How to Create an App from Your WordPress Site

Want to learn all about building and launching mobile apps for your WordPress site? We condensed all our best content and research into the Mobile App Strategy ebook, download it for free.


If your brand isn’t readily available to mobile users, you’re headed in the wrong direction.

Having a responsive website is the first step you need to take in order to comply with both Google’s initiative and consumer demand.

The second? Well, that would be to build an app for your WordPress site.

In the following guide, we will show you 7 reasons why your WordPress site needs an app – and 3 reasons why you probably won’t create one anyway!

But be prepared: you might walk away from this post with your mind changed… as well as tips on how to create an app from your WordPress site, from start to finish.

Why You Should Build an App for Your WordPress Site

You have a WordPress website that’s performing well. You’re making money, gathering leads, and building your brand’s presence on the web. You’ve even gone to great lengths to give it a responsive design that your website visitors will enjoy using.

But mobile-first doesn’t just stop at browser-based web experiences. As you’ll find in the 7 reasons below, a mobile app is essential to your business if you want your brand, readership, and income to expand.

Reason 1: People Prefer Mobile Apps to Mobile Websites

Let’s start by addressing the most obvious question here: why doesn’t a mobile website suffice in addressing mobile user demand? If mobile users already have the means to connect with your WordPress site through their devices, why should they even embrace the mobile app?

According to data from eMarketer, mobile users will spend 2 hours and 35 minutes, on average, inside of apps every day in 2018. Conversely, they will only spend 26 minutes on the mobile web.

eMarketer - Mobile Average Time Per Day

As you can see from the chart above, mobile app usage continues to increase as mobile web usage declines with each passing year. If you want to reach more of the mobile user base, building an app from your WordPress site is a smart move.

Reason 2: Your Specific Audience Wants an App

Obviously, not every WordPress site will make sense in app form. As the eMarketer report demonstrates, the number of apps smartphone users use on their devices decreases each year.

eMarketer - Mobile App Usage

That’s not necessarily a negative reflection on mobile apps, it’s more an indication that mobile users are becoming savvier with how they use their mobile data, storage, and power. Which means if you’re going to build a mobile app, and you want it to be downloaded and used, it must fulfill a need for your audience.

To start, pay attention to what Cathy Boyle, principal analyst for eMarketer, lists as the main reasons why U.S. consumers spend time in apps:

  • Listening to digital audio like music and podcasts
  • Social media consumption and news
  • Mobile gaming
  • Watching video
  • Messaging

As she explained:

“Each of these are time-intensive activities that consumers conduct with a high level of frequency.”

Ask yourself:

  • Is your blog full of rich content like video and audio?
  • Does your website have a social networking component?
  • Does your blog or news site regularly publish content that users would want a more convenient reading experience for?
  • Does your eCommerce site need a mobile-friendly component to complement the in-store experience?
  • Would your SaaS customers benefit from a direct messaging platform for questions and support?

Does this sound like something your audience would get from your mobile app experience? If so, then turning your website into a mobile app is a great idea.

Reason 3: The Competition Isn’t There Yet

While your responsive website might be leaps and bounds beyond the competition, that’s not enough, as it lacks the two main features of a mobile app: app store presence and push notifications. Mobile is where we’re all headed and a mobile app is what might you the competitive edge to stand above the crowd in your space.

This isn’t about building an app for the sake of having one. This is about creating a mobile experience that adds real value for your users, and in turn will prove your business with value. If you can do that well, and beat the competition to it, you’ll be in prime position to snag up more of the customer base now and going forward.

Reason 4: You Will Reach a Broader Audience

Having a mobile app gives businesses a broader reach. Because you’re now able to deliver a custom experience to users based on wherever they want to find you, you’re better prepared to capture as much of the market as possible.

And because your website can be found in so many variations, that means more of a chance to dominate search results — in Google, the Android Google Play store, and the App store.

Reason 5: Mobile Apps Deliver a Better User Experience

Mobile apps provide a much better and more convenient experience to mobile users than mobile websites typically can. The key reason for this is that their user interfaces are primarily designed for mobile devices.

Mobile apps are accessible right from your users’ home screens. There’s no need to check that wifi is connected, open the browser, type in a URL, and load the page. Mobile apps are far more convenient.

