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Merry Doomsday HN: All of my YC Facelifts are free to download and use (kyrobeshay.com)
98 points by kyro on Dec 21, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 31 comments

Some of my design thoughts. I am not an expert, so you've all been warned:

I actually like the Exec redesign, except for 1) the awful gold color, and 2) the bottom half of the page. After the 1-2-3-steps the layout gets a little bipolar (no pun intended) and cluttered with a two-columned layout. I would've put all those elements in a single column. But I actually find the overall layout of the upper half to be more intuitive than Exec's actual design.

Not a fan of the Flutter redesign. The actual Flutter page is really cool and unique, even if at the expense of readability. The redesign looks like every other startup/app landing page.

Ditto for the Pebble redesign. It looks too "corporate." The actual Pebble site has less clutter and a warmer feel to it.

Big fan of the Instacart redesign. A lot better use of limited space, and the foldout detail panel is definitely something Instcart should have. Instacart's current design of having a rotating bar of categories is really unintuitive and pretty bad design IMO.

I think having other people redesign your website/app is actually a great thing, because it's a way of getting different perspectives. Too often we optimize for the local max (moving a button around) instead of looking at the big picture (wondering if we even need that button in the first place). Designers at Apple, for example, create 10 entirely different designs for each new feature, which is whittled into 3, and after more work on those three they decide on one design.

As a person who doesn't have an eye for design these are very helpful, thanks for sharing!

Thanks Kyro, it's great to see what another mind things about our site.

Thanks for sharing kyro.

2 Problems I encountered:

1.) At http://cl.ly/0s0N0b41262a, the "view in browser" link is broken and forces a download (in Chrome).

2. ) When I opened these in Photoshop CS5 (12.0.4) I got an error message, saying: "Some text layers contain fonts that are missing. These layers will need to have the missing fonts replaced before they can be used for vector based output." (see screenshot: http://pbrd.co/12wfmxs)

Yeah, no problem.

1) That's just the way CloudApp handles zipped files.

2) That's because I didn't include the fonts that I used. Wouldn't have been appropriate to distribute them.

Thank you for the designs. It is quite helpful to occasionally see inside the creative mind of someone else.

Did anyone end up buying them from you?

What is this? Just photoshop files of startup websites you made?

Just that, yes!

thanks kyro, rly good stuff to learn.

Am I the only one that gets slightly annoyed when people redesign a Web site without being solicited? I understand redesigns like this are part of practice for a designer, but sometimes I feel like these designs are "I don't like yours, mine is better," when design can be such a subjective thing.

I don't really see a benefit, for example, in his redesign of EXEC:

Before: https://iamexec.com/

After: http://kyrobeshay.com/post/20746111679/yc-facelift-exec

I actually think the redesign looks worse. Is there a tangible benefit here design-wise that I'm just simply not smart enough to grasp? I find it ironic, by the way, that I'm so vehemently against rhetoric that decries skinning Bootstrap without design sense (as in that prior thread), but finding myself defending an obvious Bootstrap here as looking better.

I can't connect with the feeling because I'm not a designer, but in code, if I wrote something one way and someone else rewrote it just because they like their way better, then showed it around to get buy-in, I'd be a little annoyed. If there was a tangible benefit like faster runtime, or better maintainability, that's one thing, but just because of preference? That annoys me. Maybe it's different between our lines of work.

I've spoken to almost all of the founders of those companies and they've all been totally fine with it. If anything, they got some traffic, I got design practice and exposure, a few of the companies actually went on to change their site design, and now potentially dozens of people (probably more with 600+ downloads) have a template to play around with for their own purposes. Seems like a win-win-win-win.

I for one am glad you did what you did and then shared. The designs will help me learn more and get inspired.

Thank you.

Thank you for replying. Did you ask permission or forgiveness, to use the common expression? (Did you reach out before doing it or after?)

