How do you like this one?
Compare it to this alternative:
Where if you click the button "Use Basecamp free for 2 months" you go here:
I remember the "design community" praising this last screen for its smart idea of the friendly dude illustration helping with the form interaction:
Not only that: the "dude solution" has also a better looking homepage.
Basecamp is a business, the main goal of the marketing homepage is to get people onboard.
Jason Fried, Basecamp founder, said that the "dude solution" made them lose subscriptions (which equals loosing money long term). He was talking about that in a conversation with his friend Nate Kontny (→ more details).
Esthetically I don't like it [the first solution]. But that's not the current goal — Fried
That made me think about HOW to judge the value of a design solution. I think Jason is right: it's about the goal of that design solution. That should be the measure.
What's the goal of a logo design? Of a typeface design? Or of a new checkout process? There's always a main goal against which I can measure different design solutions. It's easy to get confused and take into consideration unimportant variables.