Apps are usually equipped with:

  • A native menu
  • Native transitions
  • Highly effective mobile design techniques
  • Links that open within the app
  • Telephony features
  • Local tracking
  • Personalized offers
  • Real-time push notifications
  • Social sharing

Reason 6: Your App Boosts Brand Awareness

When you’ve built a mobile app that’s truly valuable to your users, and they’ve chosen to add it to their home screen as a result, your brand now has prime placement in terms of marketing.

A study from Asurion reported that the average person checks their phone, roughly, every 10 minutes. 10% of survey respondents even said they can’t last more than four minutes without checking their mobile devices.

So, every time your users open their phone or close out of another app, they will see your mobile app icon. Every time you have a new article to notify them about or someone in their network has messaged them, they will take notice of the notification from your mobile app, too. And this will happen over and over again, all day long.

Even if you don’t have the kind of mobile app where users get lost inside it for hours on end (like gaming apps), they’re still going to see its icon every time they open their phone. This familiarity, even if subconscious, is a powerful way to keep your brand top-of-mind with customers.

You can also remain at the top of your reader’s mind thanks to Push Notifications, which I’ll expand on in the next section.

Reason 7: Push Notifications

This might not seem like a dealbreaker with mobile websites, but think about the time and energy users expend hunting down a website and checking to see if it has published new articles, added special offers for the holiday weekend, updated inventory, and so on.

Sure, they could subscribe to your newsletter for these kinds of updates, but that requires that they sign into an email app, read the message, and then make their way to your mobile website or app for more information. With a mobile app, you cut out the middleman.

Push notifications go directly to users as soon as you have news or relevant content to share, even when they’re not using your mobile app.

You could use push notifications to:

  • Notify users that new articles, video, or audio have been published.
  • Call attention to the most important stories of the day.
  • Share special offers.
  • Reach out to customers on the go and lure them to your store.
  • Send reminders about appointments, abandoned shopping carts, unread messages, and so on.

Mobile apps are the ideal platform for getting quick messages over to users to increase readership, sales, and general engagement with your brand.

Why You Won’t Build a Mobile App

These are the most common objections business owners have to building a mobile app for their WordPress site.

Objection 1: Apps Are Too Expensive to Build

This is an easy argument to make considering how expensive app-building services were in the past when the technology was relatively new. Even today, app development agencies and freelance developers that create an app from-scratch may be too expensive for some businesses.

However, you have more options now–ones that are much more affordable, but still give you great results.

Take MobiLoud, for example. You’re going to pay less to use a service such as MobiLoud and, yet, you don’t have to compromise on the outcome. You still get a fully native app to complement your WordPress site.

Because of this, you’re going to see a great return on your investment. You’re spending less than you thought you would, and still be able to impress your mobile app users just as much as you would if you had sprung for a fully custom mobile app build.

Objection 2: It’s Too Time Consuming to Build an App

Developing your website already took a long time. With all the coding, copywriting, and design customizations involved, why go through all that again with a mobile app?

You don’t have time for it and neither does your team.

With a solution like MobiLoud, however, you don’t ever have to touch a line of code. MobiLoud’s team will build, publish and maintain your app for you – and you can make changes to your app configuration straight from WordPress.

Objection 3: You Don’t Need a Mobile App

Granted, for very simple websites, you’re probably not going to need a mobile app. But for:

There are a plethora of ways in which your business could profit from having a mobile app counterpart to your WordPress site, starting with higher engagement, traffic, return rates.

How to Create an App from Your WordPress Site

When creating an app from a WordPress site, you have a number of options to consider. Of course, cost is going to be a major factor as will time to market (two of the main concerns business owners generally have about mobile apps). So, let’s look at the various options you have and weigh the pros and cons for each.

1. Code the Mobile App Yourself

This is for those of you with the ability to build an internal team capable of creating a mobile app.

Pros

  • You start from scratch, so you can affect every tiny detail of the user experience
  • The WordPress REST API exposes most of the site’s data in a usable format for your app, supports secure logins and makes for a great starting point if you’re building from scratch.
  • No time wasted on educating an in-house team 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.

