Using Buttons on Your Website

Buttons come in all colors and sizes, but they all have one thing in common – to get you to do something. That something could be anything: sign up, log in, join mailing list, request information, make contact, download a file, make a purchase, etc.

But did you know there is more to buttons than just an element to click on?

In this article, we will look at when and how to use buttons on your website. We will also look at what makes a good button design.

Using Buttons on Your Website

What is a button?

Simply put, a button is any graphic or text box that allows your visitors to interact with your website. The interaction is generally an action that you want your visitors to take. For example, you would add a Buy Now button to your website for your visitors to purchase your product.

There are many types of buttons, each associated with a specific type of action:

  1. Add to Cart

    The Add to Cart button is the most commonly used button on e-commerce websites. The purpose of the button is to entice visitors to make a purchase. Other e-commerce buttons include the Buy Now and Shop Now buttons.

  2. Download

    Download buttons are very similar to Add to Cart buttons – both entice visitors to take possession of an item. But in the case of download buttons, you often see more information provided, such as the version information and file size. This is because downloading usually requires a great deal of trust and reassurance – many people would hesitate to download anything onto their computers and devices.

    A variation of this type of button is the Upgrade Now and Get button.

  3. Try Now

    If you sell digital or software products, chances are you will have a Try Now button on your website. The purpose of this button is to route visitors to the demo or trial version of the product. A variation of this type of button is the Try Demo, Free Demo, Live Demo and Free Trial buttons.

  4. Read More

    The Read More button is important because it allows you to compress content on your website home page. When you compress content, you fit more content in less space. Also, the Read More button lets you track the most popular content. That is why you will most often find the Read More button at the end of a block of teaser information. Other variations of this type of button include the View Details, See More, Learn More and More Info, Discover buttons.

  5. Sign Up

    There are two ways to use the Sign Up button.

    The first way is used in a similar fashion as the Read More buttons – users click on the button to access the actual sign-up page. Other variations of this type of button are the Register, Get Started and Start Now buttons.

    The other way of using the Sign Up button is directly on the signup form. The purpose of the button is to complete the sign up process (ie. send off the completed signup form). Other variations of this type of button are the Join, Subscribe, Login, Sign In, Send and Submit buttons.

  6. Share

    Share buttons help you increase your audience by connecting with people who are not on your website. These buttons also help distribute your content across social networks and platforms.

    Included in this group of buttons are the Share, Follow and Like buttons from Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, Reddit, Digg, Delicious, and many others.

  7. Contact

    The Contact button lets visitors get in touch with you in just one click. Other variations of this type of button include the Call, Email, and Skype buttons.

Using Buttons on Your Website

Do I really need to add buttons to my website? Can't I just use text links?

While you certainly do not have to use buttons on your website, they are beneficial to have when used properly.

The main difference between buttons and text links is that one is a graphical cue and the other a textual cue. People are naturally drawn to images and when it comes to bodies of text, people tend to skim through it, scanning the headlines and titles to see what sparks their interest.

When you look at all the different types of buttons mentioned above, you will notice that buttons are simply call-to-actions – they prompt visitors to perform an action – something that you want them to do. What better way to highlight the action than using a graphical cue, especially one that they can easily click on to carry out the action. That's why buttons are often more effective than text links.

Using Buttons on Your Website

How do I create buttons?

Back in the days, you would need to create the button with an image editing program (ie. Photoshop), save the button as an image and add it to your web page's codes.

Luckily, times have changed and adding a button now can be as easily done in one click – thanks to drag and drop website builders.

For example, if you are using Website.com to build your website, all you need to do is click on the element on the design menu and then drag the button to the desired location on your web page.

This process is the same if you're using Wix, Weebly and other website builders. The website builder often comes with options for you to customize the look and feel of the button, ie. color, shape, size, transition, etc.

To learn more on how to add buttons on your website builder:

Creating effective buttons – design, placement and copy

A button is meant to direct users into taking the action you want them to take. If users don't click on the button, then it has failed, and it's usually for one of the following design reasons:
  • The button doesn't look like a button
  • The color of the button turns the user off
  • The button is placed in an area that is unfamiliar to the user
  • The user is not sure what the button is for
  • The button doesn't entice users to click through

In other words, when creating buttons, you need to pay attention to the design, placement and copy (or text) of the button.

Creating effective buttons – design, placement and copy

Effective button designs

  1. Buttons need to look like buttons

    Button design is about recognition and clarity. You want your visitors to look at your buttons and immediately understand what they are supposed to do.

    Buttons are most commonly rectangular. They can have sharp or rounded corners, beveled edges or shadow effects. You may argue that these are too conventional, bland or boring, but remember, it's what most users know as buttons. If you want to go with a different shape, you need to make it visually obvious that it is a clickable button - if they don't look like buttons then your visitors won't know they need to click on them.

  2. Bigger isn't always better

    Yes, The bigger the button, the more attention it draws. But it should be positive attention, not negative. You want a button that is big enough it's highly visible (ie. easy to spot at first glance). But if the button becomes too big and draws too much attention, it becomes an annoyance – it can come across as overly-aggressive. So, go big but not overboard.

  3. Use contrasting, flattering colors

    A blue button will not stand out on a website that is primarily blue. Using stand out colors can help make your buttons stand out. Aim for colors that have a high contrast relative to the surroundings of the button.

