I'm starting out a series of posts in response to:
37signals leads with:
We’re often victims of design piracy. Roughly once a week someone emails us with an anonymous tip that someone has ripped off our “UI look and feel” and is using it for their own site or their own app.
You need only read the comments on that post itself for a plethora of good arguments against 37signals' position. (You won't find a lot of sympathy). I agree there are any number of ways to build a watch but...
Let's Play a Game
Which watch do you want to wear? Pick any two...
I think we can all agree that while there may be 100s of ways to build a watch the goal should not be endless variation for variation's sake. Even a quick glance at Jason's own sample of 100 watches leaves something to be desired design wise in many cases.
I believe this holds true for web apps. While there are no doubt 100s of ways to build a web app I think there are a few good ways and a lot of bad ways.
So what do we do?
We set out to build a simple, clean, usable watch... and then we find out it looks a lot like 37signals watch... Sure it would be possible to make our watch different just because... but then it would start to suck because the simple and clean decisions we've already made weren't the wrong decisions. The fact that most watchs look the same overall isn't design piracy, it's design practicality.
That is neither illegal or immoral IMHO.
What we'll cover...
I'll expand this list and link things up as I post on each topic in the next few days.
- Tabs, headers, and the fictional 37signals teacup
- What is Sheet of Paper design?
- Can you copyright Sheet of Paper design?
- Copyrights and Patents
- My thoughts on morality and theft
- "Save or Cancel" and other UI goodies
Why have I chosen these things? Well AFAIK Jason has never come out directly and said:
Stop stealing xyz and abc
Jason: I'm saying that the overall structure of the page, the style of the page, and the composition of the page is roughly the same as ours. Lots of people have commented on it and sent us emails about it so there's definitely confusion in the marketplace.
It sounds like it's a "little bit of everything" mixed with the "sheet of paper" layout that gets him upset. I think it's the combination of the header, tabs, and sheet of paper layout that he's come to so closely associate as belonging exclusively to 37signals. We'll delve into each of the above areas and also touch on a bit of miscelaneous UI goodness.
Full DisclosureThe Beginning
I've removed this section at the request of my client. I should also take the time to state that this blog reflects my thoughts and opinions alone and not necessarily those of any of my clients or employers past, present, or future.
I will say that I've been wanting to blog about this matter for a very long time but only recently found the motivation to make it happen. I hope now that I'm here you all enjoy the ride...