Creating a Game-Changing iOS App for Freeman’s and Lyon & Turnbull Auction Houses

Our features-packed app moved auction lots into the digital age, enabled interactive browsing and drove registration and bids

Going Digital

Freeman’s and Lyon & Turnbull wanted to transition their printed sale catalogues to digital format. It was hoped this would provide a more cost-effective and time-efficient solution to showcasing lots and driving registrations.

Showcase the Lots

There was a need to provide users with the ability to explore the lots in detail as this was limited with the printed catalogues.

Drive Registrations

Ultimately the goal was to encourage iOS App users to register to bid on sales, therefore increasing activity at sale time and expanding the two houses’ databases.

ios app on ipad


Most users would want to search the catalogues, then be able to save lots or add notes as they browsed.

Offline Access

Data usage and network coverage are still big issues for many mobile users, so the ability to browse content offline was an essential feature.

Explore the Lots

Prospective buyers need to be able to explore items – especially smaller pieces – in detail, this increases the chances of them bidding on those items during the sale.

Multiple Device Support

Providing an app on both tablet and smartphone maximises the potential audience, but the varied screen sizes requires careful consideration of layouts and navigation.

Provide a Streamlined Workflow

As well as user-facing considerations, we also had to ensure the app was kept up to date with minimal administration.

ios app on iphone

Tap-and-Zoom Galleries, Offline Browsing, Favourites and Notes, iPad and iPhone Compatible, Design and User Experience and Advanced Integration.

Exploring Images in Great Detail

To ensure the images could be viewed in detail and at the highest quality we created a ‘tap-and-zoom’ feature. This utilised the gesture controls on the iOS devices to allow users to zoom in on specific areas of an object or painting.

Saving for Future Reference

Guided by the research phase we developed two key features for the app to enhance the experience. The first was to allow users to save lots to their own list, the second was the ability to add notes on specific lots. Both these features have proven popular according to user feedback.

Offline Access

We used local storage (the disk space on the user’s device) to allow the downloading of each catalogue. This feature allows users to browse lots in that sale even when they are disconnected from the internet.

iOS iPad and iPhone Versions

Rather than build two versions of the iOS app from the outset we concentrated on the iPad version for the initial release. This gave the clients time to gauge the popularity of the new digital format and to establish any improvements that could be incorporated into the iPhone version. As well as developing additional functionality we also redesigned the user interface to suit the smaller screens.

Seamless Management

With hundreds of lots in each sale, getting the inventory data into the app with minimal effort was a crucial part of the build. Given the data was already in the website CMS, we developed a ‘connector’ to push sale data to the app automatically. All the Freeman’s and Lyon & Turnbull staff had to do was check a box to control the flow of information.