Interior Designers – To Houzz or not to Houzz?

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Should an interior designer really use Houzz.com?

“Oh no not another online directory!” you cry.

“Surely a waste of space!” you bemoan.

“Wrong!” I say with gusto (whatever that is).

As an interior designer you’ve probably been attracted to houzz.com to look at the many high quality interiors images there. And there are literally tens of thousands of high quality images. We’ll come back to those in a minute but first we’ll look at some other benefits for you being in that online space.

Houzz.com *IS* a popular web destination. It is used by your competitors and also possibly by future residential clients of yours. It’s always good to hang out with clients right? You keep telling me networking is important so I guess you are with me so far?

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There are lots of discussions initiated by potential residential clients. If you buy into how social media works then you will already know that.

  • Talking to someone and helping them could possibly lead to a sale (or a waste of time).
  • Talking to someone digitally leaves a record. Someone in the future could come along with the same problem and decide to talk to you based on your response.
  • Someone could be doing a bit of research into you and your opinions before deciding to contact you.

Of course if you haven’t bought into social media then you’ll think it’s a load of nonsense and you probably should stop reading this now as I’m surely wasting your time!

You can create “idea books” on Houzz. So you can pull together some of your images and perhaps somebody else’s images. You can then use these as part of a presentation to your client, for example. Or you could get your client to pull together an idea book and review that after they’ve finished. The danger there of course is that the client has control of the ‘digital capital’ and may tout around his/her likes and dislikes to your competitors. One issue with doing this on Houzz is that sometimes images are incorrectly tagged and so sometimes you are presented with the wrong images and/or you can’t find the right ones. Another potential issue with Houzz, which I have not verified, is that some images on Houzz become copyrighted by Houzz (I’m not quite sure how they manage that legally but that’s another issue, just be aware).

Any idea books you create stay on houzz and may be seen and liked by other potential customers or copied by competitors or taken to competitors by less discerning clients.

If you put together a pretty coherent theme then that could be seen as giving away your creative work to other people or it could be seen as you being a confident and competent designer worthy of considering for a client’s next project. So it could get you the chance of winning some business.

There are ways to embed “idea books” back onto your website/blog. This is good in that someone else is managing the hosting and techy stuff behind the display of your images and ideas. HOWEVER, and this is importnat, such embedded bits of digital stuff will encourage people to click back to houzz. So you will inadvertently be encouraging a potential customer (or existing customer) back to houzz and potentially out of the eager creative grasp of your web site or blog.

So I’d think carefully about that.

You can of course use houzz as yet another online directory. It’s probably better than most because of the aesthetics and wealth of quality images.

Why not, go for it! See how it works out? It’s free after all.

On sites that you think MAY turn out to be useful I would always recommend using a special link to your web site on that site directory listing/profile of you. That way you will be able to track the number of hits your site receives from houzz. eg you will have index.htm so create an identical copy of that called index-houzz.htm or index1.htm something like that. I hope that makes sense without gettign too technical. Don’t bother doing this if you are sceptical of houzz.

What i like about houzz is that it draws the user into it. It makes the user (your potential customer) stay there and play around. This is an important thing to bear in mind as most potential cients that go to your site will say there between 10 and 60 seconds (if you are lucky). So anywhere that encourages people to stay is POTENTIALLY a good place for YOU to establish a profile.

If you are a designer who needs a bit of inspiration from time to time then you can get that on houzz. But again you’ll probably just be going there for product inspiration, right? As you would never want to (ahem) match/copy/change-a-bit someone else’s interior design ideas! Would you?

Houzz has the idea of region or metro area. That’s nothing amazing but it does help potential clients find a local designer.

I think the main draw is the huge volume of images with relatively straightforward ways of getting to that information and, importantly, an EASY way to then copy or “cut and paste” those ideas into an idea book. That’s what houzz fundamentally is built upon CONTENT and ORGANIZATION…photo-content, how they are indexed and displayed and how easily you can copy and create custom content.

Summary: It’s good! Wish I’d thought of it.

