The Features that Art Buyers Expect to See *and use* on Your Website

At a time when the majority of sales have moved online, the quality and functionality of an artist’s website has become critical.

Does your art website meet the expectations of today's art buyers?

You had better hope so.

In these times, your website has become the centerpiece of your business -- whether you have fully understood this yet or not.

It must be equipped to meet the needs of every single potential online art buyer.  

It must be in line with industry standards in terms of tools, functionality, and overall customer experience and expectations.  

Think about it -- if the first impression that art buyers have is questioning why you do not have the typical art visualization tools and features that are now seen on tens of thousands of art websites (not to mention the biggest and most credible in the world), do you think this is a good thing?  

No, it is not.  You are standing out -- in the wrong way.  

So, what does this proper web presence entail? 

What does it look like?

It would have to be interactive, allowing site visitors to properly visualize their potential art purchase.

It would have to be personable, giving shoppers a chance to get to know the artist behind the work they’re considering buying.

It would have to be logically optimized for the user experience, providing the customer with all the information they need to be confident in their purchase.

Last and most importantly, it must remove all of the buyer "friction" that arises during an art purchase decision.

Friction is a fundamental concept in eCommerce.

It can be described as any point during which your site visitor is confused, can’t find their way forward, don’t know what to do to complete an order, are unsure about their purchase, or have questions or objections that go unanswered.

For Example:

- What size will I need?
- Will this piece mesh well with the paint colors on my wall?
- I plan on framing my art -- how will it look with a frame?
- I'm not familiar with some of these media types: which one is right for me?
- Before I invest, how can I ensure that this piece will look good in the exact spot I plan to place it?
- My spouse will need to approve this decision: how easily can I include them in the process and how quickly can they make a decision?
- This is just a digital image on a website, but what does the exact finished product look like?

As you can see (and these are only a few examples), buying art is a high friction process.

And this is precisely why your website must be equipped to resolve it.  It should be a robot that is working for you 24/7 as new visitors come to your website every single day.  It should give visitors an easy-to-use “fast lane” to make a purchase.

So, what are these key features?

#1: Live 3D Previews of Media Options

“Canvas gallery wrap.” You know what it is, we know what it is.

But most consumers do not.

This is the root of a huge problem in art websites – the flat, 2D image for sale with an option to buy it as a “canvas gallery wrap.”

Or as a metal print. Or an acrylic print. Or on luster paper or metallic photo paper.

There are so many art-related terms and phrases that we in the art industry take for granted that are utterly confusing to consumers.

The solution is the Live 3D Preview – a visual representation of what a given media type will actually look like.

Now, when a buyer selects the “canvas gallery wrap” option, they are able to immediately see a three dimensional representation of that image, as a canvas gallery wrap, hanging on a wall.

They immediately think, “Yes!! That’s what I’m looking for. That square-looking type of art I saw at Starbucks that sticks off the wall about two inches.”

Boom, you’ve removed a major piece of friction. That is powerful.

You’ll see this technique done in all sorts of ways. AirBNB doesn’t post a single image and expect you to rent a room for a week – there’ll be a multitude of images that you can view to “experience” the room digitally.

You’ll see the bed, the decor, the bathroom – all sorts of angles.

Those photos are absolutely key in allowing you to be comfortable enough to complete the purchase, and your art website is no different.

Live 3D Previews are critical, especially because they are the first thing your visitor will (or should) see when they land on a page displaying a specific art piece for sale.

Without it, the entire buying process will stop at that point for a majority of site visitors.

Without this feature, the other four won’t even matter. That’s why we’ve placed Live 3D Previews in the #1 spot.

#2: “Exploded” List of Media Type Options

The image above shows an example of an “Exploded” List of Media Type Options.

In contrast, here is what most artist websites have, which is a simple dropdown menu with all the media type options trapped inside:

This is a seemingly small difference, but the impact between them is enormous.

In order to understand why a dropdown menu is so terrible, you need to see it from the vantage point of the impatient visitor who just landed on the buying page for one of your pieces.

With an exploded list, the visitor immediately sees – right when they land on the page – every single media type available with a small thumbnail image, and they didn’t have to click anything or do anything at all to see them.

