Why are Art Supply Sites so Boring?

If I were to open an ecommerce business selling art supplies, my first step in building my website would be to think about my customers. Obviously, I’d be selling to artists, which to me means that I would probably want to create a website that looks visually appealing. Of course it should also be easy to navigate and offer a good user experience, but I would definitely want it to look cool.

After browsing some various existing art supply sites today, it seems that these other businesses don’t share my point of view on this. From Blick to Pearl Paint to DaVinci Artist Supply, these ecommerce stores are pretty…. blah. Granted, art supply stores aren’t necessarily all flash and frills. I have visited the now closed Pearl Paint store on Canal Street several times, and the creaky stairs and sense of near disarray are part of what made the store appealing. However, that feeling isn’t something you should strive to recreate on a shopping website.

Take a look at some examples of home pages to see what first impressions these art supply retailers provide in terms of design and layout. I’ve ordered these from (in my opinion) worst to best:

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DaVinci Artist Supply inexplicably decided to use the entire width of the screen in their layout, leaving tons of weird white space. This banner just floating at the top seems especially strange… Overall, the design leaves a whole lot to be desired. Talk about outdated.

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Oh Pearl Paint, why did you make your page so busy? These jumbled rows of options in the top navigation, plus an alphabetical option to shop by brand, is way too much. I’m overwhelmed just looking at it!

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Blick seems to be a little more on track (at least the banner fits). However, the long list of Departments in the left navigation is still not easy on the eyes.

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Utrecht Art Supplies actually does a pretty good job. Each of those icons in the top navigation opens a drop-down menu with sub-categories. Now that’s what I call organized! This site offers the best layout and navigation by far, plus, the page even looks nice and symmetrical.

Although Utrecht is the best of the bunch, I certainly think that all these retailers can do more to add visual appeal to their online stores. If fashion sites can be creative and interesting, why not art supply sites? I say go bigger and see how the customers respond.

What do you think about these art supply ecommerce sites? Share your opinions in the comments section below! 

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