How Our Drupal-Backed Digital Solution Helped Gorringe’s Auctioneers Shine Online

Beautiful Design, Software Integration and Game-Changing Functionality for a Worldwide Audience

A Work of Art: a Dynamic Auction House Website for Gorringe’s

Gorringe’s is an English auction house specialising in fine art and antiques, as well as the sale of valued collectables including books & manuscripts, ceramics & glass, and musical instruments. The firm, based in Lewes, East Sussex, began trading in 1929. Today it holds regular auctions in addition to offering expert-led valuation services.

Prior to this project, Hookson had significantly redeveloped the Gorringe’s website. Our work had greatly enhanced UX via the addition of a potent catalogue search and the integration of market-leading auction software. And for maximum flexibility we had built the new website on the Drupal framework.

When the time came to add even more functionality, and to create a brand-new design, we were eager to start.

Our site-planning and content inventory activities began with a full site audit.

Driving the online functionality a busy auction house would aspire to, we would again be integrating a best-in-class auction software system into the Drupal content management platform.

Drupal: Building on a Solid Foundation

On the back-end, Drupal remained a terrific choice for the new Gorringe’s website.

Across our initial build its flexibility had allowed Hookson’s designers to work alongside the existing site. In practical terms, this meant we could add significant functionality whilst retaining the site’s structure, look and feel, as requested.

Now, as we approached this major new design, Drupal would serve us well again.

Our Drupal-backed solution streamlined UX and allowed beautiful consignments to take centre stage

Integrating a Market-Leading Auction Software System with Drupal: for Seamless UX

Drupal’s support for complex custom functionality would provide the ideal fit for integration with leading auction management software.

Functioning alongside Drupal, this system would streamline the management of Gorringe’s day-to-day activities.

These included the management of sale items, site users and clients: critical benefits for a flourishing business whose inventory never stands still. Assigning user roles and permissions would be easy too: Drupal offered a granular view that made it easy to entrust particular CMS tasks to particular team members.

Beyond these functions, our software integration enabled even more impressive functionality. Drupal’s ability to perform scheduled tasks automatically kept data up to date. So by syncing sale and lot data from the auction software system, for example, Hookson created a bespoke auction calendar and lot search facility for Gorringe’s.

Effortless Efficiency

Now, what had previously been a time-consuming manual task was automated. Result? Efficiency savings for Gorringe’s staff. And a huge UX uplift for customers. They’d now have access to a beautifully designed and always-accurate sales calendar and lot search functionality.

Additionally, the auction software solution also offered powerful features across more key areas: inventory management, catalogue creation and the visibility of valuable data and metrics.

Integrating these tools enabled Gorringe’s to seamlessly switch to its new site with zero loss of service to online bidders.

By integrating Drupal and a market-leading auction software system, critical but time-hungry tasks like inventory management were streamlined. That saved time and resulted in first-rate UX for visitors.

Looks Like a Plan

Across our planning activities we also identified opportunities to shift focus to key sections – Buy and Sell – of the new site. Additionally, Gorringe’s crucial request-a-valuation service would benefit from both greater prominence and a simplified process.

We’d make site search – a valuable tool for visitors perusing lots – even more powerful and focused too.

And in completely redesigning the site’s look and feel, we would pay close attention to use of art-directed images, plus considered use of colours and shapes. The previous website would therefore enjoy a complete transformation.

An Elegant New Direction for Gorringe’s

In redesigning the Gorringe’s website, we sought to create a unique aesthetic; a standout design that would consistently enable art and objects to display at their maximum potential.

Leading the way were bold and elegant hero images. Giving flight to our homepage, and to site-wide secondary pages, these images presented carefully chosen assets, always thoughtfully paired or gathered together in an elegant composition.

Colour and Movement

Creating a colour story for each and every hero shot, a palette of complementing tones was matched with the colours and elements of the pieces themselves. These tones manifested as backdrops to objects as well as filling panels holding page titles.

Where appropriate we applied a subtle rollover effect to images: a delicate device, but one that added movement and invited interaction. Action was introduced also via a series of carousel assets. These held carefully chosen images that linked to key pages including Upcoming Auctions, News, and Departments.

Looking Great. Working Hard.

So our hero assets looked terrific. But they also worked hard. To this end, we designed our homepage hero to be easily updatable. This meant the very latest sale items could feature front and centre: a powerful, visually-driven way to publicise the next auction sale.

