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

A little while back I posted this article on how to change my site design because it looked like it was from the 90s...

How to not make my website have a "1990's" look

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 totally revamped my site to its current style: 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, 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?


1 Answer 1


I understand the situation is uneasy and it's really sorry to hear that. While following one of the popular layout patterns (which shouldn't be considered as imitating) similar styling and content give this look and feel, almost the same in case of both sites. The thing is that it's not even about deciding if it is ripped off or not (we know its not), as long as you face a situation where users perceive it as a copy, no matter if it's not.

Redesigning your site is - of course - some way out of this situation. But is it really necessary? To make sure you should answer at least these questions:

  • Is it really that often perceived by your users as a copy? Do you really need to worry about it?
  • Is the other site popular? Maybe there is just a slight risk of impact to hit you.
  • The topic of your site gives some direction for the design, so if this approach is quite popular, maybe it's not that much of a problem?
  • What is the nature of the problem: legal or only perceptual?

The first three may give you answer about the scale of the problem, while the last one focuses on the scale of consequences. And finally - it just happens. There are a lot of sites following the same layout idea, styling etc.

One more idea before you start redesigning - maybe there would be a way to team up somehow with the author of the other site, so that this situation becomes totally tolerable by the users?

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