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I'm currently working on a pricing table for a product that has 3 separate tiers. Some of them lack certain features etc. We've been debating how to mark the table cells to indicate what is included and excluded to visitors. Marketing are keen to avoid crosses as they suggest negativity, and I feel that covering the table in ticks looks a little scrappy.

Currently we've settled for something like this (just an example):

1:

Green light (dot) indicates it's available and the lack of a green light suggests it's not included. The thought is to avoid red due to negative connotations at the point of purchase (marketings preference not mine).

I think alternatively we should indicate the missing option with a dash as it seems to imply a black space better than literally having nothing in the cell. e.g.

2:

There are other alternatives as well but I was interested to know if there was best practice here that I haven't come across or if there were at least some things I should definitely avoid?

Here are a few other options:

3: 4: 5:

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I think this is a design question where the overall content and intent of the design needs to be assessed and understood first.

By content I am referring to the actual differences between the plans (or tiers) that you are going to display. There would be very little point in showing the information in a table if all three tiers offered very similar features, in which case you would simply list the differences separately to make it more obvious what the distinctions are (and perhaps show they have in common). There would also be very little point in showing the information in a table if all three tiers offered very different features since you might find it difficult to make clear comparisons or evaluations and the price you have to pay for them.

Also if you think about the table when all the three tiers are very similar then a lot of green dots or ticks seems very redundant, and conversely three tiers with very different features might leave a lot of blank spaces or red crosses.

By the intent I am referring to what the purpose of the table is from a marketing (or hopefully UX) perspective. Do you want to show that there are a lot of similarities (or differences) between the three tiers? Do you want to make a clear link between features and pricing? Do you want to encourage people or drive sales towards a specific tier? If this is the case then crosses and ticks can work as something that can drive people towards certain options and behaviours if used in the right way and not as a deterrent.

So I think once you've worked out the content and intent, it will guide you towards a sound and logical rationale for applying the design styles for the table.

  • I think we are looking to make it really easy for users to understand that all the plans have certain features but also keep emphasis on the differences, primarily to up-sell. So in the case of this table we are trying to encourage users to go for the middle tier as it has about 8 or so more features than the lower one. We have included plenty of visual queues that promote the central column, it's mostly a worry that an absence of a marker (for plans lacking a feature) might not be clear enough and make users confused. Thanks for your answer – Chris Mar 31 '15 at 13:13
  • for arguments sake I will mark your response as the chosen answer as you've helped to illustrate how multifaceted the issue is and given me a few more criteria I can use to measure against. Thanks :-) – Chris Mar 31 '15 at 16:23
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You should really see if you can compress down your feature set. Some companies seem to love having a huge feature matrix, but this can make things confusing (see "the paradox of choice").

Don't be set on the idea of checkboxes, either. That works well for a feature that is completely unavailable in lower tiers, but many things are offered at different levels for different tiers.

From your example "Unlimited support" seems to be one of these things. Does it imply there is actually ZERO support for Plan 1? Or were you going to have two rows?

Instead, you can use the rows to compare levels of features:

                Plan 1                 Plan 2                  Plan 3

Support     Community Forums      5 day/8 hour Email      24/7 Phone + Email

Users             1                      10                   Unlimited

Reports         Basic                 Advanced                 Advanced

Data Export      ---                   Weekly                   Daily

If you start trying to group what you consider individual features into subsets, you may find that such comparisons can be made. This also makes it easier on a user to actually compare capabilities of the tiers.

You can also provide links or mouse-over icons or similar on individual items to explain what "Advanced" reports are (and what it gives you over "Basic").

  • Thanks Greg, unfortunately I'm constrained to the current table format due to business priorities. We originally tried compressing the features but got bad feedback from Sales (although no complaints UX wise and I'd agree that you've made a valid point). The unlimited support was just an example - we offer support to all :-) my main concern is how I indicate unavailable fields in a non-negative way to keep users feeling positive about the prospect of signing up. – Chris Mar 31 '15 at 16:20

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