0Houzz is, without a doubt, the best web platform for residential architects. With nearly 14 million unique users per month—and growing—Houzz can take even the most modest residential architect global. I know this for fact. In the almost two years that I’ve had a Houzz profile, I’ve gotten design work from as far away as New Zealand and as close to home as around the corner. Certainly Houzz has helped me, and many other architects, weather the Great Recession by expanding our geographic reach and giving residential architects a megaphone to tout our wares.
0But how does an architect become more visible on Houzz? How, on a web site that has tens of thousands of professionals and over a million images, does one architect’s profile and projects stand out? How, in a nutshell, does an architect drive potential clients from Houzz to her website and then entice them into contacting her? In a world where the clients are increasingly more knowledgeable and have so many options, how does an architect get them to call or email?
0From using quality images to providing complete descriptions, the answer is to make your presence on Houzz as robust as possible. Here are some tips to do so.
0Your Houzz profile needs to be rich with content and especially identify what it is you specialize in. For example, Frederick + Frederick Architects of South Carolina simply state that they “specialize in hot, humid climates.” This little statement has led to some projects in Texas.
0So whether it’s a type of climate, green building, historic renovations, urban sites, mid century modernism, additions and renovations, or something else, let the Houzz community know. And don’t be generic. We all do good work and we all want to design the best home and provide the most rewarding experience to our client. What you do beyond that is what will really resonate with folks looking for an architect.
0The photos you post on Houzz should be professionally taken if possible. What matters is that the photos are really good quality and tell the project story. And make sure you follow the Houzz guidelines for sizing your photos (which is displayed in the upload process). Only high resolution, high quality images will make it to the upscale audience on the iPad, be featured in editorial ideabooks read by millions of Houzz users, and get featured on the home page and in other key areas. Don’t ignore the details—sometimes it’s an interesting detail or smart use of a nook and cranny that can catch the eye of your prospective client.
0More importantly, make sure your images, when combined with a well-written description, tell the project story. And, like any good story, there are layers of meaning. Convey these layers, from the overall to a sweet little detail, with the images you post.
0And make sure you have the rights to upload those photos and that you give credit where credit is due. It can be quite embarrassing to have to take down some photos that have gotten some nice buzz simply because you didn’t get permission to post them.
KEYWORDS & DESCRIPTIONS
0Architects don’t typically communicate with words. We rely instead on visual communication. And while a picture may be worth a thousand words, that’s not how web search engines work. Remember that images aren’t discoverable, only text is. So each image you’ve uploaded should have a complete description and as many keywords attached to it as possible. Houzz allows up to something like 700 keywords per image and quite a bit of text, so don’t worry about overloading the system.
0To do this, first tell the project story, highlighting any challenges that had to be overcome and unique solutions arrived at. People want to learn from our experiences and we, in turn, want to identify how we add value. Sure, the images you’ve uploaded of that beautiful space and wonderful detail are what will resonate, creating that lasting impression, but we’ve got to get them to find those images first.
0A nice feature of Houzz is the ability to tag your images with product information. Identifying manufacturers, vendors, retail sources, etc., all help to increase the discoverability of an image.
0A side benefit of tagging images is the possibility that a manufacturer or vendor will be willing to use your image in their promotional materials. This could lead to some residual income for you and or the photographer as well as provide a nice marketing opportunity.
0Like any social media platform, Houzz relies on a community of engaged users. These users live all around the world and consist of manufacturers, artisans, professionals, and potential clients. Of these users, the homeowners ( our client base) ask questions, “like” images, add images to ideabooks and research who, what, where, and how, so they’re ready when it comes time to do their next project. It’s incredibly important that we engage these users by answering their questions and addressing their concerns.
0 It also helps build your brand and show your personality and expertise, as all your answers become part of your public profile on Houzz. This is another way you can really stand out.
0Houzz users are looking for as much information as possible, and one of the important things they look for are client reviews. It’s easy for a client to provide a brief description of their experience working with you, and it goes a long way towards building your brand and credibility.
0By the way, Houzz is participating in a CRAN workshop at the AIA Denver convention. It’ll be a great venue to learn more about Houzz and how you can best utilize it as well as to learn about some other great and free web tools. You can learn more and register for the workshop at: http://eventscribe.com/2013/AIA/TwitterPres.asp?Pres=33382
0See you in Denver!
0By Bud Dietrich, AIA