An Informal Moral Code For Designers
Last fall, I released a portfolio page with the sole intention of finding a new job. I was working fulltime on an application that had evolved (to its own detriment) into something entirely different than I had hoped. A project that was once exploding with potential had lost its passion, therefore so did I in my role. I've always wanted to be part of a team that builds something that people genuinely love using, and I knew that if I stayed there I would be doing myself an injustice. Now, I've never thought of myself as a "good" designer by any stretch. With no formal schooling in design, I've always just managed to fumble my way through
Photoshop until I'm happy with what's on my screen. But to my surprise, my portfolio received mass recognition over night. It was featured in numerous design showcase galleries and even got me an invite to Dribbble, where to this day I am in awe by the work of community members like Rogie King, Matthew Smith, and David Lanham. In just a a few short days my site landed me a plane ticket down to California where I met with a job prospect, and before coming home I had found myself accepting a new job offer. All was great! My little site had served its purpose and was still receiving a few hundred hits a day.
Since hosting it on Heroku is dirt cheap I left my site online and made the big trip to sunny California. Almost six months had gone by and I recently stumbled across
this little gem. What - the - fuck. The designer had literally copied my entire design, not to mention that after inspecting his code, it was almost identical. I had very little expectation for my site and I would like to think it's not the limit of my own creativity, so naturally, I'm not upset by this. However, he shamelessly used my work while failing to make any significant changes and didn't even have the courtesy to shoot me an email for permission.
Now, I'm not suggesting that the only place to find inspiration is online. In fact, there are thousands of designers out there adding diversity to this industry who probably don't have to search for ideas at all. But if you do find your inspiration online, you might want to consider these four guidelines first.
Just how photos in magazines have the photographer's name on the bottom, if you're inspired by somebody's work, give credit where credit is due.
Now this is more of an act of character, but please, never ever, under any circumstance whatsoever, respond to another designer like this.
If you are absolutely stuck on borrowing somebody's ideas, ask them first. You'll be surprised at the responses you might get.
This one is the most important to me. Find your inspiration from the subtleties in the work of others rather than their design as a whole.
Although I appreciate all the feedback and support, please refrain from leaving any hateful or distasteful messages on the Company's Facebook wall. My only intention was to shed light on this all too common problem. This situation is due to the actions of an individual designer, and in no way is a reflection of the Company.
Update 2: I was fortunate enough to get in contact with the owner of the Company (who turned out to be a real stand up guy). He was completely unaware that his designer had copied my site and the issue has been resolved to everyones satisfaction.