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YC Facelift: EXEC (kyrobeshay.com)
168 points by reason on Apr 9, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 87 comments

I'm surprised by a lot of the response to this post for a couple of reasons.

First, and very simply, the existing Exec design is conspicuously weak and unprofessional. It looks copy+pasted from a million other sites, but without anyone with a good eye to look it over and pull the disparate copied elements together. For all the negative feedback, there should be more acknowledgment that Kyro's decision does a far better job aesthetically and in terms of polish than what exists now.

Second, when did marketing and design become conflated? Most of the criticism is about the approach the designer has taken to writing marketing copy and otherwise persuading people to sign up. Is that really the role of a designer? Maybe it is these days, but I think that means the role has now become a hybrid of two pretty unrelated disciplines.

A great designer takes a sense of experience and branding and translates it into abstraction: color, form, rhythm, etc. Kyro has done a good job of this. The design, text aside, reads as high-end, serious, appealing to professionals, and most importantly like a solid company that is trustworthy and can deliver on its promises.

A great copywriter or marketer is doing a totally different thing, trying to persuade people and get them to convert. From knowing some people who are pretty good at both things, I'm not convinced that these two roles should be turned into one. I think this is a vast improvement on design before I even analyze whether or not its a marketing copy improvement.

I totally do not concede the point that IAMEXEC.COM looks conspicuously weak and unprofessional. Exec's site looks better than Angie's List, for instance, which looks like a 2008 Themeforest template but still manages to engage normal people just fine.

The bar for web design excellence on HN is way out of whack for what the bar actually is in the real world.

This matters because I think lots of people talk themselves out of launching out of concern that some web design enthusiast is going to come out of the woodwork and accuse them of being "conspicuously unprofessional". Trust me: people have driven a shitload of business through sites that I'm sure would make you throw up in your mouth.

The fact that there exist weak and unprofessional sites representing successful companies is not a counterargument against my evaluation of Exec's design. I never claimed that Exec was doomed to fail, or even that they imperatively need a redesign. I didn't make any kind of point about how much impact visual design has on a business's success.

My point was about the relationship between two designs: the original Exec design and the "facelift." The facelift is much more professional, and looks much less thrown-together. To add some context, too, I'm not "coming out of the woodwork" to criticize the company. I was responding to what seemed like a lot of misplaced negativity about the facelift.

I think it's definitely possible for a company to do very well without a well-designed website. But that's not really what we're talking about, is it?

If you had said their design was "weak", I wouldn't have a strong argument. You said their design was "unprofessional". Strong disagree, and disagreement worth having: people here are too hung up on unreasonable standards of "professionalism". "Professional" is a best practices standard. It very much depends on context. Angie's List is a giant site in Exec's space. Exec's launch website is to my eyes totally professional, cleaner and better written than Angie's List.

What, exactly, do you think is more professional about the redesign?

"Professional" in the context of visual design is about the aesthetics of business (as opposed to the aesthetics of, say, amateurs). I didn't mean professional in the sense of "money-earning," as you would use the term applied to participants in a certain field.

Exec's launch website is unprofessional because it is unpolished, visually unresolved, and appears to have taken little time to create. I don't want to break down into a detailed argument over specifics, but the biggest problems have to do with spacing, type size, the crappy icons, and the hyper-generic elements like the buttons, background tiles and color palette. Also, the logo (which isn't very distinctive in and of itself) isn't even used throughout.

The redesign is very carefully proportioned and arranged. It uses somewhat less generic colors and buttons and so forth, and some simple visual ideas are repeated throughout to create a sense of continuity and harmony. Each section flows well from on area to the next.

Again, I think you might be projecting a little bit. Who's "hung up" on "unreasonable standards" of professionalism? The post is about a person redesigning Exec's landing page. The redesign is more professional, looks more polished and refined and careful, than the original. I don't think that's a huge deal, and I don't think that makes Exec a huge failure or something. I'm not insisting that they raise their design to any standard.