I find if I do work and then approach people, people tend to be guilty about revealing their true feelings regarding the situation lest they offend me due to the work I've put in. That's the only reason I ask.

I mean this in the least insulting way possible -- I think you just lack design sense. His redesigns are very clearly significantly better (which is why they have been so popular here on HN), and default bootstrap ALWAYS looks bad on a professional company's production site. It screams "I don't give a shit about real design so i just used bootstrap".

I would urge you to study design a little more before you start critiquing designs. Design and code are vastly different disciplines -- I started as a designer then learned code later (now full time developer) and I can tell you this from experience. I regularly see you discussing design on hacker news, and everything you post about it is misguided. Educate first, then discuss.

Sorry but to me the overuse of gold just says 'You can be Donald Trump.' I understand the idea behind it but the contrast between the designs highlights a problem with this kind of project: lack of input.

Exec's current design makes the whole proposition feel more normal and the way they've put the personal elements up-front helps allay any latent worries about somebody being exploited. I don't think this is accidental.

Web designers sometimes forget that visual communication is about so much more than layout, colours and fonts. The visual content is extremely important. And I suspect that with reference to their marketing goals, Exec have done well here. (Of course there's room for improvement.)

FWIW, I think this is the weakest of the designs the OP has presented, and that because of a difference in message. Not at all saying you're bad at what you do, Kyro. Speaking of exploitation, I've downloaded the pack and will no doubt learn something from it. Thanks!

I think the EXEC website has changed a lot since I first saw it. The "BEFORE" is not really the current website.

His redesigns are very clearly significantly better

So some extent, yes this is true.

However he is a designer and not a marketer, this is clear. For example; Exec has a brilliant and clear marketing message, which gets completely lost in the redesign.

Many of the other designs suffer the same lack of consideration in terms of how to communicate a brand.

Not that I think this is a bad thing to do! It's all practice and good fun.

I'm just noting that, objectively, these designs are far from perfect and the originals often have other things going for them compared to looks nice/easy to use.

That could certainly be true, and is a good point. I was only speaking to the visual design here - message is definitely important though.

A non-designer's visceral response should be evaluated in the context in which it is given. I am thankful that someone was willing to take the time to share how the design(s) impacted them. To ask someone to stop sharing their opinion until they 'educate first' ... I just can't think of anything to say that's constructive in response to that!

While using just bootstrap is obviously lazy design, what about bootstrap is designed poorly?

Whenever a reply to me starts with "I don't mean to be insulting," I know that the comment ahead is doomed to be insulting. Yours was certainly no exception and delivered every bit of insult that you claimed to not intend. I'm going to tackle your comment point-by-point to reinforce to you just how arrogantly you come across here:

> I think you just lack design sense. His redesigns are very clearly significantly better

...to you. Design is subjective and, as a designer, you should know that such a statement of universal truth cannot be spoken of a design. What looks good to you, or perhaps even a majority of people you can find that agree with you, might look abhorrent to another person. There are very few universal appeals in the humanities. There's what I find appealing visually, and there's what you find appealing visually. Sometimes they align, sometimes they don't.

I know designers have quantified some things like subtleties of typography and the mathematics of color, but in the end design comes down to what looks appealing in most cases (or to the client). I'm sharing my personal opinion on the specific redesign that I've pointed out, and I'm asking Hacker News if I'm missing something plainly obvious in that I don't think it's better.

You implore to me that his designs are not only better, they're very clearly better, implying that not only am I stupid for asking, I'm stupid for missing the glaringly obvious reason it's better that's somewhere right in front of me. That's precisely the question I asked, and you haven't answered it; you've instead made me feel stupid for asking by reiterating it to me another way. This sort of dismissal is something I've come to expect from many designers, and it's unfortunate for the designers that genuinely love interacting with people and discussing their craft without the inherent elitism that the rest of you seem to bring into threads like this[1].

