Castle Fine Art


Running 35+ galleries nationwide, Castle Fine Art are widely regarded as the UK’s most innovative retail gallery group. With their brand refreshed in-house and about to launch, they approached us, as trusted former collaborators, to design and deliver a future-proof e-commerce site. The objectives were to increase turnover and conversion to purchase, to migrate their old site to a new URL while maintaining organic traffic year on year, and to deliver operational cost savings and fewer issues by making the Content Management System (CMS) easier to use.


We immersed ourselves by spending time with the business and in galleries - interviewing the Art Consultants,  the Marketing and Sales team and the in-house Creative Director. We conducted an online customer survey, analysed performance data and researched the market. From this, and alongside their new brand positioning and guidelines, our insights drove our design decisions. 

We learnt that there was a great opportunity for the digital experience to deliver the shared passion and personalised service the Art Consultants offer in their galleries. The previous website made no mention of Art Consultants, so we introduced a clear invitation to speak to them directly, ultimately evolving into an online chat feature. We also learnt that customers often have long-term relationships with a gallery or an Art Consultant, leading to ongoing engagement and purchases. We took this concept online and introduced user accounts so customers can collate their favourites - pieces of art and artists - for future reference. 



The client wanted the website to be an extension of the galleries, which were being transformed to bring them in-line with the new creative direction. The new site had to feel connected to the physical spaces. To provide the right aesthetic backdrop for the art - to feel like an online exhibition rather than a shop - we designed a clean, mainly white website to echo the white spaces associated with galleries while following the brand visual identity. 

From our time with the galleries we understood how different each gallery feels and is experienced. We wanted to carry this into the website, while maintaining the brand consistency. The gallery pages make it clear the brand has a physical presence providing credibility, yet each is able to tell their unique story through text, image and video. 

From our analysis of Google Analytics data and search behaviour, we knew that the artists themselves were a big attraction. We chose to give artists a high priority across the site with strong signposting, a clear presence in the site search and landing pages optimised for search engines. These pages include their art listed with options to filter and browse with an easy route to purchase, alongside their profile and unique content giving behind the scenes studio tours. Since launch, the artists’ pages have accounted for 25% of all landing pages.

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The filtering options were designed based on customer goals when researching their purchase and provide flexible browsing options for accessing the entire catalogue. This has not only benefited the online customer, but also the Art Consultants. Previously they turned to an internal system and had to hide sensitive data (such as the original purchase price) from the customer by covering it with their hand. Gallery Art Consultants now use the website as a reference while serving their customers face to face. 

We knew that making a high value transaction online was a barrier for some; customers often only research online. To support them, the website provides choice by offering multiple currencies and payment options. There is a finance calculator on the product page to raise awareness of this option at the point of decision making. Other options give choices for viewing the size in inches or centimetres, framing, delivery and collection.

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Focussing on operational efficiencies, we built a bespoke Content Management System to answer Castle Fine Art team’s ways of working and pain points. We integrated with their existing stock system and provided the option for batch loading content. Since launch, QR codes have been introduced to support every product being tracked so real-time updates to the website can be made; if a one-off piece of original art is sold in a gallery, it will be taken off the website within a few minutes. 


The number of website gallery enquiries (2017 compared with 2019) has seen an annual increase of 345% (excluding direct phone enquiries).  There are now 25k user accounts, providing data used by Art Consultants in galleries to guide their sales activities. 


There has been an increase in on-site conversion to purchase - more people than before who visit the site make a purchase on the site. When comparing the first full year after launch, Oct 2018 - Sept 2019 with the previous year, there is a 53% increase in conversion rate. 


The turnover for the year from May 2019 to April 2020 was 25% above the annual target and a 165% 2 year increase.
All proof, we think, that insight-led design is the clearest way to curate a beautiful ROI.

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Updates have enabled the sale of original art, increasing the online catalogue, and further integrations with stock, delivery and fulfilment systems. There is now no need for printed versions of the brochure or the Fine Art Collector magazine as customers can be directed to fully interactive, regularly launched, digital publications. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, the site has supported the presentation of video walkarounds for specific exhibitions.

“Building the Castle website with Thursday was more like working with an extension of our own team than an external agency. They understood exactly what we were looking to achieve and helped us deliver on our longer term vision.” 

Matt Lamb Head of E-commerce 

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