It’s like laying all the cards out on the table, so your customer see them all at the same time, rather than stacking them all on top of each other and forcing your customer to flip through them one by one.

This is common sense merchandising applied to the digital art buying experience.

It goes further.

With the exploded list of media type options, your visitor can simply use their mouse to hover over any media type that looks interesting to them, and immediately see a full description, along with specifications and supportive images that show what the media type will look like as a finished print from the front, back, and sides.

In other words, with a simple mouse move (no clicks, no page changes) your visitor is immediately able to access all the information they need to make a buying decision for any media type – within seconds of landing on the page.

Ask yourself real quick – when a visitor lands on your website and is viewing an art piece, how different does it look like than what we are recommending above?

Now let’s dive into the friction that is created when you stuff media types in a dropdown menu.

The main issue with a dropdown menu, is that there is a high probability that your visitors will never even see all the media types you have to offer.

You can verify this by installing a website recording tool like Hotjar and watch recorded videos of your visitors using your website. We’re confident you will see only a small percentage ever use the dropdown menu.

Even fewer actually click each one. And even fewer read any of the supportive information you may have provided about each media type!

Meanwhile, to get this far they’ve had to hunt for options, click multiple times, and spend more time on the page than they probably wanted to.

All of this is a big problem when it comes to closing the art sale. But thankfully -- this is all be fixed by implementing an “Exploded” list of Media Types.

#3: Live Framing Previews

Frames are extremely important to offer for several reasons – one of them not so obvious, so make sure you don’t skip this section.

First, at Art Storefronts, our data shows that frames are sold with 15-20% of all art purchases.

For artists and photographers that don’t offer frames, that is a lot of money left on the table.

But as we learned before, simply offering frames in a dropdown menu is not enough, because there’s friction when it comes to buying frames. A potential art buyer is not going to feel comfortable spending the money on a frame that they can’t visualize.

The solution – you may have guessed it – is to offer a Live 3D Framing Tool.

With a live framing tool in place, customers are able to toggle through all of your frame options, seeing a live preview with each click of that frame on the art piece they are in the process of buying.

This visual experience allows them to make decisions on style, color, and texture, that would otherwise not be possible.

Consumers find this tool not only dazzling and incredibly helpful – but it’s also a critical friction-remover.

So let’s now talk about the not-so-obvious point about the value of a live framing tool, that you likely never thought of until now.

The live framing tool is a critical aide in helping consumers complete a buying decision, even if they don’t plan on buying a frame from your website.


Because they may plan on framing this piece of art at a local frame shop.  Therefore, part of the buying decision is being able to visualize what the final piece will look like on the wall, in the spot they have carved out for it. This called a desired outcome.

Your goal is to do everything you can to help them reach their desired outcome. The live framing tool therefore allows them to play with frames like an interior designer would, all the while toggling different styles and colors, with the goal of trying to get the buyer to that “this is what I want!” moment.

At the end of the day, your buyer may not be comfortable buying a frame from your website, as they may prefer to take the piece to a local framer. But none of this matters. The point is that the live framing tool was utilized as a means to get your buyer to purchase the art.

All without leaving your website.

This is great example of how a properly equipped art website can turn complex decisions into easy ones.

And a side-note, if you have aspirations to do business with interior designers or within the hospitality market (i.e.: boutique hotels), a live framing tool is an absolute must.

Interior designers have a lot of decisions to make, and your art is going to have to work for them on many levels.

This tool will make their life so much easier as they flip through your work, trying out different frames and looking for that “Aha” moment of finding the perfect combination for the specific job they are working on.

#4: The Wall Preview Tool

In terms of buyer friction, this is the final piece we need to overcome.

With features 1, 2, and 3, the buyer has had a chance to completely visualize their perfect piece of art.

Now there’s just one question left: How will it look in my living room?

Or office? Or bedroom? Or restaurant?

They love the piece, but is it right for the space it’s going to be hung?

Enter The Wall Preview Tool.

This tool produces the ultimate “This is what I want!” moments. There are two major points of friction this tool solves:


For many, art is an infrequent purchase, and they’re going to want to make sure they get it right.

The Wall Preview Tool helps them visualize how the piece will look like by allowing them to select a room simulation – bedroom, office, and more – and apply their real world paint color to the room rendering.

