How to design effective pricing tables

Sep 17, 2012

Table of contents:

  1. MediaTemple - Simple Learn more buttons
  2. DropBox - Keep it simple
  3. LiveStream - Restrict the number of options
  4. GitHub - Provide lots of options
  5. Ballpark - Highlight the difference between accounts
  6. Slickplan - Emphasise what people care about
  7. Big Cartel - Show the limitations of the free account
  8. Pulse - Provide more information for terms or specs
  9. Fresh Desk - Give each plan a name
  10. PinPoint Social - Make each plan easy to understand
  11. Gauges - Say who the plan is for
  12. Sky Clerk - Provide a clear first step
  13. Shopify - Comparison table
  14. Cage - Provide a high profile testimonial
  15. Conclusion

Your potential customers will always want to know the price of something before they invest any time reading about your product or service. Your pricing page will often be one of the first viewed pages on your website. Pricing tables can either make or break a sales opportunity so it is important to invest enough time and thought to get things right.

Breaking down options, the differences between plans and the commitment and costs that are involved with a purchase can be difficult because you have to present all of that information in a clear format that is easy to consume. If you fail at making things clear, your potential customer will just click away to one of your competitors.

With that objective in mind, here are 14 examples of companies that have excelled with their pricing information, and my analysis of what they are doing right.

MediaTemple - Simple Learn more buttons

When you are selling something as complicated as website hosting, it would be impossible to list and compare every detail and difference between the options in a clear and concise pricing table. Media Temple have a variety of options to choose from, but their pricing table is clearly targeted at the customer’s goals, and not on what options are available.

Media Temple provides a clear way to “Learn more” about each option.

Lesson: Organise your pricing options based upon the needs of the customer, not your needs as a business. If you have complicated options, distil the options down as much as you can, then provide a clear way for the user to find out more.

DropBox - Keep it simple

DropBox is a service that places a magic folder on all of your computers, smartphones or tablets and allows you to instantly sync your documents across any machine or operating system. DropBox has taken an extremely complicated engineering problem and created an elegantly simple solution.

DropBox’s pricing table is also elegantly simple. DropBox provide three simple options. Free is described as “It just works” and there is a clear difference between each of the plans and who they are aimed at.

Lesson: When creating a product, you want to be known for one single feature that you do better than anyone else. When you become so well known for that single thing, showing the difference between pricing plans becomes extremely simple as you don’t need a lot of different feature comparisons or intricate options.

LiveStream - Restrict the number of options

It has been proven that, as humans, we struggle to make a decision if were are faced with too many options.

It might be tempting to create many different variants of your product to cater for everyone, but this might actually do you more harm then good.

By providing as few options as possible, you give your potential customer a much easier decision to make. You don’t want your potential customers to hesitate on pulling the trigger because they are confused with which option to pick.

Lesson: Provide as few options as you can so that you don’t unnecessarily confuse your customers.

GitHub - Provide lots of options

Now forget everything I’ve just said and provide lots of options!

Providing many different options can work in certain cases. GitHub for example is one case where providing many different options and incrementally higher plans can be effective.

GitHub’s plans are differentiated by the number of different Git repositories. Having many different plans works because it allows a customer to pick the number of repositories they need with not too much wastage on either side.

When their Git usage increases or decreases, it is then easy to add more and pay incrementally more each month, or downgrade and save money.

Lesson: If your product offering makes sense to offer many different plans and pricing options, you will make your customer’s decision easier. However, this will only work if what you are offering has a clear way to scale up or down in the eyes of the customer.

Ballpark - Highlight the difference between accounts

If your various pricing plans are separated by only one difference, make the most of that clarity by highlighting it in your pricing table.

Ballpark do this extremely well by listing all of the main features of each of the accounts.

As you can see, they are exactly the same!

As you read through the list of features that come with each account, you begin to realise that each account comes with the exactly the same options, and the only difference is the number of users.

This is a clever way of showing the customer that the cheapest plan is exactly the same as the most expensive plan other than the number of “seats” that have access.

Lesson: You don’t always need to shove the differences between each plan in to the face of your customers. Show how your cheapest plan reflects your most expensive plan to highlight the difference.

Slickplan - Emphasise what people care about

When you land on a product website, there are usually a couple of bits of information that you want to know straight away.

Price is always the first thing that you look for, but second is usually, “How does this work? Will it fit my needs?”.

Slickplan heavily emphasises their free 30 day plan and no credit card required on their pricing page and even reiterate it on each of their pricing options.

