Instead of “Buy Now” buttons


Image (c) Sharon Crute, Storm Approaching Assateague

Sharon Crute asks:

At your workshop I attended in Bradenton, Florida last year, you mentioned a dislike for "buy now" buttons on the artwork pages in a website. I am currently overhauling my site along with my web guru and I'm not sure what to replace them with. I do sell frequently from the website and the "buy now" buttons will go directly to PayPal. My web designer wants to replace them with an "add to collection" button. What do you suggest?

Anyone who has heard me speak in person knows of my tremendous distaste for Buy Now buttons (or Add to Cart buttons) next to fine art. I just think they look tacky. [See page 103 of I'd Rather Be in the Studio!.] However, I haven't given you an alternative. My bad.

I suggested to Sharon that she use a text link that says only "Purchase." It's unobtrusive and gets the message across.

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10 thoughts on “Instead of “Buy Now” buttons”

  1. Not sure what would be a better option, but for those not entirely net-savvy, “purchase” is a bad idea since it implies the image is actually puchased, ie. paid for, when you click the link. One should web design for the lowest common denominator–someone like my own mom or dad, who are often confused by websites and don’t fully get internet shopping protocols. Perhaps “Reserve for Purchase” would be better?

  2. A heartfelt thank you both to Sharon Crute for asking the question & Alyson Stanfield for answering it here…a quick explanation…I have been wanting to put a PayPal button on my site for a very long time, but didn’t have the right program for my Mac…when ILife08 arrived, I thought my problems had been solved & bought it, fast…not realising many of the ILife08 programs needed a 1.9 Gigahertz computer, & mine was only a 1.8 …(the print was tiny)…so in went the disc & out went my website & a whole bunch of other big things…after much trauma & hours with Applecare on the phone, I erased my whole computer & started over…reinstalled the old stuff & started over…sigh…(you all know this feeling)…almost a year later, a guy who sells used Apples told me that some of the ILife programs don’t need the faster computer, some do…aha! didn’t know that you could selectively install only what you want when installing a disc…(big lesson)…tonight, after reading Sharon’s dilemma, the urge came back- I want a PayPal button …so, I tried what the guy said- I loaded only the iWeb part of the disc, holding my breath…glory…I now have the ability to embed html, a PayPal button, &, with my renewed optimism, even figured out how to do that customise ” Purchase” button thing (ok, so it is a little big)…but I did it, & thank you…(maybe I can even ditch my ebay store if this works out…) I hope if anyone else has an older Mac, this helps…thanks again…phew!

  3. Alyson B. Stanfield

    RS: I stand by “Purchase.” Sari (& Sharon): Clarification . . . I suggested a Purchase “text link,” not a button. I think buttons are a graphic element that distract from the art. Yes, it’s my bias, but, hey, that’s what you asked for. 🙂

  4. oops…I must have imagined the word ‘button’…oh well…back to the drawing board…& thank you again…(my button was so huge my mom said ‘at least no one will miss it’)…

  5. I saw someone I know using a “How to Purchase” link on their site–no buttons. I still have mixed feelings about it all. I have an explanation on my “contacts” page about emailing me to purchase a print or painting. I don’t have a cart or PayPal–just don’t feel it’s the way I want to go. Christine

  6. My contact page ( has a dropdown menu that allows people to specify if they’re interested in purchasing art, commissioning new art, hiring freelance design, or just saying hello. (This also has the added benefit of stemming spam.) The page that shows images of my art ( has a blurb with a link to the contact page, explaining that if you’re interested in purchasing or commissioning anything, use that link and get in touch with me that way. It may not be the best way to do it, but it seems like it should work for now, although I have yet to generate any business with it so far. (Probably due to my lack of advertising anything.) I’d say if you want to sell stuff online, open up an Etsy shop and text-link to it from your site with verbiage something like, “If you’re interested in purchasing prints/paintings/whatever, please visit my [Etsy](link) shop.” I agree with Alyson on the subtle “Purchase” text links. “Buy Now!” comes off as cheap, cheesy, and low-value. If you want your art to appeal to a more sophisticated audience, you have to take a quiet, subtle approach. The really high-end stores aren’t crammed full of product, and they don’t “scream” at you, either. Take that same approach to selling your art.

  7. Allison J Smith

    I made a compromise: My painting pages have a link at the bottom that reads “purchase info”. When you click, it goes to a purchase page that has a listing of my painitings with my own branded “add to cart” text links that go to paypal. This way nothing distracting is on the image pages, but if you do want to purchase, there is a way. example:

  8. As a relative newcomer to your blog and newsletter, I hesitated to comment but knowing that you are interested in helping artists succeed I felt compelled to offer help in this “Buy Now” button issue. First let me say that I’ve been building ecommerce websites since 1995. I’ve built them for small businesses as well as fortune 500 companies (Coca-Cola, Haggar Clothing, OfficeMax). During that time I’ve done numerous usability studies to determine the best color to use, the optimal size and shape of buttons, what words increase purchases, how best to change the purchase process to increase orders and why people leave carts full of items never to purchase or return. Without testing you’re just guessing, and guessing is worthless when it comes to people parting with their money. Sorry to sound crass but this is science not art. While many of your readers may not have a lot of options with how the shopping cart system handles orders (it too makes a difference), they do have a choice in what words to use on the “buy” button. And those words should be “Add to Shopping Cart.” Countless usability studies I’ve conducted have born out this simple reality. Many others have done similar studies with the same results (here’s one for instance: Shopping online is similar to experiences people perform on a daily basis. They shop at the grocery store, the department store, even the home improvement store with a shopping cart. When they pull something off the shelf do they “buy now” or “purchase” or even “reserve for purchase?” No, they add it to their shopping cart. Some may even put a few items back before they decide to check out. By using language they are familar with in their existing task experiences you remove resistance and confusion. And resistance is what you’ll get when you use “buy” or “buy now” or even “purchase” because it implies a commitment. They may not be ready to buy, they might be adding paintings to the cart to decide later which one of the three they really want to place on their wall. If you need more proof take a look at The leader in ecommerce and a company that does extensive user testing of their system. The “Add to Shopping Cart” button has gone through many iterations over the years, adding words, changing colors, shape and style, but the one thing that has remained is the words “Add to Shopping Cart.” One more thing I would suggest adding near your button are the words “you can always remove it later.” This addresses the concerns that exist for those who are new to the ecommerce experience (yes, there are many, in fact nearly 20% of Americans aren’t even online). Amazon used to use those very words on their site but as their business model changed so did the metrics by which they measured their site. That’s a different conversation. I hope this helps save a few sales for someone out there.

  9. Alyson B. Stanfield

    Michael, I truly appreciate hearing your expert advice. But I stand by my original choice. I think any kind of buttons next to fine art is tacky and unnecessary. The art world is different from most retail in that art and commerce are usually kept very separate from one another. Anything that reeks too much of commerce is frowned upon.

  10. Pingback: Eight Reasons to Use an E-junkie Shopping Cart — Art Biz Blog

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