Interior Designers in 2012 – How Do People Find You On The Web?

English: Chester Square, Belgravia.
Image via Wikipedia

The interior design world moves on and so does the way your clients use the internet to find you. Sometimes for the better and sometimes not.

Just after we have spent ages (days! weeks! months!…years?!) trying to figure out what search terms our clients might type into Mr Google, and then incorporate that into our online presences(s), we find they are morphing how they search into something new and far more sinister.

Would you believe it? In the design world, a place based on aesthetics, those darned potential customers are using images to find us. How annoying is that? It seems like only yesterday when we ignored images because we knew that google can’t really ‘see’ them and we balanced that by putting all the right words everywhere. We even got the odd first page google listing for some odd convoluted phrase that one client a year might potentially type!!

So now it seems that we have to go back to what we naively thought was right all along. All we have to do is just put lots of pretty pictures onto our site and the whole world will come flocking to our door.

Click To Read More Interior Design Articles
Click To Read More Interior Design Articles

Well, maybe! I’ll backtrack a little and explain where I’m coming from before everyone gets a little too excited!

I’ll come from one simple factoid. One of my interior design industry based web sites has about 500 hits a day. Not bad, I suppose. I looked into some of the stats a bit more last week and found that by far the most number of hits came from google. Fine. About 85% of the hits in fact. Nothing new there then? No.

But; there’s always a “but”.

When I delved deeper I found that 19% of the google hits were coming from the GOOGLE IMAGES part of the google search site. IE the bit where you type in ‘mohair velvet fabric’ (or whatever) and then find you have loads of pages returned to you, so you click on the images bit on the left hand side and it only shows you (in theory) lots of pretty pictures of mohair velvet fabrics. (As well as lots of other junk of course, but on the whole it’s not too bad).

19%. that’s quite a lot.

So I looked at different time frames and, yes, that 19% was pretty consistent over at least the last 6 months. Maybe 17%, maybe 23%, it varied. That’s still enough of a trend for me to believe it and I’m sure it would hold true if I  had bothered to look further back in time.

So what’s going on here then?

Well firstly it showed that I am doing some things right. I am putting images alongside my musings. It makes it easier to read, pretty pictures – some perhaps even relevant – just like a magazine. Also for the images to have been recognised by google then I must also have tagged them (the ALT tag if you want to be more precise in HTML terms). So yes I had images in my musing and they were correctly tagged images. That is, the images had a bit of text manually put on them by me. To make matters better I had also called the images the same thing (broadly) as the tags I intended to use.

Google looks at:

1. The name of your JPEG;

2. The image size;

3. The alt tags you give to the image; and peripherally at

4. The physical colour scale of the image (it can recognise it is mostly green, for example).

The first three of these are very important the 3rd much less so.

So you’ve just done a great design job for one of your better clients. You upload some pics of the rooms to your online portfolio and voila! 100s of people will beat their way to your internet door!…er no.

Let’s say you had this great picture of the main room. So you upload img_1325.jpg to your site and you cleverly ALT-TAG it as “main-room-31-randomstreet-localtown”.

Not good. Assuming it was not a tiny thumbnail image here is something along the lines of what you should have done:

1. Called it “contemporary-modern-home-belgravia.jpg” – or something similarly appropriate; and

2. Tagged it as “contemporary, modern, home, Belgravia” – or something similarly appropriate.

You get the idea? The keywords you have already discovered that work in the text of your writings now also need to be judiciously applied to your images. Get cracking!

1. How to get links to your web site 

2. Interior Designers: Why does no-one visit your web site 

3. Interior Design Marketing Strategies 

4. Effective Ad Writing For Interior Designers on Facebook

5. Five Crucial Bits For Your Facebook Business Page

6. Seven Facebook Mistakes Interior Designers Make

Designer Fabrics & Luxury Wallcoverings 2012 – Latest Collections of Faux Leather & Raffia

British Institute of Interior Design

Interior Design 101. Back to basics.

Minimally patterned, plain and simple patterns matter when you choose designer fabrics for your interior design scheme. It’s not just the ‘important’ stuff you have to worry about; it’s all the stuff.

Design after design. Pattern after pattern. Squashed into corners. Covered ceilings. Hung on walls. Something here, something there… OK you might have certain pieces that take centre stage in your grand design but you also have to set the stage with the backdrops, the reflected light, the subtle blend of auxiliary textures.

To a certain degree, if you must, you can compromise on the backdrops. It’s great having a silk panelled wall, relatively inexpensive and good to the touch. Not so good when it fades at differing rates in the exposed sun-lit areas of the room.

