99designs has kick started a top-to-bottom company review by hiring one of the designers behind the Apple.com home page.
"To be frank with you, we're functional software developers. So we built this app that works really, really well, but we don't think it's as beautiful as it could be — and it doesn't represent what we think we are," said 99designs CEO Patrick Llewellyn.
To rectify this, 99designs hired Kyle Lin last month, the interactive art director who helped design the iPhone manufacturer's home page. 99designs will emulate Apple's fundamental design principles.
"So he's working on that: who is our core designer and our customer audience? How can we communicate to them more effectively? Through look and feel; through brand representation; through language."
The San Francisco-based Lin — who lectures at a local advertising college — will explain the 99designs brand to the parochial design community.
"[Lin's] a rare breed," Llewellyn said. "He has the technical chops, but he also likes to communicate about it as well."
Lin's hire was the catalyst for a long-awaited review of the company's position in the market, "from top of funnel to bottom of funnel".
It's a natural evolution for a business, which has grown significantly from humble beginnings in 2008, when it was spun out of the forums of Melbourne-based web developer resources website Sitepoint.
"You get out. Start. Run. Find you have an audience. You get out, and deliver a service to them," Llewellyn said.
"Then you start to evolve. You can take some time, add resources to your team. It gives you the ability to be more sophisticated in how you address that. That's what all this is about: getting better, constantly improving."