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Show HN: A place to buy and sell services directly from each other (work.io)
135 points by sushimako on Oct 8, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 82 comments

I'm sorry I found it all very confusing. For me personally it failed the 5 second test - what is the site primarily about, and how can I extract 80% of its functionality quickest?

I clicked on the Buy button and was no further forward.

The design is very slick, but there's too many words on the front page, no obvious action button/s and no immediate examples of how this could benefit me.

Glad to know I wasn't the only one who was completely confused by what this service actually does...

I tried clicking around to a few random pages and still couldn't gather exactly what it was trying to offer, although I kept clicking because I felt like "something" cool was hidden behind the jargon and poor UI.

May I ask you to try the 5 seconds test with my profile? https://www.workio.com/u/MjA3ZD/luca-hammer

Does that work for you?

It would work better if it was something like...

Welcome to work|i|o the one stop shop for...blah.

Or some form of one line and clear explanation of what the site is/does.

You're trying to get across 3 things very quickly here:

1. What the site is for. 2. How does it work (how can I use it?) 3. Why should I use it (what's the benefit for me?)

If there are alternatives, why should I use you instead of the alternatives? (e.g. too expensive, too clumsy, too rancid or whatever).

I am not sure I get what you want to say. We should do these three things or we are doing them?

You should do these 3 things; I registered and I am still not 100% confident that I know what you do.

I still found it every confusing, the main thing is:

Why is it a document editor? It's just asking a question yet I can edit a whole bunch of stuff for no reason.

Also, I don't think having the main navigation buttons in a small box in the top right works.

With the editor you define how the results should look like. The providers will input the results there.

Also a conscious decision: A nice marketplace needs a definition of the goods are, otherwise it's better to come up with a listing type business (here are some contractors, here are some job, match and do whatever you want).

By trying the editor route (which came out of the "i want spreadsheets/ no, i want text documents/ no i want slides" customer development) we hope that people over time will grasp the value of "tangible / trade-able" goods. Even if this means excluding a good chunk of business that can't be standardized.

Not really. What problem are you trying to solve and what are the benefits to me? This is a much better splash page but the copy is still pretty bad - https://www.workio.com/about/

We want to streamline work processes. If you need something done you have to find someone who is able to do it and has time. work.io takes care of this. You define what you need, say how much you want to pay and get the results. You don't need to interact with the providers. Less overhead and better results are your benefits.

Ok, so you are providing a service like Odesk and those types of sites. Cool, nothing wrong with that. There certainly is a huge need for this right now. Just come out and say it. Let me help you with that (using your own words).

Work.io allows you to hire skilled workers without the need to interview them one by one. Just join, define a task, price it, and get the results. Work.io works with a pool of talented people to deliver what you need. No resources wasted. Better results. Our focus is to streamline your work process by taking care of finding the people you need to get things done, at your price.

You see that there is a bit of your problem.

No-one really understands what 'streamline work processes' actually means.

Does that mean you can help me serve my Big Macs better in my day job?

Jargon kills (and I mean KILLS) marketing effectiveness.

I wrote an article about this a month ago http://lucahammer.com/post/31269937454/startup-wording

I know that we have that problem and we try to solve it. I believe that discussions like this one help with it. We try to describe what we offer and others tell us what they don't understand.

We remove overhead from outsourcing. You define what results you need and the people on the platform deliver. No management needed. (Sounds like more bullshit? work.io takes care about who fulfills your tasks so you don't need to.)

OK, so by mentioning 'outsourcing' we start to understand a bit more. You're focused on enterprise (or reasonable sized operations then?). Then you should say so.

You have to remove all the jargon from your pages (and preferably simplify the text by removing a lot of it) and then explain your proposition like it was to a 5 year old (as someone else said here).

Sorry to go on about this, but it's crucial if you're going to market your product successfully.

Try this: You are in an elevator, you've got 3 minutes between floors to make your grandmother understand what you do and why people should use your service. What would you say? :)

We don't use outsourcing because people assume it's for bigger companies. Also it evokes a negative feeling.

