When It Comes To Free Mobile Websites, Do You Get What You Deserve?

Are free mobile websites good for small to medium sized businesses or is there a cost to going that route?

When It Comes To Free Mobile Websites, Do You Get What You Deserve?

Like most things, that depends on many factors, including the complexity of the business offering as well as the expectations of the customer.

Remember, marketers I interviewed in Mobilized Marketing told me that they are seeing brands punished by consumers who are put through a poor or even non-existent mobile experience. 

What brings this to mind is the news that OpenTable, a leading provider of free, real-time online restaurant reservations for diners and reservation and guest management solutions for restaurants, introduced a free service that makes it easy for its restaurant customers to optimize their websites for mobile devices. 

The service, powered by vendor DudaMobile, is being promoted as “quick and easy to use and the before and after results are dramatic without sacrificing the branding and elegance of the restaurant's desktop website.”

If only it were that easy. In a post last week, I wrote about the myths of so-called responsive design. The biggest point I made was that there is no magic method to building once and providing optimal experiences on the web, mobile device, and tablet.

The same is true for DIY mobile web tools.

There is great variation in the quality of small to medium sized business websites, as well as the amount of content created and freshened as needed.

Clearly some businesses have gone the “free” route for their online presences. We know from talking to business owners that results are mixed, with many realizing that you get what you pay for.

Taking a bad web experience to mobile only compounds the problem.

It behooves small to medium sized businesses businesses to look further than price to satisfy its needs.

For more thinking about small business and digital, I recommend last Sunday’s “It’s A Digital World” segment Your Business show on MSNBC. About a dozen were interviewed, including me. I spoke about the passive activity of shopping becoming interactive – and of the large implications.

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This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business http://goo.gl/S6P7m program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.

When It Comes To Free Mobile Websites, Do You Get What You Deserve?