Creating an Artistic New Home for the Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Trust

A New Website Design Recounts a Fascinating Story, Showcases Works and Offers Art to Buyers Via a Customised Shopify Solution

How we Balanced Art With E-Commerce For the Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Trust

In 1987, the Scottish artist Wilhelmina Barns-Graham established the Trust that bears her name. To this day, the Trust continues enhancing the reputation and understanding of one of Britain’s most significant 20th-century artists.

Supporting and Celebrating

Through Barns-Graham’s legacy, the Trust supports young people to fulfil their potential in the visual arts. Alongside this activity, the Trust, via exhibitions, research and publications, celebrates the artist’s life and work.

Redesigning a Website Fit For an Artist

Hookson had previously created a multi-functional website to promote the artist, publicise the Trust’s activities and effortlessly handle e-commerce. And when the organisation required a significant refresh of the space, we were delighted to work alongside the Trust and design a beautiful new online home.

The site would of course continue its role as an active and curated resource – one exhibiting Barns-Graham’s art to multiple audiences including students and academics, arts professionals, collectors and journalists.

A Site For The Many

Created With Care For An Audience Of Disparate Art Lovers

Saving The Date

An Interactive Events Calendar Makes Booking Easy

New Design Solutions and Assets

Among new advances characterising this redesign would be a design solution led by striking content blocks and large-scale imagery. Added to this would be UX-pleasing site searches. A considerably enhanced interactive chronology. A tasteful, customised online shop. An interactive events calendar. And an option to donate to the Trust’s activities.

Establishing a Visual Language

In consultation with the Trust, we focused first on creating the website’s visual language.

Site colours took inspiration from those used in a selection of the artist’s paintings, drawings and prints. The result was a design aesthetic tailor-made to reflect not only these works but also the personality of the artist herself.

It was important to the Trust, and to Hookson, to ensure the new design would be reflected also across a major component of the website: the organisation’s online shop. So throughout both elements – website and shop – we carefully shared design features including considered use of white space and, crucially, a big, bright focus on Barns-Graham’s outstanding artworks.

A carefully-considered structure made browsing a content-rich resource - and locating information - a snap.

A Blockbusting Solution

As a result, bold, image-rich content blocks led both site aesthetics and navigation, and in turn proudly showcased the artist’s creations. These established a tangible design connection between the website and the shop whilst allowing each space to express itself.

Assisting Exploration

Throughout our design palette, block assets popped from the screen – on desktop, tablet or mobile – and greatly assisted exploration. On offer across these engaging elements was principal content including Biography, Events and the vast Online Collection.

Continuing this theme, smaller, but no less eye-catching, blocks linked to important areas including Latest News, Grants and Funding information, and the Trust’s formidable Archive and Library resources.

All over a content-rich website, where the risk of overwhelming visitors was high, the blocks structure solution made browsing and locating information a snap. And bolstering navigation further, a newly designed top menu offered another route to discovery.

A Standout Store

Our Shopify Customisation Skills Elevated The Trust's Online Shop

Clarity Counts

Thoughtful Design Leads Navigation

The Online Collection: Integrating a 24/7 Searchable e-Museum

To display Barns-Graham’s works at their best, we integrated a built-for-purpose online gallery asset into the wider website. We created this component on the market-leading eMuseum platform, whose developers Hookson worked alongside.

Smooth Journeys Across Every Device

We of course thoroughly tested this asset prior to launch. This guaranteed smooth journeys across all devices and ensured our interface and eMuseum’s system operated seamlessly.

Categorised via criteria like medium, (Paintings, Drawings, Prints) and Themes, this innovation delivered a fully searchable collection. The result was an invaluable go-to resource and a real win for both the website and for visitor UX.

Ensuring Customised E-Commerce With Shopify

Hookson brings extensive experience of customising the leading Shopify e-commerce solution. So once incorporated into the back end, Shopify’s flexibility made certain that both the Trust’s shop and its wider site belonged to the same family.

Then, with UX at front-of-mind, our customisation further ensured a tasteful asset presented beautifully the many books, catalogues and prints on offer. These items invited browsing via an uncluttered grid system. And at purchase, a PayPal-powered transaction provided a simple route to completion – even for shoppers without a dedicated PayPal account.

Great News for Visitors

Year-round, the Trust works hard to promote Wilhelmina Barns-Graham’s work and legacy. Consequently, a busy roster can include exhibitions and events, articles and film projects.

Adding value to the website’s News section – the location gathering all of these disparate activities – we built in a powerful filtering function. Now, visitors could search this regularly updated roll call of content via categories. This greatly aided UX and granted improved visibility to these offerings.

Ensuring Unmissable Events 

Connecting further with the Trust’s busy schedule of activities, we created an Exhibitions and Events calendar. This collected incoming events on one interactive asset.

From this new feature visitors gained summaries of these occasions and, importantly, found links both to host venues and to their Google Maps location.

In short, this new feature provided everything an interested visitor would require. Whetting the appetite, each listing was graced with a large-scale artwork connected with its respective event.

A lavish interactive chronology feature records the artist's achievements and also charts new events, publications and exhibitions.

Celebrating a Life in Art

Wilhelmina Barns-Graham enjoyed a prolific career as an artist. And it was of course essential that the Trust’s website mapped the entirety of her life from 1912 – 2004.

Crucial also was to record and present subsequent activities, for example the emergence of new catalogues, publications and exhibitions.

A New Interactive Asset

Hookson, therefore, set about creating an extensive, illustrated chronology page. Regularly punctuated by archive photographs of Barns-Graham and her works, this interactive asset encouraged engagement: a treasure trove for those learning of the artist’s life and career.

Attractive, and easy to navigate, like every other page, we ensured this asset was updateable by the Trust itself – with Hookson on hand to offer guidance.

Making it Easy to Help Out and Stay in Touch

The addition of a donation facility made it easy for visitors to assist the Trust’s work. A simple PayPal form engendered trust and offered also the option of donating once or monthly. And finally, alongside social share buttons, an unfussy one-click sign-up was the route to hearing of news and events.

Thoughtfully designed throughout, the Trust's website is a rich resource offering a best-in-class online gallery, UX-focused e-commerce and extensive, searchable information. It's a true go-to location.

A Project we Loved

For Hookson, this latest digital product has been a pleasure to work on and enhance. We are proud to have contributed to the ultimate home of all things Wilhelmina Barns-Graham.

Looking For Unforgettable Online Solutions?

If your own organisation is in the market for an elegant, head-turning online presence, why not get in touch today and find out more about Hookson’s digital products.

Visit the Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Trust website