A lot of popular websites go the extra mile and create dedicated apps for their visitors to use. With a website app, you can stay connected to users through device notifications, and it can provide a more engaging experience than regular mobile sites. The problem is figuring out how to convert a website to an app in the first place.
Because we’re using WordPress, the answer lies in the thousands of available plugins that can help make the transformation happen. With the right plugin, converting a site into an app becomes much more straightforward than you’d imagine.
In this article, we’re going to dig deeper into how website apps work. We’ll also introduce you to three plugins you can use to convert a website to an app and give you pointers on how to do it. Let’s get to work!
An introduction to website apps
We often use the term ‘website app’ to refer to a very simple type of application. In most cases, website apps are very similar in functionality to regular mobile pages. The difference is since we’re talking about a full-blown app, you get access to features regular sites often don’t offer, such as built-in notifications (although it’s possible to add those nowadays!).
Website apps are particularly popular among news sites and other content-heavy types of projects. For example, there are apps for BBC News, Reuters, Forbes, the Financial Times and many others:
You may be questioning why you’d go through the trouble of learning how to convert a website to an app so that users can read your content. It’s a good question with three different answers:
- App users are more likely to stick around and read more content, instead of jumping to another browser tab.
- Mobile apps enable you to tap into functionality such as push notifications and recurring subscriptions.
- Having your own website app is pretty cool!
Of course, building an app isn’t something you can just do in a day. Mobile apps can be quite complex and expensive. However, this is where WordPress plugins come to the rescue.
Three WordPress plugins that let you convert website to app
In this section, we’ll introduce you to three of our favorite plugins for building simple mobile apps from your WordPress website. Keep in mind that while these plugins are very good, they can only help you build relatively simple apps. If you’re looking to create something with complex functionality, you’ll need to call on an expert, and develop it as you would any other piece of tech.
AppPresser is a service that enables you to create mobile apps for Android and iOS using a custom builder. It lets you connect the apps you build with AppPresser to your WordPress website.
We like this service in particular because its app-builder feels very similar to the WordPress Customizer. As such, if you’ve ever used the latter to build a page or two, you’ll have no problems picking up AppPresser. However, while the plugin is free, the service itself isn’t. The cheapest plan costs $19 per month for one app.
Considering its cost, we can only recommend you use AppPresser if you already have a decent following for your website. If this is the case, feel free to check out how it works!
Current Version: 3.8.8
Last Updated: March 26, 2019
MobiLoud is pretty similar to AppPresser in how its model works. They offer a service to let you build mobile apps even if you don’t have any development experience. Then you can connect the app to WordPress using a plugin, to let it pull data from your website.
The difference here though is that MobiLoud provides you with several app ‘presets’ you can use, depending on what features and User Experience (UX) you want to provide. However, this additional functionality comes at a cost. MobiLoud’s cheapest plan starts at $399 per month, so we can’t recommend it unless you have a plan in place to monetize your mobile app. In any case, MobiLoud offers a free trial, so you can try it out before committing to the service.
Current Version: 18.04
Last Updated: July 14, 2019
So far, the two plugins we’ve covered are connected to premium services. Androapp, on the other hand, uses a freemium model. With this plugin, you can transform your WordPress website into an app for iOS and Android. It was designed with simple ‘news reader’ apps in mind, so could be a great choice if it aligns with your needs.
Now onto the topic of cost – Androapp offers a one-month free trial. After this, you can choose to pay a yearly fee for each app you’ve created. If the cost is prohibitive, you can keep using an ad-enabled version of Androapp. It’s a trade-off, but a good way to convert a website into an app if you’re on a budget.
How to get the most out of your WordPress website app
We’ve already talked about how useful a mobile app can be for your WordPress website. However, it’s important you understand a website app isn’t a replacement for mobile-friendly design. Even if you do decide to create and publish an app, you still need to make sure your site works perfectly on mobile. After all, not everyone will want to use an app, and mobile traffic is currently just as – if not more – important than its desktop counterpart.
The process of building an app for your website will vary depending on which tool you decide to use. However, once your app is ready to go, you’ll need to go about submitting it to the Android and iOS stores, which can get quite involved.
It’s also a great idea to link users to your mobile apps from your website. For example, some sites suggest to mobile users (using popups) that they install the app version instead, which could be ideal for boosting installs. Regardless of your approach, try to rein in the hard sell, and simply let visitors decide if they prefer to use your mobile website or the app.
The idea of creating a mobile app from scratch can be intimidating. However, there are a lot of tools to help you to put together simple apps with relative ease. If you’re a WordPress user, the process becomes even simpler thanks to plugins.
As far as which plugins you can use to convert a website to an app, here are three of our top picks:
- AppPresser: If you like the WordPress Customizer, you’ll enjoy using AppPresser since it’s very similar.
- MobiLoud: With MobiLoud, you get access to several types of app presets you can use to create your own.
- Androapp: This free plugin enables you to create simple WordPress website apps without much hassle.
Do you have any questions about how to convert a WordPress website to an app? Let’s talk about them in the comments section below!