QUESTION:

I want to protect my clients' privacy, but I do have testimonials to put on my website. But I'm concerned about the testimonials then looking less real, or like I made them up. How can I make them look as real as possible and still protect my clients?
ANSWER:
First of all, ask your clients if they really mind having their name listed on your website. They might not be as concerned about privacy as you think they might be. 

Of course, some professions such as financial planners and psychologists are prohibited by law from using testimonials of any sort to promote their work. If you're in one of these professions, build credibility in other ways – try writing articles, giving media interviews, and establishing your expertise through your knowledge.

If you can use testimonials, but you don't want to use your clients' full names to protect their identities, then you have a couple of options:

  • List them by first name and last initial. This isn't quite as ideal as listing the full name, but it will give your testimonial more credibility than not listing any attribution at all.
  • Mention their position title and place of work
  • Credit them by profession only: for example "- Interior Designer"
  • Mention their location: i.e.: Menlo Park, CA
  • Use "names changed to protect their identities" – like journalists will when they're protecting a source.
  • Use a combination of the above. If you can combine some of these more general types of attribution, you'll make your testimonials look more real and believable.