Why would you convert a website into an app? What are the key challenges? How can you go from website to app in the quickest, most affordable way possible?
We’re going to answer these questions and more in this article. We’re going to show you why converting a website to apps is traditionally a difficult process, and why it’s still worth it. We’ll look at the options for getting the job done – and explain why MobiLoud might be the route for you.
We’ll be showing you step-by-step towards the end how to turn any website into an app with our platform, Canvas. We’re also going to be comparing Canvas to all the other methods of going from website to app, and laying out our reasoning for why you should choose Canvas to build mobile apps for your site.
We want to give you the full picture though and help you to make an informed decision, so we will strive to be as objective as possible in this (rather long) guide. We’re going to cover all the possible ways to convert a website into an app.
We’ve added a table of contents so that you can easily skip to the part you’re most interested in. First we are going to talk about why you should convert a website into an app – if you are already convinced, feel free to skip to Part 2 where we get into the meat of turning a website into apps.
- Meet Modern user Expectations
- Enhance your Mobile UX
- More Loyalty and Engagement
- Revenue Potential
- Push Notifications
- An App Store Presence
- Option 1: Code it Yourself
- Option 2: Hire a Freelancer
- Option 3: Hire an App Development Agency
- Option 4: Use a DIY App Builder
- Option 5: Use MobiLoud
If you want to turn a website into an app – and reap the benefits of an upgraded mobile UX, higher engagement rates, and the business growth that flows from that – you’re in the right place. Let’s get started!
Want to build mobile apps without the usual investment and months of development? The fastest and most affordable way to build a mobile app is to convert your existing site into native mobile apps. At MobiLoud we built three solutions exactly for this – News, Commerce and Canvas. With Canvas, you can convert any type of site into native mobile apps. All your site features work out of the box. Get a free a demo to learn how it works and if it’s a good fit for your site.
6 Reasons to Turn a Website into an App
A lot of people are keen on building apps from their site, but pull short of full commitment to the project. They just aren’t quite sure what native mobile apps can do for their brand. It’s a reasonable question. Isn’t a responsive mobile site enough? What does converting a website into an app do that your site doesn’t already?
The truth is that a mobile-optimized site in 2021 is just a given. Of course you should have one. But apps fulfil a different purpose. While a site or web app is optimal for desktop users, picking up organic traffic, and serving new or first time users – mobile apps are for growing and serving your loyal, core users.
We’re going to give you six of the more important reasons to turn a website into an app. We’ve seen these benefits show up as common factors with more than 1000 clients that converted a website into apps with MobiLoud. Let’s get started.
Reason to convert a website to apps #1:
Meet Modern User Expectations
We’re all aware that smartphones took over the world over the past decade. The number of global smartphone users almost doubled over the latter half of the decade, shooting from 1.86 billion in 2015 to 3.6 billion in 2020.
The growth hasn’t petered out yet – with global smartphone users set to hit 4.3 billion by 2023.
Source: Statista 2020
This growth of smartphone users has driven the staggering growth of the mobile internet in turn. A decade ago the average US adult spent less than an hour on the mobile internet. By 2018 this had grown to 3.6 hours, according to the 2019 Mary Meeker report. Over that same period desktop usage slowly declined.
Apps rode on the waves of both of these trends. The mobile internet was something of a legacy desktop paradigm that was bolted onto the new world of smartphones.
Apps were native to the smartphone era though, and through the growth of device capabilities and mobile usage in general they left the mobile internet behind. Across all mobile devices, around 87% of mobile time is spent in apps, which jumps to 90% when just looking at smartphones.
To say that people are accustomed to apps would be an understatement – they are a constant part of many peoples lives.
The icons on our home screen cover many of our important day to day tasks and longer term goals – from fitness, personal finance and task lists, to social interactions, entertainment and education. The key common factor is that all these tools and platforms are intended for repeat usage.
The repeat usage is key. Only having a website is fine if you expect people to just come to your site once or now and again, to check some specific piece of information for example. If however, you’re interested in people coming back again and again and building a real lasting connection with your users – turning a website into an app will help you to achieve this.
If you solve some specific ongoing problem or need, and you want repeat usage, there will be a certain portion of your target user base that would love you to build apps. They will expect them. Converting a website into an app allows you to meet this expectation.
Reason to convert a website to apps #2:
Enhance Your Mobile User Experience
We’ve already seen how apps are a modern user expectation. Why is this? The reason why apps are so popular is that they provide a much better user experience compared to a website.
