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I'm new to the web design and web comic fields.

I'm a huge fan of The Oatmeal, and thought his tile layout was a good way to share the most amount of comics for given real estate.

So, following the "Power Grid" pattern from this site (the last option), http://designshack.net/articles/layouts/10-rock-solid-website-layout-examples/, and drawing from elements of my favorite comics, TheOatmeal.com, XKCD, etc... I created my comics site: Hitting Trees with Sticks.com

I recently received a complaint from an avid The Oatmeal fan claiming I've "totally ripped off and imitated The Oatmeal"... I asked the author, Matthew Inman, what he thought... and he said my site design and subject matter were quite similar...

While I'll agree the tile layout I currently have is like his... I think it's also a standard/generic enough template...

That being said, here are my questions:

1) Are the designs too similar?

The Oatmeal.com: enter image description here

My website: enter image description here

2) If so, what are some of the guidelines/rules of thumb on designing a website based on templates that are used by other comic artists? Do you think I should change mine? I mean, it seems like so many comics use the same "click-to-get-next-comic style... and I like The Power Grid/The Oatmeal's style... I feel there aren't many other ways for me to display the latest comics and most popular comics for the user to see... is that wrong?

Thanks!

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closed as off topic by JohnGB, Benny Skogberg, Ben Brocka Apr 17 '13 at 13:09

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It does look pretty similar. I'd have thought that it's Oatmeal on a casual glance. –  Angel Koh Apr 17 '13 at 8:41

1 Answer 1

I think the use of a generic grid, or template, is fine. I believe the problem here lies in the similarity of the visual design between both sites.

If you had used a similar grid system, but the visual design for your site gave it a completely different look and feel, I highly doubt you would be receiving complaints from users. Not to say that they are absolutely identical in appearance, but they are pretty similar – especially since they deliver the same type of content.

You want users to remember your site long after they have closed their browsers and for it to leave a positive impression. It will be hard to remain memorable in someone’s mind when there is already a fully established, reputable site that looks very similar.

An option going forward would be to create a persona for your site, give it a personality and flesh out how you want it to be perceived by people.

In Aaron Walters’s book, Designing for Emotion, he says:

"If your website were a person, who would it be? Is it serious, buttoned up, all business, yet trustworthy, and capable?"

"Personality can manifest itself in an interface through visual design, copy, and interactions. A design persona describes the methods of channeling personality in each of these areas, and will help a team of web professionals construct a unified and consistent result"

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