Sotheby’s UX Casestudy
Re-imagine the Catalogue Experience
A good art-buyer does his/her research. But the research can’t start until the auction catalogue is in hand.
The Current Catalog
If you visit Sotheby’s in Midtown Manhattan, you’d get a print copy. If you’re are subscribed to their newsletter, you’d get a link to the e-book. If neither, you probably would never notice it on the website.
The design of the catalog looks very elegant but it takes so long to turn-around & fails to reach the customers effectively.
Not just a “we need a web version” problem
In fact, we have a web version, the auction page.
Unfortunately, the auction page, with detailed info of all on-sale items, comes out after the print catalogue is finalized. And that means, sometimes, only a week before the real auction. #notsospeedy
The art buyers are hungry to know what’s for sale and they expect to have it as soon as possible.
Re-evaluate the content model
The way Sotheby’s put together content is very in-efficient, first all the content regarding each lot are gathered, and then they are edited and sent to the auction bucket, and then when the auctions are curated, they are put together into series.
The result of that is, potential buyers are kept in the dark until a week before the auction.
To solve this problem, we proposed the “Hollywood” Model.
A good example of that is IMDB.
The marketing of a movie starts from its conception. You will hear about it online all the way throught its developement, to production, to release.
Similarly, we should engage our audiences as soon as the lots are announced.
In fact, there are always plenty exciting content about lots, and it’d be a shame for them to be buried in a deep catalog and confusing web navigation.
Better yet, they can be presented as “behind the scene access” & insider peak.
First, let’s fix the Process
We devised a new internal content strategy flow.
Secondly, an improved web UX.
The current auction related pages are very content heavy with lots of elements and mixed call-to-actions. There’s no way to represent a grouping of events(sales, editorial, events, etc) in a single page experience.
The editorial on catalog and lot pages doesn’t create a clear path to transaction.
Our competitor, Christie’s does a much better job.
1.Side-by-side layout vs strictly vertical
2.Clear, color-coded action buttons
3.Tabs for Overview & Lot Notes (for those who want deeper engagement)
We sketched out some alternative UX ideas.
So what have we done?
We were originally tasked to help develop a strategy that enlivens Sotheby’s digital experience. In this exercise, we developed a new content creation flow that helped Sotheby’s delight their current clients and attract new clients. Our new approach has enabled Sotheby’s to publish a wealth of unique stories in support of a global editorial strategy that puts fresh content in front of Sotheby’s audience daily.