Converting a website into an app lets you significantly boost your whole mobile UX. Think about the typical experience of visiting a mobile website. Firstly, the user has to be reminded of the brand, or have some specific need to seek it out. Next they need to put in the URL, wait for everything to load, and finally they’re on the site. When they are finally in they have to deal with the clunky navigation, and distractions from dozens of other tabs.
Apps on the other hand offer a direct route from one simple tap, perhaps triggered by the icon on the home screen or a push notification. When inside the app – the native navigation and features make for a far smoother, slicker experience.
Apps also are just better made for mobile devices. They have better access to standard device inputs like swiping and pinching, which also makes the experience better for the user.
The importance of a great mobile UX can’t be overstated. UX became the most important brand differentiator in 2020, and it’s not getting any less key in 2021.
Reason to convert a website to apps #3:
Build More Loyalty and Engagement
Another reason to convert a website into an app is that apps tend to drive more loyalty. This is because of the aforementioned improved UX, and the fact that apps self-select for your most loyal users in the first place.
The act of going to Google Play or the App Store is in itself an act of loyalty. Users who do so are proving that they are, or are at least primed to be, your biggest fans. The 20% of users who will drive 80% of the engagement and revenue for your business.
By building mobile apps you give these core users a “home” – an icon on their home screen, a more intimate enclosed experience, a direct route to your content with one tap. You get more opportunities to deepen the relationship, staying top of mind and communicating effortlessly through push notifications.
Chartbeat confirmed this with some interesting research. Not only did they find that loyalty is higher on mobile than desktop, but that app users specifically are far more loyal than visitors from any other channel.
App Annie confirms this in their interesting piece on app loyalty:
“Today apps are of paramount importance in gaining customer loyalty. Consumers spend the majority of their time on their smartphones in apps, and they expect brands they purchase from to have at least one app”
We’ve also seen this time and time again with clients who decided to convert a website into an app with MobiLoud. Take Simple Flying for example, the world’s leading aviation news site. Simple flying converted their website into mobile apps through our News platform, and according to CEO Arran Rice:
“We’ve only got around 17,000 users, but those users read on average 94 articles per month. So the app is doing about 1.6 million screen views for them from 17,000 people. Compared to the website, where the average number of articles read per month is around two, the app users are hyper engaged”
Arran went on to confirm that:
“I’ve seen return visit rates go up since launching the apps – people will get notifications on their phone and end up going on the site or vice versa. The daily active users are growing nicely and the uninstall rates are really low. Once I’ve got someone on the app they’ll stay on the app and keep consuming our content – which is what we want”
Simple flying isn’t a unique case, we’ve seen loyalty and engagement go through the roof for many clients that decided to convert a website into an app with MobiLoud. It’s the same for eCommerce. eCommerce app users return to online stores 50% more often within 30 days, and spend a whopping 18x more minutes per month shopping than their counterparts on the mobile web.
Your website is great for the wide reach, immediate access, and ability to act as a “storefront” for your brand whilst serving new users and picking up organic traffic. Apps are the best opportunity to serve your most loyal users and make existing users more loyal through pushing them to download the apps and create that deeper connection. By converting a website into apps, you can get the best of both worlds for your business.
Reason to convert a website to apps #4:
Apps can be a Key Source of Revenue
When you convert a website into a mobile app, you’re building a potentially fruitful revenue generator for your brand.
You can monetize the apps through in-app advertising, eCommerce sales, subscriptions and in-app purchases. Simple Flying make a good income from their in-app advertising in their MobiLoud apps, with Arran Rice confirming that:
“94 articles per month for an average app user. And obviously there’s ad revenue attached to that as well with over 1.6 million screen views I’m getting with the apps. It’s a nice, almost passive income for the business as a whole”
Moving on to eCommerce, we’ve seen that over the past several years, revenue through eCommerce apps have grown at an astounding rate – to the point where 78% of users would rather access a store via a mobile app compared to a mobile site. eCommerce apps also drive 3x higher conversion rates compared than eCommerce stores on the mobile web.
There are other interesting monetization options available too. For example, you could make a subscriber only app and package it as part of a membership plan, or create an ad-free version that users can pay a monthly fee to use.
