7 Useful Design Strategies for a Successful Pricing Table

by on 10/16/10 at 6:12 pm

One of the most important and difficult pages to design for web applications is the pricing table. When users get to your pricing table, they likely have a basic understanding of your web application and what you offer. Now, they want to know how much they have to pay to use your application. If your pricing table isn’t effectively designed for conversions, you are probably losing potential customers. However, these seven design strategies can prevent that from happening, and convert interested users into paying customers.

1. Soften the Pricing

Users who look at your pricing table want to know the price to each of your plans. However, don’t make it glaringly obvious that they are spending money by emphasizing the pricing. The more they feel like they’re spending their hard-earned money, the less they’ll spend. Instead, soften the pricing and put more focus on the benefits and features of each plan.

When users are deciding which plan to sign up for, do you want them to focus on the pricing, or do you want them to focus on the great benefits and features you offer? If users focus on pricing, they’ll try to spend the least amount possible. But if they focus on benefits and features, they’re more likely to pick a pricing plan that attracts them.

To soften the pricing even more, avoid adding cents to your prices. Adding in cents makes it look and feel more like a high price that users are paying, instead of the benefits they are gaining when they sign up for your web application.

2. Add a Higher Pricing Plan as a Decoy

Despite softening the pricing, pricing is still a deciding factor for some people. Many people just won’t pay for your highest pricing plan simply because it’s the most expensive. However, add a higher pricing plan into the mix and all of that changes. This pricing plan serves as a decoy to deflect focus off your highest pricing plan. Now, your highest pricing plan isn’t the most expensive, the decoy one is. When users compare plans, your high pricing plans won’t look so expensive next to the decoy. They’ll likely ignore the decoy and consider your other pricing plans.

3. Place Them in Descending Order

It’s a lot easier for users to move down on pricing than it is for them to move up. Start them off at the high-end and they won’t be able to ignore your high pricing plans. Start them off at the low-end and they’ll likely ignore the higher pricing plans and consider only the cheaper ones. Order your pricing plans from left to right by most expensive to least expensive, so that you’ll immediately expose users to the high pricing plans that they would otherwise ignore. Instead of only paying attention to the cheaper pricing plans, they’re now forced to look at all of them without bias.

4. Highlight the Middle Plan

Most users will often end up choosing a plan that’s not too expensive or cheap. Make it easy for users to decide which pricing plan they should choose by highlighting one in the middle. By doing this, users will focus on the one you highlight and consider it more. Show users that it’s the most popular plan by making it standout head and shoulders above the rest and it will look like the most attractive choice.

5. Use Strikethroughs for Absent Features

You might not offer all of your features on every plan. For plans you don’t offer a feature on, use strikethrough text to show users what they’re missing. Most plans show users what they get, but it’s important to show users what they don’t get with each plan. This allows users to clearly see the differences between each plan. Some users might choose a plan based on the fact that it has a feature the other plans don’t have. Use text strikethroughs to your advantage.

6. Downplay the Free Plan

Almost every web application will offer a free plan for users to try. However, not every pricing plan will make this glaringly visible. Downplay the free plan and you might find more users choosing between your paid plans. However, you should never downplay your 30-day free trials. Users want to try your application before they buy it. Because of that, all pricing plans should come with 30-day free trials. The benefit of deflecting users from your free plan is that when the free trial period ends, users have to decide with their credit card whether they want to cancel or continue using your service.

7. Quantify Feature Power with Numbers and Unlimited

When users compare pricing plans, seeing a plan that’s limited in feature power next to a plan with unlimited feature power is quite compelling, especially if the price difference isn’t much. Unlimited is a word that conveys freedom, power and flexibility. To give users no limits to what they can do with your features is a selling point you can take advantage of. Give your higher pricing plans unlimited feature power, while limiting the feature power of your lower pricing plans, and you’ll make your higher pricing plans that much more attractive.

These design strategies should help you make more money from users who have an interest in your product. If your web application sparks no interest, there is no design strategy out there that can save you. Give users a web application that’s useful and beneficial to them, and they’ll give you the return you’re looking for.

***Bonus***

8. Include Your FAQ at the Bottom

Don’t leave any of your user’s questions unanswered. A simple and concise FAQ at the bottom of your pricing table that covers the most common questions can make users feel comfortable signing up for a plan. For uncommon questions, send them to your contact page.

35 Responses to “7 Useful Design Strategies for a Successful Pricing Table”

  1. === popurls.com === popular today…

    yeah! this story has entered the popular today section on popurls.com…

  2. Ankur

    Oct 16th, 2010

    This is really insightful. Thanks a lot for the article.

    I’m just a bit unsure about the first bit – I think users know that they are going to spend some money – so it shouldn’t make that much of a difference if you put the price in big bold letters. In fact, I would think that the user gets a sub-conscious feel that this website is upfront about prices and I’m likely to get the worth for my money.

