7 Expert Tips for Building the Ultimate Interior Design Website

A digital portfolio is crucial for any interior designer trying to attract new clients. Pros explain what to expect and what to prioritize
interior design website
Illustration: Juju/Getty Images

Word of mouth may be a powerful networking tool, but there’s no denying the importance of an interior design website, which can be shared much more widely and provide far more information than a business card. “The number one purpose of a website is to initially draw engagement from prospective new clients,” says Justin Page Wood of JPW Design Studio, which specializes in building websites for interior designers and architects. “A website’s number two purpose is to showcase your expertise to help you close deals with new clients by acting as a comprehensive brochure of your best work.”

Whether you’re looking into building a site for the first time or you’re ready to invest in an overhaul of your current page, consider these seven tips to help you successfully turn digital visitors into clients.


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First, know thyself

Well in advance of building your website, you need to develop your brand identity. In fact, it should be one of the first things you do when you set out to launch your business. “As creatives, we have to clearly define what it is that makes up our aesthetic and sets us apart to be unique as both designers and as businesses,” says Ariel Okin, an AD PRO Directory–listed designer.

While you might be able to develop your vision on your own, it’s not a bad idea to tap into a branding consultant’s expertise to refine it further. “I had a hard time doing this myself, so I hired someone to do my branding and website,” says designer Tina Rich. “She had me fill out a very thorough questionnaire about my brand and business, which was a great exercise in homing in on what the ethos of my company is. She then helped bring that to life visually.”

On your website, communicate that vision first through photographs of your work, but also in writing on an About Us page. “We made the strategic decision to include our Philosophy page as one of the first on the menu to offer an opportunity for viewers to learn about the guiding principles of our practice,” says Peter Sterling, marketing manager at BCV Architecture + Interiors.

Meet the Designer: Studio Michael Hilal. Michael Hilal is an interior designer in San Francisco, whose first furniture line debuting spring 2023 in Antwerp. Read more…

Go ahead, snoop around

Before you get to building your own site, take a look at the websites of your peers to learn about what you like, what you don’t like, and how you can make yourself stand out from the crowd. Plus, you might be able to find the name of a web designer whose work speaks to your own aesthetic, if you decide to hire a professional to do the job.

But don’t be afraid to look to other creative professions for inspiration too. Michael Hilal, another AD PRO Directory member, did just that when he hired Cultural Research Projects to create his site. While their experience is “primarily in fashion,” he says, “it was important to me to get a fresh perspective with a more current timeline. Fashion is much more cyclical than home, so there is a freshness that exists that home creative is often missing.”

Make like Mies…

As in Mies van der Rohe’s dictum, less is more for an interior designer’s website. “People only spend three minutes on an interior design website on desktop, and only one minute on a mobile phone,” says Wood. “Don’t show too much work or too much text, because it distracts people from staying focused and giving you their contact information.”

To simplify navigation, keep your pages straightforward: About, Portfolio, and Contact are the three most important ones on a site. As your business grows, you can consider adding new pages for different aspects of your company: a shop for your product line, say, or a portfolio that’s split by project type.

That’s precisely the path Elena Frampton of Frampton Co. took. "We’re different from many interior designers in that we also design product, provide art advisory services, operate an online shop, and have a brick-and-mortar gallery, Exhibition The Barn, in the Hamptons,” she says. “Since our website needs to communicate and support many different functions, there’s potential to overcomplicate the design, but along the way, we’ve found simplicity is best.”

…but don’t be afraid to break the rules

Hey, Mies isn’t for everyone. If you think a more complex website is the best way to get your vision across, go for it—as long as it’s still intuitively navigable.

Nina Magon of Nina Magon Studio, for instance, uses videos throughout her website to better convey her ethos as a designer. “As it is a more intricate site, accessing certain pages requires additional steps, and consequently, more time to reach the desired destination,” she says. “This may be considered a disadvantage by some, but we enjoy the journey.”

Magon encourages others to remain true to their identity with their website, even if it goes against the current. “It may not appeal to everyone, but ultimately, your website serves as a resume of your work, so design it in a manner that brings you joy and best represents your brand,” she says.

Prioritize visuals

Before building your site, invest in professional photographs of your projects. “‘Never judge a book by its cover’ doesn’t apply to websites for architects and designers,” says Mary Maydan, founder and principal of Maydan Architects. “We are judged on our aesthetics, and I believe that website visitors subconsciously form their first opinion of our firm by how nice the website is.”

Aside from your About Us page, the bulk of your site should be photography-based. “For design websites, a photo truly is worth a thousand words, and therefore we put the emphasis on letting the projects speak for themselves,” says Maydan. “We don’t have to tell the website visitor what they are looking at. They can see and feel the brand story through the designs we display.”

Meet the Designer: Nina Magon Studio. Nina Magon runs a global luxury design studio, where architecture, interior design, and construction blend seamlessly. Read more…

Understand things can get pricey

At its most basic, a designer’s website should be a portfolio and a contact page, which is easy enough for you to do on your own through Squarespace, WordPress, or another website builder for a very nominal fee. Just find a way to make your site stand out—tweak the existing templates so that your website isn’t too similar to someone else’s.

But as your business grows, you might consider investing in a professionally designed site. The bad news: It can be pricey. “Websites can run the gamut in terms of budget—think $5,000 to $100,000-plus,” says Kara Mann, an interior designer in Chicago.

You don’t necessarily need to spend that much in order to create a successful website. “Work with what you have. If you have $5,000 to spend or less, prioritize your objectives,” says Mann. “You don’t need a lot of flashy features. Just a nice clean space that will allow your work to speak for itself, and an easy way for clients to be able to contact you.”

Prepare for a marathon, not a sprint

Building a website shouldn’t be a one-and-done sort of deal: You’ll need to make updates. For starters, you’ll probably want to update your website with new projects over time. But you’ll also need to keep the back end of your site up to date with the internet at large, as well as the ever-changing whims of your audience.

Frampton notes that her company’s website is continually updated, but not just with new projects or products. “Regular analytics review ensures we understand our audience’s behavior and helps us optimize the site structure and content,” she says. “For example, we’re known for interiors, but our F Collection Arc Desk receives as much traffic as our best projects. Accordingly, the desk is front and center on our site.”

Frampton also suggests paying attention to your website’s presentation across devices. “Each year a larger percentage of our traffic is mobile, and while our original site looked beautiful, it requires continued updates to translate successfully,” she says.

It may take time, effort, and money, but building and maintaining a stellar website is critical for any designer hoping to grow their business, so it's absolutely worth it.

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