What is Houzz?
Launched in 2009, Houzz is a burgeoning online community centred around architecture, interior design, decorating, landscape and home improvement. Unlike other home improvement websites such ‘House and Garden’ or ‘Grand Designs’, Houzz borrows elements from Pinterest, Facebook and traditional blogs to make a distinctive, house-focused social media website.
Houzz has many features and functions as a recreational, e-commerce, peer-review and service directory website. Consequently, Houzz could almost be seen as the ‘TripAdvisor’ for architects and interior designers.
- Houzz offers two different types of account. The ‘Homeowner’ profile is tailored to visitors looking to renovate their home and gather ideas. The ‘Professional’ profile is for businesses who want to promote their services or products via the website. Each type of account functions, and displays the website, differently to ensure the website remains user friendly for both.
- ‘Professionals’ that sell home-related products or offer home improvement services (from construction and architecture to interior design and décor) can create a business profile. The profile contains information about your business, including your website and social media channels, and showcases any ‘Projects’ or ‘Ideabooks’ you have created (find out more about these below). Users can also ask you questions about your work and write reviews, contributing to a five-star rating section. This provides a one-stop-shop for customers to find out about your business. Users who are interested in your business can ‘Follow’ it to see updates on your activity.
- ‘Professionals’ can also sell products (such as doorknobs or furniture) through Houzz’s very own marketplace by signing up to Houzz as a Seller. All products available through the site can be found through the ‘shop by department’. Check out this website for a fantastic overview of this capability.
- ‘Professional’ accounts can also decide to pay to upgrade to a Pro+ account. This upgrade allows you to choose multiple categories, service areas and locations (helping you show up in more searches); ensures you show up in the top 10 spots in searches relevant to your business; and gives you further insights about who is visiting your profile. Pro+ accounts also unlock the potential to place ads in Photo Streams and in the Advice and Stories sections. See a good analysis of this service here.
- Using the ‘Find Professionals’ tab allows visitors to search through all the businesses on the site by attributes such as type, product, service or distance. This allows potential customers to find a suitable business to help with their home improvements.
- The ‘Projects’ section of Professional profiles allow businesses to put up ‘case studies’ of work they have created. This section is image-focused but allows businesses to write introductory text and text to accompany each image.
- Both ‘Professionals’ and ‘Homeowners’ can create ‘Ideabooks’. These are similar to Pinterest boards, allowing you to collect content from across the site (such as through the ‘Photos’ tab) and save it under a category. For example, a user might put together an ideabook to collect together potential designs for a planned bathroom renovation.
- The ‘Stories’ section shares short articles/blogs by members of the Houzz team and selected other members. These offer a variety of content such as how-to’s, advice and tips, trend commentaries, personal experiences and ‘best of’ posts (e.g. Best open plan kitchen, Door knobs you will love etc.).
- All images on Houzz are sharable via the ‘Save’ button and can be shared to an Ideabook or social media. A saved image retains all of the accompanying information with which it was originally posted, including the project it was saved to, image description and the ID of the company which posted it. Images also allow users to tag products used in the photo, which are then linked back to the product listing on the website.
- Houzz’s ‘Sketch’ feature offers users a rudimentary interior design tool. Users can choose a background (a blank canvas, a view of a room, a top down view of a room or their own uploaded photo) and then place text and diagrams of furniture on this. Interestingly, Sketches also allow users to access and place photos of products sold on the website, enabling users to mock up realistic-looking rooms.
- The ‘Advice’ section is available for users to ask home improvement related questions. These can be answered by both Professionals and Homeowners and function similarly to a forum.
As a niche social media site, Houzz has a comparatively small audience of 40 million+ monthly unique visitors worldwide. The site is particularly popular in America (with 72.8% of visitors are American according to Alexa.com) but has made strong in-roads into the UK market.
According to Alexa, the userbase overall is skewed towards females. Additionally, 72% of users are between age 25-54 (11/02/16)
A Houzz account might work for you if:
- You are a retailer looking to sell furnishings, furniture or items for the home environment
- You are an architect, interior designer, tradesperson or part of the home improvement/development industry
What it does well
- Acts as a one-stop-shop for businesses in this industry – If you are in the home improvement industry, Houzz’s profile features are incredibly useful and will help you interact with and collect feedback from clients. Find out how to create a great profile with this advice here.
- Provides a place to collect reviews – A savvy company might prompt their clients to review them after work is complete, making their Houzz full of easily accessible feedback potential clients can use when considering hiring the company. One thing to note about this section – reviews must be submitted by clients themselves so cannot be lifted from elsewhere and reposted.
- Highlights case studies and previous work – The best thing about this section is that users can like and share (both via social media and into an Ideabook) photos from this section. This means your photos could go much further than your profile.
- Provides an online marketplace for those looking to sell house and garden items – This provides another very seamless route to sales. This feature is particularly great news for small businesses who may not have the capacity to build their own e-commerce website.
- Links Projects and the products used within them – Going one step further than Pinterest, Houzz allows you to show what products are visible in images used in your Projects section. If you happen to sell these products through the Houzz marketplace, this can become a very powerful tool to help you drive sales.
- Provides an interactive way of brainstorming ideas with clients – One of the big things that many people do when embarking on a new project is they look to the internet for inspiration. This is how sites like Pinterest have gained a client base, as the site allows individuals to collect and organise their idea. Houzz’ Ideabooks work in a similar way and provide a fantastic tool to harness this. In theory, there’s no reason why service providers in this industry couldn’t suggest that clients put together an Ideabook or Sketch on the site to help shape designs.
- Boosts your business’ searchability – Houzz is fantastic in that it turns up organically on search engines, providing your business with another way to rank on Google. This is true for not only Professional profiles but for individual Project pages, Ideabooks and products in the marketplace so is particularly worthwhile.
What it does less well
- Text content – Houzz is designed around imagery not text. If you’re looking for a place to post text-heavy content, such as blogs, you will need to look elsewhere
- Outreach to new potential customers – Houzz does offer a search function for professionals and, in theory, potential customers can find you this way. However, this is the only real way someone who might have an active interest in using your services will come across your profile. It is possible to increase awareness of your business by participating in the ‘Questions’ and ‘Advice’ area of the site but, fundamentally, this is a blunt tool and, given the site’s international audience, it’s very unlikely you will end up talking to someone who poses a potential ‘lead’. For Houzz to work at its best, businesses need to cross-promote their profile on other social media and their website and, ideally, integrate the use of Houzz in their sales/design process.
- Organic featuring – As is the way with many directory websites, listings on the ‘Find a Professional’ and ‘Shop by Department’ favour professionals who pay for the Pro+ service. Additionally, ads are only available to those who sign up for this feature. This means that you need to ‘pay to play’ to get the most out of Houzz (although, for many businesses, a standard Pro profile will suit fine!).
- Content marketing – While Houzz offers a blog-like section, content can only be uploaded by Houzz staff and other selected professionals. Consequently, it is not really possible to do any kind of content marketing on the site yourself. If this is something you need, consider using other social media platforms. Very occasionally, Houzz may decide to feature a project you created, but this will be done by them in the interest of good content rather than to promote you explicitly (unless you have paid them to do so via Pro+!).
Houzz would work best for house-related service or product providers who:
- You are looking for a place to collect reviews and cultivate an online presence through the site
- You would like to sell products through the Houzz marketplace
- You’re willing to experiment with using ‘Ideabooks’ with your clients as part of the design process.
- You would like to ensure you come up on the Houzz directory for your services
- You’d like to increase your visibility on Google