directly and them going into a panic, etc.

  6. Patrick,

    I’ll be curious to see how your staff reacts to the discussion.

    Having a text link that says “Technical Assistance” is pretty different from having a web developer’s logo with a Created by line.


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