Houzz, the popular online platform for home remodeling and design, is launching a completely redesigned iOS app for iPhone and iPad today. The new version features an updated look and feel in line with Apple’s iOS 7 design guidelines, but also improved navigation, support for AirDrop and an emphasis on full-screen photos.
As Alon Cohen, Houzz‘s president and co-founder, told me, the team considered quickly releasing a new version after the launch of iOS 7. In the end, however, Houzz decided to hold back and use the switch to the new flat design language on iOS to give the app more than just a facelift.
“iOS 7 came along and we had the option to either just do a quick update, or use this opportunity to overhaul the UI completely and support some of the iOS 7 specific features,” he told me. This means the app now features many of the new graphical effects iOS 7 introduced, for example, and makes use of dynamic type and the new, and relatively little utilized, AirDrop capability in the updated OS.
Cohen was especially excited about the AirDrop functionality. This now allows somebody in a tile showroom, for example, to quickly share an image (or anything else) from Houzz with a designer there, something that was previously a bit more cumbersome.
As he stressed, though, an app that’s as popular as Houzz, which has reached over 12 million downloads now and streams over 600 terabytes of data every month, always has to ensure that it doesn’t alienate its users with an update that’s too radical. “We’ve seen incredible adoption of our mobile apps with 55 percent of users remodeling their homes with Houzz from a mobile device,” Cohen said, and the team obviously doesn’t want to upset these users with a bad redesign. The new version definitely streamlines the navigation, though, and with the addition of full-screen images, it also often hides it almost completely when necessary.
The team made another major change, though. In the new app, Cohen told me, the focus of the navigation has changed. Now the team has tried to put the content before the navigation. This means you don’t have to select a room first when you are browsing the app, for example. Instead you see the images first and then narrow your selection by room, style and location.
Cohen also noted that finding reviews of contractors, designers, landscapers and other professionals is now easier in the new design. The service currently features over 300,000 professionals on the site and they have uploaded over 2.4 million photos. For Houzz, this is also a major source of income, as many of these pros sign up for its paid Pro+ service to highlight their work for users in a specific area.