Want to build a WordPress mobile app? 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 will look at some of the possibilities for getting the job done, and cover some of the key advantages of doing so. 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.
First though we need some context to explain how that’s going to happen.
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.
WordPress, the Website Factory
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.
A WordPress Mobile App Builder?
Luckily, WordPress has extendability built into the platform – one of its key strengths. In the factory analogy these are specialist outside contractors that 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 an easy feat – but the WordPress app plugins we’ve developed at MobiLoud have mastered this specialist job.
More on that later, let’s look briefly at the reasons why you would want to convert a WordPress site to mobile apps.
Why 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.
WordPress apps allow you to provide a better mobile user experience
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. Computers gave way to smartphones, with the bolted-on mobile internet taking the lead by 2016.
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.
Almost all major brands – whether eCommerce stores, communities, eLearning platforms, or digital publishers – have invested heavily in mobile apps.
The reason is that apps provide a better mobile user experience. The icon on the user’s home screen is a constant reminder of your brand. One tap and they are in, everything loads lightning-fast, and the native navigation makes getting around the app a breeze.
Compare this to the mobile web. They have to be reminded of you somehow, input the URL to the browser, wait for everything to load, and then use the clunky browser navigation to get around.
Overall, the app experience is far superior. That’s why WordPress app users tend to be more engaged and more loyal than their counterparts on the mobile web.
WordPress apps allow you to build 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 converting WordPress to apps. All you need is MobiLoud. There’s another important WordPress app benefit to mention though – push notifications.
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. They have a 5X higher engagement 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. They are worth building a WordPress app for all alone!
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.
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!
How to Build WordPress Mobile Apps
We’ve gone over a few of the main benefits of building WordPress apps. It’s a great idea on so many levels. But, how do you get it done? Don’t apps cost tens of thousands of dollars and take 6+ months to build?
Traditionally they did. Building fully native apps from scratch that synced 100% with your existing WordPress site would cost a minimum of $50,000 and take at least 6 months for first versions.
We can forget that idea though – it’s no longer relevant, for WordPress apps at least. With the rise of no-code and low-code tools over the last few years, and thanks to the WordPress factory’s flexibility there are now viable “contractors” to get the job done in the form of WordPress app plugins.
We wrote before on why native app development is often not the best way. If you already have a WordPress site, you’ve done the hard work already, you don’t need to build anything from scratch. You don’t need to go down the road of traditional WordPress app development. You can get a better result, far more efficiently, by converting your WordPress site to mobile apps.
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 very 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 template-based WordPress app builders will also usually 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.
Build a WordPress 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.
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. It allows any WordPress-based content site to go from WordPress to app in just weeks!
MobiLoud Commerce is our WordPress app plugin built for WooCommerce based online stores. Commerce lets you transform WooCommerce into modern shopping apps with all the features you need to boost conversions and grow.
Canvas is the best option for converting a WordPress-based community, marketplace or eLearning platform into mobile apps. Sites built with BuddyPress, BuddyBoss, PeepSo, LearnDash, and other popular plugins are perfect candidates for Canvas – but Canvas can work for converting any WordPress site to mobile apps!
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, optimized 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 WordPress app builder 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.
Build WordPress Mobile Apps Today!
Converting WordPress to mobile apps is a brilliant idea. We know as we’ve seen countless businesses get great results.
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.
If you decide to convert WordPress to apps with MobiLoud, the process is simple.
- It starts with a demo call with one of our app experts to go over your vision for the apps and specific requirements.
- Once you sign up we work with you to configure the apps on our platform.
- After extensive testing, we prepare and submit them to the App Store and Google Play.
- We work to support you in any capacity needed, including all maintenance and advice on promoting and marketing the apps
It’s a great time to build WordPress apps – so let’s get started. Start with a Free Demo today and build your WordPress Mobile Apps!