EDIT: FYI, I'm not really much of a web designer myself. Kyro can probably define the problems with the existing site in much more detail than I could.

IAMEXEC.COM is done on the (very carefully designed) Twitter Bootstrap grid. The spacing and type size are mostly inherited. The color scheme is black & white with accent blue. The photography on the site is custom and reasonably well done.

Your standards are too high. You may be tired of Bootstrap sites, but I assure you that the rest of the world isn't and while Bootstrap's particular look/feel may go out of style, the world isn't going to get sick of sites like this just because they're Bootstrap.

When you say something is "unprofessional", you are implicitly making a comparison between it and other companies in the industry. Exec is a new service, but it serves an existing market which includes Craigslist, Angie's List, Zaarly, TaskRabbit, and AskSunday. Despite being an almost- out- of- the- box- Bootstrap design, it is already better than several of those sites!

It's perfectly fine to not like Exec's design! I'm not faulting you for thinking the type is bad (I think you're wrong about "spacing" though) or the colors generic.

What's less fine is "unprofessional". Again: I think that assertion isn't just wrong; it's part of a meme that casts a pall over the whole site, which is chock full of people who would launch services except that they're waiting months and months and months to get "good design" that nobody in the whole world cares about other than a couple loud people on HN.

Because I'm not an active web designer, I'm not even really familiar with what Bootstrap sites look like. You're making all of these assumptions about my background and motives. The site looks generic (based on experience gleaned from looking at lots of sites, rather than participating in some kind of elite designer cabal), the spacing is cramped, and the type looks bad. Putting something on a grid alone doesn't make it look good.

Since you bring it up, the top photo is fine but especially the photo of the desk looks quite poor. But hey! Still not suggesting that matters to the business's bottom line!

I haven't told anyone not to launch, I haven't said it's important for startups to look professional, and it's still true that Exec's design is a bit crappy and unprofessional.

This debate is very interesting, and you've both made some great points. But I lost you entirely with this post:

I didn't mean professional in the sense of "money-earning," as you would use the term applied to participants in a certain field.

That's exactly what professional means. A professional web designer is someone who gets paid by others to design websites. Sometimes, artistic license is part of what customers want (see: professional chefs, painters, etc.). But web businesses like Exec generally want to earn money.

So any site that is optimized for profit qualifies as professional, regardless of how much you like their design.

Of course, there are caveats. Maybe some designs, while generating more conversions, would attract more short-term, price-conscious customers, instead of the upscale clientele that are ultimately more important to Exec's long-term profits. And maybe, for this service, it's important to be seen as "stylish" to generate good word of mouth. But, ultimately, whatever design is best for Exec is the most "professional."

@asr: we're getting kind of into the weeds, but you're talking about the difference between a professional design and a professional designer.

To maybe put it more easily, and to bridge the gap between the two usages: the facelift looks like it was made by a professional designer and is thus a professional design. The existing site looks amateur because it appears as if the person who designed it would be unable to charge for their design services.

To argue the opposite would require some kind of weird personification of the design, as in, "this design is a wage-earning participant in its field," which just doesn't comport with how people use "professional" when they apply it to products and especially to designs.

This right here is the mentality that bothers me.

I promise you: the industry of professional designers is full of people who believe that only professional designers can create sites that will pass muster with buyers in the real world.

The reality is simpler, cheaper, and fairer: there is indeed a minimum standard that company websites need to achieve to look like a "real company", but it is many many thousands of dollars cheaper than a professional design project. You can buy it for tens of dollars on Themeforest. Your customers, unless you sell primarily to designers†, will never notice or care.

Most professional design projects by pre-revenue companies are vanity exercises. A lot of professional design projects post-revenue are too.

It is completely f'd up to say that a company looks unprofessional because its website isn't the product of a professional design project. Professional designers are not the gatekeepers of professional startup site launches. They just aren't. People need to stop acting like they are, because it's keeping them from getting to market.

