In this article, we’re going to show you how to create a mobile app for a forum, online community, or message board.
We’ll explain why it’s best to build your forum for the web first, then convert it to a mobile apps, compatible with Android and iOS and their respective app stores. We’ll also explain why MobiLoud is the best tool to help you build your forum app, and walk you through the process of building your app.
Want more? Keep reading.
Forums and discussion boards have taken off in the last 10-20 years. Today, you can find forums for just about any topic, interest group or niche, along with huge, broad-topic message boards like Reddit.
We’re going to assume your forum (or idea for a forum) is a little more focused, and that you’re not trying to build the next Reddit. Here are a few examples of niche forum apps out there, to give you an idea of what to strive for.
Health forums are very popular and valuable to users, allowing them to share their experiences and advice with others about a variety of health conditions and illnesses.
Diabetes forum app is a mirror of the forums over at diabetes.co.uk/forum.
The forums have over 260,000 users and help people to manage their condition, connect with others and live a full life with diabetes.
They promote their apps from within the main site.
There’s no doubt that for regular forum users – the app is a superior experience.
The photography forum app helps amateur and professional photographers to get tips, advice, and stay up to date.
Recommended if you’re into photography – as you can see from the reviews below users appreciate being able to access the forum through native apps. It makes their lives easier and will encourage them to spend more time on the forum!
Cards Chat is a very popular poker forum with close to 300,000 members.
Forum users can get everything they need to “learn, refine and master online poker”.
The forum has a nice visual design and is also a thriving business monetized through membership programs, ads, and affiliate offers.
Again, we see that poker fans love having the ease and convenience of native navigation to access and browse the forum.
Now let’s move on to the practical aspect of all this - how to build your forum app.
Today, every forum should have a mobile app. At the very least, it should be optimized for mobile, to work well in mobile browsers.
Nearly 60% of web traffic today comes from mobile, so you should make it a priority to cater to these people. An app lets you provide an optimal user experience for mobile users, and is a great way to encourage higher loyalty and usage rates on your message board.
However, it’s still best to build your forum for the web first, and then convert it to a mobile app.
It’s just easier to manage a web platform than one built specifically for mobile. There are more tools out there that help you build and manage web-based forums, and building a website requires a lot less technical expertise than building a mobile app from scratch.
It’s also going to be best for acquiring new users to your message board. Most new users will find you from Google - as long as you have a website.
Also consider that a lot of forum users will prefer to engage in discussion via desktop, where it’s easier to type long messages than on a smartphone. You’ll still get a lot of people who like the convenience of logging on and discussing on their mobile device. But it’s important to cater to both sides.
The bottom line is that mobile apps offer a lot of benefits, but that doesn’t mean you should abandon the idea of building a web-based forum altogether. A website acts as a great foundation to manage your forum with, and is extremely simple to convert into an app, with the method we’re about to show you.
By choosing this way to build your forum app, you can go live with your app in less than a month (assuming you already have a website up and running).
You can get started by getting in touch with our team for a free, personalized demo, or you can simply sign up for a MobiLoud plan and get access to the app configuration dashboard straight away.
Here’s how the process will go.
There’s perhaps a day at most of work for you here. The rest - all the heavy lifting under the hood - is handled by our team.
We also handle updates and maintenance, so there’s no need for you to ever know anything about app development, or hire expensive developers to keep your app running smoothly.
MobiLoud works by wrapping your mobile website in native app code, creating a hybrid mobile app.
The majority of the code comes from your website, which means there’s significantly less work involved to build and maintain it, compared to building a native app. Yet you get almost all the benefits of a native app, such as the ability to publish your app in the app stores, and allowing users to download it to their own device.
Wrapper apps like this give you 95% of what you get from a native mobile app, with significantly less investment. It’s a great option for creating a forum app, where you don’t need any kind of complex functionality, such as integrating with device features. You just need a simple app that reflects your website, which is what you get with this app.
There are other ways to build a forum app, such as hiring a team to develop native apps, or using a forum builder app. But MobiLoud stands out above these options, in a nutshell because it’s fast, cheap, simple, and doesn’t add unnecessary work to your workflow after launch.
Let’s quickly look at the benefits of using MobiLoud.
MobiLoud lets you go live with your forum app in less than a month, for as little as three figures.
Compare that to native apps. Coding native apps is expensive and time-consuming, with even a relatively simple project likely to cost mid-five figures (minimum), and take 6+ months to finish.
Your forum may be profitable, but it’s probably not raking in money to where you can justify spending $50,000 to build an app. MobiLoud lets you do it at a price point that makes sense for your business model.
It’s vital that your web and mobile platforms are in sync. You’ll have mobile and desktop users on your message board interacting with each other in real time, so you don’t want any delays or inconsistencies across platforms.
This will add a whole new dimension of complexity if you hire native developers. But with the way MobiLoud does it, everything is synced by design.
It also means it’s simple to take any features and design of your website and reflect them in your mobile app. If you use an app builder, you’re going to struggle to recreate the web experience in your app.
MobiLoud lets you build an app even if you know nothing about mobile app programming. You don’t need to write a line of code - all that is done by our team.
If you do have that ability, and want to add custom code to your app, you can do so. But this is completely optional.
Many app builders, particularly those that build wrapper apps, create low-quality apps that don’t pass Apple and Google’s strict app store guidelines.
Our apps do. We’ve had over 2,000 customers’ apps published on the app stores, so we can guarantee that your listings will be approved.
MobiLoud isn’t just an app builder. We’re a service. We help you to set up your app in the first place, and stay with you to help maintain, update and tweak your app in the future.
If you choose to hire native developers, you’ll need to pay their expensive fees to keep your app up to date and bug-free. While with another app builder, you’ll likely only have some form of ticket-based support system and knowledge base (if you’re lucky).
MobiLoud gives you full support and service, for a steady and affordable monthly fee.
You get all the benefits of key mobile features in your app. Most notably, full use of push notifications. This is one of the most valuable parts of building a mobile app, as push notifications are a powerful communication tool to help you keep your users engaged and spending more time in your app.
As a forum owner, if you haven’t already, you should be thinking about how to cater to the growing share of internet users who prefer to go online via mobile. Building your own mobile app is a great way to do this.
If you’ve been held back by the fear that it’s too expensive and complicated to create a mobile app, don’t worry. With MobiLoud, it’s affordable, fast and simple to convert your forum into a mobile app.
In less than a month, you can have your forum in the app stores. You’ll increase user retention and loyalty, add a new acquisition channel, and get more revenue, all for little investment in time and money.
Get on a demo call today to start the conversation, and learn just how easy it is to build a forum app with MobiLoud.