Studio Chapple is a London-based curatorial studio and contemporary art platform working with emerging artists. The brief was to design and build a website to showcase the art, working both as an online gallery.
This was a freelance project, I designed and built the website from scratch, having previously designed visual identity.
I began this process by talking to the client and outlining what they wanted it to achieve. Part of this process was getting the client to think about who their audience is and the types of people who will be visiting the site. From these I created some simple personas to keep in mind as the design developed.
As a new business, the budget for this site and it’s upkeep was tiny so there were also many cost saving measures I had to consider along the way.
Showcase the artists and their work
Create a strong impression of the new brand, appear established
Clear mobile site, for showing works to collectors on the go
The look and feel of the site went through a few iterations as the client was conflicted on how “out there” the website should be. The initial designs included unconventional layouts and animation, but after some discussion the client decided he wanted to go down the more conventional route - as the main target audience is collectors and those looking to buy art - rather than artists, who may be attracted to a more alternative site.
The client didn’t want to go 100% corporate though, so I built in some interesting hover interactions to show a bit more personality and ‘fun’ - moments that would bring a touch of surprise and delight the user.
When it came to building the site I did this from scratch using HTML, CSS and JS. This is a static site, so any content updates have to go through me as it is not attached to a content management system. This would of course not be appropriate in most contexts, but as this such a small site and the client is someone I know personally it works. I was only beginner in this area, building the site from scratch really allowed me to develop my skills and develop a good understanding of how sites come together - this is useful to carry across when I am designing more complex sites that will be built by dedicated developers
It’s also great for loading times. To reduce costs we wanted to keep the site as small as possible - so when the user is looking at the grid view those are low res images hosted by the site itself. Then when they click on the image a high res version of the image is pulled from a database. This way we are only loading the high res images when neccassary. I chose to use firebase as the database, the free plan has a 1gb daily bandwith limit, so we are able to host these high res images for free as most users dont click into the gallery mode.
Though not originally a priority of the site, the client later decided they wanted to be able to sell prints and smaller works on the site. Knowing this was really complex, but having already built the site I looked around for a service that would allow me to sell products but completely customise the front end experience.
In the end I chose Big Cartel, due to its low cost and completely customisable front end. I chose a template that was as close to the main site as possible then set to work editing the CSS so that it would match the main site completely. On desktop this was quite successful, the user wouldn’t even notice they were moving on a different site, however I struggled to get the navigation working on mobile so had to introduce a ‘back to the main site’ button.
Overall the client was happy with this solution as they are able to control the products on the site through the Big Cartel CMS and take payments securely
Homepage, EXHIBITIONS and contact
The homepage, exhibitions, about and contact pages were a great opportunity to show off a bit more of the brand. I reversed the colour scheme to maximise the impact of the purple.