Designers of all shapes and sizes irrespective of their intent do copy from time to time, even if unintentionally. When you truly consider the facts and no matter how you try in some shape or form you copy things. If you think about it people pick up bits and pieces and sometimes put them together to make something new. It doesn’t matter how much you like to pride yourself on never copying anything in some form you probably are.
I know there are those that say they never copy anything and some admit to copying ideas and there are also that admit to stealing ideas.
When you think about it seriously though, you will see by being influenced by something you have seen you actually are copying. It’s unintentional copying but copying just the same. The only way you can truly say you aren’t influenced is by never looking at someone else’s work and that’s not going to happen.
When you are learning to design you look at designs all the time. I know when they first started designing websites many years ago it was one big copycat system because there really weren’t a whole lot of options out there.
In modern times, we still copy. We use code abet in different formats and linking different items together but at the end of the day only the code writer can say they didn’t copy a thing. Even they were probably led to write the code on the back of someone else’s code to improve it.
Is improving something, original? Nope I don’t think it is but then you aren’t applying for a patent are you. When you start out as a designer or a student designer, you apply what you see and appeals to you. Later you tend to learn that what appeals to you might not be what appeal to the public so you adjust your views to incorporate the likes and dislikes of those around you. This means you being influenced again: Influenced by the necessity of commerce. Again you go out and see which sites sell the most and examine them to see what makes them tick. You are using psychology of websites. I know that some of the ugliest websites on the internet sell the most. Would I use their sleezy way of selling on a website I built? No I wouldn’t. Just the thought of those revolting websites sends me running as far and as fast as I can but the fact is they do sell. 100% of those websites all copy each other in method and almost down to the letter in misdesign.
You then get the folks that find a pleasing aspect of a design and work out how it works and utilize just that bit in their design. Is it original? No it isn’t but it is an evolvement of the original. I personally don’t think this is wrong, or we wouldn’t learn anything but would be leaving the web to maybe three or four people all of them the founders of companies who hadn’t stolen the idea in the first place.
The fact of the matter if we look at everything around us on a daily basis what a really great design does is arrange things in a truly pleasing fashion using the greatest tools he can find in a manner that will allow the site to function to perfection and at the same time make sure that every little inch of his design is the very best he can make it.