Make no mistake – when you convert a website to an app your apps will have plenty of opportunities to pay for themselves. With MobiLoud apps, we’ve built integrations to support a wide range of monetization options, and we can advise you on the best strategy for you to earn a strong ROI!
Reason to convert a website to apps #5:
Push notifications are one of the greatest benefits of turning a website into an app. While you can send push notifications from a website – they are limited. You can’t send them at all on iOS and have to jump through more permissions hoops. Mobile apps allow you to send notifications to everyone who has the app installed, no matter their operating system.
When you convert a website into an app – you gain a valuable channel in push notifications. You can alert users to new content, promote special offers, and update them with specific information like shipping updates, friend requests, and announcements.
33% of people under the age of 34 enable push notifications on their phones for various businesses and apps. That’s a good portion of potential users you can communicate with directly, straight to the highly visible lockscreen. Push notifications have a much higher engagement rate compared with email, and you’re not limited in reach like on social channels.
When you convert a website to an app, there are many different ways that you can use them to boost engagement, no matter what niche you’re in. For example:
- News Publishers can use both web push notifications and mobile notifications from a mobile app to alert past visitors and app users to new content, breaking news, and special offers
- eCommerce Stores can promote special offers, new products, and offer special discounts to drive up conversions. With mobile notifications tied to an app user’s account it would also be possible to send personalised notifications notifying customers about their orders similarly to how Amazon does.
- Elearning platforms can share snippets of information on courses, promotions, and free content – and with mobile app notifications could give students individual updates about the courses they are enrolled in.
- Communities can use notifications to promote hot threads or discussions, drive users back into the app/site, and with personalised mobile notifications could alert individual users when they receive messages or requests like the Facebook app does
The only way that you can get these benefits, and communicate with users so directly, is by converting your website into mobile apps. All MobiLoud plans include unlimited push notifications through our integration with OneSignal, and your apps will come equipped with push preferences and a message centre to make your push notifications as effective as possible!
Reason to convert a website to apps #6:
An App Store Presence
An App Store presence in itself is a benefit. Not only does it look good, making you look more established and professional in the eyes of potential users, partners and investors – but Google Play and the Apple App Store can also become a new user/customer acquisition channel for you.
People use the App Stores to search for products that they are interested in and solutions to their problems, just like they use Google on the mobile web. When you turn a website into an app, you give yourself the opportunity to be in front of them at just the right time!
The key is to use good App Store optimization for the keywords associated with your brand, so that you rank well for important search terms. There’s also the possibility to get featured on one of the App Stores, which can result in a rush of new users!
When you turn a website into an app with MobiLoud, we make the often-challenging process of getting approved and published on the App Stores a breeze – handling everything for you and dealing with Apple on your behalf!
Native vs Hybrid – Which Kind of App Should You Turn Your Website into?
Essentially, there are two kinds of mobile apps you can build:
- Native apps
- Hybrid Apps
Let’s define these in a little more detail.
Native apps are the original, traditional apps that are built from scratch, specifically for the iOS and Android platforms. Skilled native developers are in high-demand and specialized professionals. iOS developers work with Objective-C or Swift, while Android developers use Java and Kotlin. There is also the possibility of using React Native or another cross-platform technology that can cut down the effort and expense somewhat.
The advantages of native apps are that they generally offer the highest levels of performance if you need an app that will do a lot of intensive work – like Uber or Airbnb. They also allow the highest access to the native features of the device – like the accelerometer, GPS and facial recognition for example – although web technologies are starting to catch up in this regard with the rise of progressive web apps.
The downsides of native apps are the significant expense and time to market. Even relatively simple native apps take months to build, cost $80,000+ for iOS and Android, and are a highly technical project. They also give you two additional channels to manage and maintain going forward which is a lot of extra work and money. Native apps make sense only if you need specific, native only features – and you have deep pockets. In the case of turning a website into mobile apps, there is almost no case where a native app would make sense if you want apps that are similar to your site.
Performance is a well-known potential downside to hybrid apps, especially if you want to build something very demanding from scratch like the next Spotify or Coinbase. Hybrid and web technology has improved vastly over the last five years though, and if you want to convert your website into apps that have similar functions and you build a good hybrid app then this is no issue.
Should you turn your website into native or hybrid apps?
The simple answer is that you should convert your website into hybrid mobile apps. Native apps are awesome, but there is nothing so special about them in this case that justifies the vastly higher costs in terms of both money and time. Hybrid apps too have their costs, but they are generally 50-90% lower and time to market is faster.
