Life after DIY: How changes on Houzz betrayed its experts

 

Housplants on a coffee table, Houzz

Photo by DESIGNECOLOGIST on Unsplash

 

Since it’s founding in 2009, the website Houzz became one of U.S biggest online communities dedicated to home improvement. It’s Wikipedia page states that there are currently more than 17 million active users on the platform.  Over the years, it built its reputation as a website for home improvement professionals to showcase their skills. People searching for experts could contact them and use their services to build their dream homes.

Unfortunately, recent trends in home improvement haven’t really go in the direction many professionals hoped for.

 

Tools for DIY Houzz

Photo by Jo Szczepanska on Unsplash

 

According to a study by Technavio, the DIY market is growing rapidly and is expected to reach 13.9 billion dollars by 2021. More and more people (and especially young adults) are choosing the hands-on approach when building and decorating their homes. That trend is not surprising when put in the economic context. Experts have long warned about the looming threat of student debt and economic difficulties for younger people. As fewer and fewer persons are able to afford homes and professional decorators, the demand for those services is shrinking. And the trend towards DIY home improvements in a world of free, easily available tutorials is booming. A trend that Houzz gladly exploited.

Embracing the changes,  Houzz started enabling the customers to circumvent the need for house improvement professionals altogether. Even worse, the company launched its “visual match” algorithm that scans designer portfolio photos and then tags those photos with links to similar products that consumers can purchase instead. Designers went so far to petition against this practice, stating that it reduces their professional project photos to mere advertisements of Houzz services. They felt it only fuels the DIY trend, mistakingly eliminating the need for professional interior design experts.

 

Strategic change

 

 

Man sitting in front of a computer Houzz

Photo by Studio Republic on Unsplash

 

All reasons stated above lead to the world of professional home improvement getting fiercely competitive. Nowadays, interior designers and other house experts can’t rely on just being good, they have to make sure potential clients believe that they are better than others. Branding, social media marketing, and general reputation management became a necessity for anyone in the industry hoping to make a decent living. Disillusioned by Houzz as a platform for finding jobs, a lot of them started using it as a valuable reputation building tool. Instead of just trying to get a job over it, they use it to showcase their projects and handle reviews.

Those with a more modest budget and a smaller set of clients usually opt to do it themselves. Others, hire professional online reputation management companies. Regardless of the approach, handling comments and client feedback in a timely manner is a must. Not only are home improvement experts able to learn and grow from their constructive reviews, but they’re also able to defend their reputation from bad ones. Numerous studies already proved that reviews are a huge factor in customer choices. It’s a bad practice to ignore them.

 

 

However, manually combing through them is a tedious, time-consuming job. Most reputation management companies and even individual experts hire services like JustLikeAPI to do it for them. It already supports scraping reviews from Houzz and presenting them in a tidy, .json format.  There is also a possibility of retrieving them in Excel files (if agreed upon). This way, it enables everyone dealing with reputation management of home improvement professionals to easily analyze and extract needed information from thousands and thousands of reviews.  And that alone can give them an edge needed to succeed.

 

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