Deciphering Art for the Masses

Art is a big investment that requires a lot of deliberation. It has to say something meaningful about its owner while being the right size, color, and subject matter for their space. Even if the owner knows what they're looking for, it can be hard to communicate. Without taking a class in art history, art vocabulary is unfamiliar and inaccessible. Art.com took on a big challenge by attempting to help people find art they like.

Here are a 2 key projects that I worked on while at Art.com:

 

Inline View in Room

This project was particularly noteworthy for me because it was a passion project of mine that eventually made its way onto the site.  

One of the biggest difficulties that Art.com visitors encountered was that they had a hard time visualizing what size of art they were buying before they bought it. Think about it: can you immediately get a sense of how much space an 18"x12" piece of art would take up in your home?  What about after it's framed? By building a visualization tool into the size selection interaction, we helped visitors comprehend how large art was going to be. Particularly savvy users could even upload images of their own rooms.

 

Visual Search

Visual search offers a few popular starting points, or the option to upload your own image for us to match against.

Visual search offers a few popular starting points, or the option to upload your own image for us to match against.

Another major source of pain when buying art was is describing what you're looking for. Often, visitors to came to art.com with a color and an feeling they wanted to convey. Visual search was a way for visitors to feel their way through art without requiring that they understand the vocabulary of art. 

When I first came to Art.com, a shoddy version of Visual Search was live on the site.  I took some time to understand its original intention by speaking with its engineers. Serendipitously, visitors articulated a similar need during an unrelated user research effort. I pieced together this concept for an upgraded Visual Search afterwards.

The transition from the grid view to visual search communicates that users can now pan in every direction.