Curated Resource ( ? )

Should You Copy a Famous Site's Design?

Should You Copy a Famous Site's Design?

my notes ( ? )

There are many other reasons why a big-site design might not work for you:

  • Scale: Sorting through millions of products or articles requires more UI horsepower than needed for a simpler site with a handful of offerings.
  • Maintenance: Some design approaches — as simple as a company blog — require frequent updates to avoid going stale. Better not do it if you can't commit the resources to keep it working.
  • Integration: I've often discussed the importance of total user experience. Design elements can't be examined in isolation; they should work together. So, if you take one element out and plug it into a different context, it might not play well with your site's other design elements.
  • Domain: Government agencies often say they look to The White House as a role model for their websites. In addition to's occasional usability weaknesses, most government agencies offer a completely different set of services to their users. How to present nuclear safety regulations? Definitely differently than posting the president's latest speeches.
  • Audience: Usability is always relative to two things: the users and their tasks. Maybe your users are more technically savvy than the general audience that typically dominates on the big sites. Often your users will have more specialized knowledge about your issues than general users — then again, the opposite might be true if you're offering basic education.
    • This last issue is particularly important for intranet design, where it's rarely appropriate to copy mainstream consumer-focused sites from the open Web. (That's why there are so many separate usability guidelines for intranets.) For example, even though there are many good uses of social features in the enterprise, don't copy Twitter, Facebook, and the like.
      • Web users = customers. Intranet users = employees.
      • Web tasks = shopping/having fun/etc. Intranet tasks = doing your job/cranking out deliverables.

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