A couple of days ago, I stumbled upon yet another custom t-shirt printing website called T-Shirtmonster.ca. Now there are a lot of them out there, the biggest players being ZAZZLE and CafePress, but T-Shirtmonster's imitation of ZAZZLE is egregious. Keep in mind that ZAZZLE launched its public website in 2005, while T-Shirtmonster just launched in February 2008.
T-Shirtmonster's home page is innocuous enough. It doesn't look anything like ZAZZLE's. But try to create a custom t-shirt and if you are a ZAZZLE user, the user interface (UI) is all too familiar.
First, let's take a look at ZAZZLE's "Design Tool":
And here is the tab that lets you change the style, color, size, model and view of the ZAZZLE shirt:
Now, with ZAZZLE's design tool as a frame of reference, let's take a look at T-Shirtmonster's design thingy:
And similarly, their UI for choosing shirt styles, colors and sizes:
As you can see, the interfaces are not identical, but look strikingly similar. And they would look even more alike if this were a year ago before ZAZZLE introduced Model Realviews and the interface had to change a bit to accommodate the new technology. My guess is that T-Shirtmonster had been working on this UI for a long time, and based their design off of ZAZZLE's Design Tool from late 2006 or early 2007.
I'm not saying T-Shirtmonster shouldn't exist. Healthy competition is always good, and it's more than likely that T-Shirtmonster can deliver to Candadian-based customers sooner than ZAZZLE can since they are based in Oakville, Ontario, Canada. ZAZZLE is located in Redwood City, CA. But copying the look and feel of one of the main pieces of a competitor's site in my opinion is a bit too much.
So what do you think? They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but aren't the t-shirt designers a little too similar?