Want to build a WordPress mobile app? Looking for the right WordPress mobile app plugin?
You’re in the right place – we’re going to show you exactly how to turn any site into high-performance, native apps for iOS and Android. We’re also going to show you why you should build WordPress mobile apps with MobiLoud – the strongest WordPress app builder on the market and the platform behind more than 1000 WordPress mobile apps.
We have three WordPress mobile app plugins – News, Canvas and Commerce – that can turn any WordPress site into apps in just weeks. Before we get into the how, let’s look at the why.
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. At MobiLoud we built three solutions just for WordPress – News for blogs and news sites, Commerce for WooCommerce sites and Canvas. With Canvas, you can convert any WordPress site into native mobile apps. 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.
4 Reasons to Build a WordPress Mobile App
The web is great, and a WordPress site is an excellent foundation for any brand – WordPress is used by over 40% of the top 10 million websites (March 2021).
In 2021 though you could be missing out by “just” having a website, and converting a WordPress site to mobile apps can give you the following key benefits.
1) A more convenient, engaging mobile UX
Back in the early 00s when WordPress first hit the scene, blogs and websites were pretty new, groundbreaking things to the average person. It was all about desktop browsers.
Things change fast though. WordPress themes now work well for mobile browsers. There’s a problem though – the mobile internet has been eclipsed. Now, over 90% of mobile time is devoted to apps.
Most major brands have invested heavily in mobile apps, mostly because they provide a better mobile user experience. The icon on the user’s home screen is a constant reminder – one tap and they’re in, everything loads lightning-fast, and the native navigation makes getting around the app a breeze.
When compared to the clunkier experience on the mobile web, the app experience is superior. That’s why WordPress app users tend to be more engaged and more loyal than their web counterparts.
2) WordPress apps = more loyalty and engagement
App users tend to be hyper loyal and engaged compared to the web. This is for two main reasons. The first is that apps self-select for your most loyal fans. To download the app is an act of loyalty in the first place. Secondly, once they are in the WordPress apps you have more opportunities to deepen that loyalty further with the superior UX and communication through push notifications.
Chartbeat confirmed this in some interesting research.
“When looking at weekly visits by traffic sources across mobile and desktop experiences, we saw that app direct visitors are nearly 6x more loyal than platform visitors.”Chartbeat
Compared to all the other channels – apps are king for loyalty and engagement.
We have seen this demonstrated time and time again by our own customers that used MobiLoud to build WordPress apps.
Take Simple Flying, who used MobiLoud News to build WordPress apps for their site. Founder Arran Rice knew that apps were a natural progression from a popular site, and realised that a certain portion of the audience (the most loyal), really wanted apps.
The results were impressive.
“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. I think on average, people spend like four minutes per article versus the main website, probably like one or two minutes. So it’s at least double. Huge”– Arran Rice
This isn’t just a publisher thing. The same holds true for eCommerce. Amazon’s website gets more unique visitors, but 84.5% of total mobile time is spent in the apps.
There’s a reason that huge brands and smaller operations alike are always pushing you to download their apps. They know that when they do your LTV shoots up along with their chances of retaining you as a customer.
You can achieve this same effect by building your own WordPress mobile apps.
3) Push Notifications on iOS and Android
Push notifications are the best way to communicate with your fans and customers.
Perhaps now you use email, social channels, or even web notifications. Native push is better than all of them combined. Native push notifications have a 5X higher engagement rate than email, no reach restrictions like social media, and allow you to target Android and iOS users unlike web push.
You can use push notifications for all kinds of purposes depending on your business. Here are a few examples:
- Digital publishers can alert users to new articles and breaking news that they might be interested in
- eCommerce stores can notify customers on new offers and promotions, send app only coupons, and keep customers updated on shipping and delivery
- eLearning sites can remind and encourage students to study, pulling them back into the courses like the (in)famous Duolingo owl
- Membership sites and communities can boost engagement by using push notifications to notify members when they get friend requests, when someone replies to one of their posts, or when they receive a private message
Only by converting a WordPress site to mobile apps can you leverage push notifications. For many of our customers, they are the main reason for building WordPress apps with our platform.
Our apps integrate with OneSignal – the best push platform on the market. So if you build a WordPress mobile app with MobiLoud then you can send unlimited push notifications to iOS and Android devices, straight from WordPress.