Recently a developer created a task. He has a popular plugin for an open source CMS and wants to offer a paid version of it. Therefore he needs TOS. Finding a lawyer who has the right expertise in that space takes time. Instead he went to work.io, defined what he wants as a result and paid. The task is now distributed to fitting lawyers and the developer will get back exactly the results he asked for.

On the other side is the lawyer who gets contacted by people who ask what random things cost. She has to make an estimate and doesn't always get the job. Often she has to explain things instead of just getting them done. She charges by the hour because every client is different. On work.io she has a a list of tasks, sees how much she will get for each of them and can fulfill them immediately. She doesn't have to run after the money because work.io can pay her as soon as the buyer accepted the results.

We already plan landing pages for specific industries as it is easier to explain it with examples. A marketplace for services that can be fulfilled without further interaction between buyer and provider.

Elevator pitch for my grandmother: Work has changed. You already experienced how less people were needed to work at farms while there was more food for everyone. Today factories get the same treatment. Intelligent machines, we call them roboters, can make many tasks and at some point in the future there will only be a handful of people needed to build for example a car. Most people work in the service industry. The teller at your bank for example. Or your taxi driver. Or the cashier when you buy groceries. These jobs will be automated too. I can use my computer to do the same things the teller does. It can talk with nearly all other computers on the world through some kind of phone line. While you need to go to the bank to send me money, I can do it myself. Taxis will be able to drive on their own and you surely remember the last time we were at Ikea were we used that laserthingy ourselves and paid with the plastic card instead of waiting in a line to have someone else to do exactly the same thing. Computers enable us to do things we paid others to do for us in the past in less time because we don't have to wait in lines. * ping * We are already there? On the way down I will explain you what work.io actually does.

Elevator pitch for my grandmother (second try): work.io enables people to work like they were employed by a company without the corporate bullshit. They get a list of tasks and can decide on what they want to work. They get paid by tasks and know upfront how much they will get for each of them. They even can do only a part of the task and someone else will do the rest. They will then be paid for the percentage they did.

Instead of enroll others, people who need something done can create a task on work.io and pay for it. We then make sure that they get the results they wanted.

This creates a much flexibler environment for everyone involved. Companies can be managed by a core team that gets things done by great people done as they need it. They can buy an evaluation of their idea, a list of competitors and all legal documents they need for incorporation and doing business. If they want to get into a new market they buy the needed insights. They can buy a marketing strategy and the needed copy. They can even have someone else to incorporate their company. Nearly everything is at their fingertips.

May I suggest to put the second pitch on your frontpage? (I'd remove the b-word though)

We remove overhead from outsourcing

I thought that outsourcing's main problem was lack of common incentives for both parties. Management overhead is a consequence of that. How's that related to what you do?

Great. Now take that and explain it like i'm 5. Then put that on your website.

Holy buzzwords, Batman!

Seriously, I hate them. It makes it seem like you don't have anything substantial when you use them. They appear as filler for a weak product. Talk to me like a human. Given that I'm trying to find other humans for work, I would rather trust something that felt honest than something peppered with marketing-speak.

It doesn't really help that 'please' is categorically misspelled as 'pls' either...

That isn't a misspelling, but a very common shortcut. I fail to see how this in any way detracts from the readability of the text. Other shortcomings notwithstanding, "pls" is fine for the vast majority of internet users.

Using 'pls' in formal communication indicates sloppiness and imprecision of thought. It indicates that one is not serious. A mental flyweight.

Shorter: spelling counts.

Generally in my life I've shared the same opinion... but are you sure that if A/B-tested, 'please' would outperform 'pls' in the context of Work.IO's goals?

For example: when soliciting user participation, it often helps to lower user anxiety that what is written needs to be perfectly crafted/grammatical. 'Txtspeek' can send a signal: it's OK whatever 'u' want to type here.

a) A/B testing grammar is a lame idea.

b) Please isn't perfectly crafted, it's just the right way to spell that word.

c) Text speak is a signal, but only a positive one for functionally illiterate Eloi.

It's lazy and unprofessional.

Love the idea for the site, and though it may be ahead of its time, it is an ambitious project and deserves to do well - one day a lot of work will be distributed this way.

