Best Practices for Giving Attribution & Proper Credit

Best Practices for Giving Attribution & Proper Credit

As a creative and in general, a person who is extremely detail oriented, I noticed the smallest things all the time. This is especially true when it comes to design, especially web design. It’s really funny how some of the things I notice now, as a graphic and web designer, I never noticed as just someone who was browsing.

A while back, I wrote a post discussing authenticity and originality, because I kept seeing over and over many of my friends and counterparts dealing with people copying or stealing their material. I think its something that will continue to plague the creative community, unfortunately, because many people don’t even realize they’re doing it. The same goes for not giving proper attribution or credit when you have either used, modified, or customized someone’s idea or design.

Best Practices for Giving Attribution & Proper Credit |

All too often I see individual’s who will think they are giving the proper credit to the original creator of an idea, but they’re not.

Sometime’s, however, I see a blatant disregard or complete stealing of credit. For example, back in the day, I was browsing through my Bloglovin’, only to land on a site that was using a theme from a very well known blog theme builder and designer, and when I got to the footer of the site, I saw no credit given to the original theme builder.  Instead, the site footer actually said “Site Design by [Said Owner of Site]”.

It didn’t help that this individual does custom site design and that visitors of their site would assume that they did the actual design, development, and customization of the site themselves. This is extremely misleading and untruthful and violates the copyright of the original theme developer.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with using a premade theme and customizing it.

For instance, my site runs on the Genesis Framework and I use one of Studiopress’ premade child themes which I have customized to fit the needs of my site, branding, and style. In this sense, I have designed my site, yet I did not develop it which is why I did not include the word “develop” or the phrase “site design” in my site footer as you can see below.Best Practices for Giving Attribution & Proper Credit |

It may seem like semantics, but it really does matter, because when most people think of the term “site design” or “develop”, they have in mind the actual person who coded and developed the site, not the designer.

What exactly is a Developer?

A developer is someone who actually builds the theme, they code it from scratch or may even take a preexisting theme and build on to it (still doing extensive coding) and designs it.

The Solution

It’s something that can be so easily avoided, but I think that people want to make sure so bad that they’re included in the attribution for their site that they end up inadvertently (or purposely) comprising their integrity.

As with anything that you may modify or adapt from, whether it be a recipe or tutorial you should always give credit or note that it was adapted.  By not doing so, you risk copyright infringement and that’s not good at all.  This also goes for coding, for my fellow designers out there.  If you come across a code that someone is sharing, ensure you leave their attribution in the coding.  There’s absolutely no reason to remove it, even if you modified’ss still an adaptation and their code.

There is a major difference between a web developer and a web designer, and in giving the benefit of the doubt, a lot of people use them (incorrectly) interchangeably.

We’ve already covered what a developer does, so I’ll clarify what a designer does so that you’ll be one less person using the term incorrectly. First things first, a web designer can actually be the person that does the site design, in the sense that they may be the ones to create a mockup of it in Photoshop or Illustrator and then take it to a developer to code.

On the other hand, a web designer can be someone who customizes the website with your brand colors, icons, and sometimes content. They will work within the realm of code, but it’s usually in the capacity of making here and there changes, not overhauling the entire theme. This means that the individual made little to no changes to the coding, with the exception of the hex codes for colors. You haven’t added to or taken away from the theme, but have made it match your branding perfectly, i.e. customized.  – Catch my drift here?

A web designer may be the one that has the creative aesthetic, while a web developer is less concerned with aesthetics and more with UX (user experience).

Alright now that we cleared that up, let’s get back on subject. As I digress…

If you’ve purchased a premade theme and customized it yourself or had someone to do it, you don’t necessarily have to keep a backlink to their site in your footer. Although, some designers and developers do have it as a part of their terms of use that you do. If they don’t, great, but if you’re going to take away their attribution, don’t add your own to make it appear as if you designed the site. If having a backlink doesn’t bother you, you can customize the footer to say whatever you want it to say, but still, include a link to the original designer.

How to Give Proper Attribution & Credit

Here’s an example of good ways to do both of the aforementioned:

Without attribution:

“Copyright © 2015 Your Site Name

With attribution:

“Copyright © 2015 Your Site Name” “Site Design by Original Theme Developer” “Customized by You (or Whoever Did The Customization)

It’s as easy and simple as that. With the examples above, there’s no misleading as to who designed the site and both ways still protect your content on the site. I honestly don’t understand why someone would take credit for something that they didn’t create. Customizing is one thing, but development is another.

As a previous theme developer (don’t develop anymore, but I do still design), I can tell you that to build a theme from scratch or even do heavy customization of a premade theme takes a lot of work.

For instance, with the Genesis Framework, the themes that Studiopress builds and sells are meant to be heavily customized and built upon. This is one reason why their themes have such awesome clean coding and aren’t bloated with unnecessary code. The themes being coded that way also protect the security of them, so sites that run

The themes being coded that way also protect the security of them, so sites that run Genesis themes have a little extra security than sites built by other developers. Additionally, Studiopress themes come with a license to develop, so this means that once you do purchase a theme from them directly (not a third party one, whether sold through them or not), you can make it your own and claim attribution. This is perfectly okay in most circumstances.

However, what is not okay is to purchase a theme from a third party developer of Genesis Framework themes, customize it, meaning change some colors and add your header (to be surface level about it) and claim that you designed that theme. Unless you’ve purchased a developer license from that third party developer, it is wrong to add your name to the attribution using the term “site design”, because you did not design the site.

So whether you’ve done this or not, or didn’t realize it was wrong, it is definitely something that must be kept in mind.  It’s especially important if you’re a fellow designer and happen to do custom site design for others.  Even more so, it’s important for them to know whether you are a developer/designer/builder,  or just someone that does theme customization.  There is a huge difference, and I think a lot of people don’t realize it.

