Creating a Great Commerce Experience

The Houzz experience combines millions of home design photographs with a community where home owners and home improvement professionals can connect. It now also includes a marketplace where users can purchase furnishing, accessories, and lighting. Houzz’s iOS app offers a rich environment where users can save inspiring photographs into ideabooks and make notes directly on photos by sketching, adding text, annotating measurements, and more. The tvOS app offers an immersive experience for exploring photography, products, and original video content.

The company’s approach to monetization focuses on solving the needs of its users, says Cohen. “When we got started, the best advice that we got was that we should focus first on the user experience and build that out until we really provide an amazing value to the community, and then monetization sort of follows organically at that point. So we spent the first few years really optimizing the experience, creating the best experience for homeowners and for the professionals.”

Guy Shaviv, Lead Mobile Architect at Houzz, credits the Houzz app in growing the business by exposing Houzz to a different user base than the website. “The users on mobile are much more engaged,” he notes, “and are much more dedicated to the Houzz experience.” Shaviv says that this is in part because the Houzz app is not an "in-your-face" e‑commerce experience. “It’s something that lets the user learn and educate themselves about design and design trends.”

Wanting to create a unique experience for mobile users, Shaviv worked with his team to build small green product tags that swing in response to iPhone and iPad’s gyroscope. No two tags swing the same way, and the effect delighted users. “It’s very interesting because it’s a feature that is very commercial, yet people really like it because of the fun aspect of it,” says Shaviv. “We had a review in the App Store that someone said, ‘I’m swinging my phone just to see those little green things dance.’”

Another popular feature of the app, View in My Room, lets users virtually place marketplace products in their own rooms to see whether the furnishings work in their space. The feature was introduced in response to feedback from the community and the effect on conversion was remarkable, with users who engage with the feature buying more products.

When Houzz introduced Apple Pay, it also introduced a quick checkout feature that allows users to skip the cart. “They press Apple Pay and they buy it right away without going through the cart,” says Shaviv. “This is by far the most used method of using Apple Pay on our app. Basically, it reduced the obstacle or the hurdle to converting a user to a buying user.”

Houzz constantly listens to users and adds features and content regularly to keep them engaged with the app. “Think about the experience that you bring to your users, and give them a lot of reasons to return to your app,” says Shaviv. “After you do that, introducing e‑commerce to the app is easy.”

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Think about the experience that you bring to your users, and give them a lot of reasons to return to your app. After you do that, introducing e‑commerce to the app is easy.

Guy Shaviv, Lead Mobile Architect at Houzz