To look or not look at other designs for ideas

Should I look at other designs and generate ideas from them, or should I just completely think of my own designs? I’m just thinking if it interferes with the creative process, or helps it? What are your personal thoughts?

Sometimes if I see a nice design, i feel like a fraud for generating ideas from it. I feel like it’s not “mine” if I end up using parts similar to it. Perhaps looking at many, many designs and having an overall larger “idea bank” would solve this issue?

The short answer is yes. Get inspired by others.
This happens in every industry.
It’s nothing to feel ashamed about.

Yes do this all the time. Look at designs. Bookmark sites. Clip stuff to Pinterest or whatever. Save portfolios of designers you like. Buy design books, they’re always just collections of nice-looking stuff. Copy, look at designs, copy, look at designs, steal, look at designs, copy, look at designs, copy, look at designs, steal, look at designs, copy, look at designs, copy, look at designs, steal, look at designs, copy, look at designs, copy. At first your stuff will look very similar to existing things, the more you do it, the more you’ll merge together in your head all the stuff you’ve looked at & lo and behold original (or ‘original’?) designs will emerge.

All design works like that, it builds upon a million other designs. There isn’t anything that’s really genuinely original, though technology/medium creates spaces for new ways of designing. For visual web/app design, you arrange elements on a screen to make an information display/interface understandable/usable for a user; those elements need not be original.

As an example (from product design), take the iPod: every single bit of that design & every bit of that tech already existed and had been commercially released in various products - from the way it looked (Deiter Rams Braun products from the 60s and 70s), to what it was (Zune etc all preceded it), to the interface (Braun & Deiter Rams again). Ives just took those preexisting things and used his skill (+ a large helping of luck involved in when it was released) to make a complete, excellent design.


Thanks, guys! Really clears some things up for me. I’ll see it from a different perspective now.

It’s okay to use another website as reference. I think it even helps my creative process.

Previously I start a website with blank mind. Nothing as starting concept. I took many sites as reference, layout from site A, color combination from site B, button effect from site C, JS animation from site D, etc. Now, when I make a website, I can imagine starter layout and certain content I’ve ever made that will suit this website

There are big differences between just look and really make it. Once you implement certain material, you will find it’s potential, in which situation certain material can be used.

Nothing wrong with that. Designers do that all the time.

Just don’t outright copy the whole code and use as is!

Short story: Around 1999/2000, I did some work for a dot-com company. Then one day, client found out my design (their website) was stolen – wholesale! He called me to tell about the discovery. Every page, even graphics used… and the other company just changed the main logo, company name, a few text and prices. The other site was discovered when my client did an AltaVista search of their company name, and the other site forgot to change the footer copyright.

I was pretty upset about the whole thing, my work being stolen, etc… I’m on phone with client, and him just laughing, finding he whole thing funny and amusing even though they paid me several thousands for the project. In the end, I realized this doesn’t make me look bad, it even validates to the client they made the right hire, and that the work I did for them was very good, that somebody bothered enough to steal the whole thing! :slight_smile:

Eventually, they had their in-house lawyers fire some letter to the other company/guy and after a few days, the other site was replaced with a different design.

NO! don’t look at other designs!!
because when you do you won’t have this sense of accomplishment even after you finish your project. do you feel good feeling like a fraud generating ideas or combining other designs and claim it yours?
this happens in every industry? copy, look, steal?? really??
you see? people gets fired from stealing someone else’s design!
just because many have been doing this for ages doesn’t mean that it’s right!
it’ll haunt you not just because you wasn’t able to do something meaningful in your existence but you deliberately chose this dark path. you’re better than this @Sandris!

okay, i just said that just to have a different opinion…


You seriously had me going there till the end :joy:

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How do you think design works? How can you possibly learn if you don’t look at what has come before, how can you tell what works and what doesn’t. In almost any field, this is a necessary thing to do to learn: first you copy, then you understand why, then you improve. Eventually you get to a point where you use all of the bits of your knowledge and mould them into something original.

There’s this myth of creative genius, where these amazing ideas pop into existence in the minds of a select few. But it’s a myth: you get good at design through hard work, a large portion of which is copying things other people did and improving on them.

There’s a good reason why 99.99999% of people, when learning a musical instrument, play other people’s songs. They could learn from first principles and never ever do that, but for most people that means they’d spend their entire life getting to a point the people who started by playing by copying got to in a few years.

I steal from websites almost every day for work. I’m not about to reinvent the wheel!

Hi all :slight_smile:

I just started the program and I’m about now to create my portfolio. Which I don’t understand is how I’m supposed to create something without the knowledge to do it.

Sound legit to me. To see how the code look like from another creator - who probably copy it from someone too :smiley:

On my level, I’m watching the code and try to understand the connexion between tags and understand their meaning.
For now it’s okay.

But I must say that the logic is not very clear There is obviously no real methodology is all about “try to understand” and “make it yours”.

I must say that I understand the question : where is the limit from creating and a simple copy/past ?

  • The copywrite ?

Shortly, yes, you should look at other designs for ideas. For more detailed response read austin kleon steal like an artist book.