Curated by Fabian Lua
In our daily design decisions, there is a temptation to take the short cut of copying the features of a well-proven industry leaders ?X?. Depending on our work, X would be apps like Facebook and Instagram, products from Apple and Samsung, or even concepts like Responsive Web Design.
There is reason to copy. Users favour familiarity. We see analog designs persisting in our digital world, like software calendars that imitate their physical counterparts by displaying one month on each page – and QWERTY keyboards. If the feature is not core to our product, costs would easily outweigh benefits when we force users to learn more new actions.
The X (like Amazon, Uber) has also probably also tested the feature rigorously on a large set of users, something we may not have the luxury of time, data or manpower to do.
We can copy as a start, but we have to remember to shift the center back on our users. As we test and gather feedback continuously, our context helps us decide what works and doesn?t work for us. There is no absolute right, even the success for X could be wrong for our situation.
It is far more important to for us to understand why the feature works for the X. Having stronger brand recognition and a larger user-base may help overcome flaws. Their feature works in sync within a larger set of their features.
Also, X is constantly changing, so copycats are always lagging behind. Apple jumped from skeuomorphism to flat design and sparked a trend. So which of those two is ?right?? If we followed Apple?s skeuomorphism right before they switched, are we right or wrong?
“Everything is a remix.? Ultimately, steal a design?s essence intelligently – copy the inspiration while knowing why and where it works.