I hope this gives you a bit more insight on the topic of attribution and how to properly give it.  It’s one of those things that’s so simple to mess up, but so simple to do or fix.  Think of it like when you didn’t cite your sources properly or at all in school, and your teacher took off for it.  People deserve to know the true source of where you got something and it’s also giving respect to the individual that created it.

Designers, developers, and those alike work hard, and to have someone claim my work as their own is not only hurtful but disrespectful.  Make sure you’re never in this position by crossing your “T’s” and dotting your “I‘s” when it comes to attribution.

Also, if you don’t know whether a designer requires attribution, ask!  Better safe than sorry and they will appreciate you for it.  Many won’t care if you don’t attribute as long as you don’t claim their work as your own, but of course, it’s always nice to attribute and link back as a courtesy.

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3 Blogging Blunders You Never Want to Make A Lesson on Blogging Etiquette

When it comes to blogging, pretty much anything is free reign. Blogs, for many, are places where you can express yourself candidly, and write and share about whatever your heart’s desire. However, there are a few things that cross the line and shouldn’t be done, regardless of whether you blog for your business, professionally, or for personal reasons.

When you blog for your business, these things are especially crucial not to do, because you risk jeopardizing your reputation and potentially losing business and the trust of your customer base and readership in the process.

3 Blogging Blunders You Never Want to Make |

If you’ve been blogging for any amount of time, then you’ve probably encountered at least one of three of the blogging blunders I’m sharing with you today. If you’re new to blogging or doing it for your business now, then you will be a step ahead of the game when it comes to blogging etiquette.

The number one blogging blunder is a pretty obvious one, however, for some reason, it tends to be the most common committed offense of all blogging blunders:

1. Featuring someone’s content without their permission; includes graphics and any other elements from their site.

– Always ask prior to sharing these types of things.

– A backlink to their site is a must

– When you do share content, be sure to remind the person that you will be sharing their content on that day (because people forget!)

What to keep in mind:  

If you’re just doing a simple roundup with a text link to content, you are most likely okay to not have to ask for permission. However, it never hurts to shoot the person you’re linking to a message (via email or social media) letting them know you’re linking to their content.

Many times when you do this, people appreciate it and are more apt to share your content with their audience. It also helps from an exposure standpoint, in that you can use sharing their content as a networking opportunity to get to know others in your niche or industry, and vice versa.

Related reading:  Creative Spaces | Attribution & Giving Proper Credit

The number two blogging blunder is one that I’m sure most bloggers have committed as well, especially when they first start out blogging. *Raises hand ??*

2. Posting content that is all over the place.

– Not everyone wants a super niche-based blog, but these days that’s pretty much the way to go.

– You can still post about a number of topics, however, ensure that the bulk of your content is consistent.

– A random lifestyle or “off-subject” post is fine every now and then, because, as much as you always want to give people an inside look at your business, people enjoy little peeks into our offline lives as well.

What to keep in mind:  

When you first start out blogging, it can be hard to decide what content is most appropriate to share. This is why it helps tremendously to know your why and your target market/audience. Knowing who you’re specifically writing to help you to gear your content as such. When you’re speaking directly to someone about a specific topic, you stay on topic and consistent with the type of content you produce.

Building consistently is essential to your success, because you establish trust with your audience this way. Your audience will come to expect certain content from you, and if they know they can rely on you to produce it, they become loyal…as well as raving supporters!

Related reading:  Why You Need to Have a Strategy for Your Brand | How to Blog When You Don’t Feel Like It

The number three blogging blunder is one that can be so easily avoided but is oftentimes not because of selfishness or insecurity.

3. Not sharing other’s content.

– We all know that selfishness gets us nowhere and it definitely doesn’t foster community.

– A huge part of being successful comes down to the community you build around your brand.

– When you don’t share, people usually won’t share your content either. – If people are constantly sharing your content, and they get wind or start to notice that you never theirs or anyone else’s I can bet you that they will stop.

– Be a team player and good community member, because even something as small as tweeting someone’s post can start a wonderful relationship between you and like others in and outside of your niche.

What to keep in mind:  

Being so focused on your own business or blog that you neglect your community is actually bad for business. Sharing other’s content should be a priority because it shows that you care by sharing. It also shows other’s in your niche or industry that you’re willing to support and that you foster an attitude of community over competition.

As much as we have to keep in mind that competition exists and that it may be somewhat intimidating as time, it actually serves as an immense benefit. It gives us an opportunity to stand out in our industry, but still, be well connected to it.

Having friends in our industries and niches also helps with having someone to relate to, because they may or have been through similar experiences and struggles with their businesses. Whether our competition is established in the industry or just coming up, we have the opportunity to both learn and help in both scenarios.

Related reading:  Dealing With Competition & Comparison | Why Commenting on Others’ Blogs Is Awesome for Your Blog

As with everything in life, we learn through our experiences and making mistakes. We can’t get better if we never mess up or fail. The important thing to recognize is that when we know better, we do better. Blog better for your business, so that your content marketing efforts are effective, garner you the support you need, and make you the income you desire.

Sometimes, all it takes is a small change to tweak things and we’re on the right track. It’s one reason why I focused on three main points in this post. We don’t have to “fix” everything at once, because well for one that’s impossible and if you try you, you will burn out fast.

Our brands are ever-evolving and our businesses are works in progress. Starting small and improving little by little allows us to take in and process what we really need to do to take our businesses to the next level and create a memorable brand.

Listent to the accompanying Branded Bliss Podcast episode below:

I’d love to hear! What blogging blunders have you committed? – What steps did you take to correct them?