If you were a well funded tech start-up, with a complex platform and an “app first” product strategy then native would likely be the way to go. As you already have your core platform, and you want to convert your website into an app – then hybrid makes far more sense.
Turning your website into apps the hybrid way also puts you in good company. A lot of major tech brands have gone this route too. Quora’s iOS and Android apps are hybrid – and Amazon, Facebook, LinkedIn, Slack, Gmail and many others either rely on web views right now, or did in the past. Why? Because they already had the core platform on the web, and took the efficient and effective route to the app stores.
This image of the Quora app illustrates how Hybrid apps combine both native and web elements in the app UI. You can achieve the same for your own website or web app by converting it to hybrid apps.
We’ve seen the differences between native and hybrid apps, and explained why the hybrid route is the superior choice The native route is more like building apps, then hooking them up to you website’s backend – the hybrid route is more of a true conversion process because you can reuse what you have already built for the web. In 90% of cases, converting a website to apps the hybrid way is the right choice.
If you want to read more about the different kinds of apps, check out our comprehensive guide, and this short essay on why native isn’t usually necessary. For now though, we’re going to move on to how to convert a website to apps. We’ll go over all the options, including native, so that you can make the right choice for your business.
5 Ways to Convert a Website into an App
There are 5 main routes to turning a website into apps. we’re going to look at all of them, and go through the pros and cons of each. We are also going to look at our website-to-app platform Canvas, and show why it is the best option in most cases. Let’s get started.
1. Code the mobile app yourself (native/hybrid)
This is for those of you with the ability to build an internal team capable of creating a mobile app.
- You start from scratch, so you can affect every tiny detail of the user experience
- You already know your core web product very well, and can leverage that into the app project
- No time wasted on educating your team-members on your business’s goals, customers, or style
- Repurpose your design workflow for the app, using similar milestones, checklists, etc
- You can revise your mobile app as much as you want during the build and afterwards
- Feedback and edits will go more smoothly as the team is accustomed to working together
- Better oversight of the project as your team resides in-house
- The mobile app will take your team away from other projects and revenue opportunities
- If you have to hire native developers, keep in mind that the average salaries for Android and iOS developers in the US are around $120,000, and it will take the 6+ months at least
- Even if you go the hybrid route and even if you already have skilled web developers on your team, if they have not done a project like this before they’ll need to do a lot of learning and struggling to pull it off
- Without close monitoring and scheduling, you might be tempted to revise, revise, revise
- If you publish to both app stores, your team will have to follow two different workflows both in terms of publishing and ongoing work
Cost and Time
An example of how much this could realistically cost is the Scannr app Infinum built for iOS devices. After design, development, testing, and the creation of a microsite, their team logged 269 hours on the project.
Even if you cut out the microsite piece, you’re still looking at roughly 240 hours for an app of this size. Multiply 240 hours by two (to account for iOS and Android) and by your employees’ average hourly rate and you’ll get a sense for how much money you’ll potentially spend on a relatively simple app. And this is assuming that you do have people with the technical skills to achieve this. If you do not then just hiring a software developer costs around $20,000 on average, and that’s before you’ve even paid them!
This is beyond the means of most small and medium sized businesses. Unless you have a ton of developers with free time on their hands (unlikely), or you’re willing to go on a hiring spree – it’s best to look at other options.
2. Hire a freelancer to build the mobile app (native/hybrid)
This is for those of you who want to outsource mobile app development to a developer with the right skillset, but want to avoid the price of working with an agency. If you get lucky and find a great match it can pay off, but if you get unlucky it can become a nightmare.
- Outsourcing frees up your team to focus on what they’re good at
- Hiring a freelancer can be much cheaper than contracting an agency or building an internal team
- Outsourcing gives you a chance to find someone skilled in app development, which could produce better results
- Vetting developers usually requires testing projects and a lot of research, which takes time. This alone could take weeks and have significant real and opportunity costs
- You have to ensure they have the skills, portfolio, and references to handle the task at hand. You will only really be able to determine this if you are very development-savvy yourself
- Freelancer must be onboarded and brought up to speed on your business and its goals
- You’ll have to deal with a lot of back-and-forth with the freelancer, or you could end up with one that doesn’t communicate at all until it’s too late.
