Calls to Actions, or CTAs, can be tricky business. You want something that stands out and gets people to click without being too pushy, all while matching the CTA to the look and tone your business.

In this guide, learn how to create colorful, catchy CTA buttons with just a few clicks in Shutterstock Create.

First, we’ll make a standalone CTA you can place on your own custom layout.

How to Make a CTA Button

Step 1: Create a New File

Click File > Create new > Blank Canvas inside Create. Type 1200 x 1200 px into the Create custom search bar, then hit Make it!

Blank canvas options in Create with 1200 x 1200 px dimensions typed into the "Create custom" toolbar and a red arrow pointing to it

Note that if you need to change your canvas dimensions once you’re inside the tool, you can do so a few different ways.

Click Canvas > Resize canvas to make your edits and make sure the link icon is locked to keep proportions in tact (or don’t).

Blank canvas with Canvas > Resize canvas tab open with "Keep proportions" option open

We’re changing the specs a bit to make a thin rectangular canvas for the CTA and unlocked the link icon to not keep proportions.

Rectangular blank canvas sized at 320 x 80 px for CTA button

Now, your canvas is the total size of the button we’ll make. This size ensures legibility, while saving at a high enough resolution to scale down, if needed.

Step 2: Choose Button Color

User data shows that different colored buttons perform differently. Your specific color will depend on your design and background, but it’s worth trying a blue or green button to see how they’ll perform.

To change your button color, simply click the Change color tab after highlighting the background layer. A palette of preset colors will appear.

We’ll select the middle green dot, changing the color of the entire canvas background. You can also select a custom color by clicking the + sign.

Green applied to rectangular canvas for CTA button

Step 3: Add Text

Your text will depend on the interaction you want to elicit. Keep it between two and four words for maximum impact and readability.

  1. Click Text > Add heading.
  2. A text box will appear on your button background. Click and drag the handles on the corners of the box to enlarge the button and use the Alignment tool to center.
  3. Double-click on the sample text in the box to highlight, then type “Shop Now” (for your button, you can type whatever you want, just keep it short.)
  4. Done!
"Shop Now" text in white added to green CTA button

Step 4: Download Your CTA Button

Download options open for CTA design

At the top of the screen, click on the red Download button. Select your preferred file format, then Download again.

Now, you can place it on your website, email footer, or wherever suits you best. Remember, you’ll need to add a link to it to make it clickable.

How to Customize a CTA Button on a Template

We’ll go through the steps here to show how to choose different shapes for a CTA button and then place them on a pre-made email header template. If you’re interested, you can follow this guide to create a custom email header.

Step 1: Create a New File

Head to the Shutterstock Create homepage, then select an email header template.

Screenshot of email header templates from the Create homepage

If you’re already inside the tool, click File > Create new > Templates, then type “Email Header” into the search bar. Click one to set it onto the canvas.

Email header templates inside Create

Step 2: Choose a Template

Choose a template from the email header list. We chose this template because it has a placeholder headline and a placeholder CTA button.

Various shades of pink-shaded email header with highlighted CTA that says "Sign Up"
Customize this template in Create.

You can adjust the headline copy and button copy to reflect your preferences for directing the viewer to your desired action.

Step 3: Customize the CTA Button . . .

Here, I kept the “Sign Up” CTA as it was originally designed, but changed the background color and placement. CTAs are, literally, a Call to Action, so we want to plainly say what the button will do.

I changed the color using the Eyedropper tool found in the Change color tab. You can sample colors that already exist on the canvas to ensure a cohesive design.

Screenshot of Eyedropper Tool in Create to customize CTA color

Keep in mind, rectangles are the more commonly used shape for buttons. You can round the corners off though, if it suits your email’s vibe.

Let’s try that. 

To get there, highlight the CTA button, click Shapes to find your favorite.

"Sign Up" CTA highlighted with Shapes tab open

. . . or Make Your Own CTA Button

If your template didn’t come with a CTA button, no worries! You can make your own. Stay in this Shapes tab to select your preferred shape.

Then, position it on the canvas accordingly. Right-click the text and select Move layer to front. Now, your shape will support the text.

Right-click the "Sign Up" text and select "Move layer to front"

Step 4: Add CTA Text

Hit the Text tab again, then select Add subheading. Select your font. You’re getting the gist!

Keep in mind that bold, straightforward fonts work best for CTA’s. Use italics sparingly since they can be hard to read.

The CTA is arguably the most important function of your communication, being the action function, so don’t lose a click by using a fancy but unreadable font.

Once you select the typeface, your font toolbar will pop up to adjust boldness, italics, underline, as well as Letter and Line Spacing, Shadow & Outline, and more.

Screenshot of font toolbar for customization options in Create editor

Step 5: License and Download

License the imagery when necessary and download using the red Download button at the top-right. Select your preferred file type, then Download again.

You can NOW apply these steps to customizing CTAs for all your digital communications.

Finalized email header design
Lookin’ good!

Want to see what else you can do in Shutterstock Create? Check out these simple tutorials next:

License this cover image mockup via Febrilian Arifin and MURRIRA.

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