Websites: a history of Armstrong Fine Art online

Welcome to Armstrong Fine Art’s new website.  For those interested in a bit of history, I went digging through the records to find out how far the site has come.

The gallery, which had been founded by Richard Reed Armstrong, was started in 1984.  By the time I came “on board” in the spring of 1999, the gallery didn’t have a website.  At that time there were only about 3 million websites in the whole wild world.  So, when we launched ours in early 2000, we were still regarded as early adopters: one of about 15 million websites to be online.  It showed.  In the early years of our site, we met a lot of people through "the web".  It also has to be said that, at that time, the world of French art around 1900 was hugely popular.  The site as it was then stayed the same for about 4 years.  We would change the layout of the home page from time to time, and change the background color on occasion.  Mostly we would add new inventory on occasion, when we could make the time.  In that iteration every single page was designed by hand by an assistant or myself, and uploaded, one by one.  It was slow going.

In 2004 we migrated to a system which was connected to our database.  If we entered the piece in our database, with an image, and indicated to the system that we wanted it “live”, it would be uploaded automatically.  This was obviously a huge improvement for us.  As of that time, our site tended to reflect fairly accurately what was available at a given time.  The new layout of the site stayed with us through 2012.  Eight years!  It served us well.

As the awful memories of the great depression receded, I decided to revamp the website once more.  At the ripe old age of 8 years, it felt like it needed to look a bit sharper.  And it did.  The new incarnation of Armstrong Fine Art again has served you and me well, for these past 6 years.  However, the structure of the site has aged rapidly.  For one it wasn’t mobile friendly, which in the age of the smartphone just wasn’t cutting it any longer.  But the site also wasn’t dynamic enough to compete.  In an age with 2 billion website, it became easy to see that the site was no longer reaching a critical mass.  When, for instance, auction houses have archived millions of their previously sold items online, a static website such as ours simply couldn't compete for the necessary visibility any more.

So, what’s changed?  Well, beyond the obvious simplification of the layout, you will find three new important features.  For one, our homepage is quite a bit more dynamic.  It offers a number of avenues of inquiry.  Hopefully you find one that appeals to you.  Click on something and see where it takes you.

The two additional big changes are the search bar and the filters.  Both are reflections of the same improvement: fine-grained information being added to individual works.  Whereas you had to know pretty much what particular work of art you would want to find in the past, you can now let a search suggest something to you.  The information related to many of the works still need to be refined, but you will see it is steadily getting better.  And while our blog pages are few for the time being, that will not be so for long.  So, let your imagination run wild: type something and see what comes up.  And if, for the time being, nothing compelling comes up, go to our home page.  One of the current features may let your clicking wander in an attractive direction.  I hope it will.

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