Cons

  • The mobile app will take your team away from other projects and revenue opportunities.
  • Your web developers will have to learn how to code an app using a hybrid app framework (like Phonegap), learn React Native to build cross platform native apps with Javascript, or you’ll have to hire mobile app developers, at least two, as they tend to specialise in iOS or Android, very rarely they’ll know both.
  • 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.

Notes About 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.

Infinum App Development

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.

2. Hire a Freelancer to Build the Mobile App

This is for those of you who want to outsource mobile app development to a developer that can code, but want to avoid the price of working with an agency.

Pros

  • Outsourcing frees up your team to focus on what they’re good at.
  • Hiring a freelancer can be much cheaper than hiring an agency.
  • Outsourcing gives you a chance to find someone skilled in app development, which could produce better results.

Cons

  • Vetting developers usually require a small testing project, which takes time. This alone could take weeks
  • You have to ensure they have the skills, portfolio, and references to handle the task at hand.
  • Freelancer must be 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.

Notes About 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.

In a search on Guru for app development freelancers, the most expensive ones were in the $250/hour range. You shouldn’t pay less than $35 an hour or else risk sacrificing quality.

3. Hire an App Development Agency to Create the App

This is for enterprises that want to outsource app development to a dedicated agency.

Pros

  • 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.

Cons

  • 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 a constraint. You’ll work with a project manager and know they’ll have internal resources for all elements of app building, from ideation to design, prototyping and development.
  • 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.

Notes About Cost and Time
In general, the high cost of working with an app development agency can be 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 $60,000.

Obviously, if you have an oversized and well-established news or social networking site that needs to be carefully crafted into a mobile app, the payout may be worth it. But you should consider your business’s budget and the resulting profits from the app before you make this sort of investment.

4. Use a DIY App Builder to Create Your App

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. WordPress mobile app plugins could work as a potential first iteration of your app, but don’t expect outstanding results.

Pros

  • You can build a mobile app with absolutely no coding experience based on templates.
  • There’s no need to spend time researching and interviewing developers to build your app.
  • You can get an app built and launched very quickly.

Cons

  • Prepare to spend hours tinkering with templates and point-and-click interfaces
  • Assume you won’t find every feature or content your site offers in your app – there will be limitations.
  • You have to fit your vision for the app in their prebuilt templates and it’s not always possible.
  • 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 WordPress site uses plugins, you may be prevented from using those features.
  • Moving your app to another platform later could be difficult.
  • May be difficult to get your app on the app stores and as there may be no distribution assistance.
  • Support is limited on DIY app builders.
  • 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 not be such a bad idea.

Although there are restrictions to using a DIY app builder service, when your business is brand new and you don’t have discretionary funds to tap into, this could be a good option for getting your feet wet. Just keep in mind that this won’t be the kind of service you can use in perpetuity as your mobile app will lack functionality and flexibility that you might want as your business grows. If you have plans to significantly grow your business and use your app as a revenue generation machine, you’re going to need more than the basics.

5. Use a WordPress-Specific App Creation Service

MobiLoud is a done-for-you service who will convert your WordPress website into a native mobile app, and publish it to the iOS and Google Play App Store for you.

Pros

  • You don’t need any coding experience in order to build a mobile app.
  • Your app will pull content directly from your WordPress site.
  • You retain all WordPress functionality (plugins!).
  • You can customize and edit things like branding, content, pages, and so on.
  • MobiLoud will take care of everything else related to the build and publication.
  • You can quickly build an app that’s branded to and complements your WordPress site.
  • This service includes the assistance of a great support team, a team of developers available for customization and a project manager to oversee your app’s development and launch.
  • After launch, the team continues to take care of your app with frequent updates, performance improvements and is available to assist with small edits, new feature requests, monetization, app store optimization and more.
  • The resulting apps are completely native: offline viewing, monetization, push notifications, etc.

Cons

  • Your website needs to be in good working order and be hosted on a performing server, capable of responding to the additional load of the app (comparable to web traffic).
  • Your business’s branding should already be well-defined and documented.
  • It isn’t as cheap as a DIY app builder.

