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.

    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!
    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. 
    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.
    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.
    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.
    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.
    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.
    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.
    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. 
    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.

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