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How Not To Get Caught?

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So about ten years ago, there was a significant backlash against making anything look nice on a website. People started getting mad at sites like Dribble by Dan Ceder Home, or Behance by Adobe Inspiration Page. People got angry at other designers because they were uploading things to these websites just to look pretty.

In all honesty, one of the most important activities you can do as a designer to improve your creativity skills, your perception skills and be more aware of what’s out there is to go and take different designs from dribble to try and recreate them in different styles just to exercise those muscles and then upload them.

This is precious practice, and every designer of any kind should do this as regularly as they have time to do it.

People got mad that some people would look on these inspiration sites and copy a design for some client work they were currently working on.

They would say, well, this looks nice, so I’ll copy that and send it off to the client, and hopefully, they’ll like it. Of course, you should never do this, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look on these inspiration sites.

Copy the inspiration, not the design. Oftentimes, your natural creativity will take over when you’re recreating a certain element of your designs and the stolen design will adopt a brand new look. But sometimes, simply combining various elements will make the end result look totally original. A word of caution though don’t copy more than a single element from each source and never directly copy-and-paste anything from anywhere. Recreate instead.

You can copy:

  • Colour scales or individual colours
  • Font combinations (Make sure to get the licenses for them though!)
  • Specific design solutions
  • Layouts (Make sure to recreate on your own)

Try and understand why they’ve done it a certain way, and it will help you see a clearer view of the world and improve your perception skills.

It seems familiar among most designers not just to go and copy something from dribble when you have to make a design. Sadly, as a result, many designers have stopped using these sites to exercise their design muscles.

And of course, we’ve gone and made this mistake again, haven’t we?

This time, though, instead of people looking on dribble for an excellent-looking design and then copying it for their client work, now they look on media for an incredible sounding design process and just copy that for the method they’re currently working on.

Now, from time to time across your career, you’re going to be told what the design process is. You’re going to hear about design sprints, ideas, design thinking, processes.

You can use all these as inspiration, but like dribble, you should never take one of these processes and just apply it to what you’re working on without understanding why they used it.

It’s great to see how one designer does their user interviews, but you should never do it the same as them. They don’t perceive things the same as you. They don’t think the same as you.

When you go about the world, you hear what other designers are doing in their processes and how that process works.

That’s an excellent bit of inspiration for you.

You should try and understand why they’re doing it the way they’re doing it, but you should never copy them. As a designer, people have made a lot of noise about those who go to inspiration galleries and copy them for client work. This is nice because now people have stopped doing that.

Unfortunately, people have just started doing it with design processes and activities instead of just going and finding a process, not understanding it, and applying it to what they are working on.

Conclusion

I hope I’ve already been quite clear that I will not give you a design process or tell you how to use it in this article. I want you to think better. I want you to think better to make a better design process that works for you in your situation.

Likewise, you should never go and get a design that worked for someone else and just apply it to what you’re working on. But you should use these inspiration galleries very liberally, creating your mock projects and upload them.

It’s vital to exercise those design muscles.

Share your thoughts in the comments or let’s chat more on LinkedIn.


How Not To Get Caught? was originally published in UX Planet on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.