I’ve been interested in the way that architects and designers find and choose products for many years. As a practice manager for architects, I played a part in filtering out unsolicited communications from product manufacturers, a continual source of irritation to busy designers.
Last year I wrote a white paper about the issue, ‘Talking to Architects’ which explained how wasteful and unhelpful push marketing techniques are to designers. The white paper has been downloaded over 500 times, so we have clearly touched a nerve.
Of course, designers still need to source products for their building, interior and landscape projects. The alternative to receiving loads of inappropriate information when you don’t need it, is to go looking for specific product types when you do need the information, which can be at the design stage as well as during detailed specification.
The problem is, if we want to use the internet to find things, we go to Google first, and as a point of contact it is too broad, not industry specific, and lacking in any sort of moderation or standards that help us trust the information we receive. So it is important that reliable alternative methods exist that add to the power of search online.
Alternatives to Google
Over the summer I have been working with ESI.info to explore how designers can find products online more effectively.
You may know ESI.info from their dark green product directories, including Building Products, External Works, PENTEC and Interior Design, or more recently the Built Environment directory. Over the last three years ESI.info (formerly Endat Standard Indexes) have transferred these directories to their website www.ESI.info, with additional tools and content, and they are blogging and engaging with specifiers via twitter as well as by traditional means. These activities are teaching the team at ESI.info all about how architects, interior designers and landscape architects choose products and helping them develop a better resource.
My collaboration with ESI.info is resulting in a series of videos about finding products online. The first will be published shortly and I’ll share it with you here.