In 2022, optimizing your site for mobile is a must.
The share of people browsing on mobile is rising, and has been for some time. These users are also converting at a higher rate, and spending more than in years past.
If you continue to build your WordPress site with only desktop users in mind, you’re leaving traffic and revenue on the table.
Tweaking your layout and design for mobile devices is a start, but to really craft the best experience possible for mobile users, you need to go further.
From improved menus to push notifications, there are some key features that are only possible with a mobile app. And converting your site into an app is easier than you might think, with certain WordPress mobile plugins on the market right now.
Read on and we’ll help you choose the option that’s right for your site.
Did you know you can convert your WordPress site to native mobile apps? It’s the fastest and most affordable way to build a mobile app. MobiLoud offers two solutions designed just for WordPress – News for blogs and news sites and Canvas for ecommerce, community and any WordPress website. All your plugins and custom code work out of the box and you can use your own theme for the app. Get a free a demo to learn which of our platforms is a best fit for your site.
Why Should I Use a WordPress Mobile App Plugin?
A WordPress mobile plugin allows you to access the benefits of a dedicated mobile experience, at a fraction of the effort it takes to build a native app from the ground up.
You can significantly improve user experience and loyalty from your mobile visitors by adding features such as mobile-specific navigation and menus, while push notifications and an icon on your users’ home screen help drive retention.
Then there’s the added visibility of a presence on the Google and Apple App Stores. Getting listed can can drive new users to your site, as well as make your brand look stronger and more legitimate.
You can do all this with purpose-built mobile apps. And honestly, building natively allows you to craft every pixel of the mobile user experience specifically for mobile, whereas a WordPress mobile plugin does not.
However, building an app from the ground up (and maintaining it) requires a huge investment in time and money. For most sites, the slight improvements in user experience are not worth the added time to launch. Not to mention the extra complexity of trying to maintain two separate platforms.
With a WordPress mobile app plugin, you can create an app and get listed in app stores quicker, at a fraction of the cost, and without needing to keep additional developers on hand for mobile-specific updates.
How to Know Which WordPress Mobile App Plugin is Right For You
With a range of WordPress mobile plugins to choose from, some may be a better or worse fit for your site, depending on your needs.
Some apps simply change your menu or navigation for mobile users, and nothing else. Others help you create a responsive WordPress website, with themes and code that ensures your content looks great on mobile (without actually changing any of the content).
There are plugins that turn your site into what is known as a Progressive Web App (PWA). PWAs offer some of the functionality and feel of a mobile app, but loaded through the browser rather than an actual standalone app.
Then there are plugins that help you create a proper native app, which you can list on app stores and allow user to download. These plugins offer the highest level of mobile optimization for your site, short of building a native app from scratch.
Consider which features you need. Do you just want a small spruce-up to make your site look better on mobile? Or do you want the added benefits of an app store presence and push notifications, along with an authentic mobile experience?
7 Top WordPress Mobile App Plugins
The best WordPress mobile plugin for you depends on what you want to do.
Whether you want to make your WordPress website look and feel like a proper app, or just improve load speed and certain elements on mobile devices, there’s a plugin out there to suit you.
Here are some of the best mobile plugins for making your WordPress site mobile friendly.
MobiLoud is the best solution for someone who wants a native app experience, at a fraction of the time and money it usually takes to launch.
What makes MobiLoud the best for most site owners is that it allows you to maintain your existing site, with all its content, themes and plugins, while packaging it in apps that can be downloaded from Google Play and the App Store.
This means, along with the added visibility and retention you get with a proper mobile app, you can enable push notifications on all devices, build a native navigation and tab menu, and customize other areas of your UI to suit users on a mobile device.
All this without making wholesale changes to your site, or maintaining two different code bases or platforms. MobiLoud’s WordPress plugin allows you to manage everything from the WordPress backend.
The cost (simple, predictable monthly pricing models) and time to go live (2-3 weeks) is far better than you could hope for by hiring a team of developers to build your app from scratch.
Best for: a full mobile experience, with App Store listings, push notifications and mobile UI elements.
WPtouch is a plugin designed for WordPress mobile optimization. It takes your existing site and theme, and makes the necessary changes to enhance usability for mobile users.
This includes improving load speed on mobile, and tweaking the appearance of your site to look and perform better. All the while, maintaining the same code, themes and plugins you have on desktop.
Using WPtouch to optimize your site can also deliver a welcome SEO boost. Mobile speed and usability is becoming more of a focus of the Google search algorithm. So sites with a dedicated mobile theme or full-optimized mobile UX are more likely to show up high in Google search results.
The free version of WPtouch makes it a no-brainer for small sites wanting their mobile version to look and perform better, as well as passing the Google mobile test.
Additionally, the premium version of the plugin (starting at $79 per year) offers a range of mobile-optimized themes and mobile-specific features.
You don’t get the full benefits of an app experience, but WPtouch is still a great option to improve mobile usability on a budget.
Best for: a fast and responsive mobile site, without the need for a standalone app.