  3. Harold

    Oct 17th, 2010

    Good advice and inclined to agree with every point. Must add though that a lot of people want an a la carte option rather than fixed price menu and wonder how you would suggest people best add a “Bespoke” option or what examples you can point to of good execution. What would you make of an extra column with for example empty form fields, pull downs or some other selector perhaps dynamically calculating the amount?

  4. Felipe Vaz

    Oct 17th, 2010

    Excellent article! Thank you for your insights!

  5. anty

    Oct 17th, 2010

    The version where you put the highest price on the left looks risky. When a potential customer just glances over your page and expects the lowest price on the left he might assume that it’s the lowest price you offer and leave.
    I would split test this against the “normal” layout.
    The other strategies are interesting and I’m going to apply them very soon on my next sales page.
    Thanks for the useful article!

  6. Cennydd Bowles

    Oct 17th, 2010

    These are marketing tricks, not design strategies. Some are outright user-hostile. Hiding prices and free accounts is the opposite of user experience design.

    • anthony

      Oct 21st, 2010

      If you don’t see the advantages of these design strategies, you need to get yourself a new pair of glasses.

      Nothing I mentioned suggests hurting the user. De-emphasizing the free plan for the purpose of controlling and focusing the user’s attention is exactly what user experience design is about.

      In the paragraph, I stress that you should never ever hide your free trials, but downplaying your free plan is different. Free trials are NOT free plans. Free trials usually come with all plans. The only difference is that with paid plans you are prompted to make a decision of whether or not to buy a subscription or cancel it when your trial expires.

    • Dinesh

      Oct 30th, 2010

      Highly insightful article. Yes I agree with Cennydd that these are the marketing tricks but can’t deny that its a great part of the design and UX too. No price were hiding there but suggested the way they could appear or present on the page…and I agree with all the points.

    • Sam Yoon

      Nov 1st, 2010

      I tend to feel that marketing strategy covers all the issues to do with sales presentation. I feel the specific segmentation of definitions for UX, visual design and marketing strategies is more like geocentricism when theory of heliocentric is introduced(am I talking too big? Hehe).

      I certainly feel that every partipicients in the marketing role has to become more hybrids to think from each other’s perspective. I certainly think above article covers both good advices in marketing strategy and UX design strategy.

      Understanding the goal of marketing/sales issues and articulate it in the right sequence and segment seems to be part of our (both visual and ux designers) role..so if it is marketing/slaes strategy shouldn’t it cover the lot ? I mean there always French Fries in the BigMac Meals deal ;)

      Hope you know what I mean, for these who did not get what I mean… I can only say….English is my second language!! Have a nice day guys~

    • Adam Kochanowicz

      Apr 23rd, 2012

      How is this bad UX? Is there some rule that we must have UCD and peddle the free tier?

      Also, as far as “hiding” the free tier, I see what you’re saying here, but the author isn’t recommending a dark pattern where the user could accidentally miss the free tier, but a way of distinguishing the paid tiers.

    • Brian McGovern

      Aug 25th, 2012

      @ Cennydd Bowles I totally agree and I feel that is article, yet interesting, is unethical. Putting a decoy price is wrong. This seems like a quick rich tactic and will not build a relationship.

      I say the UX way is make quality user center products and everything will follow. If they like it, then they will upgrade. let the user find what they want without jumping through loops.

  7. Kerstin McKay

    Oct 17th, 2010

    Very nice post, Anthony. We’re about to post our pricing on our website so this information is very timely!

  8. David Haddad

    Oct 17th, 2010

    Thanks for laying it out for us. Great reference. Thanks!

  9. Eric PicLyf

    Oct 17th, 2010

    Would’ve been more interesting if the article ended with a mockup incorporating all the tips since the accompanying ones were violating the other tips. :)

    Still a very great article.

  10. RP_Joe

    Oct 17th, 2010

    I think it would be useful to have stats on the higher price on the left. I wonder if anyone has done any A/B testing on this. I would like to hear about any A/B testing on pricing.

    Great article. Nice Graphics. It stimulates thought.

  11. Geeta Bose

    Oct 18th, 2010

    Interesting suggestions. Is there a way to work around the matrix format with ticks indicating available features especially when comparing 4 or more plans (refer point 4)?

  12. Richard

    Oct 18th, 2010

    Good email on pricing. Worth keeping for future reference. I’d like to see some statistics on some of the features…I suspect number four above is the most significant.

  13. John

    Oct 18th, 2010

    One thng I have learned is that if you have a good PRODUCT pricing is never an ISSUE!!!!!!

  14. Carole

    Oct 18th, 2010

    Perfect timing! I’m getting ready to re-do my pricing menus and, even though my field is different, I think a lot of this applies.

    thanks! : )

  15. Stuart

    Oct 18th, 2010

    We’re getting our video platform pricing ready so this article is super timely and helpful. I’m wondering though if the reverse pricing (highest to lowest) that you show under point #3 actually leads to higher conversions on those packages as it seems everyone else has listed their pricing from lowest to highest. I’d be really interested to know how many other companies are doing this as I’ve only seen it done on http://getballpark.com

  16. Trevor B

    Oct 18th, 2010

    This is a good list of common things companies do that make me disinclined to deal with them. Most of these techniques are pointedly avoided by companies that primarily focus on customer satisfaction.