Do not do this.

@tptacek You aren't listening, you're getting all hot and bothered about a claim you keep hearing that I'm not making. I don't think that professional design is important for startups.

It's a bit much to obsess about semantics and then throw your hands up in despair that people make the kinds of distinctions that counter your points.

Who, exactly, is saying to you that "only professional designers can create sites that will pass muster with buyers in the real world"?

I'm just pushing back on the word "unprofessional". I care less than it looks like I do. :)

It just looks like YET ANOTHER TWITTER BOOTSTRAP SITE. It might be the fact that I've had a headache for most of today, but it feels like every fucking link I click on nowadays is an un-tweaked Twitter Bootstrap site. It is so annoying.

Without a brief and without data, the designer here is clearly only improving the visual aspect of the website of it (the redesign 1 page and is in image format is a big clue). Which is something alot of the other commenters just don't get it.

It's visually appealing, professional and a vast improvement over the current site. Critiquing anything else beyond that is moot.

When someone start expecting a designer to do copy writing, AB testing, marketing, then they will also expect them to code in HTML, CSS, JS, and before you know it, they're the classical example of those looking for unicorn designers.

Even some of the design critiques here are perfect candidates for clientsfromhell.com ie: "Make the gold golder."

"Critiquing anything else beyond that is moot."

The goal of good design is to communicate the values and value proposition of the site. Any website should look professional and visually appealing, but the fact that a website is professional or visually appealing tells you nothing about whether or not the site is actually well designed.

Can you critique anything beyond the visual aspect based on that single static image? You can't because there's no data, no testing done, no brief - no context.

Meaningful feedback and constructive critique could be provided if the site was live, if we can see some hard numbers or we can do some user case studies as they use the site.

From a strictly visual standpoint, I can agree with your assessment. But a good /design/ needs to consider the copywriting and marketing standpoint and the larger picture as a whole. Design in itself is not restricted to the visual. Design as a whole is uniquely goal related. Almost all the time, it involves more than the work of just a visual designer.

With respect to OP, I think it's fairly clear he took the role of a visual designer in his work and should be criticized more on that aspect. But in the larger picture, I think a good designer (of any capacity) should be able to at least consider the marketing and copywriting goals. While these roles should not be merged into one - there's a role for someone who can consider all these to coordinate these unique needs. I personally feel that a designer who has an understanding of business needs is better suited for this goal than the alternative (that's not to say its a necessity for all designers)

Design is something almost everyone feels qualified to criticize, so a post like this lends itself to all kinds of bikeshedding.

Fortunately, we live in the age of A/B testing. Rather than listening to any of the speculation in this thread, the thoughtful businessperson can actually quantify just how good or bad a design is at achieving its goal.

By your logic, isn't this post itself an instance of bikeshedding?

Isn't the "gold club" positioning counterproductive? How does it benefit EXEC to claim exclusivity? They're as-yet- unchallenged in their market. Their goal should be to broaden their base of customers as much as possible and establish the normalcy of their service; in other words, to give the kinds of people who do not have Hertz #1 Club Gold membership permission to give EXEC their money.

This design does exactly the opposite. It suggests that EXEC is something I might pay attention to at approximately the same time as I start to consider time-sharing private jets.

That aside: pitching entire redesigns over the HN transom is a great way to start a meaningful conversation about positioning and branding, so, do more of these.

While your points are valid, I don't feel it's all shouldered on this redesign. The name of the company 'Exec' is already giving the user the notion of 'exclusive' or 'executive', 'high end' services.

The redesign fits the name, but does it fit the product? Without the company's vision/style guide, it's hard to do a redesign. I think it's a great job provided the information gleamed from the current website and the company name.

"The name of the company 'Exec' is already giving the user the notion of 'exclusive' or 'executive', 'high end' services."

