website development

The Art of Interior Design Websites: Where Project Portfolios & Storytelling Converge

interior design

There's something truly special about creating portfolio sites & online boutiques for interior designers. Every group of people have a unique story, and thus every project relating to where we live, work or play has a story to tell. Interior design is about designing for people and the lives they live, so uncorking those stories and peppering them in with the portfolio imagery draws us in as an audience. It's this mix of glorious imagery and insightful notes that I love creating.

Along those lines, I offer a few tips for interior designers, interior decorators, architects or builders considering a new website.

  1. LET YOUR WORK SHINE BRIGHT
    A picture does indeed tell a thousand words, so don't skimp when it comes to having your blood, sweat & tears captured on film. Assuming you've invested in yourself and have a bevy of your firm's project photos to share with the world, design your site in such a way that they can be seen in all their glory. Create a method for your audience to see your work in large format via galleries or slideshows. After all, it's the details that truly matter, so let your attention to the finer points shine!
     
  2. SHARE THE STORY
    Here's where storytelling comes into play. Perhaps your team converted an old firehouse into a modern space for a tech start-up, complete with areas of exposed brickwork and (of course) the fireman's pole. Share that story along with your photos. Or maybe your clients adopted twins and had to rethink their living environment to make way for their newest family members. Tell that story in the portfolio. Maybe the marble slab in the kitchen was hand cut by the homeowner's grandfather in Italy and has a story all its own. Your audience would love to know those details and see closeups of the marble. By anchoring your work with the "why" behind your decisions you convey your mastery of craft and ability to transform rooms into highly personalized living spaces where memories are made. Each project has a story to share. Seek opportunities to celebrate them. 
     
  3. BE SPECIFIC IN YOUR MESSAGING & YOUR DESIRED OUTCOME
    Who are you trying to attract? Most of us are serving a niche market. We hold expertise in a few areas and really shine there. It's where our passion and our gifts align. If you're a residential designer, you may love doing high-rises downtown for bachelors but feel completely lost in a sprawling suburban house.

    Or perhaps it's the reverse and your firm knows just how to transform a 6,000 square foot house into a warm and inviting family home. Maybe you're a celebrated commercial designer and no one is better than you at designing sexy Miami hotel properties. Whatever your gift is, own it!

    Craft your messaging and tell your story in such a way that you attract your specific ideal clients and make sure your portfolio reinforces that message. Your clients - your real, true, perfect clients - will be quick to get in touch once they feel the connection and understand that you "get" their needs and are the one for their project.
     
  4. TOOT YOUR OWN HORN
    Has your business won awards? Are you rocking your ASID credentials? Been featured in Domino, AD or Elle Decor? Do you have great testimonials from your favorite clients? Tell the world! Social proof (yes, there's a name for this) builds credibility. Scour up the links to blogs you've been featured on, and feature them on your site as well. The world is coming to your site to see the greatness of your work, offer them your press mentions and client praise and it will give your site the sense of history your brand will benefit from.
     
  5. GET SOCIAL
    Let's face it, if Jan Showers & Mary McDonald have a presence on social media, so should you. Show your work .Tag your work. Instagram your install days. Take photos of your trips to High Point and share them with your followers. Take "sneak peek" photos to share when your upholstery arrives or you're putting the finishing touches (hello, flowers!) on a project. Even if you don't win direct business on social media, you'll be creating a buzz around your brand and establishing a digital footprint with search engines. The next time someone Googles "Schumacher turquoise cotton velvet" your tweet or instagram post might be revealed in their results because you shared that very thing with your followers.
     
  6. OPEN THE LINES OF COMMUNICATION
    I'm always saddened to see a great brand or business online with no way to contact the owner. Don't make your audience resort to online stalking. Give them a contact form, give them your business email, give them your address (if applicable) and allow your raving fans (and soon to be clients) to call you and set up a meeting.
     
  7. MAKE AN APPEARANCE
    A great headshot is priceless. Keep yours current and don't be shy about crafting a personal note on your "about" page. Remember, clients are buying into your brand or your firm's brand and love "meeting" you online. If you are a larger firm or a have a team of designers working with (or for) you, shine the light on everyone and offer a bio or introduction for each key player. It honors their role and reinforces your success as a professional design business.
     
  8. SELL YOURSELF
    If you've written a book, created a fabric line or designed a collection of area rugs, offer a way for customers to purchase those through your website. Whether it be via affiliate links, partner websites or a small ecommerce boutique on your site, make it easy for your anyone and everyone to access your branded products.
     
  9. ENGAGE. ENGAGE. ENGAGE.
    It's one thing to share what you do. It's another to really let your audience "in" to the inner workings of your creative mind. Nothing can compare to a great interior design blog filled with project install photos, new market introductions, inspirational photos and insider wisdom. This is one of the best ways to elevate your brand (both your personal brand and that of your business) and your organic SEO (Google loves a site that regularly adds fresh content).

    What you consider a typical day's work your readers will find endlessly fascinating. Trips to High Point Market, project renderings, fabric selection, unique floor plan challenges? All of those make for "can't pull my eyes away" content on a blog. Most of all, you'll be able to connect with readers in your real voice and give them a sense of your style, your personality, your mastery of craft and your unique skills. Frankly, there are only upsides to having a blog and you will love the new connections it affords you and the creative outlet it provides. 
     
