How To Turn a Website Into a Native Android or IOS App?
It goes without saying that the new era of mobile applications has come and every successful business can hardly ignore it. The increasing importance of apps in sales and marketing makes a lot of website owners think of moving most of their processes to a mobile platform. Which option is best - a website or an app? Every e-commerce platform owner happens to face this dilemma sooner or later.
The statistics offered by Smart Insights proves the consumer preference for mobile apps to mobile sites. Here are the two graphs. The first one shows the time-percentage people from different countries worldwide spent online on mobile:
Respectively, the second one represents the percentage of mobile minutes spent on apps in all of these countries:
[Images source: Smart Insights]
Most of the entrepreneurs nowadays tend to simply have both: a website and a mobile app, without thinking of the real role they should play in their business. So, don’t be in a hurry to convert your e-commerce website into a mobile app or to trying to run two of them. Understand the true purpose, study the market needs, competitors’ advantages and then decide what you need most: a successful website or a relevant app.
Our life moves faster and apps have taken their place in it, step by step replacing slow and massive websites. These tiny icons on the screen of our mobile devices on iOS, Android and other platforms are always ready to meet our needs wherever we are.
Native apps are fast, handy, easy to use and have plenty of advantages, in comparison with their website ancestors. But still, there are lots of services which work better on a website. It’s more convenient to have a close look at the products’ details, to work with some large map areas, read long reviews and do plenty of other things at the desktop. Mind these features, and think twice before trying to transfer them to an app. Don’t put your business at risk just because for the sake of a modern trend - having a mobile app for your business.
If your idea of moving your business to mobile application still makes sense for you, then don’t hesitate, learn how to stay in tune and how to turn your website into a mobile app and how this can affect your product.
Converting your website to a mobile app you provide your customers with a great deal of useful options which make their experience more pleasant and create a better engagement:
fast access to their wallet and other payment methods;
brief information update with push notifications;
mobile apps are faster and easier to use than websites (in most cases);
access to camera and photo library;
access to contacts and other user’s private information;
ability to avoid any printed confirmations or tickets, by using QR codes;
access to maps and personal geolocation;
and the last but not the least - you give them a chance to do what they really need wherever they are: in transport, in a cafe, by the swimming pool or even in a hospital. Everywhere they take their smartphone, your mobile product goes as well (sometimes even when they are offline).
Hundreds of businesses have already proved the scheme “website first, mobile app next” to be workable. Here is a short list of businesses who “fell for the mobile hype”:
Zillow - an online rental space for the landlords and tenants in the USA.
Airbnb - a platform helping you find a home to stay at in almost any country worldwide.
Amazon - the world’s largest Internet-based retailer. First started as a website, then, in 2011, came out with an mobile Amazon on the App Store.
Seems like such a huge list of benefits is gonna increase your revenue, so let’s get closer to the case!
What do you really need to know about how to turn a website into an app?
In general, there are two ways to go. Both of them have their advantages and disadvantages.
- There are more than a dozen of programs aimed to convert a website to an app.
Most of them are targeting at Android devices and work poorly for iOS, but you can still try and find some apps which will promise you to perform the same operations on other mobile platforms.
How does it work?
The program takes all the necessary information from your website and transfers it into your future app. When the template is filled with your data, it’s sent to be published on the Google Play or any other store.
Don’t expect apps of this kind to look catching or any kind of attractive. The number of functions is quite limited, too. In most of cases it’s practically impossible to save your corporate style and make it recognizable.
As you see, this is just a cheaper option which doesn’t solve the problem but can help you on a stage when you are not sure of how exactly you would like your app to look like.
There are several packages to purchase before you get to work, starting from $30 per one app and up to $1000-2000 where you can create several apps, make an unlimited number of changes and get a life-long membership. Even though nobody guarantees you a 100% - successful release on the markets, especially on the App Store. Besides, this tool works mostly with Wordpress websites and finds it is hard to transform data from Joomla, HTML5, or custom-made ones.
