Specifiedby continues to develop its construction product selection tools, testing an advanced product search tool to help specifiers find exactly the product and associated information they need.
I met Darren Lester, CEO of Specifiedby, on Monday for a quick lunchtime beer in London. He gave me an update on how the platform had moved forward since we last spoke, following the seed funding round announced in April 2104.
SpecifiedBy (based in Edinburgh and Newcastle) aims to affect the construction industry in the same way TripAdvisor has affected the travel sector. SpecifiedBy gives architects and other construction professionals an online platform that combines smart search, project management and access to the shared knowledge and – vitally – recommendations of other industry professionals regarding building products and materials. It also provides the associated building product information and design data, such as BIM and CAD content.
The advanced smart search is now working, although it is very much at a Beta testing stage (Darren said there were “some bugs and quirks still to work out, but … we believe in giving our members access to what we’re working on early, to ensure we build the best tool possible”). Results are also limited by the amount of data Specifiedby has for the searched products (clearly, the more manufacturers that sign up, the more comprehensive the range of products that will be displayed). Once refined and polished, the test design will be ‘baked’ into Specifiedby’s core search and filters. Darren also told me the overall platform would also be getting a bit of a revamp to make the user experience more coherent and intuitive.
I tested it out. Drop-down menus allow you to focus your search very quickly first on broad groups of products (eg: doors and doorways), then select relevant subcategories (eg: doors), and types.
Slider controls can also be used to narrow searches to particular technical parameters (power, u-values, water-tightness), and, depending on the product sought, the drill-down extends to several other properties (certifications and ratings, size and weight, sustainability, etc). A product counter displays how many items remain in the remit of the search, with the figure automatically reducing as you narrow down your requirements.
Once you submit a search, all the products that still meet the criteria are displayed, along with lists of manufacturers and types of file content that might be downloaded from SpecifiedBy, including 2D and 3D CAD blocks, BIM object files, specifications, case studies and brochures. Particular manufacturers and file types can be selected to narrow down the search further, perhaps to only include those that offer BIM object data, for example.
(If you want to test out this new feature, email Darren).