In this article we’re going to show you how to build a Squarespace app from your existing site with our Squarespace app builder Canvas. Let’s start with a little context though.
Squarespace has been around since the early 00s, and has had an important impact on the web since then. A beginner-friendly website builder that helped to bring down the barrier to website development, Squarespace has given millions of users the opportunity to launch their own sites fast without needing any technical knowledge whatsoever.
It is easier to use than WordPress, but less flexible and scalable, making it the natural choice for many smaller businesses and eCommerce stores that want to get a functional site up and running easily.
Over the years, Squarespace has added a lot of features to the platform to help with email marketing, SEO, analytics and more.
There is one feature that they don’t have though, the ability to turn your Squarespace site into mobile apps for iOS and Android.
Why would you want to do this though? In this article, we’re going to go over the main reasons why you should turn your Squarespace site into mobile apps. We’re then going to move from the how, going through the best ways to go from Squarespace to app. Ultimately, we’re going to show why we think our platform, Canvas, is the best way to convert your Squarespace site to mobile apps.
Let’s get started.
Why Convert a Squarespace Site into Mobile Apps?
Perhaps you used one of Squarespace’s 100+ templates to build an eCommerce store, a blog, or an information site for your business. Perhaps you’ve pushed it further than most, and built something that is already quite close to a mobile app, thanks to Squarespace’s built in mobile support.
What if you’re looking to take things a step further though and grow beyond the web? One good option is to build iOS and Android apps that mirror your existing Squarespace site.
There are lots of reasons why this makes sense. The most compelling ones are related to modern user habits.
A Better Mobile UX
Back in the early days of Squarespace, it was a desktop browser dominated digital world. The desktop era gave way to the mobile internet, which is now giving way to apps.
That’s right, people spent 90% of their mobile time using apps in 2019. An app experience is now the default expectation for any product, tool or brand that users expect to engage with habitually.
Apps won over websites primarily because they provide a more smooth, intuitive, convenient user experience.
Think about the apps that you use regularly. You’re reminded by a push notification or the visible icon on your home screen, you tap on it, and an instant later you’re in – without the need to log in or wait unnecessarily.
Compare this to remembering a specific site, pulling up the mobile browser, putting in the URL, and waiting for it to load. Worse still, you might have to log in again (the horror!). Then when you’re on the site, you’re distracted by other app notifications popping up and the 27 other browser tabs you have open.
It’s clear that apps help digital brands to stay top of mind and offer a more direct path to content.
When you’re in the app itself, the native tab menu, navigation and full screen experience make everything smoother – and there are less distractions too.
For these reasons, businesses that build iOS and Android apps often see a boost in traffic, return visits, dwell time, conversions, and user retention. Apps are designed for loyalty and help immensely if you’re trying to encourage your users to make a habit of using your app or content.
More eCommerce Conversions
If you have a Squarespace-based eCommerce site, the advantages are even more clear – eCommerce apps in general are a must for online stores.
Over the past few years, sales through eCommerce apps have surged. An impressive 78% of users would rather access a store via a mobile app than a mobile site.
eCommerce apps also drive 3x higher conversion rates than web-based online stores.
The trend isn’t going anywhere, it’ll keep going until the mobile web is primarily a place of exploration and discovery rather than deep engagement and loyalty.
An App Store Presence
Also, just being on Google Play and the App Store is a benefit in its own right.
Firstly, you can pick up new users and customers who are searching for relevant keywords on the App Store and Google Play. Secondly just the App Store presence is a boost to your brand. It shows that you are serious about mobile UX and makes you look more established than just having a website – so you’ll impress users and potential investors and partners.
Another key benefit of converting your Squarespace site into mobile apps is native push notifications. There are already ways to send web notifications through Squarespace, but these only really work on Android and desktop. The user experience is not great, many sites have abused them and browsers are increasingly cracking down on them.
With iOS and Android apps – your notifications aren’t limited. You can send them out to both iOS and Android users equally whenever you like, with whatever content you like. You get permission from the user when they install or run your app, then you’re good to go!
Right now you probably try to communicate with your users, fans and customers through social channels and email. Push notifications are much more effective than both. They have a far higher open and click through rate than email, and your reach isn’t artificially restricted like on social platforms.
Push notifications are the ideal way to promote your marketing messages to users and build a deeper connection with your biggest fans, and you can only make use of them properly by turning your Squarespace site into mobile apps!
A Home for Your Biggest Fans
Apps self-select for your biggest fans and give them a “home”, gathering them all in one place where you can really focus on engaging and understanding them. The reasons we’ve discussed are why apps are emerging as a key part of multi-channel product strategy for serious digital brands.
By now we hope that you’re pretty excited about building mobile apps for your Squarespace site, and are ready to use apps to grow your business beyond the crowded mobile web.
Building mobile apps really makes sense for any Squarespace site that relies on returning users and building long term engagement.
That brings us from the why to the how.
How to Build Squarespace Apps
So we’ve looked at why you should build mobile apps, but how can you get the job done?
First of all, Squarespace themselves can’t help much. Although there are Squarespace apps, these are for managing a Squarespace site, there’s no Squarespace app to build mobile apps.
When researching this article we reached out to Squarespace and asked if they had anything to help users build native mobile apps, or if they had any plans to add it in the future.
They confirmed that currently there isn’t any internal feature that allows users to create mobile apps, and as far as we could tell there are no concrete plans to develop such capability.
One of Squarespace’s representatives suggested to us that “custom code” could perhaps be used to build apps that connect with the site. What do they mean by that?
They might mean that you could build mobile apps from scratch – using technologies like Objective-C, Swift, Java or React Native – then figure out a way to connect them to the Squarespace API so that the apps can pull data from Squarespace’s server.
