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I've recently started doing some freelance web design work and just finished a complete revamp of a local business website.

The previous design was done by another designer. I know this as the previous footer has a "designed by.." linking to his website. The website linked to is a business portfolio for the designer showing off his work and ways to contact him for new work.

The problem is he is still linking to the this local business as his work even though it is now my work. Surely he is not aware of that a new design has recently been completed.

I am not sure how long if ever it will be until he checks all his links and makes sure they're still valid. So I'm not sure how, or if, to inform him to no longer use this site in his portfolio.

I could email him, but I don't want to come off as rude by essentially saying "I just overrode all your previous hard work and now I need to not point to it anymore" or potentially cause bad blood between him and the business for not choosing to work with him again.

I could also ask the local business to inform him but I feel it is not really their duty.

I could also just ignore it, but of course I don't really want others claiming my hard work, as well as I believe it could cause problems for him if he shows up at an interview and opens up a link to a site he's never seen.

How should I proceed?

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Before doing anything (as mentioned by @Scott)

ask the client if the byline is part of a contract with the previous designer. If it is, you need to discuss this with the client. Leaving their byline on your work would be completely unacceptable to me.

If you edit the signature (I call the designer link the 'signature' as it's like an artist signing their artwork) and there are contract rules about when it can or cannot be edited/ if the original designer needs to be given advanced notice before the change then the client could be held responsible for your change (they should really be aware of their own existing contracts, though)

I don't really want others claiming my hard work

I could make a portfolio website right now and link to all of your projects claiming they're mine. Nothing is stopping me from doing that but I won't have the clients backing or the footer link (developer/designer signature) indicating that it was actually my work. It's traditional to place a link on websites you've made and most clients are also aware.

I could also ask the local business to inform him but I feel it is not really their duty.

It's no way the clients obligation, nor is it yours (unless it's stated in a contract). If anything, you'd do this off of courtesy.


If you decide to contact the original designer you could also send along a link from the WayBack Machine of the design they made.

The message could be as simple as

Dear X

My name is Y and I am now working for one of your previous clients, Z.

I will be changing the footer link on the website to represent the most recent version of the website. I noticed that you're linking to Y on your website and wanted to give you an advanced notice so that you can take action.

I grabbed this link off of the WayBack Machine from the version of the clients website that you designed so that you can still use this great design as a reference for your future clients.

Best Regards,

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First, ask the client if the byline is part of a contract with the previous designer. If it is, you need to discuss this with the client. Leaving their byline on your work would be completely unacceptable to me.

Second, realize that many of these type of bylines are done without client approval. But they don't really raise client disapproval either. Many designers will add the byline without any discussion... the client sees it and simply does not object to it so they say nothing.

Provided the byline is not part of any contract, remove it.

Third, if you're interested in using your own byline and the client is okay with it, then do so. If he's/she's linking to the site... and the byline is not hers/his it will merely reflect poorly upon him/her. Not your problem.

Fourth, do you know for a fact this previous designer is linking to the live site? Many web designers know better than to link to live sites because they can easily change and not provide the impression one wishes to convey.

It's a quick lesson to learn when you discover that the beautiful, awe-inspiring, web site you designed has been reworked by the client last week, because they just started learning HTML, and you've linked to it as your work. [Oh, the horror stories that many could tell.]

I never link to live sites. I use images/screenshots. There's a valid reason you honestly rarely see live links in any portfolio.

Lastly, if you don't want to implement your own byline, but you want to remove theirs. Then remove it and send a polite email. Something like:

Hello,

The web site for XXXXX has been redesigned and any portfolio links you may be using are no longer valid.

Thank you

There's no further need to respond to anything they may reply with. And his/her relationship with your client is, again, not your problem. You were hired to do a job. Sending the email is merely a courtesy. Of course, this doesn't mean they won't use the link still... but there's really next to nothing you can do about that. Any ethical designer will stop using any links.

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I would send the message but on behalf of someone else, maybe a fake person. Make out you're interested in their work by admiring a part that doesn't exist, thus pointing out its a different work, while still sounding like an innocent client looking for a freelancer. Eg.

"I really like the way you designed X website, especially (identify something you did that they didn't so that go on it to see), I'm thinking of having a website similar. How long would it take? I also like how you did (another one)"

Or maybe "I like the update you did to the website recently! Do you give discount for returning clients?"

They're bound to go back and look at it. Maybe then it would prompt them to remove it. Or atleast ammend their website to show their original designs/screenshots etc

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