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I'm working with a client whose sole selling point is affordability. They sell at low margins and aim for the cheapest of demographics.

What are some UX or design decisions I can make to make their visitors feel like they are making a bargain?

Some obvious ones are large text for prices. Perhaps strike through list prices and show discounted prices in red and so on. But are there other ways to achieve "affordability"?

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    Interesting use of the word "affordability" - there is a different meaning to that word in the UX world. Nonetheless this appears to more of a design/marketing question than UX. You mentioned that large text for prices is "obvious." What data - your own or published do you have that backs that up? – Mayo Apr 17 '15 at 14:20
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    This question is too subjective without a clearer view of what your product is and how competitors are positioning their offerings. Are you selling the cheapest cellphone plan? Rolls Royce? Airline ticket? Breast augmentation? The presentation of "affordable" will vary dramatically depending on the product. – tohster Apr 17 '15 at 16:37
  • Have a comparison table with the competing, more expensive brands. – Vitaly Mijiritsky Apr 17 '15 at 17:06
  • Not sure how effective it is but a store such as biglots.com seems to bring attention to the total savings rather than the price itself. Whenever TWC emails me it usually starts with something like "Save $360 per year!" But of course in order to save that cool $360 I will be paying an additional $800 for the upgraded plan which they are insisting is the BEST VALUE! – MonkeyZeus Apr 17 '15 at 17:36
  • I assume you are talking about a webpage here? – Crissov Apr 18 '15 at 0:42
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Without going into dark UX patterns, I'd recommend many of the techniques from http://www.goodui.org/

Some specific examples would be to recommend a specific product instead of treating everything equally (#7), use the anchoring effect on prices or trim the cents (#41, #51), or sell in limited quantities (#36).

Another thing to consider would be the the perception your website or storefront has on the prices your customers expect. The concept of horror vacui is why low end retailers (like a dollar store) tend to have very cluttered websites or stores with no space left empty while higher end retailers (like Apple) tend to have more minimal pages or storefronts with ample empty space.

You'll have to decide if you want to create a user experience that leads customers to expect low prices so they know what they are getting, or one that leads to expectations of higher prices (and higher quality) so they are surprised by the prices (and hopefully not disappointed by the quality).

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With this request I feel like you're starting to enter into the overlap of Marketing/UX - which can maybe explain why this might be a little different of a request.

Humans are strange creatures when it comes to purchasing - they want to feel like they got a good value (generally - not talking about purchasers that purchase due to high price - aka the very expensive Apple Watch - they purchase it because they can.) However, a good bargain does not always mean the lowest price; it has more to do with the value of the product vs the cost of the product. People want to feel like they paid less than they should've.

Some things that might help that (which again, this isn't entirely UX - this is more marketing/manipulative to the user)

  1. Showing a "retail price" and then showing the price they want to sell it at.

  2. Showing pictures of the demographic happily using the product.

  3. Show reviews/testimonials of other people that have purchased the product. These should be real people.

  4. Demonstrate that the company itself is trustworthy - this could be by things they do to give back to the community or even showing that they regularly post to social media.

Hope this helps. Encourage the company to be HONEST with everything - otherwise it will hurt them in the long run.

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Study your users

The only way to answer this question is user research. Every target audience has their own preferences when it comes to this kind of problem (perceived value). Some demographics will respond to big red prices with "original" prices slashed out; some will favor a focus on product details and imagery, with price as a secondary data point primarily used for filtering. In some cases, choice is part of making the experience sticky; in others, it will just kill your conversion rate.

Get to know your users and draw up some representative user experience maps. Once you understand what motivates them and what they hope to find when shopping in your space, the details will fall into place.

Job security

Fortunately for the design and UX community, there is no single answer to this question. Doing your homework and truly designing for your audience is what separates the big converters from the pretty websites.

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Perhaps strike through list prices and show discounted prices in red

I think most people realize there's a level of bullshit involved with that. Test, obviously, but in general, I'd avoid that altogether. If you want to show that your prices are especially low, consider showing competitors prices along side.

In general, the best way to show affordability is just as you suggest: focus on prices and have the business make sure they are good, affordable prices to begin with.

Beyond that, there's likely a level of marketing and branding that needs to accompany this.

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    I am reluctant to admit I've tested it before and seen lift. Fortunately, only for some demos. A variation is to show the price with a loud 00% off next to it. Ecomm makes me cringe. – plainclothes Apr 21 '15 at 4:09
  • @plainclothes and it straddles that line between UX wanting to be honest and Marketing just wanting to sell stuff. It's a fuzzy line at times. :) – DA01 Apr 21 '15 at 4:41
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    Almost made me want to become a farmer some days. On the bright side, I've steered clear of ecomm projects for months now! (^o^)/ – plainclothes Apr 21 '15 at 5:46

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