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May 15, 2007 | 6 minute read

107 Add to Cart Buttons of the Top Online Retailers

written by Linda Bustos

Add to Cart buttons – they may be small, but no online retail store can do without them. These little, rectangular, sometimes colorful clickables connect the product to the shopping cart and are an extension of your branding. It’s important to put some thought into what your "Add to Cart" icon looks like in your shopping cart.

We’ve collected over 100 Add to Cart buttons from the top online retailers of 2006 to give you some design inspiration. And we’ve summarized some usability guidelines that you can apply to your own Add to Cart button. Ok, there are actually 111 shopping cart icons, but 107 just looked cooler.

AbeBooksAbercrombie FitchAlibris
Amazon.comAmerican EagleApple
ArtAvonBarnes and Noble
BassProBath and Body WorksBed Bath and Beyond
Best BuyBlairBloomingdales
Blue NileBuyCabelas
Cafe PressCDWChadwicks
Circuit CityColdwater CreekComp-U-Plus
CompUSACostcoCrate and Barrel
DellDisney ShoppingDomestications
Drs Foster and SmithDrugstoreeBags
eCostEddie BauereTronics
Harry and DavidHickory farmsHallmark
Home ClickHome DepotHP
I Buy DigitalJC PenneyJ Crew
JC WhitneyLands EndJ Jill
Lillian VernonLiz ClaiborneLinens n Things
LL BeanLowesMacys
MLBMusicians FriendNew Egg
Nieman MarcusNordstromNorthern Tool
Office DepotOffice MaxOmaha Steaks
Oriental Trading CompanyOverstockPalm
PC ConnectionPC MallPeapod
PetSmartPro FlowersQVC
Radio ShackRalph LaurenREI
Ritz CameraScholasticSAKS
Shop NBCSmart BargainsSony Style
Sportsmans GuideStaplesSpiegel
TalbotsTargetThe Sharper Image
Tiger DirectToys R UsUrban Outfitters
Victorias SecretWalmartVistaPrint
WalgreensWilliams SonomaZappos

And now for some stats, because percentages make it cooler.

Button Text  Button Graphics 
Add to Cart58.0% None48.2%
Add to Bag9.8% Arrows17.9%
Add to Shopping Bag9.8% Cart14.3%
Add to Basket6.3% Shopping Bag7.1%
Add to Shopping Cart4.5% Plus Sign5.4%
Buy2.7% Combo4.5%
Buy Now1.8% Unique1.8%
Add Item(s) to Cart1.8%   
Add Item(s) to Bag0.9%   
Add to My Bag0.9%   
Add to My Brown Bag0.9%   
Add to My Shopping Cart0.9%   
Order Now0.9%   

How the Add To Cart Button Can Reinforce Your Branding

At first the "Add to Cart" button may seem like a minor detail, but it has the potential to create an emotional connection with your brand. Your choice of shape, color, font and button text all affect that connection.

Urban Outfitters' felt pen lettering echoes the brand's edgy, street persona (it may however be at the expense of findability as it does nothing to stand out on the screen). Northerntool's plus sign icon resembles a screwdriver head. Petsmart’s little red doggie ball is fun, playful and instantly recognizable. Bloomingdale’s signature "big brown bag" icon captures its cachet. And Polo's timeless, deep navy blue button brings harmony between its online and offline identity.

Button text is also of great importance. "Add to Shopping Bag" sounds more appropriate for high end department stores than "Add to Cart," which is more believable for a WalMart or Target. "Order Now" may work for long time catalog brands now accommodating online orders. In the UK, "Add to Basket" is more prevalent terminology.

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Button Design and Usability

Button Text

Web copywriting emphasizes scannabliity -- perhaps the golden rule of web copywriting is don’t use 5 words when three will do. How much more should this rule apply to a small button? Nevertheless, we found 15% of the top etailers going long. Harry and David's "Add To My Shopping Cart" -- though personal -- is a mouthful.

"Buy Now" may be a stronger call to action than "Add to Cart", but may subtly suggest the user is finished shopping or is making a commitment to purchase without time to review the order. The beauty of "Add to Cart" is that it is non-committal and assumes the user is still looking around. And if you’re a good e-salesperson, you’re showing suggested products and a "continue shopping" link from view cart page (or you are using an in-line cart with Ajax'y goodness).

Text Formatting

General web usability guidelines recommend sans-serif fonts with high contrast color selection (high-contrast white on black or dark blue rather than low-contrast like Chadwick's blue-on-blue).

All-caps are generally discouraged in web copywriting. Mixed case is the easiest to read, although all lower case is also easy. We found 45% of "Add to Cart" buttons using all-capitals. Walgreen's slaps white all-caps text on a light colored, tiny button with a gradient and an icon, forcing some users to squint.

Button Placement

If you offer helpful features on your product pages like wishlists, enlarged photos, color switching, alternate product views, email to friend, size chart, view cart or check out buttons, make sure the "Add to Cart" button is obvious, bright and prominent in comparison. Less important functions can be lighter colored buttons or simple text links.

Stacking Text

Stacking text is not a good idea for links or navigation buttons, and the same goes for "Add to Cart" buttons. Users have come to expect some form of rectangular shape, and when quickly scanning a page, it may take longer to distinguish button from decoration, and even become frustrating. No need to reinvent the wheel, stick to the convention.

What if You Use A Button From a Template?

Even if you don't use a custom designed "Add to Cart" button for your shopping cart, choose a button that complements your site's theme (complements does not infer it must be the the exact same color). And make sure you pick one design and stick with it. Ecommerce thrives on trust, and random buttons erodes customer confidence.

What do you think is the best button in the collection? What about elsewhere on the web?