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Interior Designers’ iPAD essential apps

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I’ve just got my new iPAD 3…yeah! Whilst it has obvious limitations and is a tad expensive, it is also ‘obviously’ a great creativity productivity tool for interior designers. You can benefit a lot from all the stuff that’s already built in when you buy it but what about those pesky apps? You know, the ones that are a few pounds/dollars but are rubbish and the ones that are free and awesome…it’s a bit of a minefield sorting through them all to find a useful gem to help you with productivity and creativity at work.

Here’s a bit of help for you with my list of iPAD essential apps for interior designers. Some are specifically useful to designers other more generally useful to your business usage of an iPAD. Please feel free to suggest some more I certainly haven’t used them all.

  1. Houzz: The “Wikipedia of interior and exterior design” by CNNHouzz has the largest database of home design ideas on the net, with over 200,000 high resolution photos. Watch out tho it can show TRADE PRICES in many places..not great for your client to see. **Free**
  2. AutoCAD WS: View, edit, and share your DWG™ files with anyone, anywhere. AutoCAD WS mobile app enables you to work with AutoCAD® drawings directly: Free
  3.  iHome HD: Many free interior pictures. Cost: Free but a more extensive version is available at an additional cost.
  4. Home Interior Ideas HD: the best app in AppStore for discovering home interior designs and decorating ideas. $1.99
  5. Interior 2011 – Sweet Home (HD): find your perfect House Design. With Interior 2012 you can enjoy a wide variety of manufacturers in the area of Home Decoration and Interior Design. $0.99
  6. Dream home HD:  integrate the latest interior design trends into your home.  Explore the immense variety of decor solutions from professional designers for your entire home, browse through hundreds of real photos and navigate through the extensive menu of colors, styles and room types. From tiny efficient accents to the most sophisticated interiors, Dream Home HD contains a top class collection of ideas for the home of your dream. $4.99
  7. Remodelista: Get your daily deco fix with the new Home Design App from Remodelista, the online sourcebook: $2.99
  8. Phaidon Design Classics: comprehensive collection of general design classics including interiors: $19.99
  9. Sensopia : Create visual instant floor plans – I like it anyway!
  10. Moodboard: Creates a Moodboard! Does what it says. $15.

Secret Bit

Additional info and a link to:

Target Markets For Interior Designers

Oooooh!

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Some more…
  1. SktechBook Pro: Capture design ideas no matter where you are. A professional-grade paint and drawing application: $4.99
  2. Color Wheel: An OK but basic application that allows you to experiment with different colour schemes: $0.99
  3. Penultimate: Can’t be bothered to use a pen and paper but want that same look…this is the one. It can also do graph/lined paper…cool $1.99
  4. Peppermint, NCS Color: If you frequently work with color and need an incredibly accurate tool for making choices or purchases, the Peppermint app is one for you: $3.99
  5. Quill: is a vector art drawing program, a bit limited but OK: $0.99
  6. Freeform: is a vector drawing tool for your iPad perhaps worth a bit of research before spending: $9.99
  7. Adobe Ideas: Digital sketchbook that you will probably get if you already use Adobe stuff. Reports of quite a few bugs in this app tho: $5.99
  8. Brushes: A painting app for experimentation and drawing, a snip at $7.99 but is it as good as the INSPIRE app?
  9. PhotoPad: Change the look of a photo for some FREE inspiration.
  1. Dropbox: A FREE MUST-HAVE app and the first that I installed. An iPAD is essentially a glorified phone rather than a simplified MAC/PC. One of the downsides is that you can’t always get files to and from the iPAD so easily. DROPBOX lets you do this and backs them up for free on the net. Similar in some ways to iCLOUD probably best to use if you have PCs as well. $Free
  2. Evernote: Take notes, save clips, cost: Free
  3. Simplenote: Take notes, save clips, cost: Free
  4. OmniFocus: Expensive at $39.99 Task management, scheduling and projects.
  5. MindNode: Mind Mapping …like but shame it’s not free! $5.99
  6. Things: Scheduling, tasks and assignments, OUCH $19.99
  7. Task Cards: Task management and organisation all for: $2.99
  8. Week Calendar: View your week and you can integrate with project phases and scheduling all at $1.99
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