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Discussion Starter #1
I was having a conversation with someone the other day about creating my site for my t-shirts. I've been trying to come up with just the perfect look for my demographic. They suggested that I find a site that I like and take a look at the source file and just edit it with my content and try and copy the graphics. It seems kind of sneaky to me. Has anyone ever done this or heard of someone doing this? What are the implications of doing something like this? The legalities, ethics, etc.? Is this kind of thing frowned upon in the web community, or standard practice, like this person was trying to lead me to believe? I didn't really know how to feel about it and wanted to know what others thought.
Thanks
 

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that is not standard practice, and is wrong to do. Why would anyone want to copy someone elses code anyway. Wouldnt you want to write your own code so that it is neatly done, and so you know there are no mistakes.

What is allowed, is to find sites that you like and copy color schemes, layouts, and ideas from different sites and use them on your own site together. You cant just blatantly rip off a site.
 

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Basically, when I started web designing, I often used the source of other websites as a guide or learning tool and there is nothing wrong with that. The thing that makes one site unique from another is a combination of things. Not only the source code but the theme, content, colours, layout etc. and how they fit together. If you copy all of that then yes, thats wrong because you are 'cloning' the site.

I think if you're not good in web design than you can use the source of another site as a guide although what jdr said is true, it may be full of faults and unorganized. I actually did exactly that. I saw a site that I liked and recreated it exactly using oscommerce then told me designer to skin it. The result is I have a site very similar in layout to the one I saw but totally different in function and design. I was on that site often figuring out what they did to achieve a certain effect and it paid off.

I think if you use a website source code as a guide and not rip it off entirely as well as CHANGE your graphics and theme, you've done nothing wrong.
 

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Can't say that I totally agree with JDR there. Code is a more standardized entity than design, and there are probably a limited number of ways to code a site to do a particular thing.

It is my understanding that code is copied pretty regularly in the web community, and that many programmers when faced with a new problem will look to see how other programmers have coded.

It is fine to take inspiration visually from other sites, as jdr said, just don't rip them off.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
What I have been planning on doing is what you guys have suggested: looking at different sites that I like and kind of incorporating different things from them into my design. Like I said, it does seem sneaky, and I would hate it if someone ripped my site off exactly that I had worked hard on.
Anybody else?
 

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There were same major court cases in the early 90s I think when people started to take fonts, and give them a different name and sell them as there own. The original font designers went to court for infringement and lost, because at there base, fonts are the alphabet. Everyone uses them, and most people need to use them.

Code, to my understanding, is the same way. Everyone creating the internet needs to use it, in some way, to create sites.

It's basically a language, and there generally are not laws in place that would prevent people from being able to use a language as needed.

I would say that most programmers know that their code is readily available to anyone viewing their page, and therefore their code can be copied and adapted for use by others.
 

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Copying code is a common practice in the web community. I have copied portions of javascript code to figure out how something functions... most web designers do... from novice to expert. Anyone who says it's not common practice is most likely not fully immersed in the business. If you want to go out and copy code from an entire page, change out all the text and graphics to make it your own I'd say go for it. This is not how I prefer to work but it could be a good way to learn how pages are put together.

If you are worried about infringing on someone or someone's site why don't you go somewhere like www.templatemonster.com and pick up a fully functional html design complete with layered psd files, so that you can tweak it, for around $50.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Interesting...there seems to be different schools of thought here. So you don't think there is anything wrong with completely copying someone esle's design and just changing the text for your content?
 

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Comin'OutSwingin said:
Interesting...there seems to be different schools of thought here. So you don't think there is anything wrong with completely copying someone esle's design and just changing the text for your content?
I don't think anybody here said that.

I think what was said that people have looked at the source of websites as a *learning tool*, not just a quick replacement of text for their finished product.
 

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Rodney is correct that no one said to copy everything and change only the text. The idea being presented is that it is OK (I guess) to basically copy a site so that you have the basic layout and functionality of a well made site. To make it your own you would need to swap out all the graphics with your own, which includes all pictures, banners, buttons, background, color scheme, etc., and of course all the text will be your own also. Copying a site, would just be a way to -help you start- to create a site that has a layout and function that you would like to have.

Also, I don't believe you need the "perfect look" right off the bat. That could drive you insane and take you forever to get a site up and running. Get it really close to what you consider perfect and get it going. Make sure it functions perfectly and presents your offerings well. From there, I think a site can evolve over time to suit both your taste as well as your customer's.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I was asking for clarification of DickTees.net's post. Hence, the question mark. I wasn't sure what he was saying. He says that copying is a common practice and if I wanted to do copy code to go for it. I didn't ask if it was okay to do it in order to learn. jdr8271, says it's not standard practice and wrong to do. I was just trying to get a better understanding of what dicktees.net said. Again, a question, not a statement.
 

