How to deal with the elephant in the room

Let's just call it out and stop being awkward

One of the main issues I get when trying to explain a major change to content or the content structure on a new website is when we get to a known negative issue regarding a business. The majority of the time a business will be aware that the situation in question is an issue for the user but it's too complicated to fix, and so the general plan is always to ignore the content surrounding the issue or remove it completely. 


Examples of issues that we ignore include:

1. putting prices online when you don't have a fixed pricing structure

2. customers think you do something that you don't


The elephant won't go away if you ignore it

The problem with ignoring the elephant in the room is that we all still know it's there! We're all wondering who's going to mention it first and we're all trying to second guess the reason that it's not there, so it's just terribly awkward for everyone involved!

When you put that little bit of strain on a customer they quickly become overwhelmed and leave to find the answer elsewhere at which point you've potentially lost them to someone who gives them an answer even if you actually had a better option for them. It's too late, they'll never know!

Tips for dealing with the UX elephant


Scenario 01

Showing prices on your website

I have this exact issue myself. When someone asks how much a website costs it's not a straight forward answer. It depends on the size and complexity and so until you ask a whole heap of questions you can't give a real response.

Option 1 - Show example projects with theoretical prices

Instead of ignoring it completely maybe provide some examples of small, medium and high prices ranges and give a theoretical example of what would be included within those estimates. This gives the customer a vague ball park and allows them to feel a little more prepared when they eventually contact you. The ball park doesn't tie you down to a fixed price and doesn't allow the competition to use it as way to beat your fixed price. Include wording around the pricing such as, 'Starting from' 'Example pricing can be adjusted to suit your individual needs' or 'Exact quotes given on request'. 

Option 2 - Address the pricing process and make it sound easy

If it's not possible to show ball park prices on your website then instead you can explain the approach to your pricing structure very clearly so that there's no confusion. Then you should make it sounds simple to get a quote so that people don't feel like they'll be pressured into a long sales talk, this is especially important for people that are in the just browsing phase of the process. These users MAY become a customer in the future but aren't ready to commit to the idea of the product yet let alone a specific product or company.  

A good example; if someone is wondering how solar works and whether it's even an option for them they may want to get a ball park to make sure it's someywhere near their price range before arranging a sales call only to find out it's $30k over budget. In this situation it would be good to say, "Are you looking for a quote? Our friendly call team can give you a price estimate over the phone after a few short questions, and if you're interested we can schedule a member of staff to arrange a detailed quote"


Users think you do something that you don't

Sometimes your company name or past service leads people to presume that you supply a certain service or product that you don't and so the request is usually to take away any mention of these things from their website. The problem with this approach is that people will come to your website and get cranky when they can't find what they're looking for even though it's not your fault. 

Do what a human would

As funny as it sounds we sometimes forget to act human about online interactions. If the same situation happened face-to-face you would happily say, "Oh you're looking for Shop 5 down the road, we don't stock those things we only stock the business side of things". In that interaction you've come across polite, genuinely helpful and have instantly been lodged in the memory of that customer as a positive experience. Using that logic we should be doing the same thing online, acknowledge the option but provide a friendly redirect to the correct place, e,g "For up-to-date emergency warnings, visit BOM" 

Scenario 02




Need some more help?

If you're still not sure whether your website could do with some professional UX help, get in touch or send the link to your website and I'll get back to you with some personalised advice.