How to Build a Mobile-Friendly Site or App for Your Business

Man looking at a retail app on his smartphone on the streets of NYC.

Jose Luis Pelaez Inc / Getty Images

As restrictions and lockdowns disrupted or shut down non-essential businesses throughout the U.S. in spring 2020, e-commerce essentially became the new mall. Consumers, in fact, drove a 31.8% increase in e-commerce sales (to $211.5 billion) from Q1 to Q2 of 2020 alone. 

Online shopping has always provided convenience, choice, and competitive pricing. But at a time when visiting brick-and-mortar stores seems less than ideal, e-commerce can be as much of a necessity as it is a luxury—making it a valuable opportunity for businesses of all sizes to expand their customer base.

Major retailers have certainly taken notice, as stores like Gap, Best Buy, and Bed Bath & Beyond have adapted to the public health crisis by focusing on online orders and contactless, hassle-free pickup. 

A recent study from Data Axle shows that more than half of shoppers (57%) use a retailer’s mobile app even while browsing items in a physical store. “Retailers need to prioritize the mobile experience," said Jim Sturm, president of Data Axle, in a press release. "Consumers will not hesitate to turn to another brand if it offers a more user-friendly experience.”

If you are a business owner looking to capitalize on the digital shopper market, here is a helpful guide on how to build a mobile-friendly site or app for your business. 

Why Be Mobile-Friendly?

When starting out, business owners may be unsure about whether they should opt for a mobile-optimized site or a separate app. The answer depends on your business needs, product line, and budget, but it can be very beneficial to have a mobile presence regardless.  

According to Pew Research Center, as of 2019, 37% of U.S. adults mostly use a smartphone to access the internet—in particular, the 18-49 demographic. In fact, 58% of those ages 18 to 29 mostly use their phone to go online, and since 2013, the audience of 30- to 49-year-olds who primarily use their phones for internet access has nearly doubled, to 47%.

What this means for you as a business owner is that if your website is not mobile-accessible, you could be losing out on a significant share of customers. 

Other advantages of using a mobile-friendly site include: 

  • Drives significant traffic 
  • Cost-effective 
  • Relatively hassle-free
  • Better user experience 
  • Higher Google ranking 

Find a Template or Design Your Own

Human beings are visual creatures and we are naturally drawn to attractive images. What comes to mind when you see a yellow-colored “M” on a red background? Most likely, McDonald’s.

We remember it distinctly because colors and imagery increase brand recognition and future recall. That’s why designs, logos, and graphics matter. But you don’t have to be an expert designer to get things up and running. Today, hundreds of digital templates are available to use online for free. 

Try using Wix, Square, or Canva for ready-made, copyright-free templates and designs. 

Design for a Great User Experience

Research from Adobe shows that 38% of consumers will stop engaging with a website if they find the design to be unattractive. This might not seem like a lot at first, but the numbers can add up quickly and may cost you valuable customers. 

The best way to reduce bounce rates from lack of customer interaction and to increase customer retention is to design a great user experience (UX). If they like what they see, they will come back for more. 

As a large-scale example, provides a valuable lesson about UX design. Its features like personalized customer recommendations, highlighted buttons, and a one-click order system make shopping online easier and more engaging. 

Choose Your Features

A good user experience requires compelling features. Push notifications, which are mobile alerts like text messages, are among the most effective features because they can keep pulling customers back in. And if timed right around a promotion, for example, push notifications are also likely to instantly boost sales. Meanwhile, email marketing providers like Mailchimp allow you to schedule messages, track clicks, and create long-term sales funnels that help customers learn more about your brand. With today’s technological advancements, most of these features are automated and ready-to-use. 

Know the Audience for Your App

Once you have a design ready to attract potential customers, you need to find a way to reach them. However, blasting out random sales emails or spending hundreds of dollars on advertising can backfire because even though you’re reaching a large number of people, you may not be reaching the right audience. 

Take some time to analyze your user data and understand your customer base. Get insights into who they are, what they do, and which items they prefer. Once you have these statistics, tailor your website or app to their interests for maximum customer satisfaction. 

In a 2020 holiday insights report furnished by e-commerce company BigCommerce, Keith Karlick, principal and head of strategy at online design firm Mercutio, said, “Personalizing products is a growing trend—and is a good way for a product to be special to a customer—which can drive higher engagement and [average order value], compared to a race to the bottom on price.”

Create a Comprehensive Mobile Strategy

Once you are ready with a list of potential customer leads, you need a comprehensive strategy to drive organic traffic not directly resulting from paid advertising. Here are a few ways you could do it: 

  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Strong social media presence 
  • Guest blogging about your products on authoritative websites 
  • Clickable headlines
  • Email marketing 
  • Influencer outreach 

When you are optimizing your website, remember not to overdo keyword usage. Content that reads robotically or seems impersonal could cost you customers. 

When you are creating a website or an app for your business, remember to put the customer first. The best of businesses can fail if there’s no audience demand. An appealing, robust online user experience with advanced features can significantly broaden your appeal and put you above the competition.