Inside IntuiLab we talk about tiering - the distribution of features to differentiate less expensive from more expensive license options. The goal of tiering is to incent upgrades. “Oh, you want Feature X? You need to upgrade!”
Tiering has always been a challenge but it has become all the more complicated with the introduction of the freemium pricing model.
With a freemium model. the intro-level product is free for life. You can use it forever and never pay a cent. The catch? The product has very strategic limitations selected to encourage those interested in the software to spend money. By spending money, a user “unlocks” features and becomes even more committed to use of the software.
Lurking within this model is a tension between good enough and too good. Specifically, the free version must be good enough to ensure users can fully embrace the value of the software, envisioning the potential and being able to even use the free edition productively. But it can’t be too good or no one would bother spending money on an upgrade, resulting in the cash-poor death of a business.
IntuiLab offers a free version of IntuiFace and I can’t tell you how hard we’ve thought about that magic balance between good enough and too good. We’ve honed in on limiting convenience, not functionality. For example, Composer Free must be online at all times. (This is typical of a Web-based service with an “offline” offering.) Crippling problem? Not at all; some of our customers find this a mere nit. But for others, it’s inconvenient. Or take our watermark. When using Composer Free, experiences must display the IntuiFace watermark. (Again, typical of Web-based design-oriented offerings.) Some of our users are happy to show the watermark because our feature set is too good to pass up. For others, use of IntuiFace needs to be a well-guarded secret.
There is no right answer. In fact, we’re always reevaluating our tiering decisions. Overall, our goal is to make even the Free Edition so awesome that you are inspired to pursue multiple projects, justifying the expense of an upgrade. Who knows. Users may even be inspired to say thank you by ponying up some licensing fees. Why not?