Behind the Canvas is an upcoming application for art enthusiasts that will allow them to meet new artists, keep in touch with creators they already love, learn about galleries and expositions near their location, and do a high-level research on the current appreciation (or “hotness”) of an artist’s work.
With this app, users will have a sort of mixture between Wikipedia and Instagram specifically created for art…
In fact, the project started with much simpler intentions, which I’ll explain in this case study, but first, let me give you some context.
For this project I was hired as a freelance UX/UI Designer for the whole design process, from conception to delivery.
This means I created personas, user journeys, competitive audits (specially important for this product), paper and digital wireframes, prototypes, conducted user tests, and more.
What the guys from Behind the Canvas were looking for was a plain biography app for artists; a place where they could create profiles, upload photos of their work, and find (or expand) their audience.
“An Instagram only for artists,” as they said.
There were two main concerns for the creation of this app:
With those constraints in mind, I proposed various color palettes that seemed appropriated, and after seeing all of them, this one got selected:
Afterwards, I created a simple logo to remark the brand identity inside the app: the name of the company in a stylish font:
With these elements, I created a sticker sheet so we could have all of our visual assets ready for a smooth design process
Fortunately, the Behind the Canvas team had a well segmented audience in mind as well as surveys they had done on potential users.
With that information, I came up with a persona that represents the goals, motivations and pain points of the whole user group: María.
Up until this moment, we were still thinking about a simple artist biography app, but soon after ideating this persona and establishing a goal statement for the product, something happened that changed our perception about the work we were doing: the competitive audit.
After some minor Google research, I found a clear trend: the main places where you could find information about the artists were the websites of art galleries, and unfortunately, those were very short, untelling, and impersonal. They lacked the humanity that the art world so much reflects.
Moreover, I kept researching to see what else could I find. I kept thinking that art isn’t only about aesthetic pleasure: for many people, it’s bussiness. That’s when I stumbled upon an interesting online resource: artist-info.
This website, that looks like it’s been brought directly from the early 2000s, isn’t very user-friendly according to today’s standards, but it has great potential for the few people that might know how to use it.
These graphs show info that I couldn’t find anywhere else: the maps connect the artist you’re researching with other artists they are related to, be it through expositions they’ve shared, epochs where they were actively creating, and more. (It’s worth noting that this site collects information from both death and alive artists.)
After seeing this and telling the Behind the Canvas’ team about it, we saw a clear opportunity in the market: there doesn’t seem to be any serious tool for researching art that’s both profoundly useful and suited for non-tech-savvy users, which is the situation of most of the targeted users.
Given the situation, the team decided to go for the more interesting option: offering users a complete database of artists, galleries and expositions including basic information (like location and created pieces) as well as features to determine the perceived value of artists’ work.
After another round of interviews with possible users, I did some minor changes to María so she reflected the needs and goals of a user interested in what Behind the Canvas could now offer.
With all the new research and a clear north to go towards, it was time to start ideating ways to make this app a reality.
Paper wireframes helped me define the most important features of the app… Even though future testing revealed lots of flaws in them.
The digital wireframes and lo-fi prototype gave me a template on which I could give the product life and identity, but first, it was time for an early set of testings.
After testing the app with 5 potential users, I gathered the following insights:
One goal of this first round of tests was to determine the actual interest of users in an app like Behind the Canvas. Results where very positive, as expected.
I fixed all the problems and proceeded to add colors, images and iconography to the prototype. Time to have fun.
Now that everything was on place, it was time for a final round of testing, in which I gathered the following insights:
I proceeded to correct the issues users had with the prototype, complete the remaining user flows (like the “galleries” one), and showed the app to a fellow designer, who had some interesting feedback for me.
For some reason, I was putting a picture on the home screen that was, to put it plainly, ugly. It didn’t look right, and fortunately my friend helped me give the homepage a way cleaner look.
Behind the Canvas is yet to be launched, but the insights I gathered throughout the design process were promising: more than 80% of the potential users believe this will be a great tool for many people and are eager to download it on their smartphones as soon as it’s available.
To find a new opportunity in the middle of the design process was both exciting and worrying. Were we aiming to high with this idea? Should have we just kept it as it was and continue with the plain biography app?
There were some uncomfortable conversations as well as extra time we didn’t plan for, but at the end, it was all worth it. There where several positive things to get out from the uncertainty we all felt, and the process definitely made me a more resilient designer.
Visually speaking, this was a simple yet challenging product to design. Since there was not much decoration to be used in the minimalistic approach we agreed on, I had to upgrade my color skills and find creative ways to make it look eye-catching without being overwhelming.
With some YouTube tutorials, I found a way to make buttons way more interesting:
I was also not used to using Figma, so this project gave me a great opportunity to learn a lot about it and make it one of my favorite tools of the moment.
(Feel free to click wherever you want!)
Even though I’m not precisely an art enthusiast myself, it was nice to work for people who are interested in this amazing world full of creativity.
I hope you liked the summary of this project and, if you’d like to contact me, here you have the ways to do that: