Artspan Case Study


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Building your own website is no small feat. It’s doublely hard for people who don’t know an end tag from an ISP. Artspan’s mission is to help those most afflicted by Technology-itis — artists. In today’s world, artists need every tool to market their work. The web is extremely important in this regard. What Artspan has done is create an easy-to-use portal for artists. They can not only create a site, but can also incorporate web sales — everything from Cart service to credit card to even a Print service where a customer can get their newly purchased artwork in a custom frame and mat. Artspan handles it all.

So how does this work? Much the same as WordPress “themes”, Artspan has templates. In 2009 I was lucky enough to help Artspan not only update their templates, but also help to introduce upgrades to their services (such as the Print on Demand and framing option) and their marketing campaigns.

The C-template is a full-suite template that is fully customizable for the artist. This was a fantastic project to work on — there were so many moving parts and considerations. A template is different than a regular website. You need to consider all the variables that would be requested for each element. For instance, Artspan introduced a Shopping Cart feature. But what if the artist didn’t want that addition? Ok, need an option for that. How will a page load if there is an odd or even number of gallery images? Need to allow for that. The list goes on. It was complicated, but in a fun way. I got to try to get inside a “typical” person’s head and anticipate what they would or wouldn’t want from a template. Luckily, I had the experienced programmers and staff at Artspan to guide me through.

The Prints portal (where an artist’s customer can get a frame and mat added to their print order) was an exciting project. They basically said “ok, here’s what we offer. How can we show that in an intuitive way?” User Interface design is no small feat. Doing a project  this small makes one appreciate the thought behind truly great UI design. I went through several iteration to see which works best.

Additionally, Artspan needed a fresh new campaign to advertise their services. I came up with several different concepts, all pointing to their 2 best sales assets — the necessity of a website portfolio in the Information Age coupled with Artspan’s ease of use. The 3 concepts were:

  • Clay, Brushes & Artspan The web is now every bit as important a tool to an artist as the “traditional” tools
  • Simple, Even For An Artist Pokes fun at artist’s reputation for being technological Luddites
  • Connect I love this concept. Conceptually, it speaks to the need to connect artists to the world, to a larger client base. Visually it plays off of the Sistine Chapel’s Creation of Adam painting, pairing Adam’s hand with the standard web-pointer icon.