4) An App Store Presence
An App Store presence alone is a benefit. Brands with apps on the App Store and Google Play look more established and serious about user experience – which can make a great impression on potential customers, partners and investors.
An App Store presence can also be an acquisition channel. Lots of people search there for solutions to their problems – much like how they use Google on the web.
If you optimize well for the right keywords, you can pick up new users directly into the apps!
Why WordPress Alone is Not Enough
WordPress really changed the internet when it came online in 2003, originally a fork of the by-then defunct b2/cafelog platform.
The original creators, Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little, probably didn’t realise that they were about to create an ecosystem that would launch millions of blogs, create thousands of jobs, and change the face of the web for decades to come.
A great analogy for WordPress is as a “factory” that makes websites, credited to the team at wpshout.
The factory’s raw materials are the posts, and the warehouse where the raw materials are stored is the MySQL database. The various PHP templates of the theme are the assembly lines that put the materials together. The final product is the HTML markup needed to display the page, which is shipped by the WordPress factory to the user’s browser during every page load.
This factory is specialised in making web pages. Although it has undergone major upgrades and evolved significantly, it is a purely web based platform, founded before the era of smartphones and native mobile apps, and there is no WordPress app builder native to the platform.
For extending WordPress to the point of making WordPress mobile apps, you need outside assistance. What kind of assistance? Let’s find out.
3 Ways to Build a WordPress Mobile App
Broadly there are three possible routes for turning a WordPress site into mobile apps.
- Hire an agency or developers
- Build WordPress mobile apps yourself
- Use a WordPress Mobile app Builder / WordPress mobile app plugin
We’re going to argue that using a WordPress app builder is by far the best route. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each.
Hiring developers or an app development agency
The traditional way to build apps, any apps, was to hire professional app developers – either in house or through an agency.
They can build the mobile apps from scratch, then connect them to your WordPress site. With enough time and money, they can create apps that sync with and replicate the features of your WordPress site.
- Can get you a good result and build custom features
- Little work for you to do (agency)
- Expensive – expect to pay $25,000+ for first versions, and incur ongoing costs (20%+ annually) for updates and maintenance
- Time-consuming – to replicate the functionality of your WordPress site in mobile apps will take months of work
- If you hire developers yourself, you will have a complex project to manage with lots of potential pitfalls
Overall, the cons significantly outweigh the pros. The commitment in time and money is a big risk, and unaffordable for smaller businesses.
Native app development can be great for well-funded start-ups that are “app first” and not building off an existing web platform. For small/medium sized businesses based on WordPress though, it’s overkill and an unnecessary risk.
Building the apps yourself
Some brave business owners look into building apps themselves, and think about using “easier” frameworks like PhoneGap and Cordova to build hybrid apps using web technologies.
Unless you already have significant skill as a developer this is impractical.
- You don’t have to pay developers (to start with at least)
- Could be an interesting project?
- You keep total control
- Unless you are a skilled developer, you will not get a good result
- You’ll likely waste time and energy
- In the best case, you’ll need to spend 100s of hours on building and testing
Turning your WordPress site into mobile apps the DIY route is possible in theory, but in practice would rarely make sense.
Even if you do have the skill it’s likely not worth it from an opportunity cost perspective – when there’s a done for you solution that guarantees a great result.
Using a WordPress app builder
A WordPress app builder, based on a mobile app plugin – is the best way to build apps from WordPress in most cases.
- Affordable and fast
- Built specifically for WordPress mobile apps
- No code
- Some solutions provide limited support
- Many solutions struggle to properly integrate plugin functionality
Using a WordPress mobile app builder is the way to go for the overwhelming majority of cases. You can get a great result, fast, for a manageable price tag.
There are a few major WordPress app builders on the market though, and choosing the right one is crucial.
Choosing a WordPress Mobile App Builder
Luckily, WordPress has extendibility built into the platform – one of its key strengths. In the factory analogy from earlier – specialist outside contractors can be called upon for specific jobs, WordPress plugins.
The technology that powers the operating systems of iOS and Android smartphones is very different to what the main WordPress factory deals with, so you’ll need a very specialised plugin indeed – a WordPress mobile app plugin.
A WordPress mobile app plugin needs to be able to convert a WordPress site to mobile apps in a way that keeps all the great things about WordPress – whilst adding all the key benefits of native mobile apps. It isn’t easy, but the WordPress app plugins we’ve developed at MobiLoud have mastered this specialist job.