- If you don’t have a firm contract in place, you could owe unexpected and unplanned fees
- Costs can become unwieldy if you don’t set timeline goals and caps for the freelancer
Cost and Time
When hiring a freelancer, you not only have to think about the money you’re directly putting into their bank account, you also have to think about how much hand-holding and participation this will require from you. That’s going to cost your business as well.
In terms of timeline, it’s not always easy to hire a freelancer and get projects done when you want or need them. Unless they’ve signed a legally binding contract, you are at the whim of their availability, which can make planning the launch of a mobile app difficult.
If you take a browse Upwork, you’ll see that the most expensive ones were in the $250/hour range. This is a lot but technical talent does not come cheap. That is the very top of the range – but in general you should not pay less than $35-$50 per hour or you risk sacrificing quality. Keep in mind that they will be billing for a lot of hours.
3. Hire an app development agency to create the app (native/hybrid)
This is for businesses that want a hands-off approach by outsourcing app development to a dedicated agency. This is the route that big companies often take, since even with the significant expense it can be cheaper than hiring and more reliable than the freelance route.
- Frees your team from the responsibility of developing the app
- Hiring an agency with extensive development experience guarantees professional results
- App development agencies understand app UI and UX best practices
- They will conduct deep research into your audience as well as the competition
- App development agencies will adhere to optimal project management practices
- Agencies that specialize in niche-specific apps reduce the learning curve
- Their fees are high. Their structure is generally large and expensive and you pay for it – but it might be worth it if budget is not an issue
- With a more robust process for development and testing, you’re dealing with longer launch times
- Contracts will hold you to strict terms and limitations
- The more stakeholders involved from your side of the fence can create undue friction as opinions clash, processes differ, and so on
Cost and Time
In general, the high cost of working with an app development agency is risky.
Even if the experience goes smoothly enough, the high costs alone may lead you to question what sort of ROI you’d get from this kind of outsourcing. As I looked through Clutch’s list of top app development agencies, I noticed a trend.
While many of these developers have seemingly affordable hourly rates in exchange for robust app development, their minimum project fees are quite high. For most, a project starts upwards of $10,000 and $20,000. The average cost of an agency built app is somewhere between $40,000 and $80,000. Double that to get apps on iOS and Android. Hybrid apps will be at the lower end and native at the higher end, and the cost can also be significantly higher for complex apps.
If you want to turn your website into an app that reflects a similar functionality and content to your site, and you don’t need any crazy features beyond what your site does already – custom development through an agency is overkill.
4. Use a DIY app builder to create your app (hybrid)
This is for anyone who wants to build their own app, doesn’t have coding experience but has lots of time and wants to keep costs very low. You can find platforms like Appy Pie and GoodBarber in this space, and other more specialised tools like AppPresser that focus on converting specific kinds of sites to mobile apps.
These tools can work OK for narrow purposes, and tend to create basic apps that are usable but lack any advanced features from the web, and restrict you to pre-built templates and themes.
They generally work by having you build a drag and drop app (the same as thousands of others except with your logo) – and then use RSS or an API to pull content in from your site and display it in the app. They do not 100% turn your site into apps, they just do this in a very limited way.
- You can do it yourself (hopefully), without needing to learn to code or hire a developer
- Affordable for a small business
- You can get an app built and launched quickly, in under a month if you do everything right
- Prepare to spend hours tinkering with templates and point-and-click interfaces
- Assume that there are features on your site that cannot be replicated in the apps
- You’ll need to use their theme, not your own
- You have to fit your vision for the app in their prebuilt templates and it’s not always possible, you will have very little flexibility
- Free plans come with restrictions on traffic, storage, analytics, customizations, and more
- Even with cheaper app builder plans, you’re restricted in terms of design and layout
- If your site uses plugins or third party integrations, you will almost definitely be prevented from using those in the app
- Likely to produce apps with a “cookie cutter” look and feel
- Moving your app to another platform later could be difficult
- May be difficult to get your app on the app stores and the platform may not assist with this
- Support is generally limited
- There’s the hidden “cost” of branding and ads from the app builder company
Notes About Cost and Time
For startup companies and small businesses, cost and time to launch an app will greatly factor into your decision-making process, which is why a DIY app builder might seem initially appealing.
Plans range anywhere from $20 – $200 per month, but at the lower end of that you will barely get anything usable. If you want a very simple app – like for a local business or church – these app builders could work well. If you want apps that are a key part of your brand though and generate ROI for your business, they could end up a false economy. We know this because of the many clients that moved to MobiLoud after wasting time and money with DIY app builders.
