How To Be a Better Customer

You probably don’t think much about being a good customer. I don’t either. To be fair, it is not something we should have to think about, at least not very often. There are times, however, when it would behoove us to keep a couple of things in mind.
Some people like free stuff. Free stuff is cool. But keep in mind: there’s a reason it’s free.
As someone who has been in the tech world for a while, I can point to lots of examples of free software. WordPress is one such example. It’s free to use, as are a number of its themes and plug-ins. This is great for us as customers, but it comes at a price. There’s no dedicated support for any of it. If you need help, you get online and look for it yourself. Luckily, WordPress has a great community of people who put helpful info online. Since it’s a free product, though, we, as customers, cannot and should not expect it.
I had the great privilege of attending SXSW Interactive this week and in one of the sessions, someone asked how you would know what a good price for a website is. My answer to that question is value. If it feels like a good value, then the price is probably right. For example, some people are happy to pay $5 for a cup of coffee at Starbucks. Some are not.
With that said, website development is a “black box” to most, which means you just don’t know anything about the guts of the process. (And be honest, you’d probably like it to stay that way, right?) Knowing a little about the process, though, will help you determine if you’re getting a good value.

My process looks something like this:

Some of you are gonna feel like I charge too much while others will feel like the price is fair and some will even think it’s too low. It all comes down to value and whether you feel like the process creates a product that has value. For another opinion, check out the How Much Should a Web Design Cost? blog post from Chris Pearson, creator of the Thesis theme for WordPress.
Other things that should go into determining value are where you are in the lifecycle of your business – are you just starting out or have you been in business for a while? What is the purpose of your site – are you trying to sell products or do you just need a way for potential customers to contact you?
Bottom line: Make sure you set your expectations according to what you’re getting and if you feel like the product has value that aligns with the price, the price is probably right.
What do you think? Is there anything else you would add for how to be a better customer?