With continued advancements in technology, a number of people are thoroughly increasing using internet from mobile devices. So there’s no question about it: making your website and content available for mobile users is extremely important. But there are different ways to do this, some easier than others. For example, you could make your website more responsive to adjust to mobile devices, or you could convert your WordPress website into a mobile app instead. While both have advantages and disadvantages, there’s no denying that a native mobile app functions better on a mobile device than something that wasn’t created for mobile specifically. Luckily, turning your website into an app is not as hard as it sounds, so you should consider this option even if you are not a skilled developer.
Know all your options before you decide to convert your WordPress website into a mobile app-
User experience is a notoriously challenging aspect of mobile optimization. Mobile users are less likely to convert, more likely to permanently abandon pages, and more demanding when it comes to loading speed and accessibility, so you need to work hard to keep them happy. But how? You have two options to choose from: optimizing your website for mobile or turning your website into a mobile app. Both have their own pros and cons, and your choice between them will depend on a variety of factors, including the percentage of your userbase that accesses your website on mobile devices, the cost of app development, the resources you’re willing to put into it, and what you’re trying to achieve.
The Benefits of a Responsive and Mobile-Friendly Website
As of mid-2019, Google practices mobile-first indexing. This means that Google looks primarily at your mobile content to decide your ranking even when the search is coming from a desktop browser. Optimizing your website for mobile is, therefore, a must because a mobile-friendly website helps your rankings.
Furthermore, your website is accessible to everyone on the internet. Even the people who don’t like to install apps or who use an operating system that your potential app is incompatible with can visit your website. It will have a bigger reach than an app, and a lot more people will be introduced to your brand through your website than through an app.
Finally, it’s usually faster and cheaper to optimize your website for mobile than it is to go through the entire process of app development. Converting your website into an app, on the other hand, requires additional effort and skill.
The Benefits of a Mobile App
Here’s something you need to understand: a mobile app is not a replacement for a mobile-friendly website. You need a website that’s optimized for mobile, regardless of whether you have an app or not. But an app is still a worthy investment to keep your mobile users happy. It’s that something extra that you offer and your competition doesn’t. And it fulfills a specific function – it is excellent at retaining users. While you can make visitors want to return with a well-optimized, user-friendly website, an app does it better because of native mobile apps:
- have better loading times
- perform better than websites
- have a better, more intuitive, and easier to use interface
- can integrate with other apps and utilities on the device more easily
- include push notifications which remind users to interact
Ultimately, it’s best to have both – a website optimized for mobile devices and a mobile app too. This covers all your bases and gives you the benefits of both!
What are the different ways to convert your WordPress website into a mobile app?
Once you decide to convert your website into an app, you need to start thinking about the next step. How exactly will you make your app? There are three options to choose from here:
- You can hire a web developer or an agency to create the app for you;
- You can code and develop the app by yourself;
- Or you can use a plugin that makes the conversion from website to app easy.
The Benefits of Hiring a Professional
The most significant benefit of hiring app developers is the quality of their work and the fact that you don’t have to do it yourself. When you hire a professional, you don’t have to worry about things going wrong for lack of knowledge or experience. Professionals do this for a living – they will undoubtedly turn your website into a good app. What is more, you don’t have to lift a finger. You don’t need to worry about choosing an API, coding in the right language, testing different versions, etc. Once you’ve selected who you’re going to work with, your job is done.
However, all this comes with one major downside: hiring a professional is your most expensive option. So if you’re on a budget, you may want to consider something else.
The benefits of developing an app yourself
When you’re building your own app, you get to decide everything. You have the final say in how the app looks, how it behaves, what it does. You’re not dependent on anyone else’s opinions, abilities, or time. However, that can be a double-edged sword. If you’re a web developer yourself, if you’ve used web development stacks to make apps before, or if you’re just very good at coding, building your own app can be a good and affordable alternative to hiring a professional. But if you’re new to all this, you’ll probably find it difficult. Not to mention, it can be very stressful and time-consuming to do everything yourself.
The benefits of using a WP plugin
One of the things that makes WordPress such a great platform is that anyone can use it. You don’t have to spend hours learning how to code before creating a website, changing its appearance, or improving its functionality. Instead, you can use plugins for just about anything in WordPress. Even WordPress experts from WP Full Care use plugins all the time! Plugins are a great way to affect just about any change in WP. That includes converting a WP website into a mobile app. So if you can’t hire a professional or develop your own app, a plugin is the way to go. They’re quick, easy, and often even free. Of course, the downside is that you don’t have as much choice on the matter. Although different plugins offer different options, each is limited in its way.
How to find an agency that will convert your WordPress website into a mobile app
If you decide to hire a professional to convert your WP website into an app, it’s imperative to choose the right development company. First, you need to know what you want and need from the app itself. You can then start looking for a web developer with experience in developing similar apps. Shop around, and don’t be afraid to ask for examples of previous work or even references. Remember to factor in everything, including the cost, the amount of support you’ll be getting, the quality of service, and overall compatibility with the developer.
How to convert your WordPress website into a mobile app using PhoneGap
There are several tools you can use to turn your website into a mobile app, but one of the most popular ones is PhoneGap (or Cordova). It comes with detailed instructions that you should read before using it. But just to give you an idea of what you’ll be working with, here are the basics:
Step 1: preparing your tools and files
The first thing you’ll need to do, of course, is to install the app and create an account for it. Next comes probably the most challenging step of all: coding your app. The good thing is that PhoneGap relies on web development language, so if you know HTML, CSS, or JScript, you’ll be fine. Use your favorite text editor or development environment to write the code. You’ll need at the very least an index.html, config.xml, and sub-directory folders (especially when developing for different operating systems).
