Mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, are now the most popular way to consume digital media, including websites and social networks. After years of predictions, the tipping point has finally been reached and smartphones and tablets are now responsible for 55 percent of the online activity in the US.
A lot of attention has been focussed on ensuring your website is responsive and adapts to the size of the screen it is being viewed on in order to cater to mobile users. However, there is another equally important statistic that doesn’t quite garner as much attention.
In a recent report from comScore it was revealed that mobile users now conduct the majority of their digital media engagement through mobile apps. This is opposed to mobile internet browsers, such as Chrome and Safari. A ratio of 47 percent of all internet traffic now comes via mobile app usage, and just 8 percent from mobile web browsers (the rest being attributable to desktop and laptop internet access).
With so many mobile users familiar and comfortable with consuming digital content through a mobile app, now really is the time to create an app for your website. Jumping on the mobile app bandwagon won’t guarantee success and immediate results. However, by ignoring this growing trend you could be missing out on a great opportunity to further engage with your target audience, build your brand, and make your entire project even more successful.
So if the idea of ensuring your website stands a chance of being one of those mobile apps that make up 47 percent of all internet traffic, read on for our look at the best options for turning your WordPress website into a mobile app.
Mobile Apps vs. Mobile-friendly Responsive Websites
It might not have been that long ago that you converted your old website to a mobile-friendly responsive design. Or perhaps you recently started a new website and spent longer shopping in order to find a WordPress that not only looked great, but was also mobile responsive.
If that’s the case, then well done for being proactive, recognizing the importance of catering to mobile users, and doing something to ensure your website is mobile-friendly. The good news is that extra effort didn’t go to waste, as having a mobile-friendly website is now more important than ever.
However, now it’s time to take the next step and create a mobile app for your WordPress website. This will give you a fighting chance of capitalizing on the growing segment of mobile users who now consume the majority of their digital content through mobile apps.
The main difference between a responsive website and a mobile app is that the app of your website is installed on the user’s smartphone or tablet. This means your app is easily accessible from their device, as opposed to them having to find for your website through their mobile browser.
Another difference is that while a mobile-responsive website does cater to a wide-range of devices, delivering a fairly consistent user experience across platforms, a mobile app allows you to optimize your software for the device it will be accessed on.
As apps can be built for a specific operating system – such as Android or iOS – as well as the type of device – tablet or smartphone – the app can take advantage of the features and capabilities native to that platform.
Apps can also integrate more closely with the device they are installed on than a responsive website can. This allows an app to download content on a set schedule for instant access and offline consumption. If you run an online store, or publish a podcast, then giving the app the ability to sync to your servers and download the latest content has the potential to enhance the user experience and increase user engagement. Creating an app that can deliver push notifications to the user can also yield similar results.
Another benefit of creating a mobile app for your website, which might be relevant to your project, is being able to offer in-app purchases. Perhaps you are publishing premium content alongside your free to view content. Maybe you are selling products from your store. Either way, in-app purchases account for the majority of app revenue and are set for massive growth according to recent predictions.
While creating a mobile-friendly website is a great place to start tapping into that growing mobile sector, creating a mobile app takes things to the next level and opens up more of that mobile user base.
Truth be told, it’s not really a case of having a mobile app vs. a responsive website. Both are equally important.
Going Responsive and Becoming Mobile-Friendly
Before we get to the best options for creating a mobile app for your WordPress website, if you’ve yet to ensure your website is responsive and mobile-friendly, now would be a good time to remedy that.
One option for catering to mobile users is to install a responsive WordPress theme. These themes respond to the size of the screen they are being viewed on. The result of this is that your website is presented in the best possible way for each visitor’s device.
If you aren’t up for the task of switching WordPress themes, then activating a plugin that will display a mobile-friendly version of your website to users on the go is another great option. One effective and free choice is the Mobile Theme module for the Jetpack plugin that we looked at recently.
Now that your website is ready for visitors accessing the internet through a mobile web browser, it’s time to get it ready for that large and growing market share who access online content through an app that isn’t a mobile browser.