Related to this, Gorringe’s homepage could keep pace with other shifts. The seasons, for example. Or with items related to a themed sale of one artist’s paintings. Or perhaps a specific asset class like rare books or ceramics.

These updates would provide ongoing appeal and indicate a vibrant auction business, alive with fascinating new consignments. Updateable too was a further homepage carousel. Via gorgeous, curated rollover shots of eclectic assets this displayed notable recent sales.

Beyond our hero shots, we prepared for the website a muted base palette embracing elements of monochrome. Providing consistency, this scheme relied on a relaxing mix of black, charcoal and beige.

Taking Shape

Across the auction website, use of geometric shapes continued establishing a consistent identity, whilst an animating underline device brought attention to internal links and assisted navigation.

Connected to this, navigating the site was a challenge we had identified in the planning stage. Gorringe’s offers a full auction-house service, and dedicated sections and content included:

  • Pages for those consigning items
  • Pages for buyers
  • Auction pages – incorporating a calendar, results and catalogue search
  • Departments – all fifteen of them
  • Valuations – for Sale, Insurance & Probate
  • Team, Story, News & Glossary pages

Presenting these elements, we created a fixed top menu. A drop-down construction made locating pages a snap, whilst also protecting site design aesthetics.

Our Drupal-backed solution streamlined UX and allowed beautiful consignments to take centre stage

UX: a Shared Experience

When it came to buying and selling – the lifeblood of every auction house – we of course ensured first-rate UX led the way.

Consigners – those looking to sell items via Gorringe’s – benefitted from a greatly enhanced online valuation service. Our request-a-valuation form required that consigners complete just three simple steps to have their asset appraised directly by a Gorringe’s expert.

Buyers benefitted too. Just like our dedicated Selling page, one Buying page – for in-person, telephone, and the increasing number of global online buyers – held all relevant information.

Boosting UX Further with Gorringe’s Catalogue Search and Lot Alerts

An important component of this build, the site’s catalogue search function covered both imminent and past lots. This showcased Gorringe’s range and expertise and provided reassurance to new overseas visitors potentially unfamiliar with the firm.

To guarantee lightning-fast searches, Hookson integrated into the site the Solr search platform. Solr’s powerful indexing system – designed above all to provide near-instantaneous results – saved users time, enabling visitors to zero-in on items within the vast quantity of lots on offer.

Keeping Interested Bidders Informed

A novel visitor benefit, the website’s Lot Alert tool matched potential bidders with items of interest. With keywords and terms provided by users, alerts provided instant notice of matching items.

 

This extensive project combined the technical and the beautiful. Drupal and a powerful auction software system shared the spotlight with an art-directed solution - all led by colour, shape and carefully curated imagery.

Engagement and Interaction

Further harnessing the opportunities of Drupal, we were able to apply UX-enhancing new assets. These manifested via use of large image blocks: a perfect fit for a site concentrated on stunning art and collectables. These blocks – and the highly attractive carousel assets we populated – invited engagement and interaction, so assisted the simplified navigation Hookson had devised during our site-planning stage.

Added to the site also were accordion blocks: assets enabling the use of site-wide drop-downs. These were an important addition. In particular, they allowed essential information – like text-heavy legals and process descriptions – to feature without compromising page length and site aesthetic.

A True Bid-From-Anywhere Solution

With sales unshackled from the auction room, our mobile-responsive website returned the favour. We ensured this new Drupal build for Gorringe’s worked beautifully across every device, culminating in a true bid-from-anywhere auction house solution.

Finding the Words

Another significant part of this job saw Hookson performing a site-wide audit of website copy.

Whilst existing text functioned in terms of imparting information, we spotted opportunities for a major rewrite. Closely examining every single page, and led by goals of clarity and directness, we began a process of editing and refining, rephrasing and reordering.

Where repetition had existed across existing pages, this was removed and, without losing information, we reduced copy length and load. Use of H-tags and thoughtful deployment of headings greatly assisted structure and legibility. And in terms of copy tone we achieved a bright read – sober and authoritative, but warm and accessible.

The result, in conjunction with all of our other work on this amazing project, was to arrive at a website that spoke of a modern auction house whilst also celebrating its almost-100 year legacy.

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Our digital solutions for Gorringe’s certainly helped raise the stakes for that auction house.

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