Earlier this week I needed to get the link to a 2011 article of mine about storytelling in UX. So I Googled a few words of it and I noticed one of the results was from LinkedIn.

“That’s weird” I thought … “I don’t remember publishing that article to LinkedIn as well”.

So I clicked.

And then I realized that I hadn’t posted the article on LinkedIn … a guy had completely plagiarized it, although he did put just enough effort in to change the image and a few words in the opening paragraphs.

This happens more than you’d expect. I’ve had to confront people on many occasions for using my content and claiming it as their own or not giving me credit.

Once someone told me that when you do great work, people will probably start to copy it. But the key is to not let it become a distraction.

This brings me to the topic of “copying” in the design process. Yes, we’re always looking for inspiration. But there’s a fine line between being inspired and ripping off what someone else has done! The danger in copying is that you don’t actually know if the design worked! What if the design you’re copying was a total failure?

So, I’m all for seeking out inspiration. I strongly encourage it. But, I also strongly encourage you to ask questions such as, “Why is this feature right for my audience? How do I know if this worked? How does this feature or design element help solve a problem that my customers have?”

Don’t use inspiration without first justifying that it’s right for your product.

If you’re curious, you can read more in this post about how to move from imitation to innovation.