Notes About Cost and Time
If you look back to the main objections business owners have to building an app for their website, this is the ideal solution to quell those concerns. With a WordPress-specific app creation service, you will get an app built for your company by a team of experienced developers, for a reasonable price, get it launched to the app stores quickly, and create it in a way that delivers something truly of value to your readers or customers.

MobiLoud is the ideal service for this. We take all of those concerns into consideration while giving you the best chance to develop a rave-worthy app without any coding experience or expensive hourly fees.

Mobile apps are developed for both app stores, you don’t have to deal with third-party branding or ads, as for most DIY app builders, you have the ability to customize your app, and ongoing support is provided as part of our service.

Also, MobiLoud has different solutions that cater to different app types. For example, Canvas is the best option for porting your WordPress website, store, community, e-learning site to a native app. MobiLoud News, on the other hand, is best for WordPress news websites and blogs that frequently publish new content.

What To Do After Creating Your  WordPress Mobile App

Once you’ve decided which option fits best into your budget and timeline, while also leading to the best results, you can proceed with creating an app from your WordPress site.

With your mobile app created, however, don’t forget about the marketing side of this.

Create Your Icon

One of the benefits of building a mobile app is its continual presence on your customers’ home screens. With an instantly recognizable icon, your brand can stay top-of-mind even when they’re not inside the app.

However, that brand awareness doesn’t begin on their mobile device’s home screen. It begins within the app store. This means you need to design an icon that can instantly capture their attention while conveying a lot about your brand’s style.

To nail this piece of the app marketing process, be sure to hire a designer who understands icon best practices. You can find a number of app icon design best practices as well to guide you through the process and ensure that you end up with an icon that looks just as great as your mobile app.

Write Your Description

The app icon and screenshots from inside the app will go a long way in luring new users to your mobile app. However, you can’t rely solely on imagery to sell it. You need to craft a description that succinctly sells the concept of your mobile app and the pains it solves for customers as they discover it in app stores.

Mobile app marketing Tip #5 describes the best approach for writing a description that’s sure to convince users that your app is worthy of a download.

Develop a Promotional Plan

Just like with organic search marketing, you can’t expect Google or Apple to instantly recognize your app’s value and push it to the top of search results in the app stores. You’re going to have to actively promote your app. In doing so, you’ll boost its reputation in the stores (as well as elsewhere online) while simultaneously collecting more satisfied customer reviews.

To promote your mobile app, consider the following questions:

How will you get existing readers of your WordPress site to download your app?

Would a call-to-action at the bottom of each post make sense? Can you announce your mobile app in a new blog post or newsletter? How about a notification in the responsive site that suggests users download the mobile app version? Would reminders in social media help?

Think about the best way to reach them and start sharing the news of your mobile app there.

How will you get new readers to download your app?

This plan will involve a variety of different approaches.

First, develop a marketing campaign strictly for the mobile app and post it out to all platforms where you know your audience will be.

Next, ask current readers or customers to leave reviews for the mobile app inside the app store they got it from. You can do this through the app, as a push notification, or with a quick email. The more ratings and positive reviews you gather, the more that social proof will work in your favour.

Finally, reach out to bloggers, product reviewers, and PR websites and ask them to review your mobile app. Press outreach can really help in getting the word out to a broader audience while selling users who put a lot of trust into what expert reviewers say.

Wrapping Up

A strong mobile presence is key for 2018 and beyond. Without one, you’re going to be missing out on traffic, engagement, and revenue.

Your users significantly favor the experience of mobile apps over responsive websites, and so this opportunity is not one you can afford to skip. In addition, not only do apps allow you to reach a greater audience on the platform they want to be on, but they enable you to deliver certain features that only come from mobile-connected applications.

And while there are some costs associated with building an app for your business, they can be kept reasonably low when you invest in the right app-building solution for your needs. When you build a beautiful looking app that delivers real value to your customers, the return on investment will be huge.

As such, if you’re looking for the biggest bang for your buck, a service like MobiLoud is your best choice!


app strategy handbook cover small 300x237 - How to Create an App from Your WordPress SiteWant to learn all about building and launching mobile apps for your WordPress site? If you liked this article, you’ll love the Mobile App Strategy Ebook. Download it today, for free.

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