This is a great way to see just how well a given piece, media type, and/or frame, is going to work in its final destination.


Remember when we mentioned taking terms like “canvas gallery wrap” for granted?

Size is another one of those problems.

Artists and photographers throw around commonly used sizes such as “16×20” and “36×48” not realizing just how little those numbers mean to a consumer that doesn’t deal with printed art regularly.

The Wall Preview Tool includes furniture in each room simulation that allows the buyer to get a powerful sense of scale.

This will remove friction (“I love the piece, but I’m just not sure what size to order, I think I’ll just go to an art store in person where I can get a better sense for how big it’s going to be”), and it also reduces returns from customers that order the totally wrong size for their space because they were never given a chance to visualize how large or small it was going to be.

#5: Augmented Reality

Let's start with this:  A photographer tripled his art sales after adding augmented reality to his website.

The bottom line -- in-browser Augmented Reality is a game changer. Take a look 👇

This feature solves a fundamental problem in selling art that has existed forever.

When buyers have an empty wall in their home or business, they begin the process of finding an art piece. 

The problem? Along the way, they have to search through dozens, if not hundreds, of possible artists and images – and this can take up a whole lot of effort and time.

In a perfect world, they would have the art come to them. The photographer or fine artist they found online would fly out and bring 10 or 20 or 30 pieces for the buyer to consider while sitting back and sipping some wine. 

They could make a perfect decision in a single evening.

Does it work with the wall color? The furniture? The other art pieces nearby? How about sizing? No more mysteries. 

After experiencing this effortless way of buying art, can you guess which artist they would go back to when they needed another piece? Which artist they would recommend any time a friend, family member, or colleague is looking for art? 

Of course, doing this has never actually been practical or possible. 

Well, until now...

Augmented Reality solves this problem. 

ar for photographers

The fact is, augmented reality technology isn't new - even in the art market.

Most large gallery websites (i.e. have AR apps that their users can download, install, and use.

But there is a problem with “apps": it is widely known that people don’t really use them!

Sure, you've got your productivity apps (Google Maps, Calculators), and you've got your viral game sensations, but beyond these categories it is pretty much impossible to make money as an app developer. 

People don't want to download and install something in order to shop. It's just too cumbersome. As a result, many are unaware that AR technology is even available on these art websites. 

All of this means that app usage is extremely low. However, among those that do end up using them, their buying experience is fantastic. Just read a few reviews and you will see that those who managed to use it successfully (and those that didn't run into bugs in the app) are thrilled with the experience.

These apps deserve a lot of credit. They played a vital role in validating the concept of buying art with AR. But they were the first generation. 

Now, the goal of the second generation is to solve that usage problem.

And if you've got people loving the experience, but hating the fact that they have to download it, what do you do?

augmented reality artist

Well, you make it available right on your website. Right on the image they're looking at, with no apps, no downloads, no installs needed.

Live Preview with Augmented Reality is the second generation of AR technology.

Buyers on a site that offers Live Preview are able to jump into AR right from the webpage. It's a natural, effortless experience.

They see an image they like, so they lift up their mobile or tablet device and try it out on their wall.

They re-size it, they move it around to find an ideal location. They confirm it works with their furniture, their wall color, their other art. Perhaps they screenshot it and text it to their roommate, spouse, and/or business partner to get some quick feedback.

Then, they buy it.

This way of buying art will become the standard, simply because it is better for customers.

Eventually, every art seller will have and use this technology. At some point, buyers won’t even remember the old days where they couldn’t try art on their walls while they're buying it. 

But because the technology is new, there will be a transition period. There will be websites that have it, and websites that don’t.

The ones that do will have a massive advantage during this time, and will capture more business as a result.

Since you are now “in the know”, it only makes sense to be part of that group. Will you be one of the relatively few photographers and fine artists that seize the opportunity of this transitional period and reap the benefits?

The Results

We’ve made it our mission and obsession as a company to empower artists with the very same types of tools the art retail giants have used to dominate the online art market for years.

The playing field is now leveled.  

Photographers and artists can now give world-class art buying experiences, right from their own website.  They can capture every possible sale, and stop wasting their marketing efforts -- because finally, their website will get the job done.

Want all of these features on your own website? Join 4500+ photographers and artists who have chosen Art Storefronts » 

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