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You Can’t Patent a Good User Experience

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Working as a professional interface designer for many years now, I have yet to hear any complaints from my clients about one website looking too similar to another. It appears to me that this type of plagiarizing has become much less of an issue because users, clients, and designers are all beginning to focus on good UX and clean, simple UI and not whether the same solution has already been implemented elsewhere.

I believe that every company is different and therefore has different needs, making it unique. So, making the UI or UX unique is generally not hard to do because I’m designing for the clients specific needs, not to satisfy my own creative desires. But let’s face it, websites have things in common and sometimes those needs overlap.

UX Solves Problems

User interface design and user experience design are about problem-solving and the way things work. Ideally, websites have clearly defined goals and objectives. In other words, they intend to solve a problem. If 5 clients are trying to solve the same problem, it probably makes sense to solve the problem in the same way. It would be silly (not to mention costly) to think up 5 different solutions to the same problem.

User experience design is about implementing appropriate solutions, not about the uniqueness of each solution.

One of my favorite UX patterns in web design is when the search bar completely replaces the navigation system. This is a technique I imagined on my own while designing the Klein Steel website. I certainly wasn’t the first person to think of this functionality, but I hadn’t seen it executed the same way anywhere else and it just made sense to me.

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Is It Plagiarism?

Nope. It’s not much different than people needing a method of transportation and 100 different companies producing cars. To me, this is nothing more than solving a complex problem with a clever solution and enhancing the experience of everyone using the website. If the solution happens to work well for another website, then it should be used there too.

I think good UX patterns should be shared as often and as widely as possible because their purpose is to make peoples lives easier and that is something I believe should be available to everyone. It’s also one of the reasons why I am so passionate about contributing my talents, knowledge, and experience freely to the field of web design and development.

You can’t patent a good user experience.

About Matt Olpinski
Matt runs his own web design and development company Matthew’s Design Co. and teachers thousands of freelancers how to succeed through his personal blog and newsletter.
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