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On a page that lists products, we would like to give the user the option to sort the products by price.

The problem is some products do not have their price displayed and are "request a price." What should be done with this products when sorting by price.

I have seen other websites put them in order by price anyways which makes them easier to guess how much they are. Even if this is the best idea it would be particularly hard to do because most of the "request a price" products do not even have a price set because it fluctuates so often (based on the cost of materials like gold.)

Another thing we would like to do is allow the user to filter by price (like limit to only products below $500) but then again, what do we do with the non priced products.

I have considered different things like completely removing the non priced products when sorting/filtering by price, or putting them all in the back/front, etc.

Nothing seems ideal.

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I'd show them in a seperate list based on the products searched for using a 'guideline' price that is not shown. –  Barfieldmv Sep 29 '11 at 14:35
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What is the user task here? What would the user be trying to accomplish when sorting by price, and how would 'priceless' items fit into that task? This will fundamentally affect the answer. –  Alex Feinman Sep 29 '11 at 15:18
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5 Answers 5

If the price varies based on materials, you should be able to give an approximate price range for it. Maybe show the price as POA ($100 - $180 guide), and then sort based on the average of the two.

  • Removing the items completely makes it appear as if they don't exist.
  • Putting them in any position (either beginning or the end) is problematic as there is no clear consensus on where people will expect them.
  • Putting them where you think they should be but not showing the price also would be confusing

Ideally you should update the price estimates when there are large changes in material prices.

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Put the unpriced products at the end of the list. Put them under a separate heading so you're not implying that these are more/less expensive than the other products. Put a message at the top of the list explaining that some products don't have immediately available prices, with a link down to those unpriced products. –  Patrick McElhaney Sep 29 '11 at 16:18
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Jumping off of Patrick's point, ask yourself if these variable-price products or services belong in the same list with your fixed-price products or services. If they're fundamentally different then perhaps you should be treating them different in your IA. If they are fundamentally the same product type, I think JohnGB is onto something; if you can assign a "starting at" price for the product you can use that as your sort value. –  Evan Sep 29 '11 at 16:41
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If "the none priced products" is normal and seen by regular users in other places within your website,am suggesting adding a check box [show none priced] and considering the price as Zero,eg: putting them at the end when sorting is DESC.

Another option is to notify users or place a small comment above the table or in any clear position [None Priced Products will not be displayed when filters are ON].

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As a consumer, when I see a non-priced item, the assumption is that it's too expensive for me, and I would love having the option of not seeing them at all (effectively I'd never consider them when purchasing).

I suspect this is true of most non-business consumers, so having an option to not show them entirely would make sense for people like myself.

Now for actually displaying them, if there's any ballpark price information then sorting by either the low or high range on that could make sense.

If no pricing information is available whatsoever then it's probably best to have them in a separate section. This could be either at the top, bottom, or even on the side or a separate page/filter.

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When a user asks for a list products sorted by price, you should show a list of products sorted by price. The products without prices could be on a separate page or at the end, but it doesn't make sense to show them first.

One of the problems with putting unpriced products at the end of a sorted list is it implies that those are more or less expensive than the ones with known prices. So add a heading (something like "Products with Unknown Prices") to group them separately and remove that point of confusion.

You don't want users to miss out on products because they're stuffed at the end of the list, so add a note at the beginning, with a link down to the unpriced products.

If you're paginating, the unpriced products should start on a new page. So whether the user expects unpriced products at the end of the list or on a separate page doesn't matter -- you're essentially providing both.

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The user experience issue is having products with no indication of the price. If the price fluctuates based on gold, then write a heuristic that estimates the price based the current price of gold. You should display an estimate, price range, or upper bound on price. If this is impossible, then placing the items should be based on user testing the options on the current site.

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