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#5.19: The “Steal From The Best” Issue

You don’t need to reinvent everything. Take the best ecommerce techniques from great companies that have figured it out.

1> Copy Page Designs
2> Steal Security Systems
3> Loot Their Law Firm
4> Check It Out: Plagiarism or Inspiration?

1> Copy Page Designs

“User Interface Design” is the science of understanding how consumers interact with a web page and learning to make that interaction easier. And it’s muy expensivo. But you don’t need to do it. Amazon, Yahoo, and Staples already have. They have spend millions researching how to optimize web pages and close more sales. And millions of customers use those web sites and learn how things are arranged. Think of it this way: Amazon has trained us to look for tabs on the top, search on the left, and how their shopping cart works. You should design your site pretty much the same way. Remember, your goal isn’t to be original, it’s to sell products. So make it easy for customers to buy by laying out your web page in the way they were trained to use it.

The Lesson: Originality is less important than familiarity. Stick with what works.

2> Steal Security Systems

Want to annoy your customers? Create some complicated login procedure, set weird requirements for passwords, or use some “check your email to get your password” rigmarole. It’s just not necessary. Amazon, eBay, and your bank don’t need it. They secure billions of online transactions with just an email address and a password. You can trust that they’ve done plenty of research on the topic. If it’s safe enough for them, it’s safe enough for you.

The Lesson: Overly complicated security wastes your customers’ time, and it doesn’t protect them. And it makes you look small-time.

3> Loot Their Law Firm

Need a privacy policy, terms of service, or copyright language for your site? Are you worried about the rules for doing business with kids online? Want to learn the requirements and legal language for parental permission? Just copy Disney’s legal pages. They’ve got armies of lawyers, corporate red tape, public-company scrutiny, and every other reason to be careful. Plus, if the government or a customer is suing someone, it’ll be a big corporation. So…whatever legal language they have is well-done, well-reviewed, and good enough for you. Just do what they do.

The Lesson: Use the rich guys’ lawyers instead of your own. They know what they are doing.

4> Check It Out: Plagiarism or Inspiration?

Sometimes, designs get a little too close for comfort. Check out Pirated Sites and decide.

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  1. docmac May 24, 2009 at 10:18 am #

    This is great post.
    It should make clear to everyone how keeping things simple and not trying to reinvent the wheel will save you time, get more traffic, and ultimately make more money.

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