Streamlining a platform connecting curators with private art collectors.
Research showed that users did not fully understand the site and were dropping out at an early stage in the process.
I facilitated a group of 3 designers. We simplified the portal by removing features, streamlining the user flow, and emphasising the search function.
Testing revealed a faster task completion rate and significantly improved UX.
Vastari is an artworld startup that aims to modernise the industry. They bill themselves as ‘online tool that connects curators, venues and suppliers for more efficient exhibitions’. At its core, Vastari allows curators to search through private collections and contact the owners directly to arrange loans. This flies in the face of the ‘traditional’ model, in which a curator slowly builds her network, nurtures her connections, and guards the contact details.
Since their inception Vastari have steadily added new ‘products’ to this platform, covering other parts of the exhibition lifecycle. The result is an over-complicated platform that struggles to engage the user.
Enter UX Design!
I led a team of 3 in applying multiple UX techniques to simplify the homepage of Vastari.com. This included competitive analysis, user research, user personas, card sorting and ideation workshops.
As the project progressed, our guiding light was SIMPLIFICATION.
It is often harder to take things away than add new features, so this was an interesting, and gratifying, exercise.
*Please note, some images have been pixelated at the client’s request.
We were tasked with increasing engagement on the homepage for curators from non-profit institutions.
On the current homepage, there are four separate starting journeys a user can take, each with complicated flows and a different aesthetic.
User Research Key Findings
We first tested with random users to assess the site’s functionality.
We gave them a number of tasks to complete from the Vastari homepage:
Task 1 – Find a travelling exhibition
Task 2 – Find a painting
Task 3 – Make a request for objects
Task 4 – Manage profile
When we asked users to search for an object and arrange a loan, many struggled to find the search bar.
Too many options made the user feel tired. Several users got stuck at various points in the flow.
When we collated the results of our user testing we found that despite their being four options on the home page, users only really needed one.
Manage could be moved to the profile button in the navbar.
Request could be rolled into the Find function.
Read blog could be removed.
We focused functionality entirely around “Find”.
Curator Interviews and Main Persona
We successfully interviewed four curators from non-profit institutions to find out a bit more about their job.
We asked about frequent pain points and whether they would use a tool like Vastari.
From this research we built our main persona, Connie:
Connie is a passionate but time-strapped curator. She is hardworking and fiercely intelligent. She likes personal connections and has worked hard to build up her extensive network. She is proud of the shows she puts on and the warm friendships she enjoys with artists and other arts professionals. Unfortunately, she feels as though she is spinning too many plates at once and wishes she had more time to devote to curating and less to admin. She is tech-savvy but not tech-smart, and gets easily frustrated.
Vastari intrigues Connie but at the moment feels overwhelming. We knew that in order for her to use it we would have to simplify.
We communicated our initial findings to the client and — with the words of UX guru Alan Cooper as our guiding light — began to redesign the homepage.
Our sole focus was now the find function.
The Home Page
We moved the searchbar directly to the homepage and tested with users. Users were now easily able to begin finding objects but as we upped the fidelity, some new users were still not exactly sure what Vastari did, or how the website worked. As we moved to hi-fidelity, we added some explanatory text and a hero image to improve the branding. At this point, we also included a subtle popup encouraging users to fill out their profile, as collectors are more likely to reply to curators with a full institutional profile.
The Search Results Page
When redesigning the results page, we first opted to have a hidden filter for maximum minimalism (if you will), but this was not obvious to users and, contra to our intention, actually made the site more complex. As we moved to mid-fidelity, we kept the filter bar floating on the side, but ran into a few problems with the categories.
In the current filter, Fine Art does not look clickable and is buried within Medium. The category Paintings is actually within Fine Art, so when we asked users to filter by Paintings many struggled to get past this stage.
At this point we spoke to curators and did some card-sorting in order to rebuild the information architecture around the most useful, most clear categories.
We also added a prominent Request button on this screen so that this feature could be found throughout the user journey.
The Object Page
The object page as it currently stands suffers from several drawback, as revealed by user testing.
The contact button is floating too far off to the right
The image is big, but not making good use of the space
The line length is very long, making it hard to read.
We started to redesign with this in mind – always focussing on simplicity – and also added an Add to My Exhibitions function, which operates like a lightbox on a picture library or a board on Pinterest.
The result was a significantly cleaner and more intuitive site.
The task completion rate was much improved.
We received excellent feedback on our final tests.
A selection of final screens, showing finished UI. We took the existing Vastari style guide and implemented relatively small changes, such as increasing the saturation of the colours, and adding subtle gradients and shadows.