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It’s one thing for an ecommerce site to want to emulate Amazon.com, but it’s another thing entirely to copy almost every design element used by Amazon, down to using the same shopping cart icon.

Graham
June 13, 2003 3:45 PM

Who you gonna call... http://www.pirated-sites.com/ !

GadgetBoy
June 16, 2003 9:04 AM

Hmm. On the surface i agree, but there is something to be said for getting a set of common functions and icons that act the same way across all websites. Predictability is good. Its good that red lights always mean stop and that the red light is always on top so color blind people know to stop. If they were stealing some significant artwork or unique knowlegde capital that would be a different thing. Maybe the answer is Open Source Icons and Design Elements (OSIDE - I'll even donate the acronym!) Also, in some ways I would rather a low budget site steal designs from a site with good usability (like Amazon) rather than home grow a poor usability site. Thats probably not a very good argument!

Adam Kalsey
June 16, 2003 10:39 AM

If you look at the offending site, you'll see that the cart icon isn't the only thing they took. The basic page layout, the design of all the navigation buttons, everything came straight from Amazon. Stoplights all have the same basic elements, but they aren't all the same. From town to town, even between two different intersections, traffic signals have differences. Some have two red lights on top, one for turning. Some are small and hang from a wire. Some are mounted on top of a post. But stoplights aren't complex enough systems that they make a good example. Take a telephone, for instance. All phones have some basic elements: a numeric keypad, a speaker, a microphone, and away to initiate and end calls. But take two different phones from two different manufacturers. They don't look the same. The basic elements are placed in a package that is unique. Cars have steering wheels, the gas on the right, the brake on the left. But the interiors of cars are all different. There's a difference between standard conventions and copied design. Business cards have several conventional elements. The company name and logo appears somewhere on the card. The person's name is there, and the contact information is grouped together in some way. But each business card looks different. The information is presented in unique ways.

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