The Home Depot is offering a new online home improvement service for DIYers called the Home Improver Club. It’s a free service and it seems to be alternative to the Lowes Creative Ideas, Garden Club and Woodpost magazines.
You can sign up at the Home Improver Club website and it’s being advertised as “an online community of people interested in improving their home and property by learning new skills that allow them to complete projects on their own”. It’s free to join, so I did and here’s what I found:
The design of the site is similar to The Home Depot’s main website, so you almost don’t know that you’ve signed in except that there are a few less advertisements on the page. Right now the Home improver club is broken into three main areas: Workshops, Projects and My Binder.
Workshops are all the hands-on workshops the home depot offers in all its local stores. It’s pretty handy because it shows you all the home depot stores in your area, not just one. I have three hid stores near me, and it was able to show me all the workshops from all of them. One minor annoyance was that it would show me the date and time for a workshop, but it wouldn’t show me the location until after I started signing up for one. It wasn’t a big deal, but it would have been nice to know which workshop was at the closer store. In addition to the regular workshops they also offer Kids Workshops and quarterly “Do-It-Herself” Workshops which are special classes held for women who might feel intimidated being in a normal workshop with a bunch of men. This seems to be a little patronizing on Home Depot’s part if you ask me, and it kind of looks like desperate “let’s increase our business” move. Big chain stores have to be really careful when they start publicly separating out services by gender. I’ll be curious to know if this gets any traction or just quietly disappears.
The Projects section of the Home Improver Club is where they keep all their online how-to tutorials. This was a little odd because the main HD website already has a free “Know-How” section that doesn’t require a special log-in. Oddly, both the Know-How section and the Home Improver Club projects seem to have a lot of the exact same information. And I mean “exact same” literally. I looked up “How To Install Track Lighting” on both the home improver club and hd how-to sections and it’s the same list of steps, same info, same photos. They tutorials are formatted a little differently, but it’s really the same info. What was even more confusing is that there are different projects in each section. So the Know-How sections has a tutorial on how to install a Bath Fan (which can draw out steamy air) while the Projects section does not. The Know-How section of the HD website also has “Inspiration” and “Buying Guide” lists which I found pretty handy but seem to be mostly missing from the Home Improver Club. The Home Improver Club only seems to offer project guides right now.
The Projects section allows you to browse projects by room type (Bathroom, Bedroom, Dining Room, Kitchen, Living Room, Outdoor) but this wasn’t particularly helpful because lots of projects fit into almost EVERY room type (like installing drywall). Don’t get me wrong: there’s a lot of good info here if you just take a few minutes to browse around and find it. If you want to find things quickly you can also try the Search feature of the Home Improver Club which brings up a list of workshops, projects and videos as you type out what you’re looking for. That’s actually pretty handy and works rather well.
There’s also a My Binder section which gives you the ability to save and easily retrieve the project guides you need and it keeps tracks of the workshops you’ve signed up for. It has tips, suggestions and even a little weather report for my area. I thought this was a nice little feature because I’ve been one of those guys who looked something up online, found it once and then in the middle of a project not been able to find the project online again.
And while it’s advertised as an online community to help Do-It-Yourselfers they seemed to have completely forgotten the entire “community” aspect of the website. There are no forums, comments or any means of being able to communicate with other DIY home improvement people as far as I can tell.
Of course, opening up an online home improvement forum is always a little risky for large chain stores because then they have a place for angry customers to post horror stories or, at the very least, for honest comments to be posted about products they sell which may not get good reviews. Bad reviews mean the products don’t sell and it means The Home Depot may not make as much money on those products. Whether the Home Improver Club will ever actually implement a real online community of DIY home improvement fans remains to be seen.
Overall, The Home Depot’s Home Improver Club is a good start at a fairly useful online home improvement tool. It has a lot of nice features, but a lot of the features can already be found in other parts of The Home Depot’s main website, so I’m a little unsure what they’re trying to accomplish here. I almost get the feeling that the people behind the Home Improver Club also aren’t real sure about what direction they ultimately want to move towards.
But don’t take my word for it. Sign up is free and pretty easy. I did start getting Home Depot emails on the same day I signed up, so be aware that they will probably use your information for sending you ads and maybe even special coupon codes. You can unsubscribe from them if you really want to. So visit the new Home Improver Club website today and let me know what you think!