WordPress Mobile Pack
WordPress Mobile Pack takes optimization for mobile devices a step further, letting you turn your site into a Progressive Web App.
This offers you a range of templates and features that mimic that of a real app, so you can deliver something closer to a native app experience.
The difference between a PWA and a native app (or a “wrapper app” like you can create with MobiLoud), is that a PWA runs on your browser, rather than as a standalone app. While the name implies that it’s an app, a PWA is still technically just a mobile website.
This can be an advantage if you’re mostly concerned with building an app-like experience for people who land on your site for the first time on mobile (for example, if the majority of your traffic comes from social media platforms).
However, you don’t get all the advantages of a mobile app, particularly in terms of retention and acquiring new users. You can’t use push notifications on iOS, and you won’t be able to list your app in App Stores.
It is possible to add a launcher icon for a PWA to a user’s home screen, but it’s not as straightforward as installing an app.
Nevertheless, there are certainly advantages to making your WordPress site into a PWA. And the WordPress Mobile Pack offers a user-friendly solution for doing so.
Best for: generating an app-like experience on a browser-based website.
Max Mega Menu
One of the biggest difficulties with optimizing your site for mobile is getting menus to look and work right.
The basic WordPress menu editor is quite limited. And while some themes let you do more with your menus, it can still end up sub-par for mobile users.
Max Mega Menu gives you full control over the menu editing process. It features a drag and drop menu editor, and supports interactive elements such as images, maps and widgets, which the native WordPress menu editor does not.
Best of all, it’s automatically responsive for mobile devices, making it a great option for designing menus for touch screens.
Obviously, since the plugin only handles menus, the rest of the mobile user experience is left up to you. But if menus are all you need help with, this plugin is a solid and affordable choice.
Best for: customizing your menus to work great on mobile.
Unlike mobile plugins that only help you improve your mobile site, AppPresser is a tool that helps you build real mobile apps.
It allows you to customize the look and feel of your app, with a drag-and-drop editor, similar to building a regular WordPress site.
AppPresser is a great fit if you want a real mobile app (as opposed to a PWA or responsive mobile website), you’re familiar with the WordPress style of site-building, and you have the resources to design and put together the app yourself (though you don’t need to write any code).
The downside, compared to a similar option like MobiLoud, is that it’s going to take a longer time, and require more know-how, to get your app off the ground. It’s more customizable, but not as streamlined as a wrapper app that lets you manage all your site content from one place.
Still, AppPresser offers a decent pathway into app stores and the home screen on your users’ mobile phone.
Best for: people who have the time and knowledge to build and design an app manually, and want full control of the app experience.
From Automattic (the company behind WordPress.com), Jetpack does much more than just mobile optimization for WordPress. It’s a suite of tools that covers use cases such as security, performance, growth and design.
That’s a very broad overview of what Jetpack does. And it has to be broad, because Jetpack just covers so much ground.
For example, you’ve got 24/7 site security, with constant malware scanning, spam protection, uptime/downtime monitoring and automated backups, which are easy to restore if there are any issues.
Then there are tools that help with designing your site, such as adding galleries, slideshows, contact forms, videos and more.
It also offers benefits for site performance, which is what makes it relevant for this list. This includes a content delivery network (or CDN) to make your content and media load quicker, lazy loading for images, and responsive mobile themes.
So, while mobile is just a drop in the bucket of what Jetpack does, it fills a need for sites who don’t want to go all-in on building an app-like experience, but want to ensure they’re not letting down their mobile users.
Best for: mobile optimization in a full-stack WordPress optimization plugin.
WP Mobile Menu
Like we said earlier, menus are one of the hardest things to get right for mobile websites.
Oftentimes, the menu from your theme may look great on desktop, but works poorly on mobile.
A plugin like WP Mobile Menu, as you’d expect by the name, allows you to build responsive menus that work more like an app and less like a poorly-converted desktop site.
This will do wonders for your mobile UX, keeping users engaged by making it easy for them to get where they want to go on your site.
The free WP Mobile Menu plugin comes with a pretty impressive array of features, and will be more than enough for a lot of sites. If you need added functionality, there are paid subscriptions available (including pretty affordable lifetime deals).
Best for: creating mobile-optimized, responsive menus.
Wrapping It Up
It’s no longer ok to ignore mobile optimization for WordPress websites – unless you’re happy leaving potentially more than half of your users out in the cold.
The data shows that your mobile users are more important than ever before, and there are no shortage of WordPress mobile plugins to help you provide a better mobile user experience.
You’ve got free WordPress plugins to make your site mobile-friendly, such as WPtouch and Jetpack. As well as plugins like WP Mobile Menu and Max Mega Menu to help you build beautiful and responsive menus.
But if you really want to go all out to create the best mobile UX possible, you can quickly and easily turn your WordPress site into mobile apps with MobiLoud.
This is not only the best way to make it so that users love viewing your content on mobile, it’ll also level up your retention and new user acquisition, with app store listings, push notifications and more.
Get in touch for a free demo to see if MobiLoud is right for you.