5) Convert a website in to apps with MobiLoud (native/hybrid)
We built and perfected MobiLoud over 8 years to fix the shortcomings of other website to app platforms, and developed tools that can convert any website into apps while keeping everything great from the web. We combined this with a service that handles all the tricky parts like customization, submission and publishing on the App Stores, and ongoing updates and maintenance.
MobiLoud effectively gives you the kind of result you would expect from custom development, at a price that is comparable to DIY app builders, while handling all the tough bits for you.
- Far cheaper than hiring developers, freelancers, or agencies
- Higher quality apps than you would get from a DIY app builder
- No restrictive templates, everything from your site will work in the apps including your theme and plugins
- Go from website to app in just a couple of weeks
- Do everything yourself, no code required
- Full service, personalised support, all the fiddly bits done for you
- Full featured and customizable apps
- Convert any website into mobile apps
- Unable to access certain native APIs
- More expensive than some of the cheaper DIY app builders
Let’s take a look at how to turn a website into an app with MobiLoud in more detail.
What is MobiLoud?
We’ve developed three distinct platforms to turn any website into an app – no matter the tech stack or CMS.
- News is for WordPress-based digital publishers and news sites to build native content apps just as good as BuzzFeed’s or The New York Times. News has been used by a wide range of content sites. From internationally renowned media organisations like Foreign Policy and Business Insider NL, to smaller entrepreneurial publishers like Deeper Blue and Simple Flying – and local news organisations like eParisExtra – News is the clear choice for building content apps with WordPress.
- Commerce is for WooCommerce-based online stores to build native eCommerce apps from their sites. Commerce can create an eCommerce app experience worthy of a multi-million dollar store, and has been optimized around boosting sales, conversions and revenue.
- Canvas is our general purpose platform for converting a website into an app – no matter the CMS or features. With Canvas – you recreate your website or web app as iOS and Android apps, and keep all your existing plugins, features and functionality from the web. Canvas is popular with directories, eLearning sites, eCommerce stores, online communities, and startups.
Which is for you? If you’re not completely sure – get in touch with one of our app experts and they’ll go through the whole process in depth. The key point is that you can turn any website or web app into mobile apps with one of our platforms.
The chances are, you can convert your website to mobile apps with one of our three platforms. There are differences in how they work but they all have essentially the same result – turning a website into apps.
You get all the benefits we mentioned in the previous section of this article like
- The optimal app UX
- Monetization options
- A new loyalty and engagement channel
- Unlimited push notifications
- An impressive App Store brand presence
You save tens of thousands of dollars compared to hiring agencies or freelancers, get better apps than you’d get from a DIY builder, and the apps update automatically with your site so there’s nothing new to add to your workflow.
Turn a website into an app without losing anything from your site
As we mentioned previously, most app builder platforms will not be able to integrate everything from your site, and will restrict you to their pre-built themes and templates.
MobiLoud allows you to turn a website into apps while keeping everything from your site and having it work flawlessly in the apps. Whether it’s themes, plugins, or even custom integrations – if it works on your site it will work in the apps.
We take a proactive approach to support. You’ll know us by name, and we’re never more than an email or Zoom call away. Although the apps are 100% yours, published under your own developer accounts, our team can handle the often fiddly, technical job of getting the apps approved and published on the App Stores and communicate with them on your behalf.
After the apps are launched, we handle all ongoing updates and maintenance of the apps as part of our license. Frequent maintenance and updates are required to keep apps working, and it usually costs businesses many thousands of dollars per year in developer fees. You don’t need to worry about this – we handle it fast and efficiently.
This is in stark contrast to most other app builders. Generally, they give you some software and leave you to figure it out, and will leave you waiting in their ticket support system for help and support.
How to Convert a Website to Apps with MobiLoud Canvas in 15 Easy Steps
We’re going to give you an exact demonstration of how to turn your website into apps with Canvas, our hybrid app builder that can convert any website or web apps into iOS and Android apps no matter the CMS.
Step 1: Schedule a Consultation Call
One of the great things about Canvas is how quick and easy it is to get started by requesting a demo with one of our app experts.
During your demo, we will talk about your site, your goals, and what you want from an app. We’ll go over our plans and all the options open to you, and you’ll decide if Canvas is right for you. Then it’s just a case of signing up and starting the app build.
