:: By Bart Mroz, SUMO Heavy Industries ::
Whenever I buy a new car, I insist the dealership remove its emblem and license plate frame from the back. I'm paying enough for this vehicle that I don't intend it to be a rolling advertisement for the establishment that sold it to me. To me, it's a deal-breaker, and as you might imagine, despite some raised eyebrows, the dealerships have never had an issue with it, since their main concern was always completing the sale.
So as an ecommerce website developer, why would I expect our customers to emblazon the footer of their site with my company's link?
I come across this quite often. Some developers still insist on putting outbound links for their company on their clients' sites. OK, if you're replacing my roof or doing some renovations to my home and offer me a sizeable financial break for putting your sign on my front lawn, I'm down with that. Who wouldn't want to save a few bucks? But unless you're offering my company a generous (that is, "huge") discount on our Web design, your link just doesn't belong here. Here's why:
It cheapens the client's brand.
This not only applies to ecommerce sites, but to smaller businesses as well. When's the last time you noticed a developer's logo on Amazon.com? The phrase, "This site powered by" followed by the logo and link of the developer, is a relic of the Web, and never served any purpose other than to blow the horn of the design shop. To all external audiences, your website should be powering itself.
It cheapens your brand.
This practice makes your company look prideful, or desperate, or worst of all, amateurish. There are so many more practical ways to get your logo and link online these days. By staking out real estate on your clients' sites, what you're really doing is screaming, "We're great!" The truly great companies don't have to say it, but let others say it for them. Which leads to...
The work should speak for itself.
If you've designed and built a great site and the client is happy, you can be sure they'll be more than happy to give you a referral. Word of mouth is still the best advertising. Having a selection of great work on your site (with testimonials, if possible) is your best form of advertising.
It's Not 'Free Advertising.'
You'd probably hate it if your client came over and placed a banner with his logo on your front lawn, so why are you doing it to him? What does he get out of it? Even worse is when you've placed the link there without consent ("Gee, maybe they won't notice!").
On the other hand, if the client is using a free theme or template, it's only fair to keep the supplier's footer attribution in place. Good karma!
To clients, if you're looking to have an ecommerce site built, make sure the developer or team you select is open-minded about this policy, and doesn't have this stipulation built into its contract. If so, as I do with car dealers, ask to have it removed. You'll likely find it's not a deal-breaker.
Bart Mroz is CEO and head of brand experience for SUMO Heavy Industries, a Philadelphia ecommerce website developer. To contact him, e-mail email@example.com. For more information, visit www.sumoheavy.com.