Dangerously close

The CSS Vault has been showcasing good CSS–driven designs for some time, linking to some of the best designs around. A few hours ago, I found the newest entry, pointing to this site called aDeuxMains. Now, have a look at Dan Cederholm’s SimpleBits and Doug Bowman’s StopDesign, two well–known sites of famous web designers. Observe closely SimpleBits’s navigation bar at the top, and StopDesign’s sidebar on the right side; have a second look at aDeuxMains’s layout again. Seeing some familiar details?

Certainly, this cannot be considered a “rip,” a term for blatant, inconsiderate copying of someone else’s (graphic) work. Everyone who develops an interest for web and graphic design passes such a stage at some point. “View Source,” as Zeldman would say, is a great learning tool. However, to publicly use heavily–inspired designs without mention of your “inspirational sources,” and have your work listed on a CSS–resources site, is at the very least—unacceptable. Dangerously close to the limits.

What do you think?

Screenshots of concerned sites and pages.

Update: Leone just posted a comment noting that aDeuxMains’s top header is actually based off Brookelyn.org. Now it makes me wonder, has this site crossed the line?

7 Responses

  1. I agree with you in that this design shouldn’t be considered a rip — but — it is borderline.

    Extracting elements from a web site (including blatantly saving the specific image to your HDD) and calling them your own is just tacky. Your website should be a reflection of your style and having remnants from other sites as “inspirational” influences is perfectly acceptable.

    Never should we consider one design having 100% original elements. Everything is inspired by something else and it seems like some designers, advertisers, etc. feel the need to call their work original when in fact it was inspired by something they saw somewhere else.

    Case in point, I do my research and look at features that compliment a web site’s design. When it comes down to designing a site I’ll keep in mind what I researched and add to the pot if you may. It’s the same concept when you receive a recipe from someone or from a magazine, you’ll add ingredients and possibly eliminate ingredients and call the dish your own.

    As Voltaire said, ‘Originality is nothing but judicious imitation. The most original writers borrowed one from another.’

  2. kartooner, nicely said. I was particularly disturbed seeing the stopdesign sidebar on that site, with the same list-image and the same CamelCase text style for the various sidebar headings. It could have been more tolerable just coming across it, but to have it listed on CSS Vault was just too much.

  3. How about this site? Brookelyn.org. Notice the graphic on the header. Looks familiar? I say it is. The webpage you mentioned looks like Stopdesign and Brookelyn.org combined.

  4. Leone, you’re right. It seems the designer hardly created anything unique for that specific layout, just a simple “rip, mix & match” job. Bad move. I’m wondering how the original designers would react to this.

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