Step 2: Your Mobile App Gets Built By MobiLoud
In this next step, there is nothing for you to do. Our app development team will take the information you provided to us, along with your site, and build out the first version of your mobile app.
Step 3: Log into MobiLoud Canvas
Within a few days’ time, you will be given access to your new mobile app through the Canvas dashbord. This is where you’ll be able to review the app we have built for you and customize it to your liking.
The following steps detail what each of the modules allows you to do in terms of customizations
Step 4: Configure the Menu
Your new mobile app will come configured with a navigation menu specific to the app, to make it more user-friendly on mobile. Remember: the mobile app doesn’t need to be an identical match of the website (nor should it be), it needs to be the “app version” of your website.
Based on the demo call and the requirements defined during it, the MobiLoud team created this menu based on what you actually need.
When you step inside your Menu within Canvas, you should see something like this.
‘Take time to review each of the pages, the links, as well as the icons. Each of these elements can be changed, so make sure you’ve carefully considered each before moving on. Sticking with clarity and simplicity when labelling your mobile navigation is usually a best practice here.
Also, if you’d like to reorganize the order in which the pages appear in the menu, you can do that here. Use the directional icon to the right of the URL to drag and drop your tabs into the order you want them to appear.
Further down this page you’ll encounter more customizations for the navigation related to animations, progress indicator, and more.
One of the items you should pay close attention to on this page is the configuration of internal and external link behaviour.
This allows you to control what parts of your app are internal and when you would like to move users out of the app to external sources.
Step 5: Configure the Color Palette
MobiLoud will have already taken care of customizing the colors of your mobile app based on what is defined in your website. However, if you decide to tweak any of these elements to give the mobile app a unique spin of the brand identity, you can do that under the Colors menu.
In this section, you can personalize the color palette of your app to ensure it matches your brand’s colors. Not only that, but you can choose different colors for different devices!
You have control over the basics like the splash screen and the tab bar colors. However, if you dig further into the options, you’ll see that you can apply color to the mobile app for iOS and Android users.
There’s nothing that says the two have to be different. However, if you want to apply a slight variation, you can do so here.
Step 6: Configure Push Notifications
With the navigation and design settled, you can focus on what you want to do with push notifications.
First, you’ll have a choice as to what kinds of push notifications and alerts you send to your mobile app users. Main Alerts and Newsletter notifications are already added for you, but they are not activated. To switch them on for logged-in users, hit the toggle on the right.
To add new alerts, click “Add New Tag” and assign values to the custom alerts you want to generate.
If you’re building a news or blog app, you may want to notify users about new blog posts. If it’s an e-commerce app, special sales days or discount codes can be communicated to them through these. Social network apps would notify users about new activity in their feed or messages from connections.
Down below this section, you have the opportunity to rename the various alerts labels that appear in the app.
Once you’ve completed filling out the page, save your changes. Your app will now allow you to send targeted messages to users. It will also allow your users to opt out of those notifications (per GDPR compliance), if they so choose.
All our apps also equip your users with push preferences so that they can choose which kinds of notifications they would like to receive, and a message centre that saves notifications that they miss for later. Both of these go a long way in making your push notifications more effective.
Now you’re ready to go. Through our integration with OneSignal, you’ll be able to send out unlimited push notifications from the dashboard whenever you see fit!
Step 7: Configure the Login Page
Even though you can already reach users through push notifications, enabling a login page would be nice if you want them to be able to create custom profiles for themselves. With a login, you can also provide a more personalized experience and communications for them.
This will reveal settings related to where the login page is located, where they’ll be redirected to afterwards, and you can designate a signup page here, too.
Step 8: Set up Analytics
Even if you don’t enable user logins, it’s still helpful to track user activity around the app. You can do this by setting up a Google Analytics (and/or Facebook) tracking ID.
This will give you a good sense of what users do when they enter the app. It will also help you later determine if there’s any friction preventing them from fully enjoying the experience of the app.
Step 9: Automate Ratings Requests
In order to give your mobile app a fighting chance in the app stores, you’re going to have to promote it – on your website, in a blog post announcement, in a newsletter, on social media, and anywhere else you have a chance to speak about it. You’ll also need to make sure it’s optimized to rank well in the app stores.
This doesn’t all have to fall on you though. If you can generate enough customer reviews and ratings, you can leverage your current user base to grow the app.
