Switching Platforms but not Design - ethics?

I have a client whose website is powered by one of the three big open-source CMSs using a purchased template which he has adjusted to his own personal tastes - although the template with the colour scheme he chose is similar to his site.

This client now wants to transfer his site to one of the other of the big three CMSs but retain the look of his site. Isn’t this very much like copying someone else’s design? Would the client have to have a complete re-design of his site to make the switch ethical?

Your opinions here are welcome.

I think that walks the line of ethical boundaries but unless the site is large enough for anyone to really notice/care you could probably get away with it. Not to mention a few tweaks here and there could be enough to make it different enough. All websites basically looks similar anyway. Especially with the proliferation of the mobile web.

The site is not large now - it is a local charity site. But they are planning to eventually expand nationwide, so it has the potential to increase in size and traffic.

I had the same thoughts as you, so I’m glad I’m on the right track. I like the idea of just making a few minor changes to the appearance, and maybe changing the graphics used in places such as the navigation menus and the backgrounds.

As it’s a purchased theme, it’s unlikely to have an open licence on it. Might the person who designed the theme for the current CMS have a version for the new CMS? It may not be free, but I guess that’s why someone coined the phrase ‘switching costs’.

I think the odds of anyone noticing or caring is probably nil. Not to mention who is to say you’re not using the old platform. Those are all server-side changes anyway. There is no way to truly detect that from the client.

There is a version of this template for the new CMS, but I’m not really a fan of buying ready-made templates for CMSs - there always seems so much bloat, and I’m not keen on giving the this client the option of messing with the settings. I’d rather custom code a template that just does exactly what he wants and no more.

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If you’re comfortable enough with the new CMS, then you may as well do that. As @oddz says, chances are any similarities will go unnoticed.

I do a lot of custom coding in this particular CMS, so it’s not an issue. Thanks - I think I will go ahead and build the template for the new CMS with a similar look to the current website.

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