Some of the places you could go to convert your website into an iOS or Android app:
- Como - a platform that lets you create your own customized app from scratch, with a number of attractive features (schedule, blog, use of reviews and reservations) attached. This could be a modest solution for those who seek a customized app for their small business.
Pricing: up from $59 each month.
- IBuildApp - an online platform that lets you build an app for your business in 3 simple steps:
1) choose a ready-made template
2) edit an app according to your preferences
3) request publishing on both Apple Store and Google Play
IBuildApp, rated as one of the best app makers of 2017 is a fine-for-your-business solution with a wide varity of features to choose from.
Pricing: up from $23.40 monthly.
In general, the term “convert” is somehow deceitful. Here it means nothing but extracting your existing data and using it in the new app. Those ready-made samples and shells of mobile apps as mentioned above will hardly ever help you to meet the needs of your customers and make their experience pleasurable.
The second option of how to turn your website into an app is a solution for those who ain't gonna lose their time and understand the influence of a well-developed mobile app on the product promotion.
Choose a team of professional app developers you trust and let them do all the job for you.
What does the process actually involve?
First and foremost you set the main goals of the app, what problems should it solve for you and, as a result, which aspects it should cover. Then follows a process of defining its functionality: what you want your customers to do while using your application. Consequently you get either a shop, or a chat, or an informative platform to share or to download necessary info at.
Here comes the time to design the whole system from A to Z. The team’s designer studies your case, your existing website, and what is more important - your experience and expectations.
On the base of the information achieved, the team of developers creates a product with the interface and functions which appeal to you most. The more complicated the app's structure is, the more time you have to give to the team. Besides, several negotiations and discussions can take place during the process of the product’s development.
When the application finally looks the way you imagine it, the team prepares is to be released on the markets you want it to be on: either AppStore, or Google Play, or both, which is always better, as long as you cover the most of your target audience. It’s easier and faster to release on Google Play, but for a professional team it’s not a problem at all - to succeed on the App Store as well.
It’s not enough to release, but it’s extremely important to support your customers on their way, to make their experience really nice and engage them as much as possible. A professional application support is the thing your can hardly deal with without the help of your developers’ team. They will cope with the system’s problems and resolve them once they appear.
You see now, it’s not about “converting” one thing - your website, into another - mobile application. It’s about designing and creating a completely different, independent product which along with a proper marketing program is able to bring you up to twice as much revenue!
As a result - you get a well-designed mobile app which totally corresponds with your corporate style and business ideas. While using all the tools available for mobile app development, the specialists will help you to get what you really want and to add as many functions as you may need.
No matter what CMS your website is based on, you’ll take the maximum out of it.
But don’t make a mistake of limiting the process by simply transferring the data. A successful app has a completely different nature with your website. It should show your product, blog or company from a different side using all the functionality of iPhones, iPads and any other devices of your target audience. Make it special. Make it different.
So, how much does it cost to change the past for the future?
Speaking of the first option mentioned, it may cost you $30 per one app, additional release fee on the mobile market ($25 at Google Play and $99 at App Store) and some additional monthly or annual fees.
The cost of turning a website into a native app described in the second option is always a more expensive but a safer way towards your goals. You pay only for what you really need. The more precise cost of making an iOS or Android application is hard to estimate as it consists out of several stages and depends on several factors - the time, the budget and the scope of features you would love to see in your product.
To crown it all, to cross the road from website to a mobile app, you have to take one of the two ways mentioned:
Option number 1: less money, more of your time: you take care of your design, of the testing process, of the release in the stores and further work and support. In spite of the fact most of these “converting programs” are made for non-professionals, to deal with them you will still need some skills in web designing and software development, or at least to have somebody to help you on this complicated way.
Option number 2: or save your time, invest into product’s development: hire professionals and just be proud of what you get, collecting good reviews in stores and developing your business in a tech-savvy way.
Which of the tools to choose is a question of money and time, of course. While making a decision think of the result you want to get out of it, what do you do it for and how you see your business after entering the world of mobile apps.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.
Written by Alexandra Lukashevich