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Copycats: knock yourself out

People often contact us pointing out a design, often by a competitor, that is blatantly plagiarizing the design of Xero. The person usually suggests we get medieval on the bastards.

I actually have the opposite reaction. First, I’m genuinely flattered. It means we’re doing something worth imitating.

Second, when somebody directly imitates a design it can only result in bad quality — the very act of copying means cutting corners and it shows. Look at all the iPod knock-offs. They’re laughably inferior. Copying our design doesn’t hurt us, it helps us. It ends up emphasizing all the ways in which the copy is inferior, making our original design look even better by comparison.

I also don’t have a problem if people take our ideas and implement them well, or even improve upon them. Actually, it does bother me. In a good way. It challenges and inspires us to push things even further, so we always stay several steps ahead.

So please, do us a favor, go ahead and copy us.


Read more about Company News, Design



16 October 2009 #

Cheers – thanks for the permission! I might get 90% of the benefit copying you – but I have 0% of the costs and you’ve lost your differentiator… hmmm… you might want to reconsider this post.

16 October 2009 #

Xero has really helped lift the bar in application design and are a great example of how a design first approach really works – but more important than copying the output is understanding the process that led to it which the Xero team also seem happy to share – I highly recommend attending one of Philip’s workshops if you get the chance.

Earl Rudolfo
17 October 2009 #

Good point, Surprised. It’s quite flattering to be copied/imitated… to a point.

19 October 2009 #

While I agree with the general sentiment, you might want to run this past the lawyers.

It’s possible this blog post will prevent you from taking legal action against anyone that isn’t just copying but actually imitating you, seen as how you’ve told them that they should!

very surprised
21 October 2009 #

yes, very surprised at the tone of the blog – seems like you are happy for all to use…..

30 October 2009 #

Xero have blatantly copied Apple, along with every other website out there. There is nothing original these days, just compare Apple to Xero and you will see that the similarities are obvious!

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