Houzz: a small project turned into a profitable online community


When it comes to finding inspiration for interior design, most people would immediately state Pinterest as a solution. Of course, it provides us with thousands of images featuring the most beautifully decorated rooms, but that is also where the service pretty much stops. You need to find similar items yourself and maybe even look for an interior designer all by yourself. Well, these problems can be solved thanks to Houzz, a platform dedicated to home design. This platform grew from a homebased idea to a worldwide online community that connects all parties involved in house redecoration.

What is Houzz?

Houzz is a platform that not only provides inspiration and ideas for users who want to remodel their house, but also provides you with the option of getting in touch with professionals like architects and designers, who can provide you with the right advice. On top of that, it also provides the option to do interior shopping straight from the platform. So overall, it is the perfect application providing everything you need when you are redecorating. This is also how the platform was started. Namely, founders Alon Cohen and Adi Tatarko came across many struggles when they were redecorating their house and soon after they found out they were not the only ones facing these problems, they came up with the idea to make a platform which would bring all involved parties and which would allow them to communicate with each other. Soon, their small website started to grow, all thanks to the use of word of mouth marketing, since it was shared by people who encountered a similar problem. Since 2009 the platform experienced a rapid growth, which turned the small website into a profitable business, even resulting in Houzz having a value of $2 billion.

Currently, Houzz is the fastest growing platform for home redesign, with local sites in different countries all over the world and 35 million visitors per month and millions of active users, contributing to the platform every day. But in a community where users do not gain much monetary benefits from contributing, what kind of commitment exists that makes these users continuously contribute to this community? Bateman et al (2011) mention three types of commitment in their research that users of a community can experience. These types are continuance commitment, which means that contributors are aware that leaving the community would have big costs; affective commitment, which means that the contributor has an emotional attachment and identification with the platform; and normative commitment, which means that the contributor feels pressured to continue the contributions. The type of commitment that would best describe the users of Houzz would be affective, because it firstly brings together people who have love or passion for house designing and want to share this love with other users. Secondly, the contributors could love to help other users out, which could be a reason for the professionals like architects and interior designers, who provide advice to the users. Finally, it could also be because of enthusiasm towards the existence of the community. For example, when Cohen and Tatarko came up with the idea, they did this because when they were redesigning their house, it was difficult to gain access to all the resources and information needed, and just like them there could be many other users that were enthusiastic about finally having a solution for their problems that they decided to stay in the community and continue helping other users out.

Houzz is one of the many examples of how a small every day problem could turn into a successful business all thanks to the internet. Having affective contributors to the community of Houzz will certainly benefit it more in the future and allow the platform to grow even bigger in the future.

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sources:

Bateman, P. J., Gray, P. H., & Butler, B. S. (2011). Research note-the impact of community commitment on participation in online communities. Information Systems Research, 22(4), 841-854.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/georgeanders/2014/10/15/houzzs-founders-have-become-techs-newest-power-couple/#4803cbbb788a

http://www.inc.com/john-rampton/how-adi-tatarko-took-houzz-from-her-home-kitchen-to-an-industry-changing-busines.html

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