Plagiarism in Web Design

What is it they say again? Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery?

While it’s great that our websites are being seen the world over, and are greatly appreciated by our clients, I’m not sure I agree. While digging through some analytics data recently I came across some odd looking URLs and after digging deeper, saw that our work had been copied – several times, either completely or in part.

Earlier in 2018, we launched a new redesign for a really nice existing client – Visual Ergonomics. We went through a whole iterative design process, and once the design was approved, we then custom built the website by hand.

So imagine our surprise to see a clear and obvious rip-off of the website’s design! A company in Turkey made an exact copy. The brand, logo, images and content may have changed, but it’s quite clear that the design had been copied. In fact, a look at the source code reveals their website’s true origin (our client) and even when it was copied – Thu, 19 Jul 2018 14:01:42 GMT.

But it’s not just our client’s website that got copied. Our own website has been copied (badly), twice!

Webasko – clearly a scam web design and development company in Noida, India had lifted a slightly older copy of our website, and tweaked it to make it their own. It’s really quite funny to see that Jimmy and Ken have been replaced by Anshu and Raghi on their About Us page!

And it happened again more recently with another lazy copy by an awful web designer – this time they’ve done an even worse job of the copy, and only seem to have replaced the homepage video so far (the video was also stolen from these lovely chaps). We’re not sure what they’re planning to do with the website, even the logo, content and links are exactly the same.

And it’s not just the design that gets copied. We have noticed several times that the content on our website gets copied. Perhaps they think if we’re doing well, they can just copy us and they will do well too. However it just doesn’t work that way. Google is smart enough to know who was the original.

One unimaginative offshore Shopify developer copied our text word-for-word (highlighted in pink)…

This crappy web development agency from India only copied a couple of paragraphs word-for-word (from us at least!)…

It doesn’t just happen with lazy off-shore developers either, it can happen closer to home. A Brisbane based web agency liked our Shopify Support plans so much, they did a half-arsed job and just copied our offerings word-for-word.

Inspiration is a natural part of this industry and this job. We see websites all day, every day. It’s normal to see something we like and be inspired by it – to want to build something just as good. But to wholesale lift content, design or code from another site isn’t inspiration, it’s plagiarism pure and simple.

Some websites are copied at the behest of the client (which is short-sighted and bad for the brand), and sometimes it’s the developer pulling the wool over the client’s eyes – passing off work as their own and charging full price for work they didn’t actually do. At best, these developers are just lazy. And at worst, they are con artists – either way, they should be avoided.

We actually enjoy the process of designing and developing websites and delight at the response from our clients and their customers.