I am building a web restaurant listing, and I am concerned about the clarity of the message between the design simplicity of showing price ranges like http://www.fodors.com/world/south-america/brazil/sao-paulo/restaurants.html , and more detailed price range http://supervegan.com/find.php?by=price or medium price 25$

What is it the best way to give useful information? Give an hint about the price, or showing the price clearly?

I feel that there is a danger of putting off the user with clear price, but as the same time I prefer to be transparent. So I looked for some data on internet, and I didn't find anything useful to help me and take a final decision.

  • 2
    This sounds more like a question of marketing policy than user interface design. – Kris Dec 20 '11 at 12:32
  • FYI, although this isn't the case for other currencies, in the case of USD, the dollar sign precedes the quantity (e.g. $25). However, the cent still follows the quantity (e.g. 25¢). – Lèse majesté Dec 20 '11 at 15:32
  • hey @Littlemad, good to see you around – Naoise Golden Dec 21 '11 at 0:38
  • @kris well, it is an element of the design that I have to take in consideration to make the website successful, I am the only one in the company that knows about Design, Usability and Interface design. – Littlemad Dec 21 '11 at 9:17
  • @Lèsemajesté thx I am european so I didn't know! – Littlemad Dec 21 '11 at 9:17

You could combine both, like Disney does for their resorts and parks. I think as a consumer, I like to see the actual price. What one consumer may think of as expensive, another may not, or one may see more value in something than the other, therefore the more information you can provide, the easier it will be for users to gauge what they perceive the value to be.

If I'm using Fodor's site and want to plan an exciting night out, I might look at a $$$$ restaurant but not realize, until I get there, that I can only afford a $$$ location. Plus, high-end restaurants (and other establishments) tend to not put prices on menus for people to see ahead of time.

Save your users the stress and anxiety, show them both, let them search and filter on both.

// No scientific research, this is simply opinion.

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  • Thank you that it is a possibility that I didn't take in consideration. I believe in the concept of "less is more" and to leave just the essential, so what about showing only $$ and when you do an :hover status you will visualise the price. How do you feel about that? (No idea on how to give the hint that you can actually get more info by hovering that specific piece of content) – Littlemad Dec 20 '11 at 12:33
  • You could always use a key in the footer or sidebar to associate $$ with prices. I'm not a fan of hiding info behind interactions unless they are clearly discoverable. And if you're going to add an indicator (either via icon or text styling), why not just show the info? If you do want to add a visual indicator, I think a double-underline or light background on the text is a standard indicator of a popup and not a link. – MCRXB Dec 20 '11 at 13:52
  • I like the hover idea but then what will the hover price denote exactly ? The price of an entree or drinks or a meal for two.My recommendation would be to provide actual prices of popular dishes so that people can decide how it compares with other places – Mervin Dec 20 '11 at 18:09
  • @MCRXB could you show me an example of the popup indicator? I do not remember to have seen anything about it on the web. – Littlemad Dec 21 '11 at 9:27
  • @Mervin it could be two things, the price range or the middle price between all the list of prices - for the moment we'll not develop actual prizes of menus items, they quickly go out of time, and people in resturants are not tech savy, so they will be not updated regularly or freshly enough. I need a summarise version, it is important to judge sometimes based on a quick overview. – Littlemad Dec 21 '11 at 9:31

Here are some links towards price and decision making. Its actually more targeting marketing, like how to sell stuff, but nevertheless giving you some research insights (and links to docs) of how price tags affect decision. Though, it touchs indirectly your specific problem.

Pricing Experiments

Impact of Number Formats

Power of Comparision

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  • +1 Interesting facts about price that I wasn't aware of, thank you! – Littlemad Dec 21 '11 at 9:58

I think you should show the price, but allow for searching within price ranges - which should enable the user to find $$ places by searching on a price band that you define as $$.

The real problem with just hints is that that some people would consider £80 for a meal a reasonable $$$ sort of price, whereas I would consider that very high - $$$$. If I know what the ranges are, at least I can see what you think expensive means.

However, also make it clear that the price is an approximation, and reflects the sort of price scale for that restaurant, not a fixed, definite per person cost. It gives me an idea of the type of place, and the likely cost of eating there, which is all I need.

Note - this is from a UK perspective. Other places may have different expectations.

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  • I thought the same too, for this reason I am not so sure about showing only the $ value without a proper legend to explain the meaning. I saw various websites and many of the leader on the sector they use only $, so I am trying to analyse the situation if in the collective knowledge there will be a clever/proper solution. – Littlemad Dec 21 '11 at 9:33
  • I did take a look at the links in the question, and my instinctive move was to find restaurants that I liked the sound of, and navigate to their web sites, to see what the actual prices were. I failed because I don't understand Spanish/Portugese. For me, I need the price, not just the range. YMMV. – Schroedingers Cat Dec 21 '11 at 9:50
  • Thx for your feedback. We not gonna have single items to price for start, so in this case I would choose more price range, but you make me feel that both options are important. – Littlemad Dec 21 '11 at 10:11

I would group specific items into a price range and show the actual price of items with less emphasis.

Related: I designed an application that generates mobile sites for restaurants last year ( http://menuito.com ) and found that customers tend take both approaches largely depending on how many items they have on their menu. When they had a lot of items they would use one menu item to describe a group of them, and assign a price range along with the highlights of that group. When they had fewer menu items, they took more care to describe them individually and specific prices showed up more. There might be some wisdom in what they're doing, but keep in mind that it's for mobile specifically.

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