A new forum, tailored specifically to troubleshoot CAD software for the KBB industry, has been launched by a group of leading retailers.
Darrel Durose of Lifestyle Kitchens and Bedrooms in Nottingham, Nathan Mincham, manager of Expression Interiors in Chalfont St Peter, Buckinghamshire, and Joe Laughlin of online CAD service for trade customers Cullin Ridge Design in Scotland, all came together to create the KBB CAD Forum. This took place on forum-hosting platform Forumotion, with Jayne Hiddleston of Hiddleston Joiners in Dumfries, Scotland, joining the trio at a later date.
Durose said he hoped the new platform would become the “go-to” place for retailers and designers when faced with a CAD-related problem.
He tells us more about the platform and his intentions for it.
Q: Why did you choose to create this?
Darrel Durose: This developed from beta-testing ArtiCAD and reporting bugs in an online spreadsheet, and knowing how well a forum works for this sort of thing. I decided to build one to make testing easier and more intuitive.
I came across Forumotion, a forum-hosting platform, and built a beta forum. We then decided to expand it to cover all KBB CAD software and related products. The Kitchen Fitters Forum (KFF) has been a great resource for help and content.
The KBB CAD forum is going to wholly focus on CAD-related things and we hope software developers get on board early as it is in their interests to do so.
Q: How much confusion/debate is there over which packages are best, and who comes out top, middle and bottom?
DD: All packages have their good and bad points. It is very hard to get unbiased reviews and information on many packages. We are hoping the forum will lead to more transparency on pricing and hopefully better software as a result. We would like to think of it as a comparison site for all things CAD. A poll on the forum will hopefully answer that question over time as no real comparisons can be done in great depth.
Regular updates, what the updates include, what they are working on, this all helps their customers and us, the users, decide whether to put up with the problems or jump ship to another piece of software that works better after reading and asking questions. Another factor is what they require, such as bespoke catalogues available to cover what the CAD customer sells. The main selling factor is the quality of the visuals the software creates.
Q: Why did you all decide to come together on this?
DD: We are all members of the KFF and have been actively helping each other and other members on that forum. We were discussing things in a private message on Facebook, as it helps to test it out and see if the problem can be duplicated between our different computers.
Q: Why do you think a forum like this hasn’t been created until now?
DD: We hear and read of many users paying different prices for the same product and there is a lot of confusion as to what the software includes. In a recent post on the KFF about catalogues, for example, a customer thought that when they paid for the software they did not have to pay any additional money to download and install certain supplier models to use in the software.
Q: What do you hope to achieve with this platform?
DD: We are hoping it becomes the ‘go-to’ place for help, advice, news and CAD models, either requesting them or adding content for all KBB CAD software. Having polls to enable software developers to get an idea of what to work on, and feature requests, will be a major benefit for everyone. Bug reporting and problems can also be quickly posted and responded to. It gives back a bit of power to the customers, as members can read about problems and make more accurate decisions on either what software to change to or, if new to the industry, which software fits their budget and requirements.
Printed and online help systems for software also seem out-of-date, as many software companies don’t have the resources to keep these documents current and maybe use the training days to tell users, new and old, of the new developments. So a forum like ours can hopefully come to the rescue.
Q: What is the benefit for KBB retailers and designers?
DD: A major benefit is content and help for users that are either new or long-standing owners of any CAD software. It’s also about finding different and better ways to achieve something, as this improves everyone’s output and productivity to supply the best designs and quality images that can hopefully help close more sales. Also, having more accurate plans reduces errors on ordering and installation and this can save a great deal of time and money for everyone in the supply chain.
Q: How are you planning to get word out about the new forum?
DD: Social media, word of mouth, direct e-mailing, and possibly ads in industry publications. We do hope that software vendors get on board, as it is another marketing stream for them to inform their users of updates and get direct feedback on the good, the bad and the ugly things in the software they develop.
Q: How many users do you currently have?
DD: We have 20 and counting. It’s early days as it’s only been live for just over a week. Many from the KFF are becoming members.
Q: Who is populating the content? Yourselves, or can members create threads/posts/topics?
DD: Ourselves and all members can create topics and posts and even request their own section to inform fellow members of progress on projects. The software developers fully participate and have their own beta section for faster testing of software. The forum will hopefully grow just as the KFF has.
Q: What feedback have you had so far?
DD: It has been positive so far. I think many of the software companies are wary, as they like to have control. But in this day and age, with the way things are going, we, as designers or retailers, need the same power as customers that shop around for a kitchen, bedroom or bathroom.
Other software owners, I am sure, will soon hear about the forum and become active members, posting new topics and helping fellow users solve problems and find solutions.