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Yes I know, unless I'm not understanding your question, but the best way to use copied code is to learn something from it. Otherwise, I'd say go ahead and copy a site, and then change everything you can see except the layout and functionality. That is still not an easy task, and may even be harder than starting from scratch if you do not know anything about html.
 

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Comin'OutSwingin said:
I was asking for clarification of DickTees.net's post. Hence, the question mark. I wasn't sure what he was saying. He says that copying is a common practice and if I wanted to do copy code to go for it. I didn't ask if it was okay to do it in order to learn. jdr8271, says it's not standard practice and wrong to do. I was just trying to get a better understanding of what dicktees.net said. Again, a question, not a statement.
I understand, and my post was to help clarify the points that were made :)

jdr was saying that you can get ideas from other sites and combine elements to make your own unique design, but don't copy directly and use it on your site.

dicktees basically said the same thing in different words. He mentioned copying javascript (which many folks do and there are entire sites for getting javascript code).

He also said that copying a website could be a good way to learn how the page is put together:

dicktees said:
If you want to go out and copy code from an entire page, change out all the text and graphics to make it your own I'd say go for it. This is not how I prefer to work but it could be a good way to learn how pages are put together.
(I put that part in bold)

Seems like everyone is just about saying the same thing in different words from different perspectives.

Don't just copy a site and change the graphics/text and upload it can call it your site.

If you are learning out to layout a site or learning HTML, some people have had success by looking at the source of sites they like and seeing how the webpage was put together and laid out. When they actually designed their own site, they changed the layout to make it unique to their site.

In my opinion, from an ethical standpoint, you should just come up with something that is unique for you. That doesn't mean you have to reinvent the wheel (some parts of a website like navigation bars, etc are standard), but try to make your site unique.

For example: I've seen a few sites that have the same "style" as bustedtees (simple main page rows of square product thumbnails for you to click on to take you to the product page...navigation across the top), but each seems to add something unique to the design to make it their own (for the most part). I'm not sure who did it "first", but it is clearly an easy way to display a large number of t-shirt designs to allow the shopper to easily scan and see if a product catches their eye.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
It didn't seem like a different way to say the same thing. jdr8271 starts his post by saying that it's not standard practice and is wrong to do. Dicktees starts his post by saying it is a common practice in the web community. He also says that if I want to go and copy code from an entire page, change out the text/graphics,(this is the main point here) to make it my own, then go for it. The part you put in bold seems to an afterthought, to him. Like it can also be a good way to learn. That's why I asked for the clarification. Then when I ask if that's what he meant, you say nobody said that. But, the first part of the quote that you quoted of him says exactly that!
His exact words were:
If you want to go out and copy code from an entire page, change out all the text and graphics to make it your own I'd say go for it.
My exact words after that:
So you don't think there is anything wrong with completely copying someone esle's design and just changing the text for your content?
Your response to my question:
I don't think anybody here said that.
Again, I was just trying to understand exactly what he was saying, because I wasn't sure what he meant. Because as you see, there are some differences. But that's really beside the point. I never said I was going to do it, and even thought it was kind of underhanded myself. I just wanted to know what others thought about it. He said what he thought, but I wasn't sure what he meant. So I asked.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I would suggest that you stop reading it then. And please don't tell me how to spend my time. I wouldn't consider it "hemming and hawwing". It's called discussion. My whole reason for the thread was to spark some conversation about it. If you don't want to participate in the discussion, trust me, no one is forcing you to do so. I never asked "what should I do?". If you look at my questions at the beginning of the thread, you will see that I was merely curious as to how other forum members felt about the issue. Those of you that have responded, thank you. After some clarifications(thanks Rodney), I see what some of you think.
Anybody else got some opinions on the subject of copying web designs?
 

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Comin'OutSwingin said:
I would suggest that you stop reading it then. And please don't tell me how to spend my time. I wouldn't consider it "hemming and hawwing". It's called discussion.
Ah-HA! So THIS is what I look like when I post half my messages. Now I honestly understand why people call me an ***hole (to make it perfectly clear - I am not saying you are - just that I can see how it comes across when I do similar things).

I can (clearly) see where you're coming from, and was equally frustrated by the earlier comments of "nobody here was saying that..." (when indeed they were - you are right), but that said...

Personally I just found DT's comment ("Reading this thread gives me a headache...") funny, and his suggestion ("just go download a free...") really does sidestep an issue that thus becomes irrelevant. It's a reasonable solution.

Basically... while you are essentially correct you should lighten up anyway.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Solmu, you are very clear. I see your point. Please don't tell me that I'm reminding you of yourself! I apologize sincerely to all that I have subjected to this nonsense!(lol)
 

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Comin'OutSwingin said:
Solmu, you are very clear. I see your point. Please don't tell me that I'm reminding you of yourself!
I apologise; I should be careful where I throw around such insults :D
 
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