The practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own.
This is the story of how I spent weeks tirelessly working to design and update my portfolio website, only for someone to shamelessly copy it, in some cases word for word at point blank range. Might I also add that this person was on my University course.
Edit: I’ve had this post written for a number of days but had to wait until I got my blog back online and in style with the rest of my site until I could post it. Since writing this blog post, the website has gone down. I’m not sure if it’s down because she’s updating content or whether her conscience got the better of her. Either way, this post will always exist.
The Past Year
My blog has been offline for quite a while whilst I’ve been busy, but now I’m ready to bring it back and I’m sure it will evolve over the next few weeks as I iron out the kinks etc.
I’ve done a lot since leaving University 14 months ago, most notably I’ve been working at Disney Interactive as a designer working on products such as the new Disney Channel, Disney Fairies and Disney Movies websites alongside the Disney Fairies: Lost and Found app and prototyping development for the upcoming disney.xx products across EMEA. My employment at Disney is just a 12 month fixed term contract and as such I will be leaving during September to move on to even bigger adventures and excitement within design.
As part of my preparations for the next steps of my career I have put considerable effort into my ‘brand image’ and improving on my portfolio and methods of displaying it. I spent about 6-8 weeks working every single evening and weekend designing and building this very website and creating a strategy surrounding my career development. Within this blog post I will first document the design of this new site and how my portfolio works, along with the decisions I made with regards to terminology and user experience. Following that I will then make comparisons of how Alanna has copied my website.
First and foremost, If you aren’t aware of how my site looked throughout the past year (2012-13), you can view it in my archive here. The main objective for a new site and portfolio came about through my need to have a digital portfolio that I could display on a tablet. To cut a long story short, this ended up becoming a web-app for mobile and tablet devices that could expand to a full website for desktop devices. I also needed a method of having a hero image across most pages, but most importantly on the home page to give me the ability to promote certain areas of my work throughout the year. The work itself had to be displayed consistently and be easily updatable and maintainable. All of the assets on the site would need to be at retina quality and the source files for all of the assets would need to be as easy to maintain as possible.
Having achieved all of my basic needs for a site upgrade, this is how it’s currently looking. On the home page, I’ve got a strong call-to-action driving visitors directly to the portfolio rather than relying on the navigation in the header and I also have large imagery running across the width. It’s worth pointing out here that this site along with my last version is fully responsive (resize the browser window to visualise) and includes adaptive images to cut down on file sizes when viewing at smaller sizes.
On the portfolio page, I once again have large imagery promoting one piece of work. Below the hero image is my portfolio grid displaying all of my work at once. In the past I sectioned my portfolio into design, interactive and photography. Now they are all visible in one place but still organised by their categories. I am fully aware that this pushes some content further down the page, which is why I have added anchor links in the text to take you down the page quicker. In fact, the text itself is also there are as a way of introducing visitors to my portfolio and explaining that they will find three categories of work. This lets them know that there is more content below and not to stop scrolling once they get to the bottom of a section. Therefore, the text needed to be at a larger size and succinct.
Clicking on a project in the portfolio takes you to the project page. In the past, I have used galleries with thumbnails to display my work however I am now a believer of showing all content on one page, which is why I have chosen to show all my images in a long list. This leads me to believe that all images of a gallery will be seen by the user, as it is much easier to just scroll down the page, than it is to click through a gallery that may seem endless. The description text for the project has a fixed position (desktop only) along with the site header to constantly give users context to what they’re looking at.
To get in contact with me, I have traditionally had a section called “Let’s Talk”. I’ve had this title for about 6 years now (you’ll understand why I’m pointing this out further along this blog post) and I’m still happy with it. On this page I invite visitors to follow me on social networks, give them the ability to contact me through email, phone and a contact form as well as allow them to download my CV and vCard. You may wonder why I have a contact form as well as a link to email and the simple answer is that I get the majority of my contact through the form as it’s quicker to use.
