Why you shouldn’t steal someones else source code or design

As a designer we often have tools that allow us to take a peek at others source code and style sheets. I think it is ok to take a peak to see how that designer has accomplish that specific task but I disagree with people who think taking their code and changing the class or ID name is ok. In this article I will give you some helpful reasons why you should not steal someones else code or design.

Becoming an addiction

Once you get into the habit of taking a peak at someone else code and copying and pasting it, it all will become a habit to you. Ever heard of the saying if you steal something once and get away with it you will continue doing it until you’re finally caught. Well that saying is very true. People who steal code from other websites often make it a habit and continue doing it, hoping it will improve their work and skill-set.

Losing your skill-set

That’s right. Believe it or not if you’re constantly copying and pasting others people code to create a website then you’re most likely just damaging your very own skill-set. When you want to learn something or get better at something you have to work with it. For example you did not grow up knowing how to ride a bicycle without training wheels. You had to practice and practice until you finally got it. As you were practicing trying to learn how to ride a bicycle you sometimes looked at other kids to see how they have done it. Over the years you continues riding bikes and became very proficient at it , not cheating once at it. Didn’t that feel good knowing that you learned how to ride a bike all by yourself. That’s applies to web development also. If you constantly write code and continue to feed off of your own work then your skills will always be improving and proceeding to the next level, making you greater at what you do.

No ideas

no idea
Often when viewing or always browsing someone else work you may feel that you work will never be that good or amount to the value of their work. That is completely false. Every designer/Developer start off designing not knowing the latest tips and techniques. When I first started off designing I have to say that my designs were not great at all haha. I used fonts that could not be used, margins and padding were completely off, and the design was just bad. I looked at others works from time to time but I knew if I continued looking at their work I would continue belittling myself. The more you look at others work the more ideas you lose.

Finding inspiration

As a designer we often visit many websites for inspiration. What I have found out as being a designer/developer is I never find inspiration looking at others website or design. It might sound crazy but its the truth. I find inspirations from wallpapers, graphic posters, and videos. If you think about it Graphic designs posters are usually colorful, and very outgoing, and wallpapers are like backgrounds giving you an idea in your head on which background to create and videos are like websites in motion. If you’re watching TV on a network like spike TV or MTV you will often see some crazy motions graphics effects that can lead to a very nice design.
Graphic Wallpaper

Motion reel video

If you would like to avoid copying others source code or design then follow my tips and you will be on the road to becoming a better designer/coder. To this day I am constantly working on my coding skills and designing skills trying to become better at something that I love and enjoy doing. Quit stressing out and go watch a video or look at a poster for an idea.

Joe Granados the author

Joe Granados is the owner of WebDevTuts. He is also a web designer & developer who loves to design and develop websites. If you're looking for him you can find him via @webdevtuts
  1. mike says:

    Hi Marcell,

    This sounds like sour grapes over people stealing one’s hard work. One has to accept that to share something with the world, some will steal it and rebrand it as their own. If you let a beautiful feather blow free in the wind for everyone to enjoy, sometimes a child will snatch it and put it in his hat. You can tell that child that he’ll never learn if he makes no feathers himself, but he’ll just laugh and run away with your feather.

    Cheaters do win. Otherwise there wouldn’t be cheaters.

    Too bad for them they can’t pass an interview. 🙂

    • Clay says:

      Marcell, I am very interested in learning more about the webdesign aspect in Graphic Design, I am 38 and graduate from Art Istitute of Pittsburgh. Problem is that back then the web was for the elite and I learned nothing about web related topics, I am currently self teaching but very slow going, I work as a designer now for a small silkscreen outfit, my offer is to barter your art in print say on hoddies, etc. In return some schooling in area of web work. You can contact me at : cashiousclay@gmail.com. This is for real bro !

  2. Nicolas says:

    Very well written article. You say you’re 17. I’m 29, if I knew then what you know now, I’d be in a very good position right now. You have an amazing future ahead of you. – but you already knew that 🙂

  3. Carlos says:

    I agree with the sentiment “Don’t Steal” but your argument is naive and the only tip you give isn’t helpful. Looking at good design isn’t going to make you a better developer.

    Rebuilding other people’s code can be a very useful instructional tool because it forces us to think about the space differently. Different people certainly think about space in different ways and can get value out of bridging the gap from a strangers code to the way you would design it yourself. Code is just a medium.

    Extend your metaphor of a bike. If I try to emulate your style on my bike I will be less generally proficient than if I get on your bike and learn how to ride it myself.

    I don’t condone plagiarism, but if you are trying to reinvent the wheel every time you put something together you are wasting time and missing out on an instructional experience.

  4. Hello. This is kind of an “unconventional” question , but have other visitors asked you how get the menu bar to look like you’ve got it? I also have a blog and am really looking to alter around the theme, however am scared to death to mess with it for fear of the search engines punishing me. I am very new to all of this …so i am just not positive exactly how to try to to it all yet. I’ll just keep working on it one day at a time Thanks for any help you can offer here.

  5. Miriam says:

    Hi! I want to say thanks for an interesting site about a subject I have had an interest in for a long time now. I have been lurking and reading the posts avidly so just wanted to express my thanks for providing me with some very good reading material. I look forward to more, and taking a more active part in the discussions here.

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