On “pricing” pages on design studio websites – a rant

Over the last couple of months (or maybe already since the beginning of 2008) more on more upcoming design studios are having a “pricing” page of sorts on their website explaining their pricing structure, what they charge for, sometimes already with a PayPal button.

I can but wonder what went through the mind of a design studio at that time…maybe it was like this:

Designer A: “Hey you know what, let’s make loads of money by adding the prices right there on the site! They will come in flocks!
Designer B: “You sure?
Designer A: “Of course I am, everyone does it these days!

As a matter of fact I am trying to find anyone in the top 100 or top 200 web design studios in Europe which showed a price for their work. And here is why you shouldn’t…


A lesson in history

Let’s go back a bit more in time, when the first pricing tables appeared on web design / development based websites – the hosting companies. Here a pricing table is what sets you apart from the competition, if you can offer a decent hosting service with extras to a competitive price then users will come to you. Here it makes sense, because users tend to shop around before they commit to a hosting provider. But web design studios?


Pricing pages reduce conversion

I really do not know why design studios do this. Real life example: In my role as a consultant to a company in East Anglia I was trying to find an upcoming design studio that might be interested in doing some work for an established UK brand. I was looking for a studio with an interesting portfolio, interesting creative ideas and direction, and most of all being able to be flexible and – if required – bend over backwards or be strong with the client.

Sadly, whenever I went and looked around for designers and studios in the area with a somewhat decent portfolio I noticed a pricing page, or a “Special deal, 50% off our logo design prices!” type button. My next step was simple. Close the tab, look at someone else. Why?


(In)Flexibility and greed

It is simple psychology and marketing advice: having a pricing page indicates that the designer or design studio tend not to be flexible or tend to be after money rather than providing a decent service. In a day and age where the competition is literally a click away this can mean that this potential high-profile contract just slipped by your nose.

Casing point:

I was contracted to improve conversions with the help of SEO and redesign. Looking at their analytics stats I noticed that 65% of their visitors went to the pricing page and left. My first question was: “Did you think about reducing the prices?” They did. Four times in fact. Still no conversions. So I suggested removing the pricing page and bumping up their contact call to actions. No SEO, no redesign other than fixing the nav. Within 6 weeks their online conversion tripled.

Please, for the sake of a web design generation: you are a designer / design studio, get rid of the pricing page!


  • Stuart Wyles

    December 3, 2008

    Hi Alexander, I just wanted to say thank you for that article. I have been looking to redo my company’s website over the summer, and the amount of times I was put off by so-called “Design Agencies” listing their prices is unreal.


  • Jenna

    August 4, 2009

    I disagree. I have a pricing page that works wonders for me.

    It does state that it’s just a guide and that the prices may vary apon reciept of project specification though.

    I put the prices there in order to deter those who are just after a freebie, spec work or the world for $50 and it has done just that. The amount of serious clients with a respectable budget has increased and those with unrealistic requests have vanished.
    .-= Jenna´s last blog ..JJenZz: just figured a way 2 cr8 a lightbox w/out JS. has click 2 open/close func. works in FF,Safari,Chrome,IE6,IE7&IE8. gonna write a tut 4 it. =-.

  • Martyn

    August 4, 2009

    I have to agree with the author, I am glad it is working for you, Jenna, but the fact of the matter is that pricing pages just scream “lame designer” at me. Certainly in the UK and most of Europe pricing pages on design studios are a very good detergent of getting proper work in. Considering you are talking about “requests for freebies” tells me that your client base is more low-market and friend-base (“hey can you do this for me?”) than actual SME’s.

  • Jenna

    August 4, 2009

    I have had many clients (with respectable budgets) since putting up my pricing page that clearly don’t see things the same way as you, Martyn. I don’t work for friends or low-market clients… that’s the whole point.

    Danny Outlaw recently wrote an article about gaining higher paying clients and adding pricing was one of his suggestions (it’s worth a read):

    ‘Show Your Base Price Up Front’

    Now, I definitely wouldn’t say Danny Outlaw is a “lame designer”. But perhaps you would…

    Either way, it’s working for us so I don’t see anything wrong with it =)
    .-= Jenna´s last blog ..JJenZz: just figured a way 2 cr8 a lightbox w/out JS. has click 2 open/close func. works in FF,Safari,Chrome,IE6,IE7&IE8. gonna write a tut 4 it. =-.

  • Alexander Rehm

    August 4, 2009


    @ Martyn: I think your comment is a bit far-fetched with respect to Jenna’s clients. I do not believe her to be the “I only work with friends and small businesses” type, looking at her website.

    @ Jenna: I have read Danny’s post, and I agree with him on the aspect of evaluating clients and networking, but going with an “up-front” price may scare people off. I am charging considerable amount of money for my time and work, but putting my base price out there from the start might not have gotten me some leads I am working with now by only discussing prices once I spoke to the client, after all “word of mouth” and “future business” are two major factors to consider when charging for work. 🙂
    .-= Alexander Rehm´s last blog ..WordPress 2.8.3 – a security release =-.

  • Jenna

    August 4, 2009

    @Alexander – I agree that putting the pricing page up may mean I’ll miss out on some clients I could have gained without it but I guess that’s why my situation is quite different. I am employed full-time so can afford to be selective with/lose out on freelance opportunities.

    That said though, I get a minimum of 4 emails a week requesting quotes and I’m not sure I could handle much more than that anyway!
    .-= Jenna´s last blog ..JJenZz: just figured a way 2 cr8 a lightbox w/out JS. has click 2 open/close func. works in FF,Safari,Chrome,IE6,IE7&IE8. gonna write a tut 4 it. =-.

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