    Companies that offer a free product but hide it behind a tiny link or “our pay product is better!” walls remind me of the telephone company, which reminds me of misery, which generally makes me skip even using their free product, let alone paying for an upgrade.

    Feature charts remind me of buying Microsoft products, which reminds me of misery, which generally makes me look for an alternative.

    Simple, transparent pricing schemes make for a better user experience than playing psychological games with your potential customers.

    • dude

      Jan 17th, 2012

      Unfortunately, Trevor, for every user like you who wants things straight forward and simple, there are 50k who really need to be led by the nose. If you offer only a single plan for 10 bucks with unlimited everything, people will bitch that “people with 50 users pay the same as me and my 4 users!”

      Best to just stick with the status quo here and optimize for the bumbling idiots.

  17. Patrick Pichette

    Oct 27th, 2010

    Excellent, and timely post, thanks. Just the insight that I was looking for.

  18. Tomasz P. Szynalski

    Oct 27th, 2010

    If removing cents from prices really increases people’s willingness to spend money, then why hasn’t Amazon done that? With the amount of testing that they do, surely they would’ve figured that out.

  19. Madhawa Habarakada

    Nov 1st, 2010

    very much valuable. Thanks very much…

  20. Viveka Weiley

    Nov 5th, 2010

    I like the idea of UX, and I use the term myself. The idea that everything that happens to the user is part of the experience, and that this is something a designer can take responsibility for. However this article is a great example of the dangers inherent in the term “User Experience Design”.

    If we believe that we can actually design the user’s experience; that they are not a conscious participant in the process of their own experience creation, then we can easily fill ourselves with hubris. A/B testing on large groups can contribute to a dehumanising effect on the tester, leading to this view of users as a dumb mob. Any individuality, intelligence or reservations on the part of users is masked in the noise.

    The result is design that is transparently manipulative. The moment you work against another person’s interest with your design, and try to keep that fact from them, rather than either being honest or simply aligning your own interest with theirs, then you are crossing an ethical line.

    People *know* about decoy pricing. They do it at the Persian Rug store around the corner from me, with the $20,000 rugs to make the $2,000 ones look cheaper. They are also perennially GOING OUT OF BUSINESS. These kinds of tricks may get you some customers, but they give your business a sleazy sheen that will drive others away. Look deeper than your clickthroughs and quarterly conversions, and you’ll see overuse of these techniques erode your brand, the perception of your product quality, and long-term customer satisfaction. Churn and burn if you like, but it’s no way to build something that will last.

  21. Lisa

    Nov 7th, 2010

    I understand from a business perspective why you would downplay the free plans, however, i’m pretty certain that if users were asked which they prefer, they would criticise this choice and insist the free plan be given much more prominence. Personally i feel that free plans are brilliant for engaging users who can then decide to upgrade at a later date when their needs increase. So in the future you benefit – you scratch their back and later they’ll scratch yours.

  22. Keaton

    Nov 18th, 2010

    I should desagree with statement 3. You said that “It’s a lot eas­ier for users to move down on pric­ing than it is for them to move up”.
    But did you think, that users subconscious remember the first price for service and will be copmare it with company price politic.
    But on the whole the arti­cle is very interesting.

  23. Dennis van der Heijden

    Dec 10th, 2010

    Excellent, I did not see the comments from hight to low before. makes sense… are there studies to support this finding?

    Also look at some of my feedback on 303 pricing pages http://www.reedge.com/303-ideas-for-pricing-pages.html

    • Dennis van der Heijden

      Dec 21st, 2010

      Especially the one on high-to-low pricing order. Really curious since 62% of saas companies shows low-to-high (I studies 300+ pricing pages)

      You argument makes sense, just looking forward to a bit more science

  24. [...] Ce billet est une adaptation de 7 Useful Design Strategies for a Successful Pricing Table, qui a donné son accord pour qu'euKlide vous le propose ] Articles en relationQu'est-ce que le [...]

  25. Lex

    Dec 21st, 2010

    There is one more method to show difference and features. Make block with plan’s detailes different height.
    What are you thinking about it?

  26. Julia

    Jan 4th, 2011

    DON’T downplay the free plans. That only works if already have a large, solid customer base. Otherwise you’ll just deflect interest from your product to the many other free alternatives that certainly exist.

    It all depends on business goals and context, you can’t drop a formula for that.

  27. Quora

    Feb 17th, 2011

    What are some great examples of a ‘subscription comparison page’?…

    GetHarvest used to be one of my favorite examples but they changed it.  One of the big frictions is entering credit card info. One way around this is to prominently display “No Credit Card Needed to Sign Up!” on the enrollment page and give them a fr…

  28. id meneo

    Sep 9th, 2011

    Very interesting post. Some advice make sense, like explaining what you do with the money you receive: this one is quite clever.

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