As mentioned earlier, I have developed the site with a keen interest to use it as my main portfolio on a tablet device. As a digital designer I feel that a digital portfolio seems to be the obvious way to show my work. For bonus points and to learn something new, I made the site web-app-capable, which means that when bookmarked to the home screen of an iPad or iPhone, it will open independent from Safari. This then removes the address bar and all controls allowing focus on the content. This feature will probably only ever be used by myself when showing my portfolio, but it’s a live feature if you’d also like to try it.
This concludes my introduction to my new site and portfolio design and I will now react to the bootleg version created by Alanna Palmer.
I recommend having a look at her site to get the full understanding of how it works over at alanna-palmer.co.uk Her site is now offline and although I have a complete copy of it locally, I’m not about to be a hypocrite and break copyright rules by hosting it on my server… though it did cross my mind.
The Bastardised Pirate Version
I’ll go through this, page-by-page showing direct comparisons between mine and hers to show just how much has been copied.
First up is the home page. Notice the layout, a fixed navigation at the top, large imagery, a call to action leading to the portfolio and then some introductory text explaining who she is etc. Look a bit further in detail and you’ll notice the text is almost identical. The navigation reads “Hi”, “Portfolio” and “Let’s Talk”, the only difference with mine is that it reads “Hello” instead of “Hi”. Straight at the first hurdle I could claim it as a copy, but there’s more. The call-to-action is worded exactly the same; no big deal really as it only says “view my portfolio”, but hey I’m feeling picky. There is also a large image in the hero area, but once again no big deal as it’s a pretty popular trend these days, nothing new. I was viewing the site on a desktop screen but for the benefit of how the site was probably originally designed, there’s also a screenshot of the browser window with the width optimised.
This is how it looks when the browser has an optimised width:
Moving on to the portfolio, you’ll notice that once again there are huge resemblances to my own site. First, the text “View more from this project” is IDENTICAL to the text shown over the featured project. I have this shown in the bottom right of the hero purposefully for the reason that some people may come to my site and not realise that the photography is actually taken by myself and isn’t stock imagery.
Just before the portfolio grid, there is a page title and some text. Once again this is almost identical to the text on my site.
The portfolio is also separated into sections with section headers.
Individual Project Pages
The project pages are clearly still in development as the links are dead, so I have no comparisons.
Moving on to the contact page which rather rudely uses my beloved title of “Let’s Talk”. I’m sure many other people have sections labelled exactly the same, but in this case it’s the active stealing and lack of respect for the effort and personalisation that I put into my work, which has utterly destroyed the value that I now see in my own work. The text on this page is also practically identical for example, I have “Currently available to hire” compared to “Available for hire”.
Just to make clear how much the text has been copied, here’s a close up comparison.
There are links to social networks and even a CV. However, interestingly there is no link to her Instagram feed, yet I know she has it – she follows me. If you follow me on Instagram (@joeallam) you will know that I posted this photo of my website on my screen a few days ago.
If you have a look on her Instagram @ajpdesign, you will see that a day later, she posted a similar photo of her site as a means of promoting it. Hashtags and all.
Look closer into the photo and you’ll spot something that will hopefully blow your mind as much as it did mine.
MY WEBSITE IS OPEN IN THE SECOND TAB!
I think it’s fair to say, Alanna that you have not only destroyed the value of my work and effort, but flattered and insulted me at the same time. Had the site not been taken down, I would have sent a cease and desist letter.
One Final Note
At the bottom of every page on my site it says “All content, artwork and photography copyright, 2013 to Joe Allam unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved.” That’s not there for jokes. In fact, it’s worded in such a way to remind people that the photography (which I still class as ‘artwork’) is also mine and to stop people from thinking that the photography is from stock image sites and to deter people from copying my work. Alanna has this at the bottom of every page “All content, artwork and photography ©Alanna Palmer 2013 unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved.” The text is almost identical and it’s extremely small on every page in light grey on a white background. I still found it, though…
It’s one thing to be inspired by someones work and recreate it, but to promote it online is a step too far. I will be honest and openly say that I have edited this post and removed all personal opinions of the design itself. However I still strongly believe that my points are valid and will remain; as it stands by the effort and hard work that I have put into developing this site.