Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Show Prices for Common Scenarios (Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox)

Alertbox on helping to understand your product pricing...

"For many B2B websites and some B2C sites, showing prices is problematic because their services either entail myriad combinations and configurations or they're customized to each buyer. In such cases, you can help prospective customers by showing sample prices for a set of typical orders.

Our recent B2B usability study highlighted a different version of this problem: A website that showed overly precise -- and complicated -- pricing information, which was much too difficult to use.

The Complexity Problem
One of our test participants worked in a company that was looking to replace its overnight delivery vendor. While we watched, this user visited two competing shipping companies to get an initial idea of their offerings.
As always, price was one of the first things the user wanted to research. It's long been one of my top guidelines to show prices, and the lack of prices on many B2B sites was the #1 Web design mistake of 2002. Luckily, both sites in this case provided prices, but they did so in quite different ways.

One shipping company provided pricing through a shipping calculator, which required users to enter the ZIP codes for the departure and destination addresses, as well as the package's weight and full dimensions. Users also had to choose between several potentially confusing service options.
The other vendor showed a simple table with prices for the most common types of shipments.
Our test user was in an early research stage, collecting information to create a shortlist of potential providers. The user knew she'd have to eventually talk to the shortlisted companies' sales reps to negotiate further discounts from the listed prices. At this point, however, she was simply looking to narrow the potential providers set to a manageable number. A B2B website's goal at this stage is simply to survive the pruning process and make it to the shortlist."   continued ...   (Via useit)

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