How Much Software Do I Need?
Head to the pricing page for any popular business software, including our own online accounting software, and you’re likely to find a number of different options. While these offerings vary in price and feature set, they usually offer the same essential product. In other words, one user’s experience on AccountingSuite (or Slack or Trello or what have you) can vary significantly from another’s.
This pricing model, called tiered or good-better-best pricing, is commonplace in many industries. When we go to the gas station, we’re usually selecting from three tiers of fuel. There are obvious advantages to this structure, both for customers and service providers. Businesses can provide their product to more people at a lower price, and consumers can pay for exactly what they need. The downside, at least for customers, is figuring out which option is right for them. In some cases, the decisions is relatively straightforward. But when it comes to software, the differences can feel more abstract. To help make the process a little user, here’s a guide to help you better read and understanding pricing pages.
The standard design
As with many aspects of web design, tiered pricing structures for software have a codified look and rule set. Normally, each tier will be presented as a rectangular tile, with prices escalating from left to right. Beneath the tier name and some essential information, you’ll usually find a bulleted list of features. As a result of this set-up, the tiles on the right side of the screen may be longer than those on the right. In a slight alternative, sometimes the feature comparisons will be listed in a matrix below.
Like the visual language of a restaurant menu, the layout and design of a pricing page can be disorienting if you’re not used to it. Understanding where information will be laid out makes comparing tiers a lot easier and more intuitive. As far as salient points to look for when doing so, here are a few of the most important.
Number of Users
The number of users is, as you probably suspect, the number of people who can use an account at differing price tiers. In the case of accounting software, the number of uses should not be considered flexible. People may share around their Netflix password, but you want to make sure you can verify the actions taken by each individual user with sensitive financial information. If you have 3 people who will be using the software, you need a tier that allows for three discrete log-ins. It’s just that simple.
In the vast majority of examples, the lowest tier price will be the base model of the software, with essential functions and not much else. As you move up the ranks, you’ll find added modes, features, and operations. For example, AccountingSuite offers inventory management tools with its Professional and Professional with eCommerce subscriptions, but not at the two lower tiers. In these cases, analyzing what’s on offer at which tier is pretty straightforward.
However, there are exceptions. In some cases, lower tiers may have an option that higher ones do not. Some companies also allow you to add on specific functions to any tier at a specific cost. When you’re choices are less streamlined, you may find it helpful to create lists of your own.
Testing and trials
Almost always, it’s going to be more advisable to start small and add features later, than vice versa. If you get a hands-on test with a product, be absolutely certain that you know which tier you’re using. It’s a terrible feeling to boot up the real thing and realize you are lacking stuff you valued during the demo. Most software will be easily upwards and downwards compatible, so it’s also worth eyeing tiers you may not need now if you anticipate needing them in the future. The best software is the kind that can grow with you.
If you want to test out your new pricing page literacy skills in action, we can think of no better place to do so than our own. Head over to our pricing page for a clear example.