For years, people have associated the HTTPS in a web address as a signal that the website offers a secure connection for shopping. You’ve probably been told to look for that in the address bar, and to watch for the little lock symbol. However, there are other uses for the addition of that letter “S,” and encrypting your design work is one of them.

Imagine this scenario: You’ve spent endless hours coming up with an amazing design you plan to sell to salon owners everywhere. The theme you’ve created for websites is one of the most beautiful you’ve ever seen, with a salon chair and flowers. At first, sales are brisk. Suddenly, the sales fall off, and you discover someone has stolen your design and repackaged it for their own profit.

Fortunately, you can avoid this scenario by simply encrypting or watermarking your files. In the past, getting an SSL certificate was expensive, and many small businesses shied away from the added cost. However, this has changed in recent years. Today, you can use a service such as Let’s Encrypt to obtain your HTTPS certificate for free.

There are many benefits to encrypting your design work and your website as a whole. There are also some other actions you can take that will protect your work.

1. Faster Load Times

Did you know most site visitors won’t wait more than six to 10 seconds for a page to load before they abandon the site and move on? The nature of the Internet is changing, and the HTTP protocol that delivers web pages is going through an upgrade. When HTTP/2 comes fully online, encrypted sites will have a boost in performance and load more quickly than sites that aren’t encrypted.

With the new data protocol, web browsers can request pages via multiplexing and load more than one file at a time. For the connection to use HTTP/2, though, the site must be encrypted with HTTPS.

2. Sensitive Information Security

Protecting user data and credit card information is vital if you want your clients to return to your site or even feel comfortable enough to buy your designs in the first place. Using a non-format preservation method will protect the entire credit card, not just the numbers on it, which will also protect other sensitive information users might not want to get into the hands of hackers or identity thieves. A 2,048-bit RSA encryption protects the entire account number and not just the first several digits, which makes the system even more secure.

Having this type of account encryption in place can increase your profits, because your customers will feel safe buying from you.

3. Watermarks

When it comes to protecting intellectual property such as an overall design, photographs or artwork, watermarks can prevent even the savviest hacker from stealing your creative works. The thief might love your picture of a sunset over the ocean, but if your logo is watermarked across the middle of the image, they can’t do much with it, even if they manage to steal the photo off your site.

There are many services that will help you add watermarks easily to your work. If you aren’t quite sure how to do this within your image editing software, you can use sites such as UMarkOnline to add a simple watermark.


4. Copyright Disclaimers

Even though you should put a copyright disclaimer on your website, the truth is they won’t stop  an unscrupulous person from ignoring your warnings and stealing your work anyway. Encryption gives you another level of protection in addition to the language of warning people not to steal your work.

Occasionally, you should use a service such as Copyscape to search for pirated copies of your work. If you find anyone using your work without your permission, first contact them, and if you don’t get a response, file Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notices. You can also contact the web hosting provider of a company that has stolen your designs and inform them of the theft and that you are requesting they ask the items be removed from their client’s site under the DMCA.

5. Check Metadata

You’ve heard this term, but typically about a website page. However, you can also add metadata to any type of file you upload, including images. One example is when you take a photo with any type of digital camera, the metadata will list the day and time the photograph was taken. This can be vital information should you ever need to take the issue to court.

While metadata won’t keep someone from stealing your work, it is a useful tool to combat theft.

6. Disabling Right-Click

You can disable right-clicking on your website, which will keep thieves from outright clicking and saving your images. However, they can still screenshot an image and save it to their computers that way. Similar to using a copyright disclaimer or metadata, disabling right-click functionality won’t keep a determined pirate from taking your ideas. However, it does make it more difficult for them to walk away with your hard work.


You definitely should encrypt your design work, watermark your images and use other methods to protect the work you’ve poured hours and your heart and soul into. Even though adding some of these elements takes a little time, the overall payoff is well worth the added effort.