Just because a little is good, doesn't mean that twice as much is better. I think the name does a great job at subconsciously making people feel a little bit important, but I think having the rest of site designed around exclusivity actually undermines the positioning they are going for. They're targeting young professionals who are willing to spend some extra money if it can make them more productive, not celebutante wannabes.

And what position are they going for? The point is this – everyone can look at the current site and come away with a different understanding of the position/approach of Exec. The designer is working with the constraint of 1. the name 2. the product/service from what he reads and understands from the current site. Unless he has the brief or sat down with the Exec team, there's no way he can nail it down. And neither can you (unless, ofcourse, you know exactly what Exec is and their approach/target audience/demo graphics etc).

ie: They could target more than young professionals - what about people who have disabilities? Maybe they can set up a weekly Exec service for groceries for handicapped people. Exec is a startup and they're no doubt iterating their product, and customer discovery and all that jazz. I feel it's unfair to look at a site, then comment on the design, when neither knows Exec's target customers (even when Exec is still discovering themselves).

You're missing the argument. Obviously, Exec can position however they'd like. But positioning as a luxury good in an wide-open market with mainstream-market pricing is not a particularly great strategy. Do you know what the fully loaded cost of a full-time PA is? Way higher than Exec'ing jobs. If they're targeting the market of people aspiring to have FT PA's, they're leaving a shitload of money on the table and needlessly narrowing their focus.

This thread is a good case study for nerdly misconceptions about marketing. I suspect that to a lot of HN readers, "marketing" means "what feelings you're expected to have while using the product", like, "this is gold and black for the same reason that Github has Star Wars imagery on their 404 page". No. Marketing is first and foremost about subsetting people into groups, predicting what those groups will pay for a good or service, and then picking the group. The "feelings" business serves that goal, not the other way around.

So, first, you'd want to decide "am I going after the same people that Hertz #1 Club Gold is" (ie, the kinds of people who spend 5 figures a month solely on travel expenses) and then say "let's class up the website a bit".

The point is this – everyone can look at the current site and come away with a different understanding of the position/approach of Exec.

And that - in the right circumstances - can be a very, very good thing. I've seen designers sweat blood to get that kind of feel :-)

To me the name means "not random people off Craigslist". It does not mean "I have to be an executive to use it". If that's the message they intend, the service should cost way more than $25/hour.

Really? Once I saw the page, it made me think of "execute". But maybe I have just spent too much time programming.

I also thought it was a play on how nerds verb that particular word; I "exec" my garage cleaning job like I would a Unix process.

Yes, this is correct.

While none of these are exactly the same as Exec, they do let you hire people remotely to do things.

http://www.taskrabbit.com (see also API at http://taskrabbit.github.com)

http://www.zaarly.com http://www.gigwalk.com http://www.gigboard.com

Exec differentiates on up front pricing ($25/hr), fast fulfillment (within 10 minutes), and on positioning toward executive assistant services. There's an interesting comparison table to be made with columns like "number of active workers," "geographic regions covered," "pricing model," "top 5 tasks" etc.

There's also craigslist, of course, which is highly liquid and has high reach. Craigslist doesn't have a great experience, though, for hiring people.

The positioning works for me. Pricing ($25/h) is prominent and makes it clear that it's in my budget.

It's what Zara and H&M do. High-end design makes customers feel important; low prices let them know they're shopping in the right store.

I don't think you can compare clothing to personal assistants. Making customers feel important is the only thing differentiating H&M. Making your basement feel clean or your laundry feel done or your groceries feel delivered or your car feel washed or your mail feel sorted are all things that differentiate EXEC from its nearly nonexistent substitutes in the market.

I'm worried now that everyone is going to feel the need to explain the concept of a status good to me, or explain why some products get marketed as luxury goods. People: I get it. There are products where a niche can be carved out by luxury positions. But something else about the markets for those products: they're all super competitive. This isn't some remarkable insight on my part; it's banal enough to be in Porter's _Competitive Strategy_. Even MBA's know it.

