We all have a favorite website and a favorite website design. We are impressed by some websites and also detest many. We try and incorporate what we have seen and felt about other websites, into our own web design, sometimes copying large chunks of the other websites. While this may achieve a short term goal of having a website which is pleasing, it may not be a very good idea in the long term. This article explains why copying the code of another website may be harmful for your website in the long run.
When you mindlessly copy code from another website, you also copy over the flaws and vulnerabilities associated with it. This means that you may be exposing your website to several threats and exploits, which you may be blissfully unaware of. 90% of website developers use template based code or reused code snippets for page elements like menus, slideshows, banners and even animation. There is never any improvements or modification made to the code and they just adapt it to suit the needs of the client. Little do they realise that if and when a security flaw is discovered in that code snippet, their client will also be affected. Once a website is made, very little care is given to updating the code or replacing old technology with new, thereby offering little hope for security. Once of our client's website was defaced more than 3 times in one month, because the developers kept restoring the old site which contained an inherent vulnerability in its menu system. Despite repeated warnings and inconvenience, they were completely unaware about how to solve the issue and correct the menu.
Large companies very often have carefully planned websites, proportionate to the web hosting resources that they possess. This means that their systems are capable of handling heavy animation, large data processing and truckloads of visitor traffic. Simply copy pasting their code onto your website can drastically reduce the efficiency of your website, causing it to repel visitors rather than attract them. A lesson can be learnt by an upcoming online retail shop, which tried to introduce features similar to Amazon, on their own website. Little did they realize that Amazon had monster servers with tons of RAM and Processing Power, which their Shared Hosting was no match for. Their site started ranking lower and served up pages slower, due to the great disparity in what they wanted the website to do and the resources given to the website.
Copying source code of a website is a Copyright violation. Large companies sue their competitors for copying their source code, thereby claiming damages worth millions of dollars. Although in developing countries like India, China and Brazil copying of source code is rampant, enforcement is weak. Even then, in all these countries, copyright infringement is a criminal offence and the punishment can be very severe. In India, the police can search and seize computers and devices used to copy the website code, without a warrant from a magistrate. This has greatly helped reduce copyright violations as far as software source code and websites is concerned.
Although there is no concrete indication to show that if your website has copied source code then search engines will penalize you, there is a large probability that your website will not do as well as the site from which you have copied. If you copy text from a website and use it on your own site, search engines are sure to give you a lower ranking. However, as mentioned earlier, many large websites which are our role models, have given great thought before designing their website in a particular way. Their website has been specifically designed for their website, their business, their brand, their target perception and their environment. It is exactly like a tailored outfit, which has been crafted as per the specific measurements of the customer. It just wont fit as well on anyone else.
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