To do this, just enable the Ratings prompt in Canvas:
This will send out automated messages to users while they’re in the app, and ask them to leave a rating for their experience in the app store.
Step 10: Configure Miscellaneous Settings
In the Settings tab, you can decide what sort of technical features you want to enable for your app. You can enable Development mode if you are regularly updating your configuration and want changes to be made live to the app.
This includes things like turning on push notifications for iOS and disabling location tracking for Android.
Step 11: Customize Your Settings with the Advanced Editor
Remember how we said you don’t have to know how to code in order to use MobiLoud Canvas?
Well, that’s still true. However, if you or your developer want to add additional customizations to the mobile app, or would rather just work in the code rather than the builder, you can do so through this module.
Using the Code View or Form View (which breaks the customizations down based on parts of the app), you can tweak every element of your app. There are also a few hidden settings you can apply to the JSON configuration.
Step 12: Test Your Mobile App
Once you have completed configuration, it’s time to test the mobile app using the live demo in MobiLoud Canvas. To do this, click the “Test App” button in the top-right corner of the page.
This is what you will see:
When it’s done, your app can now be tested out in both the iOS and Android experiences (use the tab in the top-right corner to switch).
Step 13: Publish Your Mobile App
After you’ve completed reviewing the app, and you have approval from all stakeholders, it’s time to publish it to the app stores.
Either with the test module still open or when you’re back on the main Canvas builder screen, click the blue “Publish” button.
This will send your fully configured app to the MobiLoud team to finish building the app and publish it to the app stores, which generally takes a few more business days.
Usually preparing all the necessities and communicating with Google and Apple is a lot of hassle. We’ve navigated the process more than a thousand times though and know it as well as anybody – so we handle all this for you.
Step 14: Optimize Your App Store Descriptions
With your mobile app available in store, give some love to its title and description. By optimizing its appearance inside the app store, you can make it all the more appealing for brand new users to discover it even when surrounded by the competition.
The description, screenshots, and ratings will then get potential users get excited about hitting that download button. We can offer you training materials on app marketing and App Store Optimization to help you to succeed with app promotion.
Step 15: Download and Use Your Mobile App
Once MobiLoud has completed publishing your app, you will be notified. And once it is available in the app store… Well, now it’s time for you to download and start using it!
Done – you’ve turned your website into apps!
That’s it – you’ve successfully converted your website to apps with Canvas. Everything from your site will continue to work, and it’ll be live on the App Stores and installed on your users’ devices inside the perfect app wrapper.
Once it is live you can access us any time, and we help out with anything needed. We also keep on top of all the updates and maintenance that crop up on a monthly basis to ensure your apps keep running great.
The apps will update automatically with any changes or new content on your site – and you’ll be able to manage them through either a simple WordPress plugin (for WP sites) or our dashboard.
No DIY app builder could give you as good a result, and no freelancer or agency could get you there anywhere near as quickly, easily, or affordably!
Ready to Convert your website into Mobile Apps?
We’ve covered a lot of ground in this article. We’ve talked about how turning a website into an app can benefit your business, gone over all the potential options for getting it done, and shown you how you can do it with Canvas.
Building native apps from scratch and paying tens (or hundreds) of thousands of dollars only makes sense if you’re an app-first, extremely well financed start-up. If you’re already established, and already have a product for the web – converting a website into mobile apps is the rational choice.
If you already have a website – the choice is simple. We’re obviously biased, but we think MobiLoud is the best value and most effective way to convert a website to an app on the market, and we’ve given you a few reasons to support that case.
Whether you’ve got a Shopify store, a WordPress community, a Laravel web app, a LearnDash site, or anything else – we can make your website into iOS and Android apps that both you and your users will love.
Canvas can be used for any website or web app whatsoever. Canvas will take all the best parts from your site – without ditching any of your features or site tech – add all the necessary parts to provide a great native experience, and turn your website into apps in just a few weeks. The process couldn’t be easier.
The best thing is that there’s zero risk on your part. Not only do we not have long-term contracts at all – but you can cancel for any reason within 60 days and receive a full refund. If you decide that converting a website to an app isn’t for you, you won’t lose anything.
Ready to get started and convert your site to apps? The first step is a short chat with one of our app team. They’ll go over everything and show you what’s possible with MobiLoud. If you decide that MobiLoud is for you – you could be launched on the App Store and Google Play in less than two weeks.
Let’s get started, and start building apps from your site.