However using txtspk like pls for talking to potential customers is not quicker or cool - it shows a lack of respect. Also, this error from zephyr has been on your home page for the last few hours:

Obvisously you want to keep your site and app secure, but who is really good at this? Zephyr comes from MIT and is the perfect interface to the Noisebridge community.

Simple spelling and grammatical errors on your site home like this will cost you credibility and customers; best just to fix them and move on. Your initial text, by you and your users, will set the tone for everything that follows.

  Also, this error from zephyr has been on your home page for the last few hours: [...]

Thx & (hopefully) fixed!

That's ok on a forum, but not on a site that tries to appear professional and elegant (and buzzword-y). Personally, I also think the font used on the "About Us" page for "What you need" and so on does not mesh all that well with the rest of the site.

OK, the templates have to start somewhere, pretty much everything else was written by users, check https://www.workio.com/b/Y2NlMTY5MDYt/security-assessment for example. Or is the About page that puts you off?

Guilty regarding the Pls's...

A few things:

1. Congrats on launching!

2. You have an explanation video hidden somewhere on the site (like literally I saw it then got back to the homepage and couldn't recall which link I had clicked to find it). Having that front and center would really help.

2a. Don't use the robot voiceover for the video. If you're not comfortable doing it yourself find somebody on Fiverr.com to do it for you.

3. It would be very helpful to have some extremely simple examples of what you are providing. Along the lines of: "Jim wants to boost sales, instead of hiring a costly salesperson he can request getting leads." (which is something I think you do).

Looks like you're off to a good start.

Thanks Michael, we're working hard on Topic / Industry specific landing pages, where it's just the video, 5 best products (without the detour of you having to customize them by hand) and 5 great people providing them.

Voiceover was Voicebunny or Bodalgo, very close decision, but there are definitely artifacts from the Mercedes GPS she did left over, but you (gladly) haven't heard the timing test we spoke...

This is what I understand 1 minute after perusing your website.

1 - This is some sort of a marketplace where you can buy and sell expertise. Kinda like a Air bnb for odd jobs. Reminds me of a similar startup that tried that, but I cannot remember their name.

2 - The landing page's layout is a little confusing. I clicked on a couple of links and landed on your about page[1]. When you have a 90 second video explaining what your product is, why would you not put that on a landing page ? The call to action would be very easy for me. Click on the video and know more about you.

3 - Although you meant for people to click sign-in on the landing page, that action was not very obvious to me. You should look to prioritize 'Sign-up' not sign in. The fact that they are both green buttons that look alike does not help.

4 - Your key customer sign-up categories appear to be a buyer who gets services and a seller who markets his / her services. You might want to streamline signups to reflect that.

5 - The text overlay on the image is not very visible / readable. Have you considered switching the images to color on mouse-over ?

6 - Where is the submit button for 'Suggest a feature' under watercooler ?

7 - I don't quite get the watercooler part. Is it meant for users to share insights and that becomes part of the news ?

8 - What is your pricing ? Where can I see what cut you take and what I get in return ? What are people signing up for ?

9 - When I sign up, its not very clear to me that something happened on the screen. Its great that I am logged in, but the UI needs to do more to inform me about what just happened.

10 - A short tutorial on signing up would be great. The app asked me to add funds and I don't understand what for.

I like the idea. The presentation and the user flow could use a little work. Gather the feedback you get here and fine tune your site. Nice work.

[1] - https://www.workio.com/about/

Hey, thanks a ton for the detailed feedback!

1) Solvate and many others.

2) Went with the current one to see what appeals to people, but like mentioned the industry specific landing pages will be a lot like you suggest.

3) Sign-In is both Signup & Login, the redundant one is just as backup (just to explain the thoughts behind it).

4) Still fiddling with this, most sites like oDeks et al do it, but nt yet sure if it's more effective (considering that you only have to sign up in the very last moment, eg order a job or offer a service)

5) 2 of the people just had this ones in B&W, will switch once we have a broader pool.

6) Right, submit on \n is still no good practice.

7) Highlight whats happening on the platform, bit of a placeholder now, but think more lively statistics, stories, industries, rankings here in the future.

8) 15% cut, we take care of the whole payment, landing pages etc.