I'd say from that linked thread you tended to agree with 54mf. Hey, he said the same thing I just did[2]!

> (which is why they have been so popular here on HN)

Because popularity on Hacker News is an implication of something.

There's two general trends for a story on Hacker News. Either something kills it early on (like a flag) and it's doomed to a life below the fold for eternity, or it gains a few crucial early votes and hits page 1. Once on page 1, what I call the bandwagon effect kicks in and it's guaranteed a trip to near the top.

In either case, the popularity of a specific item on Hacker News indicates absolutely nothing. There are things regularly voted to the top that shouldn't be, merely because they hit page 1 and got to ride the bandwagon.

> and default bootstrap ALWAYS looks bad on a professional company's production site. It screams "I don't give a shit about real design so i just used bootstrap".

To who? You? Depending on the audience, it might not matter.

A Bootstrap site for paying electric bills, for instance, isn't a big deal. We had this fight in the other thread, and I'm not going to rehash it here. It looks bad to you because you're a designer and you're looking for it. Paradoxically, you and numerous other designers were arguing against changing Bootstrap because Bootstrap looks fine in the other thread.

> I would urge you to study design a little more before you start critiquing designs.

Here's that elitism coming back. I don't need to study anything to know what appeals to me and what doesn't. I especially don't need to study anything to critique design. To imply otherwise is to silence dissent.

Do you think film critics go to film school before they're "allowed" to write about film? Do you think automotive journalists have, by and large, designed their own vehicles? Has your average food critic earned a Michelin Star? If I tell you that the contrast between the text and the background on roots.cx makes the text nearly illegible, are you going to tell me to go study typography and color before I'm allowed to say that to you?


Because we can identify with what appeals to us or repulses us without training of any kind, we hire designers and then work with them until we find something that we like. When's the last time you had a client that you could tell "this looks good, and you're not trained enough to tell me otherwise, here's your invoice"?

> I regularly see you discussing design on hacker news, and everything you post about it is misguided

No, you don't. I called you and other elitist designers out on that thread you shit all over about making Bootstrap look a little bit better, and you're remembering that and trying to paint me with a larger brush. That's the only design-related thread I've participated in on this account. Go check. I'll wait.

Each and every comment I made in that thread wasn't about design. It was about the arrogance and elitism of people like you. I stand by every single one and only regret that I can't render them in boldface, since it was entirely lost on you.

I abhor you for making my comment about me rather than its own merits. Yes, shoot the messenger for not being educated enough to discuss design with "real" designers, then go through my comment history and pigeonhole me as the "bad commenter re: design". Get over me and start reflecting upon your own qualities, because they leave a lot to be desired.

[1]: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4927249

[2]: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4935556

Website design isn't as subjective as you're making it out to be. It's not like abstract art or something. Website designs are meant to be functional. And the whole purpose of a website is to give you what you're looking for.

50% the work in any website redesign is the UX portion. Redesigning menus, placement of calls to action, what is on the screen and what isn't, understanding the purpose of every object on the screen. 25% of the work is copywriting, and only 25% of it is actual "creative design" in Photoshop.

So you probably won't believe me, but there's actually a process to doing good web design. It's not just "what looks good to you may not look good to me."

Design is not as subjective as you are making it out to be. There're guidelines, popular conventions, trends..

Design is beyond "what it looks like".

Yes, I thought you would probably take some offense at it (which you clearly did), which is why I said "I mean it in the least offensive way possible". I have nothing against you personally, and frankly I'm sure you are a wonderful person. I just strongly disagreed with your critiques in this particular subject.

As a response, I'll say this: you're right about design being subjective. This is something I tend to consider common knowledge, and when one says that a design (or anything subjective, like a song) is 'better' or 'worse', you must assume this means that the majority of people would judge it as such. I can promise you that things are popular for a reason, whether you personally think so or not.