>They're as-yet- unchallenged in their market.

TaskRabbit, a 500startups venture.

Whoah, neat, TaskRabbit is in Chicago.

Has anyone used this thingy? I've got a bunch of stuff I'd consider farming out.

Do you think the Marquis Jet positioning is the right way for Kan to go with EXEC?

I had a pretty novel task done.. not especially cheap, but it was worth it — http://www.taskrabbit.com/new-york-ny/t/express-ship-blu-ray...

    Get to the Quiksilver store in Time Square
    Purchase a Blu-Ray disc of Art Of Flight
    Ship to a San Francisco address with FedEx Standard Overnight

I had someone on TaskRabbit sift through a bunch of childcare options to find an open spot. It worked well, and saved me a lot of frustrating phone conversations for around $30.

Yes. One of the clever touches of the TaskRabbit web site is that every task has a unique URL that facilitates sharing stories like this. You can even push a button on the page to "use this task as a template."

Some of the things I've found useful --

Write notes about a webinar, following instructions on key things to notice and questions to ask. http://www.taskrabbit.com/virtual/t/take-notes-from-a-1-hour...

Attend a lecture, write a trip report, take pictures. http://www.taskrabbit.com/seattle-wa/t/attend-a-talk-at-uw-a...

Count number of businesses on FB matching certain criteria. http://www.taskrabbit.com/virtual/t/estimate-number-of-faceb...

Handle the legwork for contacting ~30 vendors on aliexprss.com to open initial discussions about custom clothing. http://www.taskrabbit.com/virtual/t/virtual-assistance-resea...

Helping me attend a meeting via Skype in a different city. http://www.taskrabbit.com/san-francisco-ca/t/help-me-attend-...

Exec is definitely positioning itself as the "more exclusive" TaskRabbit, or at least the "more professional" TaskRabbit.

At Everlane we used TaskRabbit all the time for random, around-the-city tasks, including fetching things from IKEA (the nearest one is across the Bay Bridge in Oakland), bringing them to the office, and assembling them.

Very cost effective, and can save hours of work.

How do you figure that? Exec has what appears to be the same price as Taskrabbit.

I had TaskRabbit come and pick up some oversized recycling, worked like a charm. Cheap, and fast turnaround.

This was in SF, FWIW.

Fancy Hands seems like it's more in the mold of Internet Personal Assistants; it doesn't look like they'll come clean your basement.

They won't, but they'll schedule an appointment with a trusted local service provider.

Wow.. I could totally see something like this taking off in Tokyo aimed at helping well-paid foreign ex-pats navigate annoying Japanese tasks eg. Go to the city office, prepare visa forms, change postal address etc.

The original EXEC page is much better.

First, current tells me EXEC will do anything for $25/hr, yours tells me they will buy my groceries for $25/hr (cutting the mass appeal down IMMENSELY)

Second, and much more importantly, EXEC's current design works within real constraints. For one thing, you mocked up all this social proof that likely does not exist for an early stage startup. That takes up about 50% of your design.

There are some things you improve on (more frequent calls to the primary action etc.), but the problem with doing design like this is you end up focusing almost entirely on aesthetic stuff, as well as cookie cutter things you can plug into any site (ie: testimonials etc.), instead of the real task at hand. If you want to improve your design skills you have to get some real constraints. Design without constraints isn't.

Everything is too vague and broad. Will they tell stories to my kids? Will they change my grandpa's diaper? Will they break my debtor's knees? I'll be afraid to ask.

OP's design proposes a slideshow showing concrete examples of what exec can do for you. Concreteness trumps vagueness.

I think task rabbit does it better. http://www.taskrabbit.com/

I'm pretty sure getting quotes from people like Paul Graham and early interest from a bunch of early adopters is well within the "real constraints" of someone like Justin Khan. Social proof is easy when you're the founder of Justin.TV and SocialCam and a YC partner.

