I have been looking on various freelancing sites for a designer for my web startup. A lot of startups have a certain style which I am having difficulty describing, these are the sort of sites I mean:

  • ux.stackexchange.com :)
  • www.skillshare.com
  • www.loosecubes.com
  • www.huddle.com
  • www.rememberthemilk.com
  • www.angel.co
  • www.quora.com
  • www.google.com (things like plus+)
  • www.lal.com

They are mostly text based, with few graphics, and have a lot of interactivity. I have seen very few web designer portfolios that have such a style. Most of the ones I've seen look very nice visually but I don't think they're very good in terms of UI. They look like brochures and psd mockups rather than web applications. even on dribbble it's difficult to find shots of functional UIs rather than "pretty" designs.

I need someone who can create the type of UI you see in the sites listed, but I'm sure "web designer" is the wrong description for the person I need. Can someone help identify the things I need to put in a job description or even the specific role I should be advertising to find someone who can build a "startup" UI?

  • 1
    The only similarity I see is that all these sites are content driven. In a few years, when they become bigger, their designs will get screwed up with ads and social media spamming.
    – JoJo
    Commented Nov 25, 2011 at 20:06
  • I wouldn't call many of these "startups" and I can't think of anything especially similar in a stylistic sense, unless you consider "good" a style. They're all quite well designed for what they are and have effective UX, I wouldn't "call" them anything in particular though, aside from generics like "clean" "modern" or "Not Craigslist".
    – Ben Brocka
    Commented Nov 25, 2011 at 20:24
  • A good web/graphic/ui designer can design what you need based on your business objectives. This isn't a matter of a particular job title, but rather hiring a decent designer in the first place. (Note: you often get what you pay for)
    – DA01
    Commented Nov 28, 2011 at 3:19

4 Answers 4


The closest I can put a name to it is a clean look. Other descriptive words might be sharp, modern, bright...

However, I'm not sure it's so much a matter of putting a name to the style as identifying key common characteristics:

  • Lightweight appearance

  • Good use of whitespace

  • Clear message - an area above the fold, promoting brand or message (often a carousel)

  • Clear call to action - (a triptych set of 3 panels is common and effective)

  • Lack of clutter

  • Consistent visual details


As far as I can see, this just comes from having a blank slate to work on. Since a new site has new users, there's no need to support legacy stuff to make existing users feel at home.

That, and designers who are already present at the 'starting up' phase will usually have more say and even final approval over the product's look and feel than designers at older, usually engineering-heavy companies (think IBM, Microsoft or Google) will.


I know what what you mean about a 'certain look'.

A UK example of this is http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/

This is distinguished by making everthing on the home page VERY BIG (including VERY BIG bits of white space) - and also by having home pages which scroll and scroll (and scroll)

It's been called the 'Fisher Price' look...



There are certain patterns even beyond the landing page associated with this style, also.

For example, the "pricing" page for some B2B startups look remarkably similar.

Some that come to mind:

  • Because I'm new, I couldn't post the other two examples I wanted to share: roninapp.com/site/signup gazehawk.com/signup
    – psawaya
    Commented Nov 28, 2011 at 0:23
  • 1
    That's the Goldilocks Pricing pattern. Startups like to use it because they typically want to focus on only promoting one core service, and they don't have a huge range of services or goods in their inventory.
    – Erics
    Commented Nov 28, 2011 at 3:11

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