Artfinder is a new iOS app from Art Discovery Limited, designed as a companion to the Web-based service of the same name. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store, and is currently featured on the App Store front page.
The Artfinder service as a whole has two main purposes: to educate people about art and the value thereof through magazine-style articles, interviews and other features, and to allow people to purchase works of art easily. The overall aim of the service is to enable users to discover their own tastes in visual art, and be able to satisfy those tastes by purchasing works that appeal to them.
The Artfinder app itself is split into two main components, accessible once the user signs in using either Facebook or their email address. The Home page shows what’s new on the service, including new works available for purchase, new articles and features on specific types or art or individual artists. The Magazine section, meanwhile, is split into a number of distinct sections including a daily “Art of the Day” feature, feature stories, “60-second interviews” with artists, art collections, guides to styles and trends, and educational articles.
When browsing through articles and art collections, users may add any works that catch their eye to their wishlist, which is accessible via their profile page. Individual articles or works may also be shared via email, Twitter or Facebook, or a link copied to the clipboard for sharing in other places. In cases where works of art may be purchased, the price is clearly displayed, and purchasing is a simple matter of tapping the “Buy Now” button. Full details of the work are shown to the user prior to purchase, including its country of origin, whether or not it is signed, whether or not it is framed and its dimensions. Some brief biographical information on the artist is also provided, along with information on the partner organization that has made the particular work available for purchase where applicable.
To actually purchase a work, the user must fill in a form including the country they are in, at which point shipping costs are calculated. The user’s full shipping and billing information must then be filled in manually, and payment is handled via Artfinder’s site rather than in-app purchase. Prices are shown in local currency after the user has selected the country they would like to ship to.
Artfinder is a simple but well-designed app that performs its functions well. It would have perhaps been nice to see a search facility to allow users to look for specific information on an art style or artist, but by browsing through the information rather than jumping straight to a specific section, there is the possibility of discovering interesting new things — which is, after all, what the service is supposed to be all about. Social features are relatively limited — there’s no facility to “like” or comment on individual articles within Artfinder itself, but to be honest, this feature isn’t really missed. If users want to discuss art, there’s nothing stopping them sharing the article or work on Twitter or Facebook and discussing it there, though it would be good to see a broader spectrum of supported services — Pinterest would seem like an ideal match, for example. Instead, by omitting unnecessary features, the app gives the user a much more streamlined experience that focuses entirely on professionally-curated content rather than community features. This is ultimately to the service’s benefit, as it places the attention firmly on the opinions of Artfinder’s experts rather than a community whose credentials and reliability cannot necessarily be relied on.
You can follow Artfinder’s progress with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social apps and developers.