So imagine a small piece of UI, only several pixels tall/wide, that displays a product's info. Usually this widget shows either something like $0.99 USD, BUY, or FREE in order to convey that it is available for purchase. We now have a new use case in which we need to sell products using a "Pay What You Want" scheme, so I've been trying to figure out the best way to communicate this to the user without actually using a "Pay What You Want" label, which would be way too long for our current widget sizes.

So far I've only come up with "Donate" which is a bit inaccurate or switching to a small icon, although I don't think there is an icon that is universally recognised as Pay What You Want.


3 Answers 3


Here is a good example - even though you stated that "Pay What You Want" will not fit.

There are several good aspects of this that you may apply to your UI. (from losttype.com)

from losttype.com

  1. They equate Pay-What-You-Want with a Personal License in the description. This may or may not apply to your situation, but it allows you to describe it in one place, and keep the widget text short. eg. "You can Pay-What-You-Want for Basic Mode" (then just use basic mode as widget text.

  2. They use a BIG input with $ for the price. No brainer that you are entering your own price.

  3. Sample amounts above input further emphasize that you can enter anything, and even give you some guidance as to how much you should pay. I have bought several fonts from this site and believe I have always used one of their suggested examples (good UX in my opinion).

  4. Big ole' download button is the same for every license state. You never need to worry about semantics of "buy now" "pay what you want" "pay now" etc as button text... that was handled in the first step, from there it is just one click of a button that describes exactly what you want to do.

  5. "Amount" is a nice word for your small widget.

Since I do not know the full context of your project, it's hard to be more specific, but in my opinion this one example provides a great toolbox of ways to convey PWYW that you can apply to your own work.

EDIT: Possible UI more specific to question


  • 1
    "So imagine a small piece of UI, only several pixels tall/wide".
    – Dirk v B
    Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 22:55
  • @DirkvB you are correct. I gave a lot of info but didn't answer the question properly. I have updated my answer with a possible UI element that is more specific to the requirements.
    – jvform
    Commented Jul 4, 2014 at 2:46

"Set price" or "Price" should work.

More importantly, I think you can convey the fact that pay what you want by showing an input field instead of a price. That way, users wouldn't even have to read the tag to understand that it's up to them to determine the price.

This would work especially well in places where users have already been "trained" to expect a price in a certain place.


What comes to mind is something like "Best Offer" because I think it will encourage people to at least think of a price rather than just instantly grabbing the freebie.

I think you could also use the word "Free" but on the checkout page you can implement a message which says something like "This product is currently available for free but please consider donating to help support the project/item/etc."

  • Donating is not the same thing as PWYW. With donating there's usually not resistance. What I mean by that, you get a download button and (maybe next to it) is a donate button. PWYW on the other hand requires you to first set an amount (of $0 if you like) and then click a 'PWYW' or 'BUY' button.
    – Vince C
    Commented Jul 4, 2014 at 12:05

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