9) Right, not all callback messages there yet.

10) This only happen if you "made up your mind" eg clicked "order" on a product, but a nice generic tutorial video combined with 9 would be nice.

Thanks again for taking the time, all the feedback, and the chance to start thinking about it while typing this.

While you're taking suggestions, let me enter my information instead of parsing my social network connections:

a) I don't have some of those social networks at all and

b) I'm not going to let you have access to the other ones.

I'm probably the ideal target for you, in terms of offering services, but I'm simply not going to bother if you require, even politely, intrusion into my life.


You can offer services without connecting anything. Right now they additional info is only used for matching.

We will work on a way to enter information manually.

Could you please explain how you will address:

* quality: How do I know the quality of the work will be good? What happens in the case of disputes?

* reputation: How will you keep track of reputation of the workers? Odesk, Vworker, Ebay are marketplaces that do a decent job at filtering out spammers and bad guys. Where they lack is determining the difference between good and great. Everyone gets FIVE STARS or close to it for every job, unless it's completely bungled. This also creates a perverse pressure on the contractor. If an employer complains about the contractor publicly, the contractor quickly lose all work. Workers are thus pressured to satisfy out-of-scope employer demands so they get a five star rating and maintain their sterling reputation.

* quality: Matching the task with the right providers is crucial. At the moment we do a lot of manual vetting, making sure each task gets to the right people and everyone is happy. Over time we will collect more data to improve matching. Disputes are handled by ourselves right now and we want to have humans in charge for these things in the future.

* reputation: We also have a rating system in place which is used to give the provider feedback on their work and also helps us with matching future tasks. Buyer will get rated too. At work.io the buyers don't have to choose the provider but only defines what results they want to have delivered. There is the option to buy services directly by someone but these deals are normally done because of the reputation someone has outside of work.io

In addition to what luca said: We take a lot of pressure out of the marketplace by not having a biding mechanism in the first place, so better matches in terms of budget / skills etc are likely (happy to go into more depth on this) and we also collect tons of implicit data, so once we should get some traction, it should be easier to model the current manual work we do behind the scenes into corresponding algorithms (also happy to expand on this).

All of your fonts are too small. All of your text colors are too gray. I'm in my early 30's with fairly good eyesight, and its just way too hard to read anything on your site. I tried signing up and going through the Sell services bit, but just gave up because the whole thing gives me a physical headache trying to read anything.

We will work on that. At the moment the highest priority is to create great processes. Design improvements will follow. (Some small ones are already in testing as they are part of the process too.)

Interesting, and nice design.

I'd like to be able to add my github and behance.net profiles as well if I can. Those would reflect my skills a lot better than would my facebook.

Also I don't really like that my username seems linked to whatever my email address was -- I should be able to display my real name, and if I can change that I haven't found where yet.

What is the user ID for and why is it listed in my profile?

I would like to know a bit more about how you're handling payment, and dealing with conflict and arbitration. Can I connect my paypal account? Is there some kind of escrow thing like elance uses?

Thx for the feedback!

Your should already be able to connect your LinkedIn account on your profile page. Github, behance and other identity providers of specific industries will be added in the future.

Right now we fetch your name from the identity providers that you connect (e.g. linkedin) and fall back to the user part of your e-mail address if none connected. Being a little experiment, this is the only way to set your name for now (i.e. no manual input). Of course we will change this, if that's what the users want.

Re: payment: Upon ordering a job the buyer transfers money to work.io (via creditcard, paypal or purchase order) and after the job is completed and accepted, all participating users will receive their share in their account-wallet. This earned money can then be payed-out via paypal, check or ACH.

Right now, we're handling disputes/conflicts ourselves and will rely on human support in the future as well.

Couple more things.

Why is it linked to my facebook account? I don't remember ever opting in for that. How do I unlink it now because my facebook account is not a business account.

For that matter, how much control do I actually have over what you pull from my accounts?

- Can I delete anything you add and unlink any accounts I link? - Can I opt not to synchronize my accounts or lock my profile at a certain state? - Can I delete my entire workio account if I want, and if so, what if anything does workio retain of my data?