In theory, this is possible.
Squarespace does make its API available for inventory, products, transactions and orders – but really though, building an app from scratch is overkill. It would take skilled developers many months to pull off, and cost a minimum of $50,000 just to get a first version out.
Even considering the benefits of mobile apps, the opportunity cost and risk is too high for most businesses.
Luckily, it isn’t necessary. There are ways to convert your Squarespace site to iOS and Android apps more efficiently. We’re going to look at a few, then show how our platform, Canvas, is the best for you.
Convert Your Squarespace site to Mobile Apps Fast
There are a few “app builders” that target Squarespace site owners on the market.
They work by giving you a platform to build mobile apps through one of their pre-built templates and giving you a few customization options on top. These platforms make use of Squarespace’s aforementioned APIs so they are restricted to sites on the Squarespace Commerce platform.
They can get you functional apps, much faster and cheaper than building apps from scratch like we discussed earlier.
The problem is that they force you into one of their pre-built templates, and risk giving you an app with only basic functionality that looks exactly like hundreds of others.
They also have varying degrees of integration with your Squarespace site. Some will allow you to build a simple, functional eCommerce app, others will just let you build a cookie-cutter templated app that has very little interaction with your Squarespace site and will end up disappointing you.
These tools may get you apps fast, but you shouldn’t expect them to be much good.
A better way is to just take your existing Squarespace app, and have it run as iOS and Android apps inside a native webview.
Rather than building separate apps and somehow connecting them with Squarespace (if that is even possible) – a webview app is your Squarespace site, running as native apps.
From the users’ point of view, they are getting the full app experience. They’ll download it from either Google Play or the App Store, install it on their devices, and have your icon on their home screen.
With one tap they’ll be into your app.
Does it make sense to ‘repackage’ your Squarespace app into a webview like this? Isn’t it cheating?
It absolutely makes sense in 90% of cases. If your Squarespace site or eCommerce store runs well on a mobile browser now, it’ll run just as well as an app.
Just displaying your site inside an empty box – the webview – doesn’t look that great, performance won’t be good enough, the user experience will suffer from the lack of native controls and navigation. It will most probably be rejected by Apple for lacking any native functionality. And you’re still missing a key feature of mobile apps, push notifications, which don’t work out of the box, but need the support of an external service and integration.
Our Platform, Canvas, uses webviews – but it is more than an empty box. We’ve refined and improved the platform over five years and hundreds of apps – so your users will get the best app experience possible and you’ll get maximum benefit for your business.
Let’s move on to how it works.
Convert Your Squarespace Site to Mobile Apps with MobiLoud Canvas
Canvas takes your Squarespace site and converts it into iOS and Android apps ready to publish in under two weeks, and for less than 10% of the typical cost of building an app from scratch.
Canvas is a proven platform that has worked for hundreds of online businesses – and it can work for you too. Let’s take a look in more detail.
How Does Canvas Work?
Canvas is the perfect ‘wrapper’ for converting a Squarespace site into mobile apps. We built on the webview concept and optimized it, so you can take your site and convert it to apps that mirror your site without touching a single line of code.
Canvas isn’t just a wrapper. It adds native navigation, a native tab menu, native animations, loading indicators, native sharing, analytics, splash screens, push notifications and 30+ more features to get as close as possible to a full native app experience.
Canvas also integrates with OneSignal, the best push provider on the market. You can send out notifications easily through our dashboard to all your users, either automatically when some specific event happens, or manually whenever you see fit. Your apps will come with both a message center and push preferences for your users – making them all the more effective.
There’s no need for you or your team to do anything remotely technical, and nothing to rebuild or recreate.
It’s easy to manage your apps going forward. As your Canvas Squarespace apps will be synced 100% with your site, all your existing content will be automatically available and they will update instantly with anything you change on your Squarespace site.
The app’s various features like push notifications, appearance, menus, and analytics can all be controlled through our simple nocode dashboard.
In fact, building and managing mobile apps with Canvas is even easier than building a site with Squarespace!
When you sign up to Canvas you’ll have a call with one of our app experts who’ll explain the entire process to you, and go over your goals and ideas for the apps.
Then, you’ll get to work building them. You’ll choose the color scheme, menu structure, add your logo, and set up some of the key features.
Our team will be there to support you and answer any questions you may have. When that’s all done – you can test the app on your own device.
When you’re happy with it, our team will take it from there. We’ll dedicate several hours to testing your apps thoroughly, and then preparing them for submission to the App Store and Google Play.
We handle the publishing process entirely. We’ve done it thousands of times and know exactly how to satisfy Apple and Google’s criteria, so we guarantee your app will get approved – or your money back!.
When your apps are launched on iOS and Android, you’re ready to start enjoying the benefits.
Our support doesn’t end there though. We are with you for the lifetime of the apps and handle all ongoing updates and maintenance, all included in our monthly or annual fees.
There will be none of the expensive surprises that are all too common with app development.
Why Build Squarespace Apps With Canvas?
Canvas is the most direct route to go from Squarespace site to quality mobile apps.
Whether your site is an online store, a blog, or another content-rich site – Canvas will work great. You get to preserve the logic and functionality of your site without compromising through someone else’s template, so you can apply what already works through a new channel.
If someone buys products, reads articles, or books an appointment through your site right now – they will be able to do so in just the same way through the apps!
On top of that, we have built all the features into Canvas that users expect from high-quality apps – native navigation, push notifications and a customizable interface!
If you have something in mind and don’t see it on the list just get in touch with our team. Over the years we’ve seen almost every edge case and custom request, and there’s a good chance we already have a solution for what you’re looking for.
We’re here to help you build high-quality mobile apps from your Squarespace site – and get you ready to go live in just two weeks!