The Best Mobile App Creation Tools for WordPress Websites
Creating a mobile app for your WordPress website might like a sounding daunting task. It might also appear to be a big step up from the process of building a website. However, just as you can install an off-the-shelf theme instead of hand coding the design of your website, you can also use an off-the-shelf service to create your app.
Those are the type of options we will be looking at in this section of this article. Creating your own bespoke mobile app has many advantages. However, it also has lots of downsides. These negatives include the amount of technical knowledge required, the necessary time invemesnt or the likely financial outlay needed. This makes using an app building tool or service a better option for many website owners.
So now that you know why you should create an app for your website, it’s time to look at how you can create a mobile app for your website.
AppPresser is a development framework for creating mobile apps. The service offers WordPress integration that allows you to use all of the features from your website in an app for either Android or iOS devices.
AppPresser is available on three pricing plans, ranging from $190 to $499. This gives you the option of creating a simple news and content based app, right through to building a fully-functioning app for an advanced website or ecommerce store.
Some of the features your app can make use of – depending on your chosen pricing plan – include: uploading photos through the app, sending push notifications, swipe navigation, BuddyPress integration, and geolocation for displaying local maps. There is also an ecommerce bundle for anyone with a WordPress and WooCommerce powered store that would like the ability to sell products via their mobile app.
As AppPresser is aimed at developers, if you don’t code it won’t be the best option for you. However, whether you want to create a mobile app for your own website, or as an agency for your clients, AppPresser certainly has all the features you would need.
Reactor is another mobile app creation tool from the AppPresser team. However this time it’s aimed more at non-developers and those who want a faster way to create their app, with less coding time required.
After that, it’s a choice between three monthly payment plans to retain the ability to update your app, send out push notifications, check your stats, and other Reactor features. The team also offers a setup service which will see your app created for you.
Reactor looks like a quick and easy way for WordPress website owners to create a mobile app without any developer skills required.
IdeaPress lets you create Android, iOS, and Windows apps from your WordPress website. The service lets you focus on the design of your app, while IdeaPress handles the coding.
Pricing starts from just $69 and gives you access to some useful features. The process for creating your app with IdeaPress is to install the free plugin on your website and then follow the onscreen instructions. Then you must follow the necessary steps to get your app published on the various app stores.
IdeaPress is a simple and affordable way to generate a mobile app from your WordPress website.
Mobapper gives you a 14-day free trial to try their app creation service out. During this free period you can create a mobile app from your website in one of two formats. The premium service goes on to cover Android, iOS, Windows, and Blackberry platforms. This allows your mobile app to cover all of the main types of mobile devices.
After the trial period is up, you can choose from one of the three monthly pricing plans. These plans start from $10 for an app for one platform. The conversion process looks straightforward enough and is one of the more affordable options out there. However, the advertised features don’t really compare to some of the more premium, higher end options.
If you want to see your website turned into an app which can be listed on the Google Play and Apple App Store marketplaces, then Mobiloud can help you achieve this goal.
The apps created with Mobiloud are fully native. This is opposed to your website being shoehorned into an unintuitive wrapper. With Mobiloud you can take advantage of many of the best attributes of a true mobile app. This includes making content available for offline viewing, displaying adverts to monetize your content, and sending push notifications. The Mobiloud app creation process also recognizes all WordPress features. This includes custom post types, custom fields, and a whole lot more.
While Mobiloud is a premium service, you can preview your app for free. This allows you to see what the finished product will be, before you hand over any credit card or payment details. If you are happy with the results, pricing starts from $69 per month for the starter package. The premium plans include a 30-day money back guarantee.
If your website isn’t mobile-ready – either by installing a mobile-friendly theme or creating an app – you most certainly will be missing out on a large portion of potential traffic, leads, and sales.
Covering both options by going responsive or installing a mobile theme, and building a mobile app gives you a great chance of getting your website in front of your target audience – no matter what device they are using.
While going mobile-friendly makes your website more accessible, you still need to populate your platform with great content that will appeal to your target audience. This is in addition to then taking the time to promote that content so it will be found by the right people.
These are exciting times for website owners and digital publishers; so embrace the future and take action today by either making your website mobile-friendly or going all-in and creating your own mobile app.
If you have any questions about going mobile responsive or building your own app for your website, please leave a comment below.