Powering Tajan’s App

How our brand-new app for an international auction house placed fine-art bidding in the hands of a truly global audience

Creating the Tajan Art Valuations App for an International Auction House

For thirty years, French auction house Tajan has been uniting beautiful items with international buyers.

Valuation, and acquiring art consignments, is a large part of Tajan’s business. It’s how the firm obtains many of its pieces. These are sold at Tajan’s 60+ annual auctions.

Above all, Tajan operates in an industry led by tradition. Despite this, it’s embraced the online world. Many of those 60+ events happened on the internet. Meanwhile, the company’s global client list was lengthening. Tajan’s website was connected with a leading online arts marketplace. But that wasn’t enough.

Enter the Tajan Art Valuations App

Tajan was aware of Hookson’s app-development skills. So it looked to us for a solution. In response, we looked to research. This revealed how a new art audience was acquiring valuations. We therefore recognised the time was right for a technology to complement Tajan’s website. Enter the Tajan Art Valuations App.

Delivering High Performance and Keeping Users Informed

Unlike a mobile website, users expect an app to respond immediately to their input. Performance was paramount, so the app had to be fast. Additionally, Tajan’s app would need to automatically alert users when the status of their request had changed. Alerts also needed to work within the devices’ native functions.

Images of items are essential if accurate valuations are to be provided. The app would need to make attaching images to estimate requests simple and quick. And with Tajan functioning as a truly global auction house, our app would have to speak fluently with the international buyers making up sixty per cent of business.

Ensuring Easy Updates and a Cross-Platform Presence

Tajan already used Drupal to manage its website. We wanted to use the same system to manage their app. We would need to ensure CMS and app could share both user and consignment information seamlessly.

And while the aim was to launch on iOS platforms, Tajan was keen to extend the app to Android audiences soon after. The app would need to be built with this expansion in mind

Clarity of design simplified interaction and eased user experience

By developing a native app we could utilise the devices’ resources to the full. This provided a much more powerful foundation to build upon. It delivered faster load times and almost-instant submissions of estimate data.

Alerting Users with a Gentle Push (Notification)

A key component in the app is the status updates on a user’s estimate request. We used the iOS push notification function to create two alerts: one for when the app is in use and the other when it is closed. This facility is connected to Drupal, so when Tajan staff update a status it instantly comes through on the app.

Delivering Consignment Photos in a Snap

The benefit of using a native approach is full access to the resources on a device. Two crucial resources for the Tajan Valuation App were the camera and photo library. Having inbuilt access to these resources allowed the app to deliver seamless and instantly responsive image uploading.

Speaking the Universal Language of Art

Tajan’s website caters for both French and English-speaking users, so the Tajan Art Valuations App was built to do the same. To achieve this we had to create capacity for both languages in the app. We also needed to synchronise each language with Drupal so that shared data (such as statuses) matched.

App Management Made Simple

The processing of estimate requests is a daily task for Tajan staff. The app therefore had to allow this process to flow with no additional friction. We used Drupal’s Services API to pass data to and from the app and the Content Management System. This means all estimate requests and user data is sent instantly to Drupal. Any updates are instantly passed back to the app.

Planning Ahead with a Cross-Platform Approach

Analytics data for the Tajan website showed the majority of mobile users were on iOS devices. This informed the decision to create an iOS app in the first instance, with the plan to release an Android version soon after. We adopted a cross-platform approach to the build, meaning the same codebase could be adapted for the Android app. This maximised both time and cost-efficiency on the Android build. Shortly after the success of Tajan’s iOS app, Hookson was able to rapidly create an Android version. Thanks to our initial cross-platform approach, our new app hit Google’s Android store quickly, and offered precisely the same features and UX as the iOS version.

Download the iOS App and Android App