I’m sure you, like me, are still in shock at the revelation that the latest Clearleft website was in fact stolen from a much smaller agency somewhere in Kent (see http://adactio.com/journal/6232/ for more info). Whilst I winced and chuckled my way through Jeremy Keith’s recording of the resulting phone call, I also had a real sense of doom. What if that happened to us? We’d never purposefully rip-off someone’s site and I’d be gutted if we were ever accused of it. But we are so often inspired by a lot of design that I worry we might accidentally steal. And that’s before we even get to the fact that there’s a lot of ‘samey’ looking sites out there. It’s healthy paranoia and we have a few internal checklists to try and avoid such things.
If you can answer yes to any or all of these questions, STOP! You’re probably about to steal a design
I’m going to use Mark Boulton Design as the case study. They recently launched their new site just at a point where we’re desperately trying to put together our own, and struggling a bit, and we want something like that. I’d say we’re in real danger of stealing it. So rather than doing any of the things on our basics list, I started to break down why we wanted to steal it.
I could go on, and I probably will, with this and a few other sites, but that’s quite enough licking of bums and I’m sure you get the idea. This is actually quite a useful list for us as a team of two and it most certainly shifts the focus away from that copyrighted combination of colour, typography, words and layout.
Desperate as we are to have what they have this partially completed list has enough for us to ‘steal’ a little of what we have interpreted as part of their success but also to be honest with ourselves and understand what we can’t achieve just now; like their staff, office, clients, time and budgets. With those things in mind even if we thought we could get away with it, nicking the design outright seems futile anyway.
We’ll try never to look at the site again as we build our own but you can be sure we’ll be checking back when our first round is done to check we haven’t been too heavily inspired.
There is no point 2.