When you are 100% certain that you can take a product for a spin to see if it fits your needs, without making any commitment whatsoever, you are far more likely going to take the first step to engaging with a product. After the 30 day trial is up, hopefully your product as rooted itself into the indispensable daily routing of your new customer.

Lesson: If you offer a free trial and no initial commitment, let you customers know about it!

Big Cartel - Show the limitations of the free account

Freemium is a popular option for Software as a Service platforms. Freemium plans allow anyone to sign up for a free limited plan that allows them to test drive the product instantly but with fewer features than the paid plans.

Whilst highlighting what comes with each plan is a good strategy, highlighting what is missing from the free plan is also a good strategy for convincing people to either sign up to a paid plan straight away, or leave them under no illusions as to what they will be missing if they opt for the free plan.

Lesson: If you are picking up a lot of free users, highlight what they will be missing out on if they don’t chose a paid plan.

Pulse - Provide more information for terms or specs

One of the big mistakes I see businesses making is they don’t fully explain their terms, technical jargon or specifications to potential customers. If a cold prospect lands on your website, you can’t automatically assume that they have the industry knowledge or understanding that your company does.

Pulse provide clear hover over information for each of the rows in their pricing table. This enables potential customers to get a quick burst of context for each element, without leaving the page.

Lesson: Don’t assume that your potential customers understand everything you are offering.

Fresh Desk - Give each plan a name

When trying to remember something specific such as a pricing plan, it is far easier to remember an associated name, than a list of features that available. It’s easy to underestimate the difference giving something a human recognisable name will do for your pricing plans.

Fresh Desk gives each of their plans a name that also corresponds to the “size” of each plan. When your product plans do not already have a differentiation, giving each a contextual name will aid in not only making your product and plans more approachable, but also when customers recall them to their colleagues of managers.

Lesson: If you don’t already have clear differentiation, give each plan a name that will help your customer’s understanding and recollection.

PinPoint Social - Make each plan easy to understand

Often when you are creating the different plans for a product, you are specifically catering them for a specific demographic of your target customers.

Perhaps each section of your target customers are different sizes (individual, small company, large company) or perhaps they have a different use for your product.

PinPoint Social make this differentiation incredibly clear by having a single phrase attached to the top of each price plan. You really don’t need any other information because you instantly know which plan suites you, and the price is directly under it.

Lesson: If your pricing options can be distilled down into a single small phrase, your pricing table will be a whole lot simpler.

Gauges - Say who the plan is for

Gauges uses a similar strategy to PinPoint Social, but targets who the plan is for, rather than how the plan can be used. This is particularly effective because you if you are mentioned in one of the little descriptions your decision is already made.

This is an effective strategy if you already have well defined target customers that you are targeting with each plan.

Lesson: Specifically target your various demographics by saying exactly who each plan is for.

Sky Clerk - Provide a clear first step

Once your customer has decided on which plan is right for them, you will want to provide them with an extremely clear first step to signing up or making a payment. There really is no excuse for having an obscure next step, or confusing the situation with a weirdly designed next step button.

Skyclerk do a good job of this by labelling each button with “Choose plan” to ensure that the customer automatically understands how to proceed with the transaction.

Lesson: Make the next step of your sales process incredibly obvious.

Shopify - Comparison table

A lot of the time it makes sense to use a comparison table to show the differences between your various options, this is particularly important if your offer is even reasonably complicated.

Shopify make good use of a comparison table by just including the very important details that a customer will want to know before signing up. Each important detail is highlighted and additional information is kept at the end to make the table as clear and concise as possible.

Lesson: If you are going to use comparison tables, make them clear, simple and restricted to only the essential information. Customers will be too overwhelmed if you include ever single detail of a product.

Cage - Provide a high profile testimonial

If you are lucky enough to have high profile, well recognised customers, make the most of this opportunity by asking for a testimonial and the use of their photo.

Cage have a great testimonial at the bottom of their pricing table from Graphicly CEO, Micah Baldwin.

Lesson: If you have high profile customers, flaunt it!


Pricing tables can be difficult to get right first time because it is completely different for each company, product, service and offering.

Your pricing table should reflect your unique offering and should be completely targeted to your audience and how they will purchase and use your product or service.

It can be overwhelming to get all of these things right in a pricing table, but a pricing table should not be something you keep in hiding until it is completely perfect.

Instead of stressing over only putting out the completely perfect pricing table, put something on your website and go from there. You will probably find that a lot of your assumptions on what your customers are looking for are completely wrong.

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Philip Brown


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