The torrid growth in the number of users utilizing mobile devices over the last five years has completely changed the web development scenario. Nowadays, more and more web developers are getting their hands on mobile app development. No matter if you’re on Android, iOS, Blackberry or Windows Phone, you can find a plethora of mobile apps designed to fulfill a diversity of purposes.
If you have a popular WordPress blog/site and really are planning to build a mobile app for it, it would obviously be icing on the cake. This article is intended to make you familiar with the importance of having a native mobile app and provide you some great ways of turning your WordPress site into a stunning mobile app.
Let’s get started!
Why Should You Go For a Native Mobile App?
In this golden age of mobiles, where everyone is surrounded by devices such as smart phones, tablets, iPhones, iPads etc, relying on a desktop-only website can be really harmful for your business. Not only does it frustrate your current mobile visitors, it also deprives you of potential ones. As well, you lose several monetization opportunities, such as AdMob, through which you can generate some extra revenue. Therefore, not having a mobile app for your online business is one risk that you won’t like to take.
You might have a very common question in your mind: won’t a responsive or adaptive website suffice for mobile users? Yes, it’ll be sufficient to some extent. But, if you want to empower your mobile users with some advanced features like push notifications, regular content updates and offline browsing, you’ll have to go for a native mobile app that has numerous advantages of its own. Above all, accessing a mobile app in a single tap is much easier than browsing a mobile website that requires a user to type website URL in the phone browser. That’s the reason why everyone loves to use the Facebook mobile app rather than using its mobile site.
When Does It Make Sense to Build a Mobile App?
Even though a mobile website has a number of advantages, but in some instances, you need to provide users a custom tailored experience in the context of the device they’re using. For example:
- Interactivity/Gaming: An app is the best choice for an interactive game such as Angry Birds.
- Native Functionality: If your requirements are mobile specific, like click-to-call, SMS and geo-location, it’ll be better for you to go with app.
- eCommerce: If you sell products online, it’ll always be beneficial for you to turn your e-store into an m-commerce app.
- Offline Accessibility: If you want to make enable your users to perform functions and access content with no internet connection, then you should think about building a mobile app.
- Regular Usage: If you think your users will use your app on a regular basis, like Simplenote, then an app makes sense.
So if you need any one of the above, a native mobile app makes sense for your business.
How Can You Get a Mobile App?
There are a number of app-building plug-ins and services that promise to transform a WordPress site into a fully-functioning native mobile app. Some of them are given below:
Mobiloud is an easy to use and professional mobile app builder that helps bloggers and publishers build native Android and iOS apps for their WordPress sites. Using Mobiloud, you can design, preview and publish your own mobile apps in a few easy steps. It makes use of App.io to give you a live preview of how your app will look on mobile devices.
IdeaPress is a simple, intuitive and user-friendly app building tool that allows you to convert your WordPress site into an Android, iOS and Windows Phone app in minutes. It doesn’t require you to be an expert in coding: you just need to focus on the UI of your app and IdeaPress will take care of all things. If your requirements are basic, IdeaPress is made for you.
WiziApp is a free plug-in that converts your WordPress site into a HTML5 mobile app. It offers several mobile themes that you can use to give your site a unique mobile web app view. Using its user-friendly wizard, you can customize your application the way you like. In addition, you can also create Android and iPhone apps that will cost $149 and $299 per year respectively.
Mobapper allows you to create native Android, Blackberry, Windows and iPhone apps for your WordPress site without having to write a single line of code. Though it’s relatively new in the WordPress world, but seems highly suitable for creating basic mobile apps.
Should a Site Be Mobile Optimized to Build an App?
All of above given plug-ins and services don’t produce too much attractive results. Actually, they all render your site’s homepage as an app on a mobile device. When users tap the app icon, they simply deliver them the same mobile website which they often access via their phone’s browser. In a nutshell, we can say these all solutions are “1% app with 99% WordPress”.
