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A Designer to Actually Design the Site

Dated-25 Feb 2013 

I admit it. I've "ripped off" websites. In fact, I specifically have a place on the website planning worksheet I use for clients to indicate what websites they want to steal from. And I'm here to tell you how to do it without getting caught.

A brief disclaimer: I don't advocate or encourage directly stealing designs, images or text from other people's websites. For more detail go to: www.29-web-design-tricks.com.Don't do it. It's not nice. So how can you rip off someone's website?

Recently a client was in a website planning meeting with me. "What other websites do you like?" I asked him.

"Tim," he said, "I want my website to look exactly like this website," and he typed in the address of a website into my web browser.

"Err, okay," I intelligently responded. Meanwhile, I was thinking to myself, "I can't just steal the design of the website." So I told him, "Let's make a list of what you like about this website. Then I can make sure I don't forget anything."

So here's how you steal from other people's websites without getting caught. First, make a list of 5-10 websites you like, and somehow want to emulate. As you're making the list, jot down anywhere from 2-10 things you like about that site.

Next, break that list up into two different lists. First copy down (and number) the websites you like. Then, on a separate piece of paper, copy the list of the things you liked, but put them in order of importance to you. for more help visit to:www.great-links-toyour-website.com.Do not put the website they're from. Rather, use the number off the other list to indicate what site they're from.

Now, unless you're giving this to a designer, throw away the original list. Seriously. Don't refer back to it. If you are giving it to a designer to actually design the site, that's fine, but give that person the two new lists as well.

It may be that, like my client, there's really only one website you like. Do the same thing. Make a list of the attributes you like about that site, and then make a new, prioritized list. It will probably still strongly resemble the original site, but it will not be a direct rip off of their design.

Here's rule number one. In the designing process, do not look at websites you liked. And the second rule is this: occasionally break rule number one.

You should definitely not constantly look at the other websites while you're designing. However, you will occasionally ask yourself something like, "How did they do #5 on my list?" In that case, it's okay to take a quick glance at that other site. But look at it, then close that browser window.

These are the methods I used when designing my client's website that I described to you. At the end, I looked at both sites, and showed them to my client. I was happy with how different they were, and he was happy with how similar they were. So the process works for me.