So when you choose designer fabrics yes you should be wowed by the colours, designs and textures BUT you should also be wowed and interested in the technical properties. Your clients might initially thank you for a great looking job. They won’t thank you if it starts to fall apart. they may well have already paid you at that point (so you’re OK right?) but will you then get recommended to their friends…probably not. It is so, so easy to make this kind of mistake.

So try faux silk rather than silk. It looks and feels pretty much the same but can be excellent in terms of non-fading.

So try faux leather. A wide variety of finishes and qualities are available and many are great for wall covering (!) as well as upholstery. Great to cover chairs or a bar in a restaurant but also in your kitchen as they can relatively easily be cared for and cleaned. If you love leather you might find that your upholsterer might not love that choice as you are working with hides of varying sizes, whereas with faux leather you are working with a fabric available by the metre.

Click for faux leather or faux silk designer fabric samples.

A Chat With Verity du Sautoy – Her Thoughts On Winter Fabrics

Luxury Silk velvet From KOTHEA
Truly beautiful Cashmere Silk Velvet by KOTHEA

KOTHEA Fabric Picks For A Chilly Winter’s Day
With Verity du Sautoy of KOTHEA.

We love the seasons. All have their beauties and all have touched our senses in memorable ways over the years. Winter is no exception: lower, more balanced light; quietness and chaos with both the shopping and the weather; festive celebrations; the cuddle of a loved one; the hope and expectation of early spring flowers grasping for rare and tiny glimmers of light; and, perhaps, the welcomed warmth of a beautiful fabric.

Some of my best memories are centred on family: a warm fire; a little baby; or a bouncing toddler. Then an old children’s classic on the iPlayer watched on my Mac as it balances precariously on an elegant coffee table. I stroke my children’s hair with one hand and rest my other hand on my sofa. A generous cushion is warm, encapsulating and a bit of fun for the little ones to hide under. The curtains are not yet fully drawn but they smooth the boundary to the cold outside and give us tantalising glimpses of the world beyond – should we venture too close to the sheers that offer the final, soft protection from the elements.

Dominika B Tana Lawn

I work for a fabric company. I love fabric. I can’t pretend that it (fabric) is a be-all and end-all to life and that somehow it will make your life complete. It can’t. But what it clearly can do is complete the sensory experiences in the parts of life that, if you choose, you have control over…the parts of your home. Memories are not just photo-like snapshots in your brain; they are stored, multi-sensory splashes of emotion.

Here are my Winter picks. They are actual ‘picks’ that I’ve recently purchased or are about to purchase.

Take my sofa as an example. My sofa isn’t Continue reading “A Chat With Verity du Sautoy – Her Thoughts On Winter Fabrics”

Wyzenbeek – Martindale – Abrasion Testing

Nähzwirn 3-fach
Image via Wikipedia

I would be rich if I were to be given one pound for every time we are asked, “What is the best upholstery fabric to use on my sofa?” Typically the questioner means ‘most durable’ rather than ‘best’.  You could buy a near bullet-proof fabric with a Martindale score of several hundred thousand but could you live with it!

‘Simple’ measures of durability such as Martindale and Wyzenbeek overlay complex structures of the fabric. This covers the construction of the yarns and design of the weave weave as well as the fibre chosen. Furthermore, finishes, sofa/furniture design, maintenance regimes and usage are variables that very significantly affect the life of your fabric.

More Martindale links here and here and here

There is a close link between fiber strength and yarn strength. Yarns are twisted to add strength – generally a tighter twist gives a stronger yarn. This is measured in Twists Per Inch or Meter (TPI or TPM). Tightly twisted yarns are generally smooth and dense. This brings us to weave design. Weaves can be extremely complicated and difficult to structurally model and understand. Just knowing the fibers, yarn and weave construction still doesn’t answer the basic question – an objective measurement is needed. Test were developed to determine wear. They are better known as abrasion tests and many Interior Designers today refer to these test results as THE way to measure fabric durability. Abrasion test are supposed to forecast how well a fabric will wear in upholstery applications.

There are two tests: Martindale in Europe and Wyzenbeek in the USA. The tests are different and there is no correlation between the two. With Wyzenbeek (ASTM D4157-02): a piece of cotton duck fabric or wire mesh is rubbed in a straight back and forth motion on a piece of fabric until “noticeable wear” or thread break is evident. One back and forth motion is called a “double rub” (dbl rub). Whereas with Martindale (ASTM D4966-98): the abradant in this test is worsted wool or wire screen, the fabric specimen is a circle or round shape and the rubbing is undertaken in a figure 8, unlike the straight line of the Wyzenbeek. One figure 8 is a cycle – hence the terms Martindale cycles.