We do some auto discovery via your mail adress. Only public available data.

Right now you only can decide to connect or unlink your whole account. This is done on your profile page. Let us know if there is a problem so we can look into it. You can hide topics, industries and geographies we have pulled from your accounts.

If you choose to delete your account (no clickable link right now, mail us) we will remove all of your personal data. We will retain data you submitted as part of fulfilling a job. There may be backups that still contain other data by you but these won't be used if we can avoid it.

Fair enough. I would rather the site showed me that it discovered the account/data and then gave me the option to include it or not, that would have seemed a bit less intrusive. The assumption that it's automatically stuff I want on that profile may not be true. I may not want to present that particular name or profile pic, or deal with not accepting friend requests from clients.

I am sorry but I am confused to what your site does. It looks good, but what is it that it does as I am confused. This is not to slam you. I hope to help you. "Global Expertise, On Demand & Delivered Online" is just buzzwords and does not concisely tell me what you do or what benefit you provide.

For instance I go to planscop.io and I am told "Project Management for Contractors - Planscope is a simple tool that helps you build better client projects and close more deals.". I know it is for contractors for managing projects.

NewRelic.com - "A DEVELOPER’S BEST FRIEND - See how we help 25,000+ customers monitor their apps." I know it is for Developers and it monitors my apps.

Risks.io - "Track Your Project's Risks, Assumptions, Issues and Dependencies Online"

Basically I think work.io does is "Work.io connects employers and knowledge-workers together for highly-skilled one of projects."

"Work.io connects employers and knowledge-workers together for highly-skilled one off* projects."

Dale, Thanks! Work in progress, skipped the tagline & extra text on the frontpage as long as we didn't see a clear winner yet...

As many others have pointed out, I'm confused. Here's a good starting point for your pitch/value proposition:

1. What problem are you trying to solve? (It seems like you're trying to solve many problems at once, but state these with more clarity)

2. How are you solving this problem? (What part of your solution solves the problem and how?)

3. How is this different from the competition? (When describing how you are solving the problem what do people do today that you do differently for the customer)

Also, it appears there are two sets of value propositions - one for Buyers and one for Providers. You'll need to clearly explain both to each audience.

Edit- Oh and good luck! The technology itself is extremely impressive and good job looking for feedback....now iterate!

I created a profile (which was quick and easy, well done). I wanted to connect it to my LinkedIn profile, but apparently you require access to 1. my profile 2. the email I use for my LinkedIn account and 3. my connections.

I can understand 1, but not 2 or 3, and I'm not willing to provide them to you without a good explanation of why you need them. I imagine other users will feel the same way. Why not just require access to my profile? It's much less threatening that way, and you'll get more people connecting their LinkedIn accounts.

Pretty design, and nice concept overall but there doesn't seem to be any way to add certain kinds of information other than connecting social networking sites. I don't want to do that.

Thanks for the feedback. We wanted to make it harder for people to add topics and industries only to get certain jobs. We will look into ways for user who don't want to connect their profile to social networking sites.

A way might be to simply limit the number of topics and industries a person can list, though that has its own downsides.

Just thinking of my own case, you won't get much of use from Facebook (I post pictures of kittens and cookie recipes), twitter (It's been nearly a year since I've tweeted anything) or Linkedin (I barely use it). You'd get more of use from HN, reddit or (especially) github, but it might be harder to extract useful information from those sources.

We will definitely add more services in the future and you are right that these three were the easiest to start with and give ok results for many people.

You could still provide buyers with awesome cookie recipes!

I think the design of the site and the product conflict. The design looks like you're selling the person, not their expertise, especially from the front page. I'm sure any of these people can do multiple things, but I don't care about that, if my goal is to set up shop in Asia, mention that. I am in no way able to know that just seeing Sophie Song's face on your front page.

Also, for sellers to solely use social media as a verification system just rubs me entirely the wrong way.

I really like the idea though, good luck!

We had no faces on the homepage when we started. Usertests showed that people were unsure who will fulfill the tasks and therefore didn't want to give us their money. At the moment we show some faces and some tasks which may be even more confusing.

Sorry for the social media verification thingy. It works for most people and so we choose to start from there. We will look into alternatives in the future.

