WordPress Theme Design – Copying, Stealing or Tribute?

I started building my own theme. I got it done and I've been tweaking it for some time now. I did the whole thing from ground down, taking the bits from various themes freely available, like Sandbox. I created the CSS from zero and I've been adding more settings while I've been adding more features to my design.

I was inspired by CSS Zen Garden, and the designers there accomplished using just CSS for the design. Another design principle was using no images on the theme itself. Thus, fast loading, very flexible theme.

First Version of "ZemalfZen" is Ready!

It's an early alpha or beta version right now, so no downloads for anyone just yet. At this stage, I'm not ready to publish the theme to the public, as I have to tweak and debug it first, but perhaps one day, if I see interest to the theme, I will put it out there.

Here's what the first version of "ZZ" looked like:

zemalf com design 2009 06 06 WordPress Theme Design   Copying, Stealing or Tribute?

Zemalf Zen Green, the alpha version

Today I started putting the pieces together and I got a version done I'm quite happy about, after many hours of setting the CSS layout and coloring settings just right. It can be a pain to get those correctly, so I had to refactor the whole css-file, as it was a bit cluttered from all the tests I've been doing.

But when I got this done, I started wondering, is it cool to duplicate the designs of other blogs?

I don't mean stealing the whole design, theme, css and all. But taking inspiration and trying to duplicate the design at least to a degree. When I see a cool feature on another blog or nice design, I think if I could do something similar and would it fit to my theme and design.

As you'll notice the black/green design was heavily inspired by the blogs of these two gentleman who have affected my journey in many ways...

Inspirational Theme Design - fourhourworkweek.com

I've been reading Tim Ferriss' Blog for quite some time, and I loved the design from the day I landed on that blog. And I liked the colors. So it was clear to me from the start that I'd be doing something similar. I liked the picture at the top and the "focus-box" on the top right. As you can see now, I ended up with almost similar design, which is on another hand great, but on the other hand, not so unique. Kinda double edged sword I guess.

timferrissblog design shot 20090607 WordPress Theme Design   Copying, Stealing or Tribute?

fourhourworkweek.com - The Blog of Tim Ferriss

Inspirational Theme Design - davidrisley.com

I've been also reading David Risley's blog for a some time already, and it was just today when it hit me, that the top part design is similar to Tim Ferriss' blog! I'm not 100% sure if there's same designer behind these designs or did one designer take the best features and looks from another. Anyway, I like the David's design too and it goes way deeper than just the top navigation and the "focus-box".

davidrisleyblog design shot 20090607 WordPress Theme Design   Copying, Stealing or Tribute?

davidrisley.com - The Blog of David Risley

So it seems that Tim Ferriss, David Risley and me all like that nice green/black look. On the other hand, if I change couple of variables in my own design (CSS file mainly, my site will look completely different).

Theme Design Resources

Copying Stealing the Best

I think it's ok to copy the looks of another blog, but there's a thin line when something becomes stealing and or other kind of copyright issue. On the other hand, replicating and copying the best looks is a tribute to the original designer. The greatest honor in a way.

As I used many, many hours to tweak the design and getting it right, I sure didn't take the easy way out and go for out-of-the-box solutions, so I'm happy, as it is great to see your own accomplishment out there. Yes, I took inspiration from these two blogs, which seem very similar when you look at the screenshots. With my current design, I pay tribute and bow to these two guys, for what they have done and achieved, and to their blogs and designs (whoever designed those blogs did a great job!).

I'd also be interested in hearing what the blogosphere thinks about replicating design and features of another blog.. So feel free to share your thoughts and leave a comment. Feedback on my new design is greatly appreciated too.

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