Hey, wait a minute: that's not the kind of social proof this mockup included.

All the social proof on this design is within reach of the Exec team.

Listing them all:

- YC startups using Exec - we already know they are, check.

- Videos of people using exec - are you kidding me? The founder of Justin.TV would struggle to make a couple of nice testimonial videos from trustworthy looking people? check.

- Names of people who use Exec - see first point. check.

- Profiles of execs. easy. check.

- Quote from Paul Graham. Should take about 20 seconds to bang out an email. check.

- Quote from Elon Musk. I don't know if he's connected to YC/Khan/etc, but I would be surprised if that was more than one or two phone calls away if that was really needed. That said, any other reputable figure will do. check.

- "Millions of people" - ok, that's not true yet. So change it to thousands of people (probably true already).

"Thousands of businesses use Exec".

"Here's real people testifying about Exec".

Zero doubt that Exec could put together "social proof" that YC companies use and love the service. But that's not their target market, is it? It's not the targeting that this redesign uses. I'm commenting on the redesign. I'm not arguing whether it would be good for them to leverage the YC network on their front page. This redesign doesn't do that.

Incidentally: quotes from Musk and Graham are (I'd suggest) counterproductive. Exec is priced for the mainstream. They're following TaskRabbit's price point. Look at TaskRabbit jobs; they're all bachelors getting shit out of their 4th floor studio apartments or assembling Ikea furniture. Why would Exec adopt a message of "this is a service targeted at the Elon Musks of the world"? How many FT PA's does Musk already have? I think he has some of them in space.

I think you're (accidentally) moving the goalposts.

I like the idea that the founder of Justin.tv can, because of his amazing video powers, generate compelling videographic social proof for any product. Maybe he should sell those super expensive Vertu phones too. ;)

But that's not their target market, is it?

I don't know, you'd have to ask the Exec team.

Me, I think that's a great starting target market. It's not enough as a final objective, but if they can saturate that market, they're in a good position to expand to the rest.

I like it. People who've commented before me seem to have very specific criticisms regarding how your design conveys brand but remember that this is a _redesign_, not an absolute final product to be shipped by the company. and by the way, this is way better than the current site. in the sense that it actually conveys a brand - whereas the original is far more neutral (thanks twitter bootstrap).

functionally, I would try to establish more of a visual hierarchy as you go down the page - the yellow color accent throws me off as I go down and the path that my eye intuitively follows is all over the place.

aesthetically, consider introducing a third accent color (maybe grey?) to round out the gold and white content you've got going on.

nice job!

this is way better than the current site. in the sense that it actually conveys a brand - whereas the original is far more neutral

I've no idea if this was a deliberate choice in the case of the current site - but having neutral visual branding can be a very effective technique for organisations to exploit for a couple of reasons:

1) The visual brand isn't the only factor that effects conversion. When you're exploring your product/market fit it can be much more cost effective to work with a neutral visual brand and tweak your other positioning mechanisms, rather than create multiple visual brands that target different markets.

2) It's relatively easy to evolve a neutral visual brand into something more targeted. It's much harder to go the other way.

Basically - if you're going to go strong in one direction you need to be pretty sure that it's the right direction.

To pick one real world example. I did some usability testing work on a franchise of bed'n'breakfast style "holiday" hotels. We were looking at a couple of design alternatives. One of which was very plain and "vanilla". The other was considerably more "polished", included some nice professional photography, tours, etc.

The "polished" design performed _far_ worse. It put-off some of the low-end users (by looking "polished" it no longer looked "cheap") while not really increasing conversions in the high-end group. In contrast the "plain" brand worked well across everybody - by neither looking "cheap" or "expensive".

Before we did the testing many folk commented that the polished design was "nicer" and was "more designed". It wasn't. It was a different design. A neutral visual brand is still branding.

Well that's interesting... I redesigned the Exec splash page as well.


