William Kentridge, one of the world’s most respected and renowned contemporary artists, needed a website – but not just any website would do. He needed an Amorphous technical solution grounded in superior user experience (UX).
The digital challenge
Kentridge has been a prolific producer of art since the 1970s but has never had a website of his own to show his work the way he wants to. The site needed to meet the needs of various audiences, from collectors to researchers and art enthusiasts. The rich multimedia experience of the website included images, videos, texts and embedded PDFs.
The user experience solution
Our first step was to unleash our user experience specialists, who approached the challenge by developing an information architecture around the concepts of Explore and Guided. Users would be able to wander through it as they would a gallery, or follow the guided option for a thematically structured experience. Content, such as articles and events, was surfaced dynamically in relevant sections of the site, leading users deeper into their exploration of the art.
When it came to the user interface (UI) design of this website, we opted for understated minimalism to not detract from the beauty of Kentridge’s work.
The technical solution
With the information architecture (IA) and user interface elements nailed down, our web development team rolled up their sleeves. The first step was to deploy an application programming interface (API) to seamlessly integrate with the studio’s database application, so that when the studio added more work to their internal systems, they could mark and tag it so that it would dynamically appear on the site in the appropriate places.
Our next priority was to configure a content delivery network (CDN) that enabled us to upload extremely large files without compromising site speed or performance. The beauty of having such high resolution images was that they opened into lightboxes that allowed users to zoom in and examine the details, right down to individual pencil strokes.
At the heart of the website was a powerful custom-coded search function. The site’s media library of thousands of images can be searched by metadata instead of file name, so work can be shown when users search by a variety of tags, such as medium or project. Our techies also coded a custom ordering for search results to return the most relevant results of the massive portfolio of work. All search results were split into text and image. The art was then ordered according to custom metadata order: year, project, medium, type and title.
The result – a custom website like no other
The website launched to the acclaim of the art community. Users marvelled at the site structure and information architecture, while enjoying a super fast, super high-def experience.