Stolen Success

Way back in February I wrote a post on this blog about all websites looking the same. It’s not an original thought, I’m pretty sure most designers have been thinking or saying it for a while now.

What I did do is create the wireframe that is essentially the blueprint for all these similar looking websites as a bit of a joke. I didn’t spend much time putting it together but it didn’t need it, its a simple enough concept.

First attempt

When I posted the article originally it did OK, it picked up a few retweets and there were some comments – it provoked a bit of a reaction and a little discussion started. I was pretty happy with that and considered it to be a successful post.

Been caught stealing

Fast forward 6 months and I received a couple of messages from friends (@iamgaz and @4foot30) on my phone notifying me that someone was borrowing/stealing my content. I didn’t pay too much attention at first as I was half way up a mountain at the time and the reception wasn’t the best. Initially I wasn’t too concerned with it, maybe because I was on holiday at the time and my head was somewhere else.

View From Kirkstone Pass

Once the mountain was conquered I did a little bit of investigation and found that it all seemed to stem from a couple of Tumblr posts. I couldn’t tell who stole it first but that’s the nature of Tumblr I guess. Everyone is ripping everyone else’s content off. Meanwhile on Twitter the graphic was getting a lot of attention, racking up thousands of retweets and favourites with little to no mention of its original creator.

This smarted a little bit but at the same time I couldn’t help but be impressed. I’ve never had a tweet retweeted thousands of times. I tried a couple of attempts to contact the original thief but it wasn’t to be. Fortunately a few kind hearted folks identified me as the source on Twitter and that picked up a bit of traction in its own right.

Traffic, the good type

The following day I was suddenly getting a lot of emails – from blog comments and Twitter replies to general responses to the post. My site went crazy. By the end of the day my site had gone from its usual hundred or so visitors to over 24,000. A massive response which made it quite comfortably the most popular blog post I’ve ever written. I was worried that it might bring my site down for a while.

Blog Stats

The post ended up getting a completely new lease of life because of the added value that the comments brought. The comments themselves now make up the majority of the post and they give a great insight into what other users think about the subject. I was amazed at the interaction with the article and no matter the stance I posted every comment in its entirety (with the exception of one for reasons I won’t go into here) as I wanted a genuine cross section of perspectives. If you’ve read the post once already, have a look at the comments, they add so much to the original article.

All this from someone stealing an image!


Antonio Vicién Faure:

13 Oct 2015 09:58:20

“It’s not an original thought, I’m pretty sure most designers have been thinking or saying it for a while now.”

Sometimes it’s not about originality, it’s about writing simply and clear.


Melanie Yarbrough:

19 Oct 2016 01:20:08

Your blog post and image were shared at An Event Apart this past year, too!

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