Thanks! If I can help you with anything let me know.

This looks very good. But I can tell it's still early days yet.

One UX/UI bug you should fix is to make it possible to see draft offers in one's profile. I did a save and continue, and had to dig through my browser history to get back to my draft offer.

I also got a 403 notice in the UI when I clicked the Save and Continue button.

I do agree with some of the posters here that you need to clarify the value proposition to first timers.

I'm excited to see a marketplace for consulting products like this opening up, and intend to make use of it.

Your drafts should be in the "Buy" menu, and your offerings in the "Provide" menu as well as on your profile.

Hunting down the 403, shouldn't happen here...

Thanks, get in touch with any of us at any time, happy to get more direct feedback & support you in any way we can.

I think the problem here is that you're doing EVERYTHING. If you tested out a single vertical (e.g. legal work for startups), and connected it with a market of, say, well credentialed lawyers who're interested in working for themselves, then I would know exactly what your site is for, and how/when I might use it.

If you tell me that I should use you for everything, I'm probably going to use you for nothing. Give the verticals their own websites.

Landingpages for verticals are already planned. Thanks.

The editor is pretty fancy, dragging stuff around when you create a new document works really well. Will give it a try

thx! Btw, to anyone who wants to try it out: there's no signup needed.

Just start a new document from any of the Templates or create a copy from a landing page (e.g. https://www.workio.com/b/Y2NlMTY5MDYt/security-assessment ) by clicking the "Customize and order" button.

Like the others have said, the design is good but I just don't know what I am getting from the site on first approach. I also don't like how the home page main call to action is Sign In, what am I signing into and why should I?

I expect the homepage to tell me how you are going to help me, not for me to find out how you can help me?

Here is an older version of the homepage: https://skitch.com/lucahammer/eagkm/workio-hompage-old

the replay-mode of the editor just rocks :) I'm offering consulting-serives about Facebook-platform there, + you can ask me a free question about platform as well :)


Great domain name you have there!

just 3 spontaneous impressions:

1- The site (front page) is not bad. Anyway it addresses the one big problem of buying and selling the desired jobs. 2- The name and position of "Watercooler" is interesting and invokes curiosity about the site. 3- The presence of Linked-in as a login option is bad, because the Linked-in is bad. I've deleted my Li account after a crazy frustration upon their wanting me to become a paid member just for me to send a message to a member! No need to link to a doomed site such as that.

That's all.

Great design.

The design seemed really familiar to me... is there any connection with http://www.systemone.net/ ?

Yes. Can you find it?

reminds me of this classic

Ronald Coase - The Nature Of The Firm, 20 pages http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1468-0335.1937....

summary http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Nature_of_the_Firm

btw. great design!

interesting rww post & comments

furthermore http://www.avc.com/a_vc/2012/03/the-nature-of-the-firm-and-w...

Which browsers did you test your layout in?

There's overlapping text in the boxes on the frontpage in FF, Chrome and Opera. That's all I tried.

There are many grammar errors throughout the site. Pay someone to copy edit it.

Yup, embarrassing indeed in some places, wip, but not yet easy to simply extract all current data to easily hand it to someone.

Thanks for pushing it up the "damn,we gotta take more care of that" list.

Take screenshots or print the pages. They don't need to look at the code to review the copy. Change the mindset to look for solutions rather than problems.

so how exactly is this any different from vworker, odesk, elance etc?

No bidding: We match tasks based on profiles and continuously expand circle of people we show it to, thus avoid http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Market_for_Lemons

Not time based: A perfect work.io task is something that takes you a few minutes / hours but is of high value to the client

Ability to work around & offer standardized products, instead of open-end engagements (similar to the previous point but other implications as well)

We aren't in the listing business. You define the results with the editor and we make sure you get them delivered.

So you manage outsourcing? Might I recommend saying that? I've noticed throughout the comments that you tend toward drawn out explanations. Make it simple and then people will fill in the missing details. If they miss a few, no worries, because they get the gist. You don't need to give them all of the details up front, because that makes it complex, hard to understand and boring. Try and fill in as many details as you can with imagery and the structure of the site.

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