University Web Developers

University Web Developers

I've only been in the Higher Ed industry for 4 months now, but in that time, I've looked at just about every university site in the United States. I've come across many similar designs out there, but today I came across one that seems to have possibly borrowed a little too much.

The University of Alabama - Huntsville ( http://www.uah.edu ) has redesigned their site sometime in the past 6 months or so. I'm not exactly sure when, but my colleague pointed it out to me. When I went to their site this morning, it immediately struck me as VERY familiar. I spent about 15 minutes trying to track down where I had seen that design before and traced it back to Brown University ( http://brown.edu ).

While UAH doesn't make their menu interactive like Brown does (maybe they thought that would be borrowing too much) it is obviously a design borrowed heavily from the Brown homepage.

My question is this: How far is too far when 'borrowing' ideas from other websites? Did UAH go too far, or did they go just far enough as to keep the design their own?

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Seriously though, if you're going to rip off a design for your school, would you rip off THAT design? Blahhhh!
Old thread, but here's a little more about the UAH story:

http://exponent.uah.edu/?p=540
I hope they post my comment that I just left on the article:

"Great article. I would like to ask for a small correction though…my name is spelled “Stoller”, not “Stroller”…I can go up escalators, unlike a stroller ;-)

Also, here are links to my blog that showcase not only UAH’s usage of Brown’s designs, but of other schools that have similarly copied Brown’s html/css code:

http://ericstoller.com/blog/2008/09/14/brown-universitys-website-coda/

http://ericstoller.com/blog/2008/08/16/brown-universitys-design-sto...

http://ericstoller.com/blog/2008/08/05/pilfered-design-code/

The official response from UAH reeks of a public relations cover up. They stole Brown’s code and Brown is being extremely gracious in their response."
At least they spelled my name correctly in the Brown Daily Herald article ;-)
They should have given you a link, as well. Yours is the best writeup of the matter (as you're the only one who understood to look at the underlying code).
Another copycat:

http://www.hartnell.edu/
Good writeup there, as well.

For what it's worth, we presented the original Pentagram design for Brown University at An Event Apart New York, in July 2006, for an open critique. Several well-known web designers, whose names you would recognize, praised the design highly. One even said "I wish I designed that."

It does tend to be a polarizing design. Folks love it or hate it, not too many people are in the middle.
I'm floored that a Web design that poses many usability issues has been copied/used so much. :-(

I mean no disrespect to the designer. Please do not take it that way.
The Brown home page actually degrades nicely when you disable JavaScript. The hartnell home page gives you a headache.
While I like the design of Brown's homepage, I am also not a typical web user. I'm guessing that none of the folks on this site have the same issues with usability as most of our users. Susan makes a great point regarding the usability of Brown's homepage design. From an accessibility perspective, yes, it does degrade nicely when JS is disabled. However, usability and accessibility are not the same thing. I guess my point is that you are both right :-)

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