Thus, to make above mentioned methods more effective, you need to test your WordPress site on a mobile device or simulator before you’re going to build an app for it. If you find your site optimized for mobile viewing, then you can go for any of above app building solutions. Otherwise, you must first optimize your site for mobile devices using mobile plug-ins, such as WPtouch and iThemes Mobile, and then think about transform it into a mobile app.
I know you have a very obvious question in your mind: is there any way to build a native mobile app for a non-mobile optimized site? Yes, there is! This is…
AppPresser: The World’s First Mobile App Framework for WordPress
AppPresser is a set of various extensions and theme that give you the fastest, easiest and most affordable way to build Android/iOS apps using WordPress. Unlike other app builders, which make use of a WordPress site feed, AppPresser allows you to make the most of advanced features like posts, pages, users and plug-ins. Plus, it perfectly integrates with Adobe’s PhoneGap, means you’re allowed for custom development in order to integrate with advanced device features – such as geo-location, camera, contacts and accelerometer – supported by PhoneGap API. Below is introductory video of AppPresser:
Additionally, AppPresser offers several extensions, using which you can enhance the look and functionality of your application. They are as follows:
A theme built from the ground up to look and function in the same way as a native mobile app does on touch-based devices.
By using the AppCamera extension, you can easily build photo sharing apps for Android and iOS devices.
This extension gives you the power to send push notifications to your app users.
The AppSwiper extension allows you to add a touch-enabled slider to your app.
This extension can be used to create an eCommerce app. In order to use AppWoo, the WooCommerce plug-in must be activated on your site.
This extension lets you transform your BuddyPress powered site into a sleek and powerful social networking app.
Formerly AppGeo, the Geolocation extension enables you to pinpoint your current location by using the geo-location native to the device.
All of above extensions are included in AppPresser’s agency bundle that costs $499 for up to 25 apps.
Remark: If you want your users perform function and access content in offline mode, then AppPresser is not made for you. Apps built with AppPresser do not work offline, means they require an active internet connection to access the content.
Getting Started with AppPresser
Before you purchase a suitable AppPresser bundle, I suggest you to get the free AppPresser Developer Handbook and also watch the following video that will give you a brief introduction to the working of AppPresser.
Now, I’m going to describe what’s happening in the above video step-by-step. So you could easily understand how to build an app with AppPresser.
Install the AppPresser Core plug-in
First and foremost, you need to install and activate the AppPresser plug-in. You can do it either by downloading the plug-in from the WordPress.org repository, or by searching for “AppPresser” from the plug-in install screen given in your WordPress dashboard. I’ve done it using the second method.
Install the AppPresser Theme
Next, you’ve to install the AppTheme for your app site. Installing the AppPresser theme will not affect the default theme of your website. Means, when a user will open your site on the mobile browser, he will not get any idea about the existing of mobile app for your site.
So, sign in to your AppPresser account. Go to My Account >> View Details and Downloads, and get your theme download and license key from there. On this page, you’ll also find other plug-in downloads.
Note your license keys somewhere and download the AppPresser Theme and other plug-ins that you want to use.
Go to Appearance >> Themes in your site’s dashboard. Upload the AppPresser theme zip file and do not activate it.
Now you can see, there is a “AppPresser Menu” created in your WordPress Dashboard. Click on “AppPresser” given under it and you’ll be taken to the setting screen. On this screen, check the “Load AppPresser for Admins Only” box. Doing so, you’ll be able to preview your app as admin. After that, type in name/ID of the page that you want to use as home page for your app. Also, set “AppTheme” as App-only theme, enter your license key there and click the “Save Settings” button.
The preview of the home page of your app will look something like this:
That’s all! You now can customize the look, feel and functionality of your application with a variety of options provided by AppPresser. Everything from building a distinct home page to adding a touch-enabled slider is as simple as you do for your desktop site.
How to Get Your App Listed in App Stores?
If you want to keep you away from the headache of building and listing your app in app stores, you can pay AppPresser to do almost everything for $499. Otherwise, you can do it yourself using developer accounts and PhoneGap Build. For more information, watch their video guide: