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Mobile Device Internet Usage: Canadian Art Foundation Case Study

With rapidly growth in mobile device internet usage, the Canadian Art Foundation sought to significantly increase its mobile users and mobile traffic through improving gallery, event listing functionality and article slideshows. It also wanted to increase online ad monetization.

Unifying Artists and Community

The Canadian Art Foundation (CAF) is an educational, non-profit, charitable organization that through its compelling series of talks, events and educational programs brings together artists, artist enthusiasts and those inspired by visual artworks.

Optimized to meet the needs of a rapid growth in mobile device internet usage.

Optimized to meet the needs of a rapid growth in mobile device internet usage.

Re-examining site design for growing mobile device internet usage

One of the significant obstacles Gossamer Threads helped CAF deal with was the dichotomy between the online website and the physical magazine. The magazine was critical to the organization’s brand identify and traffic flow, and bringing a similar user (and reading) experience was key. Through a series of consultative meetings, the following key features emerged as critical components for the re-design:

  • Exhibition Finder was to be a significant piece moving forward with the mobile app. Ads for the Exhibition Finder are targeted to this feature.
  • Responsive Support – The website needed to work on mobile devices and popular devices such as tablets, laptops and desktop computers.
  • Slideshow – A key feature was to revamp the slideshow so that it worked on desktop and mobile, and brought the artwork to the forefront (i.e. big images).
The Exhibition Finder was modified to take advantage of growing mobile device internet usage

The Exhibition Finder was modified to take advantage of growing mobile device internet usage

From a financial bottom-line perspective, while the Canadian Art Foundation already had ad sales channels (selling ad inventory) in place, increasing traffic numbers and general uptake (length of visits) was a important business objective. Sidebar display advertising, native paid gallery advertising, and paid gallery positioning are all advertising opportunities that the client wanted to pursue.

The Canadian Art Foundation also required a re-architecture to its CMS in a way that easily accommodated its internal teams’ workflow of publishing and editing content, including rich media. Reducing the steps and creating a workflow process that aligned with the publishing and editing process was key. The take-a-way: with competition increasing for social media shares, higher organic search rankings, broader and deeper brand awareness and ultimately increased donor participation, getting content published on time and at a desired level of frequency is critical.

Diving into the project

We had a relationship with Canadian Art as its hosting provider and were also involved in regular site maintenance. The Canadian Art Foundation is run by an array of teams in cross-functional areas and the challenge was to bring together the objectives of these diverse groups and meet all of their business needs in a new website.

We had discussions with content producers, editors, marketing, sales, art, technology and production teams. We also spent significant time with The Canadian Art Foundation’s style guide and poured over several glossy print editions of Canadian Art, The Canadian Art Foundation’s quarterly publication.

We take great pride in building life-long client relationships. For this reason taking the necessary time to understand the individual needs of each team was critical for the end result to be successful. The process was very collaborative and despite the three-hour time zone differences, through frequent touch points, CAF and GT jointly conducted internal discovery meetings to help facilitate the vision of the project.

Our customers trust that our expertise will help them make the right choices. Whether it’s to retain and extend their brand identity or to improve website usability. The opportunity in this project was to see just how far we could stretch our own creative capabilities to meet the high standards of The Canadian Art Foundation, a prominent leader in the art community.

Structurally Sound and Aesthetically Pleasing

Since Canadian Art has been a strong revenue driver throughout the foundation’s history, we needed to bring many of the magazine’s elements into the website design. We also felt that using the magazine’s high-impact design elements would protect The Canadian Art Foundation’s already strong brand; however, the our team wanted to help the foundation achieve the goal of deepening its’ brand presence in other countries, ultimately making The Canadian Art Foundation brand world-renown.


For instance, on The Canadian Art Foundation’s website you’ll notice big images, but no graphical elements. In fact, the question we kept asking was how it could translate visual elements of the magazine into the website design and maintain the integrity of the artwork. Our creative was able to work within strict guidelines of the client’s brand and layouts were chosen to allow art images to shine.

CAF was very much involved in the design of the site working collaboratively with us. GT and CAF had frequent touch points with their editor in chief and design leads to make sure brand, and style guides were consistent.

We felt that reliable up-time, ease of use, and easy access to the administrative panel would be a significant concern. Before we engaged in discussions about day-to-day website operations, workflow and content publishing issues, we analyzed which tools would deliver the most flexibility, scalability, and of course, still create the responsive, polished, professional look that attracts advertisers.

The Solution: “Organic but Organized”

We integrated ad banners seamlessly with art and other content on each individual web page. Having expertise in both web and application development, along with the capability of developing site management tools, we successfully accomplished this objective. As evidenced by the publication of the new website, several display advertisements are stylishly displayed throughout the website.


A Snappy Migration

A healthy, scalable website must be designed and developed so that content can be added easily. We began this process by moving over a few thousand pages and over 80,000 comments from its previous CMS to the popular WordPress CMS platform. With properly indexed, organized content, The Canadian Art Foundation’s internal publishing team could locate, navigate and manipulate content more quickly and with little effort. Additionally, the installation of an ordered, easy-to-manage platform also meant improved workflow and productivity for all teams responsible for collaboration efforts.

GT worked very closely with their online editors to try and address the main workflow issues (those that required repetition, and could be automated) As evidenced by the results below, our team delivered a technically sound, yet aesthetically pleasing website that achieved The Canadian Art Foundation’s primary goals. One-Stop Shop

Through a collaborative process, we managed to meet and address The Canadian Art Foundation’s challenges. Based upon website analytics we think we hit the mark. Comparing the three months prior and three months post the launch of the new site, there has been increases across the board:

  • 17.6% more sessions;
  • 13.1% more user visits;
  • 85.8% more page views;
  • …and a 42% decrease in bounce rate (from nearly 75% bounce rate to just over 43%).


Most importantly, the Canadian Art Foundation’s new website is helping their sales team and making it conducive to generate a steady revenue stream from display advertisements.

Because of these successful outcomes The Canadian Art Foundation has made us their single point of website support for design, development, maintenance and hosting.

Next project: Mobile App

Since achieving positive results—we love it when our clients are happy—we’ve been called on to develop a mobile app for The Canadian Art Foundation’s site, and in addition provide on-going content updates. This will see CAF further taking advantage of growth in mobile device internet usage, something that does not look to be slowing down any time soon.