I like your color scheme and how you focused on convincing prospective customers that Exec is a trusted and vetted service.

The new design idea is great. The lower hanging fruit for conversion is addressing the ~5s pageload time. I was left without graphics for nearly 4 seconds (10mbit duplex connection)



Also, what do we need SSL for on a landing page?

Lots of JS in the <head>. Moving that to the bottom of the page would help the perceived load time a lot.

I don't like this redesign. Exec just launched, and they are still in the phase where they are trying to teach early adopters what the site is and what it can do for them. This doesn't do that.

Just because something is pretty doesn't mean it's targeting the right group of people or telling the right story. I've gone through four rounds of revisions on the new web startup I'm doing in the last couple weeks for this reason. With every revision it's actually getting significantly uglier, but also more closely aligned with telling the story we want to tell to the users we see as our early adopters, so ultimately better.

There's always time to make the website pretty later once you nail the story and have a core group of users it resonates with, but making the website pretty for the sake of having a pretty website is always a huge mistake.

Additionally, the way you write a good design brief is by figuring out what you want the site to subconsciously remind people of, and then finding a bunch of design elements from other sites that meet this goal. To me this reminds me of one of those 'me too' social networks for video gamers because of the dark colors, the slick gradients/shadows, and the flash-game style UI. It emphatically does not remind me of FreshDirect, which would be a much more appropriate type of website to borrow design inspiration from.

As a definite-future-customer, this is my interpretation of EXEC: a VIP-like personal concierge service, ready 24/7 to provide assistance. I designed to that vision; I didn't work aimlessly. Thanks for the feedback, though. Much appreciated.

It's $25/hour. There are landscapers that cost that much. Our cleaning service costs way more. Is this really a VIP service? Why would they want it to be? Isn't what makes stuff like this interesting that it uses technology to make personal assistants available to normal people, not just VIPs?

It's more about "you too can feel VIP with your personal concierge", and less about "you need to be wealthy to use this service". I will agree that the product positioning isn't 100% clear.

That positioning says EXEC is a luxury good. If you're trying to establish a product in a (nearly) empty market, why stigmatize it that way?

That makes sense. That said, I see Exec being positioned more on the basis of things like transparency, quality, and personal connection, though I could be wrong.

hmm, judging from swagapalooza.com, it's clear that you don't have a taste.

That's because the site is purposely designed to make you think that.

Probably shouldn't have to dignify a comment like that. I flagged it.

Current design: "we built this in 10 minutes with twitter bootstrap to test our MVP".

Redesign: "this is a product, and a brand".

Also, very smart idea to do facelifts to YC companies. Many coming out of this batch have really weak design chops (the screen sharing site looked like an SEO landing page) and by focusing on YC companies, he increases his chances of being noticed. \

I think this is a great design graphically, and an interesting concept. I was asking myself the following questions though:

1. What happens when you click 'Hire an Exec', or 'Sign Up'?

2. Why are there two different calls to action - 'Hire an Exec' and 'Find an Exec near you'?

3. Design isn't just about pretty pixels. Where's the content, and why is there dummy content in its place?

4. Where did the 'In the News' section go from their original design? It must have been important enough to put it at the very top. What assumptions did you make that led you to remove it, or move it down to the footer?

5. In general, what assumptions did you make and how did they influence your design?

Black on yellow seems to hurt my eyes. I'm not sure its a good choice.

Ugh. Spoken like a true Ravens fan.

In all seriousness, yeah. Gilt went from black/yellow to predominantly black/white for a good reason.

I do like how the yellow pops though. Unfortunately, it also makes my eyes bleed. Maybe try a duller yellow, like goldenrod. My emacs theme is goldenrod on dark gray and it is pleasant.

First thing I thought: the gold needs to be golder.

Maybe try purple for royalty.

That's fair. I may have overdone it a bit with the yellow/gold. I might update it in a bit. Thanks for the honest feedback!