Remember to dedicate some time to developing the user interface and making sure your app is secure. You’ll also want to create the icons and other visuals for the app. Finally, you’ll need a way to test your app once it’s done. PhoneGap has a developer tool that shows you how the app looks on different devices, but the best way to test is on the device itself. So try to get your hands on an iOS and Android device.
Step 2: Creating the App
Once you have everything you need, it’s time to put it together into a functional app. First, you’ll want to choose a template in PhoneGap (you can use the blank one if you want to have maximum control over your app). Name your project, decide where you’ll be saving it, and upload your files (zipped together). And that’s it!
Step 3: Testing the App
Once the app is created, PhoneGap will provide you with a server address you can use to get the app for testing. You should always test your app, even if you’re confident in your code or using a template. It’s still possible that a mistake snuck by you. So before you release your app, test it extensively on different operating systems, and fix any bugs you find.
Alternatives to PhoneGap
If you don’t want to use PhoneGap, don’t worry – there are plenty of other app builders out there. Among the most popular are:
- Flutter (leveraged by Google Assistant and The New York Times)
- React Native (leveraged by Facebook, Instagram, and Netflix)
- Ionic (leveraged by the NHS and MarketWatch)
- Kotlin (leveraged by Google, Coursera, Amazon, and Uber)
Each of these offers different benefits. So look into the various options if you find that PhoneGap is not working for you.
How to convert your WordPress website into a mobile app using a WP plugin
Using a plugin for converting a WP website into a mobile app is probably the easiest, fastest, and most cost-effective option. You don’t typically need to know much (or anything, really) about coding and app development to use a WP plugin – the plugin does the work for you. If things go wrong, you’ll always be able to contact the support team for the plugin and ask for help. Since IT professionals develop the plugins, you can always expect good results. Finally, although a useful plugin will cost you some, it’s still a fraction of the cost of hiring an agency. So, all in all, plugins are a great option here; now, you just need to choose the right one.
The best WP plugins for converting a website into an app
The exact process of converting your WordPress website into an app will depend on the plugin you use. Luckily, most are pretty intuitive and come with simple instructions. Here are the four most popular and most recommended ones that you should consider:
AppPresser is one of the most popular plugins for creating an app out of a WordPress website. It doesn’t actually convert your website – it allows you to create an app that connects to your website. It’s straightforward to use since it has a visual builder similar to WordPress Customizer, which is an excellent benefit if you’re not very tech-savvy. You’ll also get to enjoy perks like social sharing, Facebook login, push notifications, access to device functionality, and more. Prices range from $249/year to $599/year.
If you want to turn your website into a great app quickly and affordably, MobiLoud is the go-to. Intended for high-traffic websites, it comes with all the industry-standard features (including push notifications, mobile advertising, analytics, and offline support). What is more, you’ll get comprehensive service from app development to its publishing in Apple and Google stores. Finally, the support offered by the team behind MobiLoud is always at your disposal. Pricing starts at $950 for setup and configuration and $199/month for maintenance.
One of the cheaper options for converting your WP website into an app, WPMobile.App is an easy-to-use a plugin that helps you create apps for iOS, Android, or both. The customization options are available through your WP dashboard. Even with low prices, you’ll get all the standard features like offline content and push notifications. Free app testing, as well as unlimited updates and support, are included in the plan. With the lifetime license you get, subscription renewals and recurring fees will not be a problem. An app for just one platform will cost you €79, and for both, you’ll pay €149.
If WPMobile.app is still over your budget, AndroApp comes at an even lower cost. With a large selection of themes, push notifications, caching support, custom branding, and the possibility of monetization through AdMob and Appnext, it’s an excellent way to create a custom app quickly and easily. However, as the name implies, the plugin only creates apps compatible with Android. If you’re looking to make an app for iOS users, you’ll need to turn to a different plugin. But if you choose AndroApp, you can create an app entirely for free with maintenance fees of only $66/year.
Test your app when you’re done
Once you’ve converted your website into an app, you need to test the results. Try using the app on different mobile devices to ensure its functionality. Check that all the main features of your website are also present in the app. Most importantly, make sure there aren’t any glitches. Of course, you can update any app, and you can even develop widgets for mobile apps to expand their functionality and improve their customization, but that should be your plan B. Ideally, you want to roll out a good app your users will be happy with from the start. Once you’re satisfied with it and have added it to Apple and Google stores, check that they’re visible and easy to find; there’s no point in having a good app if no one can download it.
What to do after you convert your WordPress website into a mobile app
The final step is informing your users of your app’s existence. Advertise it on your homepage, add a banner to your pages, put noticeable links to it on your website, and consider popups (especially exit-intent popups) that encourage visitors to download the app. As people start using your app more, you’ll also want to monitor for their reaction. Read the comments and reviews in the store to find out what users think. This will help you decide where to take the app in the future, what needs to be fixed or updated, and whether your app is worth the price of maintenance (if applicable).
Gourav Sharma is a Digital Marketing Strategist at Arka Softwares, a leading web development company. He has 2 years of experience in the Information Technology industry. He spends his time reading about new trends in Digital Marketing and the latest app development technologies.