It’s important to choose the right solution. We’re going to look at the typical WordPress app builders you’ll find, and show why MobiLoud is:
- Less risky
- More flexible
- More powerful
- More user centric
Template based WordPress App Builders?
Most WordPress app builder solutions are based on a theme or template that you set up to display content from your site. These can work OK for basic apps, but they come with problems. The theme can be restrictive and result in a somewhat “cookie cutter” app.
The biggest problem though is for sites that have a lot of custom functionality from plugins. Template-based WordPress app builders will never allow you to recreate all the features and functionality from your site. You won’t be able to use your existing plugins, and your apps will end up a poor imitation of your site.
These WordPress app builders will often leave you hanging with the tricky stuff like customization, App Store submission, and the numerous ongoing updates and maintenance requirements that come with keeping the apps running optimally.
MobiLoud was built to overcome these limitations, blending powerful WordPress mobile app plugins with a hands-on, full service.
Build a WordPress Mobile App with MobiLoud
MobiLoud has been developed and improved over the last seven years, and has built more than 1000 WordPress apps. We have developed three distinct platforms tailored to the needs of different WordPress-based businesses.
We’re different because:
- We don’t restrict you with templates
- We’re not a tool, but a done-for-you full service
- We can integrate all the plugins from your site into the apps
- We offer fast, personalized support via email or calls
So how does it work? Let’s find out.
WordPress Mobile App Plugins
We’ve been building mobile apps with WordPress since 2013, and have developed three distinct plugins for different kinds of WordPress sites.
Built for WordPress-based digital publishers and news sites, News creates content apps just as good as those from major publishers like The New York Times or Washington Post, but for a fraction of the usual cost in time and money.
News powers the apps of Foreign Policy, Business Insider NL, and countless other publishers ranging from mass media brands to niche B2B publications. The apps have everything publishers need built into them from advanced advertising integrations, media players, paywalls, content recommendations and much more. Any WordPress-based content site to go from WordPress to app in just weeks.
MobiLoud Commerce is our WordPress mobile app plugin for WooCommerce stores.
Commerce lets you transform WooCommerce into modern shopping apps with all the features you need to boost conversions and grow.
Commerce is our newest plugin, and is ideal if you want to make sales and grow your customer-base through the App Store and Google Play.
Canvas is our most flexible WordPress app plugin – and can turn any WordPress site into iOS and Android apps. Canvas can integrate all plugin and theme functionality, and is ideal for communities, marketplaces, eLearning platforms and more.
Canvas is ideal for sites based on LearnDash, BuddyPress, BuddyBoss, PeepSo – but can work for you no matter your setup.
These are the three main options for converting a WordPress site to apps with MobiLoud. News and Commerce create fully native apps, whilst Canvas creates a ‘webview” app. Unsure of which is right for you? Get in touch with one of our team and we’ll go over it in depth!
5 Reasons to use MobiLoud’s WordPress App Builder
We built MobiLoud in part to overcome the weaknesses of other WordPress app builders. Here’s how.
1) Keep everything from your WordPress site
MobiLoud allows you to completely convert a WordPress site to apps, that includes all your existing plugins, special features and third-party integrations.
Most of your core plugins will work straight out of the box. If not, our team can integrate them. This, along with our customization options, allows you to create truly custom apps that serve your business just as well (or better) as your site.
The apps can also adapt and grow with your core web platform into the future. If you add or rework features and plugins on your site, we’ll have them working in the apps too!
2) Easy management through WordPress
With MobiLoud WordPress apps you’ll be able to manage everything from a familiar environment – your WordPress admin panel.
You can control the apps through a simple plugin that sits in your WordPress backend. You’ll be able to send push notifications, update key features, and measure app performance right from WordPress.
3) No-code, nothing to add to your workflow
There’s no need to get your hands dirty with any coding. If you can set up a WordPress site, you can build WordPress apps with MobiLoud, our platform does all the heavy lifting.
Going forward, there’s nothing to add to your or your team’s workflow. The apps will update automatically with any new content or changes to your site. You’ll just send push notifications and manage the apps on a high level.
4) Full featured, strong UX
From the native tab navigation to the design options we provide, MobiLoud WordPress apps are optimized for the best app UX possible and incorporate modern design best practices.