Contract fabrics would normally meet these criteria:

General contract: Wyzenbeek 15,000 Martindale 20,000

Heavy duty contract Wyzenbeek 30,000 Martindale 40,000

Whereas for domestic applications:

Light residential Wyzenbeek 6,000, Martindale 9,000

Medium use residential Wyzenbeek 9,000 Martindale 15,000

Heavy use residential 15,000 Martindale 30,000 or higher

The higher the result the more likely the fabric is to be more durable. (Source of the above figures can be provided on request to the author)

With figures over 100,000 then there may be an issue with the applicability of the results and certainly how the fabrics’ care regime is implemented will have more of an influence on its longevity.

Some commentators question the validity of test results. In my experience in the UK, test houses are independent and are strictly monitored by British Standards and no one fabric company is big enough to be able to ‘ask for’ results to be skewed. Nor, I’m sure, would any fabric company want to put a supplier in that position if only for the reason that it is in no-one’s interests to undermine the authority of independent industry bodies that, in general, regulate for the greater good of all.

Upholstery Velvet – Sourcing Luxury Velvet (Mohair) in The UK

Luxury Mohair Velvet For Upholstery
Luxury Mohair Velvet For Upholstery

Luxury Upholstery Velvet is notoriously difficult for interior designers to consistently source. Sourcing a generic velvet is easy enough but often velvets vary greatly in quality with many being relatively cheap and scoring relatively well with Martindale results but they just look ‘cheap’. The look and feel of the velvet are, after all, two of several important reasons why you are specifying it in the first place.

A further problem is composition. When, for example, you say you want a Mohair Velvet that is what you want: a velvet made out of Mohair and NOT lots of other things PLUS a bit of Mohair.

Whilst Mohair velvets are generally very good across the market they too can vary significantly in quality. So even when you buy a Mohair Velvet you are not necessarily getting the durable, luxury, fantastic looking product that you hoped for.

Further complications come when looking at Velvets made of a mix of yarns. Well, some of the mixed fibre yarns too are actually excellent in quality!

So I guess I’m saying that there really is no sure and fast way of knowing that what you are buying without actually seeing the fabric AND being assured of its technical characteristics, notably Martindale as we are considering upholstery here.

Most KOTHEA luxury upholstery velvets have inherent Martindale rub tests of in excess of 20,000 rubs with several collections exceeding 100,000 rubs fo contract usage – 20,000 Martindale being eminently suitable for domestic upholstery.

In addition to non-velvet, textured upholstery we have many luxury velvets suitable for upholstery including Italian Silk Velvet (high quality, luxury velvet), Cashmere & Silk Velvet (the ultimate velvet), trevira Velvet (inherent fire retardancy), Mohair Velvet (high quality, luxury velvet),

Most of our velvet is available by the metre with no minimum quantities.

Black Velvet – Even Better Italian Silk Velvet In Black

Black Velvet – only to be enjoyed by those who appreciate that black is the new black! KOTHEA have a range of velvets with shades of black colourways in most of those velvet collections.

Black Diamond” is the colourway name for the Italian Silk Velvet (100% Silk Pile) with the code 777-108-900.

You can get black silk velvet samples here from KOTHEA if you are a trade professional. Just click the link.

KOTHEA velvets are the best in the market. We only sell top market fabrics, mostly to top European Interior Designers and Architects. Here are some more bits of technical information on our black Italian Silk velvet fabric:

Width: 140cm

Composition: 100% Silk Pile

No repeat, plain.

Abrasion: Martindale 20,000.

Available from stock, normal delivery within 5 days.

Minimum Order length: 2m

Facebook – Advanced Pages For Interior Designers

Once you have set up your Facebook (FB) Fan Page for your business so that it looks and feels ‘right ‘ then it’s time to take it to the next level. So if you are at that point, read on. If not go <here>.

Note: Before you start make sure you will be working on your business page (fan page) and not your personal page. You really should be using a business page (fan page), be sure what one is before continuing as lots of people go down the wrong route and then have to start all over again, FB is not very forgiving in that respect.

OK I’m going to look at Branding, Promoting, Enhanced Navigation & Content. These are the main areas to add a bit of spice to your FB Fan Page/Business Page.

