WordPress for students

In my casual surveys of architecture students from first year to final, I’ve been surprised to discover how few engage professionally with social media. While Facebook is ubiquitous and many have Instagram accounts jammed full of selfies, there is little interest to extend this activity into the professional sphere.

This is the 7th of eight articles exploring the major social media outlets, how I engage with them, and how they might be of interest to students. An archive of the series can be accessed here.

Social media

WordPress
Panfilocastaldi
Direct subscribers: 193
Indirect followers: 961
Created: October 2010

Purpose: WordPress is a blogging and website content management system.

Staggering statistics: Depending on the articles you read, it’s estimated that about 25% of the internet runs on WordPress.[2] More concretely, each month WordPress users produce 54 million new blog posts, and over 400 million people view 21 billion blog pages.[3]

Community: There is probably a WordPress blog on every subject known to humankind, so the problem is less discovering your community and more whittling the millions of options down to the one in which you’re most interested. As it says in the Panfilocastaldi byline, my blog explores the culture, practice and business of architecture. It didn’t start this way, originally covering a much broader range of topics, but over time I have narrowed my focus down to this fairly specific subject.

Almost all of my followers are other architects running or working in studios around Australia. This makes sense, since this is precisely the audience for whom I write. Occasionally I meet someone at an event and discover that she’s been following (and benefitting from) my blog for years. I always act cool when this happens, but just below the surface I’m giving myself massive high-fives and whooping like a little boy who’s just discovered that Spiderman lives next door.

I follow a small number of other architects who maintain active blogs. This circle would be larger if possible, but there just aren’t that many architects committing themselves to generating content.

Posting: Before I had children, I wrote a lot more than I do now. My unwavering commitment however is to ensure I publish at least one article every month. This keeps the blog current, and ensures subscribers are exposed to regular content.

For students: I started this blog as a way of encouraging me to get off the couch. Having the blog inspires me to experience new things so I can write about them. The process of writing then encourages me to see more new things. It is a very positive feedback loop.

At architecture practice lectures I gave recently at both Melbourne University and RMIT, I asked students to raise their hands if they write a design blog. Of the 400 or so students in attendance, I counted only 5 raised hands. There should be more.

Good examples:

Importance:
9 / 10

 


Footnotes:

  1. Leading social networks worldwide as of January 2016Statista; January 2016
  2. Tom Ewer; 14 surprising statistics about WordPress usage; ManageWP; February 2014
  3. How many people are reading blogs?; WordPress; March 2016. This page also contains a neat world map that flashes a light over the relevant city whenever a blog post is published.

Image:

  1. WordPress, logo copyright WordPress. Composition by author.

Houzz for students

In my casual surveys of architecture students from first year to final, I’ve been surprised to discover how few engage professionally with social media. While Facebook is ubiquitous and many have Instagram accounts jammed full of selfies, there is little interest to extend this activity into the professional sphere.

This is the 6th of eight articles exploring the major social media outlets, how I engage with them, and how they might be of interest to students. An archive of the series can be accessed here.

Social media

Houzz
Mihaly Slocombe
Following: 22
Followers: 477
Joined: October 2013

Purpose: A massive online database of house photos, it’s the eBay of residential architecture.

Community: Unlike many other project typologies, private residential clients are notoriously difficult to find and connect with. As the Houzz user group is mostly populated by non-architects, it’s evolving into one of the best ways to overcome this hurdle.

I follow a very small number of colleagues and clients. I don’t see Houzz as a useful tool to connect with other architects (Twitter and Instagram are much better for this), but I can attest to its ability to generate project leads. Our followers come from all over the world and are mostly non-architects, though it’s hard to tell whether any of these connections will lead to fruitful collaborations.

Portfolio: Houzz is essentially a supercharged portfolio website. It’s a way for us to push our work out into a domain populated by millions of people feverishly devouring photos of houses. It also acts a gateway to our own website and a growing number of project enquiries. Most of the project leads we receive from online portals (as discussed here) come via Houzz.

Notoriety: As I uploaded our portfolio onto Houzz long before it officially launched in Australia, we’ve benefited from a huge headstart in having our work seen by more people in more places. Much like Google, the Houzz search algorithms reward popularity with more popularity. As bizarre evidence, this photo of one of our wardrobes has been saved by over 16,000 people, and continues to receive awards each year as the most liked wardrobe photo in Australia.

Procrastination: For anyone interested in building or renovating, Houzz is easily the most addictive source of procrastination in existence.

For students: Unless you have built work in your portfolio, Houzz is not a good way for you to advertise yourself. It’s possible you could connect with potential employers, but again I think Twitter and Instagram are better tools for this.

However, with 9 million photos and counting, a 2014 market valuation upwards of $2b, and their first major tech acquisition late last year, I figure you’re either on the Houzz wagon or getting covered in dust.[2]

Good examples:

These are all practicing architects, all of whose practices appear on the first page of Houzz when I search for professionals in Victoria.

Importance:
4 / 10 for you
10 / 10 for me


Footnotes:

  1. Leading social networks worldwide as of January 2016Statista; January 2016
  2. George Anders; Houzz tops $2 billion valuation, opens million-item marketplace; Forbes; October 2014

Image:

  1. Houzz, logo copyright Houzz. Composition by author.