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Thread: Borrowing web designs from copyrighted websites

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Borrowing web designs from copyrighted websites

    I found some great ideas for re-designing my personal digitial portfolio by doing an exhaustive search on ASLA and AIA Firm Finder. The firms' websites are swf. files, and the animations are simple enough that I can easily re-create them in Flash.

    Most of the websites are copyrighted material. Does this copyright include both the content AND design? I can make several tweaks to the layout and animations, but I really like the way a couple of them are set up. I will be using my own content. Right now, the digital portfolio will only be distributed on CDs so I have full control over who views the work. However, down the road I plan on putting the portfolio back on the web on my domain, probably when I am back in school.

    Has anyone had any experience with this issue?
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
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  2. #2
    Cyburbian cellophane's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    I found some great ideas for re-designing my personal digitial portfolio by doing an exhaustive search on ASLA and AIA Firm Finder. The firms' websites are swf. files, and the animations are simple enough that I can easily re-create them in Flash.

    Most of the websites are copyrighted material. Does this copyright include both the content AND design? I can make several tweaks to the layout and animations, but I really like the way a couple of them are set up. I will be using my own content. Right now, the digital portfolio will only be distributed on CDs so I have full control over who views the work. However, down the road I plan on putting the portfolio back on the web on my domain, probably when I am back in school.

    Has anyone had any experience with this issue?
    I would personally stay far, far away from flash designs. it is the early '00 equivalent of the <blink> tag. you can do a good portion of what is done in flash with CSS and some of the newer code options.

    the website design and content generally all have a copyright on them. there are a number of open source templates you can get from a variety of sources on the interwebs. we are currently having our site re-designed and it has been an issue to get aspects that we like from other sites without treading on the designers original work. now - if you selectively take individual elements and (re)combine them into a new design you can probably avoid major copy issues, but it is a pretty dicey area. i have not heard of any major copyright suits with web content but i wouldnt put it past someone to do.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    I know enough about Flash and actionscript to do a multi-page website with some simple animated shapes, masks, and layers. I agree, CSS is much more versatile, but I'm not a web expert. The <blink> tag is basically text that flashes on and off for empahsis, correct? I don't see how an fla. file compares with that.

    Would you recommend any websites for open source or royalty-free templates, preferably for AEC firms? I took pixel measurements of several swf. files from the firms I liked and jotted down them down on paper. When I design my porfolio in Flash, I will adjust the dimensions on several of the shapes, possibly rotate and transform other shapes, and create new animations that are slightly different than the websites.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

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    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    I know enough about Flash and actionscript to do a multi-page website with some simple animated shapes, masks, and layers. I agree, CSS is much more versatile, but I'm not a web expert. The <blink> tag is basically text that flashes on and off for empahsis, correct? I don't see how an fla. file compares with that.

    Would you recommend any websites for open source or royalty-free templates, preferably for AEC firms? I took pixel measurements of several swf. files from the firms I liked and jotted down them down on paper. When I design my porfolio in Flash, I will adjust the dimensions on several of the shapes, possibly rotate and transform other shapes, and create new animations that are slightly different than the websites.
    Flash pages are generally "heavy" and take time to load. I don't care for them too much when exhibiting a portfolio.
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    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    For a personal site, perhaps the animations, flash, and other glitz is acceptable. It is not appropriate for a professional site. That is one of my biggest peeves about architectural firms. Who the hell wants to sit through some flash intro just to get to a site? It is nothing more than the an indication of the firm's ego, which is often all they have to offer. Businesses and clients want a site that does not waste time, is easy to navigate, and can be printed or copied and pasted without difficulty.

    That said, let me reply to your question. There is nothing wrong with modeling your site after another that has the look you want. I would stay away from copying content or scripts.
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    Cyburbian cellophane's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    . The <blink> tag is basically text that flashes on and off for empahsis, correct? I don't see how an fla. file compares with that.

    Would you recommend any websites for open source or royalty-free templates, preferably for AEC firms?
    I misread your initial post - my appologies. like others have said, flash is sort of ok for a personal portfolio, but is a big annoyance when you want to look at a firm's page. the blink reference i guess is a bit dated. at one point every page on the interweb used the blink tag for emphasis - and it was horrific to look at.

    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    For a personal site, perhaps the animations, flash, and other glitz is acceptable. It is not appropriate for a professional site. That is one of my biggest peeves about architectural firms. Who the hell wants to sit through some flash intro just to get to a site? It is nothing more than the an indication of the firm's ego, which is often all they have to offer. Businesses and clients want a site that does not waste time, is easy to navigate, and can be printed or copied and pasted without difficulty.

    That said, let me reply to your question. There is nothing wrong with modeling your site after another that has the look you want. I would stay away from copying content or scripts.
    cardinal hit the nail on the head. if you want ostentatious site design, look at gensler's site. its a pain in the butt to get around, you cant copy / paste anything on it and its as slow as molasses to load and run.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    I hate animated intros. The animations would be primarily used for:

    (1) transitions from one page to another, such as the home page to the "projects" page, the "projects page" to a comprehensive plan page, etc.
    (2) tabbed information, such as pulling out a small tabbed project description
    (3) changing background images

    I read a book a few years ago about website functionality versus website design. The functional school despised animations, videos, and anything that took forever to download. They placed heavy emphasis on people's attention spans as a primary driving force in designing websites. The aesthetic school placed more empahsis on wowing the viewer so they would want to see more of the site.

    I think the challenge is to find a balance between both. This book advocated testing the portfolio on various computers using different operating systems (Windows, Linux, Unix, Mac, etc.) internet browsers (Explorer, Firefox, Mozilla, Opera, etc.) and different speeds (dial up, broadband, etc.). One of the biggest challenges to retain viewers when using animations, graphics, and movies in Flash is download time. I usually have a 5 second rule: if it can't load in 5 seconds for less, I am going to pass it up.

    Personally, I like a "little" zest to a website. I admire firms that think outside of the envelope in terms of design. I think it shows their ability to think creatively outside of the services they provide. Yes, this can be done without fancy transitions or videos. There are some very well-designed websites in HTML and Dreamweaver that have fonts, graphics, and colors, and organization that are easy to read. I just think they sometimes appear a little too flat, but again, that's a personal taste.

    I have a few examples of websites I admire. This is from a collection of websites I have seen over the past 3 years that I have tabbed in my Google Notebook. All of these sites have relatively small download times, around 5-7 seconds. Most of them require Flash, but some are designed using HTML. Some of the animations are a little complex, but I think I could create some of the effects with a little work.

    http://www.mds-bos.com/mds.swf
    http://www.bankerscourt.com/bankers_court.swf
    http://www.antunovich.com/
    http://www.thejohnross.com/
    http://www.hgor.com/
    http://www.asg-architects.com/index.htm
    http://www.avideng.com/index.htm

    Personally I like Gensler's website. I don't see any reason why a personal portfolio can be on par with any firm's website. I think the portfolio design would be another visual example of the designer's skills in media like web design. IMO, the biggest differences between a portfolio and the firm's website would be the content. I have created portfolios similiar to the ones I have shown. I always welcome any feedback, both positive or negative, about the visitor's viewing experience so that I can adjust the portfolio as needed. I also create links to cut-sheets for project descriptions that can be downloaded as separate PDFs.
    Last edited by nrschmid; 03 Feb 2009 at 10:25 AM.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

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