You’ll also have all the features you need from push preferences, audio and video galleries, and message centers to analytics, ratings prompts and location services.
If you have a specific feature in mind just chat with our team and we’ll go over the possibilities, there’s a strong chance we can make it work.
5) More than a tool, a complete service
Although our platform makes things simple in the main, there are things that need a professional eye.
Preparing and submitting the apps to Google Play and the App Store for publishing is a process often fraught with challenges and frustrations, and apps need constant updates and maintenance to stay in good condition – costing businesses thousands of dollars per year in developer fees.
As part of our license, we handle all this for you. Our customer support is hands on, fast and helpful. You’ll know us by name, and we’re never more than an email or Zoom call away.
By handling submission, publishing, maintenance, and updates we save you thousands of dollars per year and countless headaches.
How to Build WordPress Apps with MobiLoud
The process is simple.
- Book a demo – we go over the process, show you some examples, and establish which plugin is right for you. If we’re a good fit, you’ll sign up.
- Install the plugin – and configure some settings to customize the look,feel and functionality of the apps. Our team will help to guide you through this process.
- We build the apps – this process generally takes less than two weeks unless significant customization is required.
- Testing – you’ll be able to test the apps on your own devices, and our developers will dedicate several hours to testing them thoroughly too.
- Publishing – we handle all the work preparing the apps for submission, then we submit and publish them on the App Store and Google Play for you – guaranteeing approval
- Partnership – after the apps are live and getting traction, we keep working with you to release updates, and maintain them in top condition.
5 WordPress Mobile App Examples
Here are some examples of businesses that built successful WordPress mobile apps with MobiLoud.
Metziahs is a successful deals site that curates millions of items on the web to offer to their community.
The team decided to build WordPress mobile apps with Canvas, and have had great success.
“Just having an app presence, with working apps is great. That’s for sure. Push notifications are obviously important, but just having the presence on the App Stores is great”Metziahs team
Tech-Talk is an eLearning and training business that helps users to get up to speed on crucial technology skills for their work.
Tech-Talk turned their WordPress site into mobile apps with Canvas – and shortened their sales cycle, boosted subscriptions, and had thousands of downloads as a result.
“It really has been a 100% percent perfect transition – I just can’t say enough good things about it. If we had to rank MobiLoud on a scale of 1-10 we’d give you an 11!”Linda Keefe, CEO Tech-Talk
3) Deeper Blue
Deeper Blue has been around since the 90s, and is the best site on the internet for those passionate about diving, scuba and ocean conservation.
Founder Stephan Whelan decided to use MobiLoud News to build native iOS and Android apps that are loved by their community.
“If you’re looking for a solution that allows you to get content out of WordPress into a native app – MobiLoud provides a huge number of features, and the ability to have it working quickly. It’s incredibly valuable. I can’t recommend them highly enough to be honest”Stephan Whelan, Founder, Deeper Blue
Read more about how Deeper Blue used our WordPress mobile app plugin here.
4) Michael Hyatt and Company
Michael Hyatt & Company is a well known leadership training and eLearning business. The team decided that mobile apps would work well for their flagship product Leaderbooks – and used MobiLoud Canvas for the job.
“I think through the whole process you always have a little doubt because you’ve never done it before but the folks at MobilLoud just kept fighting for us”Dave Yankowiak, Senior Developer
Read more about how they turned their WordPress site into apps with Canvas here.
5) Sports Mockery
Sports Mockery is a news site that helps Chicago sports fans to stay up to date with their favourite teams.
After numerous reader requests, they decided to build mobile apps for their fans and used MobiLoud to get there.
“MobiLoud has many, many features that a lot of the competitors were lacking. With MobiLoud it’s all done for you. It’s a very sleek and fast process”Chris Burhans, CEO
Read more about the Sports Mockery app project here.
Build WordPress Mobile Apps Today!
MobiLoud gives you the most straightforward, effective way to do it, shaving 90% of the cost off traditional app development and saving months of work to get the best result possible.
We’ve brought over 1200 businesses live on the App Stores – and we plan on helping many more.
We also don’t do long term contracts, you can cancel at any time – and you can cancel for any reason within 60 days and get a full refund, so there’s no risk whatsoever!
It’s a great time to build WordPress apps, so let’s get started. Book a demo today!