However, this 'majority rule' is not the singular and sole influence - often times experts or tastemakers can influence how 'good' something is perceived to be. Great examples of this are modern art and wine -- the overwhelming majority of people do not have sophisticated taste in these two areas, so they often allow themselves to be guided by experts who have dedicated a lot of time and study to the area. And this makes sense, no?

So let's think about how you can figure out if you have good taste or not in an area. If you find that your taste often aligns with both those who have experience and training, and the majority of normal people, whether or not you have expertise yourself, it's likely that your taste in this area is good. On the other hand, if you find it to be quite the opposite, it's likely that your taste isn't so good. Again, it doesn't matter here whether you an expert or not, although the more expertise you have, the more likely it is that your taste will 'improve'. If the masses and experts are at odds, although this doesn't happen super often, I'd be more likely to side with those with training, but that's just a personal opinion.

This is nothing really to take too personally. I find that I have terrible taste in movies, for example. Most movies that critics like and that are popular with my friends and the masses, I really don't like very much. And that's fine, I just accept it, move on, and know that I'm not going to be writing movie critiques any time soon, since I don't have good taste in movies. I don't write poor quality movie reviews anyway, then rage on anyone who tells me that my taste in movies isn't so good. That's some American Idol shit right there.

There's no arrogance or elitism here, it's self-awareness. I made this comment about you rather than the contents of the comment because the the comment you wrote is about you, not the contents of your comment. It's about this -- what we're talking about: subjective critiques, how valid they are, and how they can be backed up. You are arguing against both (many) trained designers and heavily up-voted items -- don't you think that means anything?

I would like to truly apologize for the extent that I offended you with this comment though, I really honestly didn't mean for it to go over quite so poorly as it did. You don't seem to draw any difference between the two, but intentions and results are different things, really. And my intention was (and still is) not to incite anger, just to discuss.

Also, I agree that the type on roots needs a little bit more contrast, other people (both designers and non-designers) have mentioned this as well. I'll be making that change soon : )

> I don't write poor quality movie reviews anyway, then rage on anyone who tells me that my taste in movies isn't so good. That's some American Idol shit right there.

Quit being disingenuous. You didn't just tell me that my taste in design isn't so good, you urged me to go get trained in design before I'm allowed to speak about it. You're entitled to your opinions regarding film, and I'm entitled to mine that your reviews reflect poor taste in film. I will not, however, tell you that you're not allowed to write about film until you've graduated film school. There's a difference.

I have no idea what "American Idol shit" is supposed to mean.

> You are arguing against both (many) trained designers and heavily up-voted items -- don't you think that means anything?

Actually, my comment bitching about you and loud designers like you in the other thread is the single most heavily upvoted comment on any account I've ever had. Put it this way: it singlehandedly gave me downvote privileges on this relatively new account.

I think many people in tech, myself included, are tired of know-it-alls that poopoo everything that doesn't meet their standards. You are that, and the worst kind; the one that appeals to "taste" and other ivory tower ideals in their zealotry to squash all things below them.

> There's no arrogance or elitism here, it's self-awareness.

The absolute last thing you are is self-aware.

I think this has descended into you making ad hominem attacks on me, so I'm not going to reply anymore, since it's no longer an argument. I feel as if my point has been made and there is no need to continue this back and forth. Again, I'm sorry that you were offended, and it's too bad this is how you react.

And please, if I do write about film and it's bad, just tell me. I'd rather know than continue doing it poorly. And if I was still passionate about it, yes, I would think education, perhaps film school, would help.

Hey, if you ever come back to this comment thread, I've got a great conversation to add to this: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5002037

Like most things, there is a right way and a wrong way to execute this type of thing.

Kyrobeshay does things right. The redesigns are for startups that he's a fan of, the overall tone is respectful and the redesigns are well done.

EXEC's design when Kyro released his facelift was not really a 'design' at all. It was a very, very simple page that looked like someone put it together in under an hour(not a criticism, an observation).

and.. it's down

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