From an outsider’s perspective, the popular website and online community Houzz seems like a great way for interior designers to not only showcase their work for generating new clients, but also a convenient way to collaborate with current clients, better understanding taste and style through concrete visual examples. Of course, for anyone actually in the interior design world right now, the word “Houzz” may immediately ruffle feathers thanks to the current frustrations being voiced.

Changes in Houzz

The site, which acquired IvyMark in February of this year in order to “offer a set of business management tools and a community platform for interior designers and home design firms,” is the topic of many heated discussions, both online and off, revealing that many designers have felt slighted by Houzz for quite some time.

The crux of the debate revolves around the images that are used and shared on Houzz, many of which are done so inappropriately and without proper adherence to copyright law. Currently, there are nearly 2,000 signatures on a petition that is circulating the interior design world – the new goal is to reach 3,200 as quickly as possible in order to send a message that things need to change if Houzz expect interior designers to continue using the platform.

Additional issue surrounding Houzz

One of the reasons interior designers are so infuriated with them has to do with the recent addition that allows Houzz to monetize every picture, adding “shoppable” tags to images uploaded by interior designers so that the platform’s users can conveniently buy what they see and like. While potentially great for the user, designers are enraged that Houzz is tagging the products and items themselves, often times choosing ones that aren’t an exact match. For designers who painstakingly choose every item in a design, using their eye for detail and industry knowledge, the idea that an inferior or cheaper product is being represented in their image (and all in the name of Houzz making money) is rightfully aggravating – and one of the main pain points of the current debate.

Interior designers vs. Houzz

Laurie Laizure, the founder of IDC (Interior Design Community) agrees with the argument, going a step further by questioning the ability for Houzz to protect a designer’s work. “By giving Houzz your clients, products and margins,” she says, “what really prevents them from using that to sell directly to your clients, or even suggesting other designers who are paying more for better visibility on Houzz?

The petition that is currently circulating major interior design communities (and continuing to gain traction) is demanding that Houzz make several changes in order to protect interior designers and their work

Some of the most notable demands include that Houzz:

  • Stop selling products from designer images
  • Allows designers to remove their photographs at will
  • Ensures that designer’s photos are not used without permission for ads and articles by third-party partners
  • Allows designers who want to be removed from the platform to also be removed from all search results
  • Removes designers from the platform’s “call list” who don’t want to be included on it
  • Provides designers who advertise on Houzz with analytics that are trackable and demonstrate real results
  • Obtains permission from all designers before using their photos in any editorial content, including digital

Whether or not Houzz will meet the demands is unclear. But, what does seem clear, is that the company definitely favors the user experience over that of the designer.

Have you gotten business from Houzz without paying for their upgraded service?

If so, I say stay for a while and let’s see how this develops and whether they start to pay attention to the immense amount of pressure they are getting from the Interior Design Industry professionals and start making changes that support us all.

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