What You Should Do When Other Bloggers Steal Your Website’s Design

You know how to deal with spam blogs who republish content from your site’s RSS feed. You know all the legal stuff – filing a DMCA complaint with the web hosting company, sending email to the site’s advertisers, filing a spam report on Google Webmaster central and so on.

The above measures are applicable when someone steals copyrighted content from your blog, website or any other type of online publication. But do they hold true with your site’s design and graphical elements?
The answer is Yes as well as no. Let’s clear the legal air first.

Search Engines Don’t Care About Design Theft. They Read Only the Text!

Website Design ProblemsIn case of textual content, the search engines will themselves discover the original source by looking at their crawl data. “Okay, we crawled this page on site A 10 hours before we crawled this page on site B. Site A has 800 indexed pages and 250 genuine backlinks while site B has negligible backlinks, no pagerank and no original content. This is easy math – Site A is the original source.”

Such is the reaction of a typical bot when they discover duplicate content on a spam blog and tally it with your site’s original content.

But this is not the case with design and graphical theft. The search engines completely ignore your site’s design and will not entertain any complaint regarding design theft of your website.So that leaves the search engines aside.

Now you can file a DMCA complaint with the spam blog’s hosting company. Take my words – their support staff is not going to entertain you unless of course you are a top brand attracting millions of readers every single day and have the guts to take down the hosting company’s reputation in one blog post.

So What Should I do When Other Blogger’s Steal My Site’s Design?

Nothing. Just ignore them. Think why other bloggers are stealing your site’s design? Why not anyone else’s? Why yours? Because you have the power to influence.

Your design is surely very good, otherwise the other blogger won’t have mimicked your blog template. He would have picked another blog instead.

Don’t Do the Mistake I did

The same thing happened with me a year ago. Some guy just duplicated my blog’s design and I felt terrible. I had spent hours deciding the colors, choosing font’s, fixing design bugs and the imposter just mimicked everything with a little help of add-ons like Firebug and looking at the source code.

These are the things I did, heck they were mistakes:

1. I emailed him using his site’s contact form stating that he is duplicating my blog template which is custom made. You guessed it right – the reply never came!

2. I tried to contact him on Facebook and Twitter. Same drill – no response.

3. Grinding my teeth in anger, I left a comment in one of his recent blog posts. Boom!

This started a hurricane of protests, negative comments and boomerang reactions. I forgot the fact that the same guy also runs a website, that he also has a reader base, that he can outflank my appeal by asking his friends or followers to comment on the same blog post. My comment stood there like “A FOOL”.

Never do the mistake I did. You are not going to achieve anything by starting a “Protest campaign”.

Why You should Ignore Design CopyCats?

Simple. If someone duplicates your site’s design, it’s going to add more power to your brand. Not theirs!
Readers, Bloggers and visitors who visit both sites will have this reaction “Hey! I have seen this similar template on xyz.com, let’s check that blog out and read the content he has written.”

When readers discover that you have more authority on the niche, that you are more influential than the other blogger, that you are more trusted among web users and have a fine reputation – guess what happens. The same mimicked design empowers your brand, adds more strength to it and helps you gain more readers.

Readers are 200 times smarter than you can ever think – they will soon discover the original source and draw their own conclusion.

Reputed blog’s won’t steal your site’s design. The “Get Rich Quick” guy will

A reputed blog which is updated daily with original content,has a large reader base and a good authority won’t ever steal your site’s design. Newbies who are here just for the sake of earning money, will do the same.

And there is a common trend – they will change their site’s design every other week (or may be sooner)
To wrap up, stop obsessing about your site’s design or worry when other bloggers mimic it. They are indirectly helping you to spread the word about your brand.

Remember this evergreen quote,

“Don’t worry about people stealing your design work. Worry about the day they stop.”


47 thoughts on “What You Should Do When Other Bloggers Steal Your Website’s Design”

  1. The best thing is to just leave the theves, they will get what the asked for in the future. no use fighting back to these guys. Just outrank his site, and show the thief who is better.

  2. As frustrating as it might be, eventually they’ll get restless of the stolen design and have a desire to branch out and soon it’ll no longer resemble yours! And your right, nobody willing to steal a design is likely to respond to your disguntled messages so there’s no point losing sleep over it. And anyway – its flattering to know how good your designs are and how out of the squillions of blogs out there, they chose to steal yours!!

  3. Hi, Amrit nice article , DMCA won’t be helpful in future, because there are too many stealing going on.

    Thanks Amrit.

  4. Completely right man..I think a theme should be clean and should be user friendly and if this is there then thats enough…And the best go to woo themes and get an awesome theme and if somebody is stealing your theme then its their headache nt ours….