    Things to keep in mind when deciding on button colors:
    • Colors need to be balanced with size. Rule of thumb: the smaller the button, the higher the contrast.
    • Take the website's existing color scheme into consideration. Pick color(s) that complements the color scheme. For example, pick a color from your website's color scheme and create contrasts within hues and shades.
    • If you are using the same button more than once on your website, make sure they are the same color. Not only does it make your website look cleaner, it helps establish and anchor a meaning for your buttons.
  4. Make sure button text is legible

    The text inside your needs to be large enough that visitors can read your buttons quickly and easily. But don't go too big as it will overwhelm the button and the rest of your web page.

    Try not to use fancy fonts, they can make the button text difficult to read. Sans-serif type of fonts is good for buttons as they are the most readable. Examples of sans-serif fonts include Arial, Helvetica, Franklin Gothic, Open Sans and Century Gothic.

  5. Use decorative elements only if it emphasizes the purpose of your button

    We have all seen it, the shopping cart icon on the Add to Cart button. Often, these decorative elements help improve the visibility of a button.


    A rule of thumb is the decorative elements should emphasize the purpose of the button, not distract the user.

    Examples of effective button designs:

Creating effective buttons – design, placement and copy

Effective button placement

It's important to place buttons in prominent locations on your web page. This way, you are sure visitors will notice the button.

Rule of thumb, if you have to search for the button then it's obviously in the wrong area.

  1. Top of web page

    Placing buttons in prominent locations such as the top of your web page can lead to higher conversions because users are more likely to notice them and take action.

  2. Center of web page

    When placing a button in the center of your web page, make sure there are no other main elements around it. This way, attention is focused on the button.

  3. Displaying multiple buttons

    If you need to include multiple button choices, give weight to the primary button, ie. making the primary button more prominent. You can do so but making the primary button bigger, use a higher contrast color, or you can also grey-out secondary buttons. Grey buttons are generally poor for conversion – they look disabled. By greying out the secondary buttons, you're putting your visitor's main focus back on the primary button.

    Also, try to limit the number of buttons with different call-to-actions on one page. For example, if the focus of your page is to get visitors to purchase your product, your primary button should be Add to Cart. Placing other buttons (such as Join Newsletter, Sign Up, etc.) on the same page would create a distraction - when visitors are distracted, they tend not to click on the button you want them to act upon.

    Rule of thumb, your primary button should always be the biggest and brightest and try to limit the number of buttons you place on one page.

    When placing a button in the center of your web page, make sure there are no other main elements around it. This way, attention is focused on the button.

  4. More is not always better

    Button is one of those things where more is not always better.To get your visitors to convert (ie. click on a button), you need to provide the utmost focus. By having too many buttons on your web page, you are introducing distractions and when visitors are distracted, they tend not to click on any buttons.

    An excellent example is social media buttons. You do not need to include all buttons for all social media sites. Limit the number of buttons to 3 or 4. If you're not too sure about how many social sharing buttons you should have, you can to start by looking at your Google Analytics referral traffic to see which social sharing sites drives the most traffic to your website.

Creating effective buttons – design, placement and copy

Effective button copy

You need effective button copy to increase the click-through rate of your buttons. Your buttons need to scream Click me!

  1. Get personal

    When you use words like I, Me and My, you are helping your visitors complete the sentence "I want to _______."

    Clicking on the button then becomes the most logical thing to do – they are just doing themselves a favor (ie. claiming what's rightfully theirs).

  2. Create a sense of urgency

    Your button copy needs to make your visitors compelled to click on the button immediately. Your goal is to get your visitors to do something right away as opposed to later. You can create this urgency in your buttons by using bold, commanding and time-sensitive words: Now and Today.

  3. Be creative but keep it short, simple and straightforward

    Don't use ten words when three will do the trick. Short, simple and straightforward doesn't necessarily mean boring or bland. You can play with word ideas to cater to the marketing you're targeting. For example, if your website sells tea, you can change your Add to Cart button to Brew It.

  4. Stay results-oriented

    Another way to increase click conversion is to tell visitors what they will gain by clicking on the button.

  5. Include click triggers

    Click triggers are basically the extra boosts you put around your button to entice people to click it.

    Click triggers are most often found on trial buttons and download buttons. For example, a free trial button might say "30 day trial, no credit card" in smaller text beneath the main "Start Your Free Trial" button text. This is valuable info that will encourage users to click through to begin their trial.

    Other examples of click triggers include:
    • Testimonials
    • Key benefits
    • Low-price messaging
    • Guarantees

Button mouseover effects

Once you have created the button design and copy that works for your website, you can think about dressing them up with some simple mouseover effects.

Mouseover effects are also called hover effects or rollover effects. In simple terms, hover effects are the ‘before' and ‘after' transitions of your buttons. There are great ways to increase the aesthetics of your buttons and your web page.

Button mouseover effects

Benefits of hover effects

Click area indicator – as a visitor moves their mouse over a button, it changes to indicate that it is clickable. Eye candy – a properly designed effect can increase the aesthetics of your web page

Button mouseover effects

Common button hover effects

Depending on the website builder you're using, you can add hover effects to your buttons. Common hover effects include:

  1. Color shift – such as button border, background and text color changes


  2. Size transition – such as an increase or decrease in button size, zoom in or out on image buttons

  3. Animation – such as sliding and fading in or out, or the addition of decorative elements