  10. BE PINNABLE AND PIN-WORTHY
    In the world of pretty pictures, few pairings are as perfect as a great interior design website and Pinterest. Those pretty portfolio pix are ideal content for you to pin on your own Pinterest boards as a way to create links back to your own site. The same goes for those lovely blog photos you'll be posting. Likewise, ensure that your gallery images, your portfolio pictures and your blog photography are all properly tagged via ALT tags and perhaps even watermarked to ensure you're given proper credit when they are repinned and repinned agan. When set up properly, images pinned from your site will ultimately result in fresh eyes on your incredible work and new clients in your books.

My story? I've designed numerous wonderful sites for award-winning interior designers and major industry brands such as Drexel Heritage, Pearson, Pearson Textiles, Furntiure Brands and Broyhill. If you would like to discuss bringing your vision and your brand to life I would love to have that conversation with you.

Book your complimentary discovery call
Questions? Enjoy a 30-minute complimentary call so we can explore your needs. I look forward to learning more about your business & how I can bring your ideas to life.

Featured Client: William T. Baker

William T. Baker

I have to admit, I have some of the best clients on the planet. Intelligent & talented individuals and innovative businesses who appreciate quality and excellence. Recently I had the pleasure to re-imagine and rebuild the online property of award-winning residential designer William T. Baker.

If you're not familiar with is work, he designs exceptional homes for clients all over the world. These are not your ordinary homes. The level of thought and consideration that goes into every detail of these residences needed to be reflected in his site.

Moving from WordPress, I rebuilt his site from the ground up. This was as much an SEO project as it was an online portfolio, and thus the creation of contextual content was key. Rather than row upon row of images, we created galleries that put the user's needs first. Large photography coexists with relevant descriptions that is both user-friendly and search engine optimized.

Much like his luxury residential projects, every bit of this web site was custom crafted and thoughtfully planned. The result is a powerful online experience that serves as a powerful marketing tool for his firm, is e-commerce enabled to sell his books, boasts massive SEO-rich content and is stunning in appearance on every device. In addition to the site we leveraged the power of MailChimp to power his email marketing needs and have partnered up for a series of Facebook campaigns.

Visit wtbaker.com to learn more about this remarkable residential designer.

When redesigning your site, seek out a digital partner that will do more than just give your online branding a facelift. Ensure they understand the value of SEO-rich development practices and user-centric design. If you have any questions at all, don't hesitate to book a 30-minute call so we can chat about your needs. It's absolutely free and I'd love to brainstorm ways to bring your brand to life online.

Why I Love To Take on Freelance Projects & How This Benefits My OTher Clients

I'll never forget the day the first call came. "We received your name from XYZ and wonder if you have bandwidth to help us on a few projects." Interestingly, I'd never heard of the source of the praise, but I knew everything there was to know about the digital marketing agency on the phone. I was a huge admirer of their work, their fun creative culture and their impressive client roster. And here they were calling to see if I could jump in and help on projects. I said yes, of course. And thus my love affair with freelance work began

That may have been 14+ years ago, but I've never lost my passion (and gratitude) for taking on freelance and overflow work from successful ad agencies & creative design companies. Much like my regular client projects, the experiences build upon one another, shaping me into a better designer & better professional creative with each new role.

Whereas design projects for my regular clients are more comprehensive, usually starting with branding and moving through launching an entire website or ecommerce storefront, agency work tends to be more concentrated on one particular skill set. Perhaps I'm asked to jump in and design a microsite for a giveaway or promotion for a major mobile phone network. Maybe I've been asked to create digital holiday greeting cards for a major theme park. Or perhaps the request is to rethink the ecommerce flow for a global brand. Regardless of the challenge, I love these opportunities to deep-dive on a specific skill set and partner with other team members on the project.

The benefits to my traditional clients are many. First and foremost, freelance work keeps me razor sharp and continues to refine my design skills. The collaborative nature of freelance projects offers constant lessons in teamwork and requires one to be an expert listener. More so, working with brands of such a high caliber on highly visible projects is the best way to bring out excellence (yes, we type-A's love a good challenge!). 

A not-so-obvious benefit for my Branding Glamour clientele is the feedback I receive from the creative directors and VPs at the agency or from the clients themselves on these projects. It's great to be asked to try something different or shift the design approach to the left or to the right. It's the collaborative spirit at its best, and it's fantastic to receive valuable feedback from these industry experts pushing the boundaries of design in their niche.

Which brings up my final benefit. Each agency or design firm has unique specialties. Being invited to the table to help them deliver excellence in their area of expertise opens my eyes to new styles of design, new marketing strategies, new technology stacks and new ways of creative thinking. Even the smallest of projects provides an opportunity to learn a new skill or truly demonstrate mastery of an existing one. And it's this continuous growth, refinement and expansion that keeps us happy as humans. As a creative? We live and breathe for opportunities to learn and improve.

In addition to some really fabulous agencies here in Plano and the Dallas area, I've recently discovered the Toptal community, designed as a matchmaking service of sorts for today's top design & creative talent. These opportunities allow me to flex my creative muscles and benefit from an ongoing source of new creative experiences.

Want to see more of my work? Swing by to see my portfolio or client roster. If I can help you, your business and your brand, don't hesitate to book a call.