  5. I enjoy if someone copy my design but if someone starts stealing your content then it is real reason to worry.

  6. Great lessons learned,AMIT. Thanks. I think you said the right thing, don’t bother who stole your design, creating something unique always give good feelings, so that can not be stolen. You feel proud about your work, that’s important. Your writing is also important part that he can copy but he can not get the skill from you.

  7. Nice article Amit.

    I don’t think I would do much if someone tried to steal my blog design, I guess it would make me feel good in one way since they obviously liked my work, haha.

    If they took my header… Well they would have a picture of me on there!

  8. As I use WordPress themes anyone can download I just tweak them, I don’t really focus on if someone steals my site look and feel because I modeled my own site off of other sites I really liked. I do however have a problem with people stealing my content and passing it off as their own on their blogs.

    • Well, if he starts selling your blog template first contact the hosting provider of the website with a take down notice.

      I don’t think he will be successful as other blogs won’t buy a duplicate template.

  9. Nice Tips. I think the main reason is that a lot of Bloggers nowadays have no knowledge about the CSS and Scripting. So they just try to save a webpage and read the title of the theme through source code. Any One who owns a good Blog must have edited the theme even if he is inspired by a particular Blog Theme.

  10. Bad Thing is when you spent money on getting your framework tweak and somebody lift it on your spending. “You should Ignore Design CopyCats?” thats a better you learn and thats a lesson i learned a couple of years back.

  11. Nice Article Amit… liked all the tips will keep them in mind for future if i also face this type of problem..

  12. Someone used our compress theme and then wrote compress them by them , I contacted him bt he said I ll change the look of the theme but no change ,but I thought who cares for these type of guys 🙂

    • Yes Biswajeet, I did the mistake, there is no use wasting time on contacting them, rather we should focus on our own blogs and make it more better and useful to users.

  13. hi amit, it’s really horrible if someone steals our creation. and it’s also true, those thieves are backbone-less and not real blogger. but it’s also true, it occurs frequently and it’s tough to keep track of them. we the blogger remain so busy all day long with our own task. so keeping track of theft is an extra burden. thanks a lot for sharing with us. and hope we all avoid this kind of activity.

  14. Good post. I would suggest any blogger whose design is mimicked to just add some changes quickly to his own design. Live Example in front of us is Mashable. Freshlife theme came out, & they made certain drastic changes.

    • May be, but how often you can do it remains a concern. And above all, should you really change your theme just because someone else is mimicking it ?

  15. btw I think you are right, if one steals our design thats means we are doing good and no need to waste time on other fool things, indeed we can contact the stealer to reward us by just putting a link if he/she wont agree then leave it.

    and just concentrate on what you are doing, I really love these tips and keep in my for future.

  16. This is not a big problem for me as I am using WordPress and the theme I am using is not unique too. You are right, we shouldn’t do anything. Let’s see how people copy the design of Mashable or Techcrunch, they just continue developing the content to make their sites more reputable.

  17. Thats a good post. We must concentrate on quality posts. Popular sites will never steal any thing from your blog and these copycats will never get any success with their blog. So, Don’t worry.

  18. Yeah, I guess we should not worry so much if they steal the design. We only need to take action if they copy our content.

    Anyway, for websites run on a CMS such as WordPress, I think it will not be so easy to copy the design… not as easy as viewing the HTML source and just copy and paste it. You will still need to crack out a WordPress template.

  19. I don’t think the general layout of the design matter that much anyway. If you have a unique banner or logo for your blog I think that is more than enough for branding purposes.

  20. Me too thought it would be something related to legal methods. The summary of the article according to me is “Leave it and Move On!” 🙂

  21. Yea Amit! Unfortunately we are having few protocols for content copycats but not for design copycats!
    Regardless its Design or Content, initially we feel weird and then once everything back to normal we feel proud that our content or blog design it liked by someone 🙂

    Great experience exploitation!

  22. This happened to my old company several years ago, they actually stole the whole corporate web design looks, and since it was tailor-made (not a blog, but a full fledged website) the thing was even more obvious.
    We didn’t do squat, we felt like, hey, if they steal *everything* like this, I guess we’re well worth it.
    So I agree with you on this, just don’t do a thing, or if you do, leave a comment (not a negative one, mind you) stating something along the lines of “glad you liked my website ;)”. Some irony can work wonders.

  23. hey remember.. i recently asked you whether you can sell your design to me. and the replay was …certainly not….fullstop. now i know the reason. thanks for sharing your story.

  24. With thousands of bloggers downloading and using the same or similar blogging themes no one really knows who was the first with a particular theme and they all seem to get ideas from each other.

    • @Sourish: If you start filing DMCA for each and every copycat, a day might come when you would be spending an entire day filing dozens of DMCA complaints. As your site grows, the number of copycats grow too … 🙁 it’s tough really tough keeping track of them.

    • Good to hear that you got your credit, I also agree with Amit. DMCA won’t be helpful in future, because there are too many stealing going on.


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