1. BRANDING.

a. You need a 200 pixels wide x 600 pixels high image of your brand. Maybe you have a logo, if so use that. Upload this to the area to the left of where it says “Wall”.
b. Header. This goes above where it says “Wall”. Change the text here so that it has your company name. What if you get the name wrong? Well if you get the name wrong you cannot change it, so you have to delete the page and start again (as at Feb 2010). So please get it right first time.

c. The same applies to the category of your page, that cannot be changed either. So when you create your page get the category right.
d. If your company is called XYZDesigns then you need http://facebook.com/XYZDesigns as your url. This article <here> tells you how to do that.

2. PROMOTING

 

a. You probably already understand groups on LinkedIn. Well Facebook (FB) has them as well. Start one or use existing ones like Interior Design Lovers (requires you to be logged in to FB). Promote your page in groups. BUT DO NOT SELL, SELL, SELL. Let people know about the information your FB page will provide them with. Remember further that few people are interested in your business per se, they are more interested in what it can do for them. So talk about solving problems and NOT saying how great you/your services are. The sell-sell way does not usually work.

b. User comments. Engage with your fans, reply to them. Promote yourself to these people and remember that they are already on your page and are taking the time to write something, probably to find out something, so they have more than a passing interest in what you do. Again soft-sell not a hard sell. Try to help them.

c. Facebook Advertising.

You may have tried Google AdWords advertising or the Yahoo and Microsoft equivalents (they are each very similar to one another). Maybe they have worked for you, maybe not. Facebook also allows you to advertise your services. They take a slightly different approach to the other 3 by targeting the FB user base. I particularly like how you can be much more specific about the region and demographics of the person you are targeting; FB also tell you how many people are in the demographics you specify. Worth a look especially for Interior Designers who are targeting the general public rather than other businesses. I will not go into this area in any more depth yet as it really comes under ‘advertising’ rather than building a better FB page for your business.

d. Make sure the information about your business on the left-hand side really stands out. Get some good, engaging and genuine words about your company there.

3. ENHANCED NAVIGATION

 

a. You can administer your FB business page (fan page) <here>. You need to be an administrator of your business fan page.

b. Go to the wall. At the top of the left-hand column you will see ‘edit page’. Go there and then choose “Wall Settings: Edit”. Change the default view to the correct page that you want a user to land on, could be your wall, could be your info page. This can be changed later if you make a mistake.

4. CONTENT

 

This is what will make people come back to your site. It’s really, really important! So you will need to have some new ‘stuff’ on your FB page to make it worth their while to return. That ‘stuff’ could be new videos, articles or whatever. it could also be the content of communication and engagement with like-minded design professionals working together to solve problems online…

The most obvious route is through your blog. You can display your blog as the ‘wall’ for your business page. You have a few options for example:

  • Write your blog (the original content) in FB and post it everywhere else automatically from FB. You can even write your blog by accessing Facebook from your blackberry.
  • Get your external blog synchronised into FB automatically (I use a free FB application called Social RSS and my blog is on WordPress)
  • I prefer the second approach as WordPress also automatically publishes my blog posts to other sources such as Twitter. Apparently there is a FB Fan Page-to-Twitter application but I do not use that, sorry!
  • Encourage your fans to add content (photos, etc.). That makes your job easier and makes your site content-rich for others.

Facebook For Interior Designers: 7 Steps To Get Started

Now consumed Become a fan on facebook http://w...
Now consumed Become a fan on facebook http://www.tomtolkien.com (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This article tells interior designers how to setup a business page for their interior design business on Facebook.If you sell to the general public then the consensus amongst marketing professionals is that your marketing strategy must include Facebook. Facebook will work to promote your services through your network and through the networks of your network members.

If you sell to businesses (eg if you are a hospitality interior designer specialising in restaurants) then I’m not convinced that Facebook is the best medium. However, and its a big however, many of your clients will be using Facebook already so maybe you should use it to help them consume the information that you produce and to help them interact with your organisation in a way that suits them. It’s not what is easiest for you that should be the way forwards, it should be what is the easiest for your (potential-) clients.

Click To Read More Interior Design Articles
Click To Read More Interior Design Articles

Let’s get started then. Here’s what you need to do and it will cost you nothing other than time:

1. Create a personal Facebook account if you don’t already have one. If you have one, use the one you have.

2. Create a business page for your business – sometimes called a fan page. Listen up here!

  • Don’t create another personal page.
  • Don’t create a group – you don’t need to know what one is.
  • Create a business(or fan) page: http://www.Facebook.com/pages/create.php

Make a note of your default business page ie the URL that Facebook gives you. KOTHEA’s is http://www.facebook.com/pages/London-United-Kingdom/KOTHEA/129265851209/ and yours will be similar, make sure that Continue reading “Facebook For Interior Designers: 7 Steps To Get Started”