Building an ecosystem
A balancing act to bring an industry online.
Decorati brought 500+ top design trade-only manufacturers, over 80,000 high-end furniture products and hundreds of world-famous designers online for the first time, revolutionizing an industry that had recently relied on fax machines to sell products. We solved lots of problems for both manufacturers and designers…but as we evolved, it became clear that we needed to move towards what both groups really needed: access to a broader consumer market.
Finding common ground
If there was one thing our manufacturers, designers and consumer customers had in common, it was an appreciation for beauty and design. Refining the site’s aesthetic to showcase the products and portfolios like a luxurious showroom became an important goal. At a higher level, we worked on features that balanced the often conflicting needs of our varied user groups in ways that made sense for the business. As we accumulated more photos of gorgeous high-end interiors, showcased them in highly browsable portfolios and leveraged them in our increasingly rich content bank, our tool to link products to photos began to make make more and more sense.
As the business evolved, we went through pivot periods and investigations into new areas of innovation. Working collaboratively with engineering and product, I explored ways to focus our product and find new streams of revenue. We went wide in explorations…but came back to what our core user groups were trying to do most: decorate rooms, get clients and sell furniture.
Focusing on these root tasks helped us develop new ways to monetize the business, include giving clients unprecedented access to affordable services from world-class designers, delivered both online and in person and matched through a UI I designed and created, along with a corresponding interface for designers to manage their portfolios, offerings, clients and work.
While Pinterest and similar sites would make shopping through inspirational photos a familiar routine and hiring someone for virtual services more commonplace, we were early in some of our efforts. One of our biggest challenges was building a community and an audience. As a small startup, everyone wore many hats and one of my responsibilities was helping to manage our content strategy, email campaigns and our blog. These tools turned out to be increasingly important in getting people on our site…and staying there. On a weekly basis, I prepared and sent email newsletters to 50k+ subscribers and worked to send more people to rich, photo-heavy interior design features, portals to the rest of the site. We began to hear that people were actually anticipating these emails…and gradually, we started to see results.