I respect the balls it takes to do something like this. Like someone else said, with design, everyone feels entitled to critique it. Yet, there are people on here who are defending the current design of iamexec.com.

The proof to me that your design is better was my initial reaction to it. Speaking for myself, I would never hire someone from a website that doesn't look professional. Your design instantly felt like an upgrade, even if there are things that could be improved. Most people aren't taking into consideration how difficult it is to design something without any input.

The changes I'd suggest are..

1. Focus on one call to action. You have 2 currently. 2. After the 1,2,3 limit the amount of yellow on the page. It's overpowering. 3. Remove the tagline just below the picture. You don't need it and everything else can move up 4. Social proof is great but there's a lot going on at the bottom of the page. Keep the user focused on the goal of getting them into the site. 5. Use lorem ipsum for dummy text

Anyway, keep hustlin'! I'm looking forward to next week's design..

I think your approach is both a nice idea and a nice result.

Alex3917 might be true but I think the superfluity of Bootstrap designs might slowly become deterrent to any first-time visitor. Of course, the functions are important but so much in interaction design is about colors, structure and individuality.

Let me give you an example. As a programmer, you come into a room and you often don´t care if it is furnished yet. All you care about is the room arrangement, electrics, the light, how fast you can access which room, what is nearby etc. You focus on functionality. The inside might look like pigsty headquarters but you can still imagine how it can look like once you do the interior design. In a nutshell: The average HN reader might be this kind of visitor.

The usual -non HN reader- visitor cares about functionality too, but he does´t want to enter a construction work. And as he does´t want to challenge his imagination, he might expect good impressions, giving him the incentive to visit this place again.

All that yellow and black reminds me of Hertz...

Your place holder text is a bit random and it takes a few seconds to work out that that's what it is. You might not want to use lorem ipsum but what you've got right now is a bit confusing.

I like the yellow but I agree that there could be a little less of it.

I don't like the gold/VIP association. The thing is, RGB gold is not real gold. So the message is really that you are a sucker if you fall for it.

Also, if a company plates it's offices with real gold, it means that they are taking too much money from me.

It's a good first shot, although a lot of the feedback provided by HNers seems to be on point.

It's funny that it only took a few months to get sick of the Twitter Bootstrap look, felt like it took a year to get sick of the 37Signals/Basecamp rip offs.

The best part of seeing these is that the company can find out what at least one talented designer see's as their value prop and message and then map it to what they want people to see and understand. Design then supports that vision.

Well done, I dig this style much more than their current design.

Two problems: any serious redesign should involve several templates that are thoroughly tested to ensure that users are interacting with the correct parts so that as many sales are squeezed out of the site as possible. Also, nobody reads reverse typeset. Just sayin'.

Sorry, didn't mean to be a dick. But I think web designers confuse beauty with functionality. While it is certainly possible to have both, a beautiful design does not guarantee proper utilization.

The purpose of a painting in an art gallery or an Ansel Adams photograph is to make the viewer experience the beauty of the art. That's the primary purpose. The primary purpose of an ecommerce site is to make sales and get customers what they need. These are two very different goals. Just because a website happens to exist in two-dimensions does not mean that beauty or brand tie-in's (like the gold trim) are the most important considerations. If it were, Gmail wouldn't be the most successful email client on the planet.

I think tptacek might have designed their current website.

That seems very likely... His zealotry totally misses the point and comes off as very defensive.

My 2 cents: when I saw Exec's real page I thought, "Interesting idea, not for me." When I saw Kyro's redesign I thought "This product seems awesome! I could definitely see myself using it." Kyro's design looks far more welcoming and professional and it does a much better job of making me think the product stands out. It reminds me of heroku and gilt groupe's excellent designs (albeit it's not quite there yet). I think those are good design's to mimic for Exec's desired demographic.

In case anyone didn't notice the link in the post, here's EXEC's current website: https://iamexec.com/

Great idea. Great design.


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