Search engine optimization and overall online marketing creates exposure for your brand.  As online opportunities increase, savvy brands make appropriate decisions and implementations.  For instance, if this was five to ten years ago, I would be unwaveringly blogging, beseeching EVERY business owner to develop a Web site.  That sentiment is old news; (I hope your brand has a main site!) today, I am passionately asking business owners to consider orchestrating mobile Web sites.

It’s hard to track down real-time facts related to mobile phone usage but Facebook’s official statistics reflect more than 350 million active users leverage smart phone to access the social media platform.  The consumption of mobile devices rose in 2010, up 18% from the prior year.  I want those small business owners , who believe they can get away with just a main site, hoping the majority of consumers leverage home or work computers, to take a look at this statistic; usage is high at home (93%) and at work (72%).  Remember my opening sentiment; make appropriate decisions regarding opportunities.  You can’t deny the benefit of hosting a mobile site.

Don’t forget browsers, whether leveraging a laptop, desktop, or mobile device have options.  Ensure your mobile design emphasizes usability amongst other things I’m about to mention:

Streamlined Design
Branding focuses on developing associations with a company’s desired market.  Though repeated exposure, a brand begins to take root in a consumer’s long –term memory; a company’s emblem, taglines, executives, products, etc. become immediately recognizable.  I suggest your Web design emulate the look of your main site regarding colors, fonts, and general layout.

Navigation
From a usability perspective, I think this is the most important aspect.  A mobile browser will disengage if it’s highly difficult to navigate your mobile site.  Think simple.  What are the most important pages on your main site?  These get first priority regarding mobile implementation.  In addition, what are your site’s most visited pages?  For instance, one could be a resource page.  Browsers, familiar with your main site, grown accustomed to resources, may expect your mobile site to host the same resources – something to think about.

Consistency
Use clear, concise, and clearly labeled links throughout the mobile site.  Consider making the fonts of links large; this is useful to those who are using fingertips.

Links
I think placing additional navigation links at the bottom of the page rather than the top is less obtrusive to browsers.   Remember, consumers want information fast and readily available.

Optimize for Multiple Devices
This is the portion of the mobile design phase that designers love the most – ensuring your site is optimized for the multitude of mobile devices available on the market.  For instance, your site may look dynamite from a Blackberry but lacks usability from an iPhone perspective.  You don’t want to alienate any users; it’s necessary to be diligent in checking your site from multiple devices.

I read a good tweet today by a respected industry source regarding the changing landscape of optimization, relaying the sentiment that optimization involves search, share, and user experience.  I agree; “optimization” is a dynamic process these days, causing a brand to attend to many online aspects.  Brands, hoping to make the most of Web opportunities, arrange Web sites, social accounts, and other brand-related platforms to facilitate the intrigue of target markets.  With the insurgence and popularity of smart phones, mobile phone optimization is just another piece of the whole, optimization pie.

Yesterday, I read an article related to mobile phone commerce.  Most of us have heard of the phenomenon of “drunk dialing” but “drunk browsing” may be a neologistic term for some.  This gives “impulse buying” a whole new meaning.  Have you ever been in line, waiting to pay for items, looking around attempting to maintain patience, when suddenly something catches your eye?  You grab it, using the idle time to impulsively convince yourself you need the item…  Marketers and respective brand owners bank on such impulsive actions.

What if you were waiting for a friend to meet you at the bar, and you started surfing the Web to pass time?   In my previous example, vendors were limited to in-store space and time, but in today’s world of mobile-phone shopping, vendors can tempt you with a World Wide Web of tantalizers.  Seemingly, some inebriated consumers, just can’t say, “No!”

The ingredients of alcohol and shopping have produced tasty results in the past for vendors who hope serving libations will inspire consumers to let their hair down and open their wallets.  As the New York Times article references, high-end, specialty retailers have paired wine-and-cheese parties with gallery-shopping excursions for years.  Now, the pairing of alcohol and shopping can take effect anywhere, even in a consumer’s own home.  One professional made a confession, finding a night turned to early morning mobile shopping excursion bought him a $10,000 motorcycle tour of New Zealand!

I’m not advising your brand to offer a free bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue Label to all customers or condone the act of “drunk browsing,” however, I’m reminding business owners that consumers, in all states of mind, are leveraging smart phones to find products they want (or think they want at the time).

Does your brand have a mobile version of its Web site?  I hope so.  Additionally, is your Web designer making implementations, facilitating optimization?  Remember, as referenced in the intro, “user experience” is also a portion of optimization, meaning it’s likely you’ll have to design the mobile site differently, ensuring users can easily access and browse.

Expect a mobile site article produced by the WebiMax brand soon, either from our main SEO blog or from one of our search engine optimization blog posts from external, industry sources.  For now, consider some mobile-site, Web design tips:

-          Make links bigger on your site.  It’s hard to leverage finger tips and mobile-phone scrolling arrows.  Any mobile user, who has gotten frustrated by erroneously clicking unintended links, would celebrate the decision.

-          Make the mobile site minimalistic.  What pages of your Web site are absolutely essential?  Just give mobile browsers the facts, providing information on goods and services.  Ancillary pages, such as an extensive “about us” or “in the press” sections are better left for your main Web site.

-           Try to limit the need for scrolling.  For instance, it’s cumbersome to scroll down and then to the right to read text.  Consider a one-way, scrolling design.

-          Make sure you’re making it easy for users to “share” your mobile info!  Insert “tweet,” “like,” and other social sharing buttons.  Many consumers also use mobile phones for social site usage!