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How to convert your website into a mobile app using a WordPress plugin

8 min read
Emaad Paracha

“There’s an app for that.” Remember that phrase from the famous Apple commercial in 2009? That was nearly 15 years ago, and that phrase still holds true today. More people are utilizing phones than ever before, and the majority of your customers likely spend a significant portion of their time online on their phones or tablets. This shows the importance for any brand or business to have a presence not just online but also on mobile. 

There are many ways to achieve a mobile presence, but one of the easiest and best ways to get in front of your customers is to create your own mobile app. This allows you to showcase your content in an easy way for your customers, where they can click on an icon and get to your content and website right away. 

You might say you’ve already invested in a website and don’t want to invest that much time and effort into a mobile app. Well, here’s the best part: You don’t have to! In this post, we’ll discuss both why a mobile app is a good idea for your business, and how you can convert your WordPress website to a mobile app.

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Why should you create a WordPress mobile app? 

When you think about creating a mobile app, the first thing that may come to your mind is to create a bespoke app from scratch. The problem with that is that it can be time-consuming and costly, especially if you have to now get resources to help with app development. But, if you have a WordPress website with the content already on it, it can be way more efficient to use that site to build an app.  

Here are some benefits of building an app from a WordPress site: 

  • Content Repurposing: By using your existing content, you can save on time and extend the reach of what you’ve already built. 
  • Enhanced Web Traffic: The mobile app can serve as an ad for your website, driving more customers there. 
  • Time to Launch: You’ve already built the website, and you can use that website as the foundation for your app, helping you build an app in literally less than a day. 

And best of all, you don’t need a developer to make anything. You can leverage tools that make it simple and easy to convert your site into an app, saving you the cost, time, and energy and giving you a beautiful app for your business. 

Choosing the right WordPress mobile app builder 

Although there are lots of plugins you can choose from, it's important to note that they offer different levels of control, flexibility, and ease to build. Some options take your website and convert it into an app in a one-click solution without a lot of flexibility. Others provide more options for customization, pages, and ongoing support and maintenance. 

One of the best plugins that offers both ease and flexibility is Appful.  

It’s designed with businesses in mind, and integrates smoothly with WordPress. You can create a customized mobile app within 5 minutes, that focuses your users’ needs, and allows for a suite of features, including caching, offline reading mode for blogs, push notifications, and more! And best of all, you can test what your app will look like before you pay. 

Let’s get started! 

How to convert a WordPress website into a mobile app using Appful 

We’ll take you through the steps on how to get started with Appful and end up with a test app that you can test on your phone or online, and how you can get that to the app store! 

Step 1: Sign up for a free trial of Appful. 

Go to Appful’s website and click “Start For Free”. That will lead you to a sign-up page where you can enter your details, your website’s details, and eventually select a plan. You don’t have to pay right now, that’s after you’ve built something you like, but you can choose what plan you would prefer.

Step 2: Install the WordPress plugin. 

Head over to your website and go to add a new plugin. Search for “Appful”. You may find two different plugins, one is an old version, the other is the newer, current version. Make sure you install the newer version. Click “Install Now” and then “Activate” to activate the plugin.

Step 3: Connect the WordPress plugin to your Appful account. 

Once activated, you should now see “Appful” towards the bottom. Click that, and that should prompt you to login. Login using the credentials you made in Step 1.

Once you’ve logged in, you’ll see the option to “Go to dashboard”. Click that!

Step 4: Create and customize your website. 

Once you go to the Appful dashboard, your website will now be connected, and you’ll be able to customize and build your app the way you want. You’ll first see a home page with instructions. If you’ve already installed the plugin, you should then navigate to the “Apps” section on the left-hand menu and choose your website (if you’ve logged in to the plugin, it should show up there automatically.

Once you click Apps and choose your website, you’ll enter the settings page for your website. 

This is now where you can edit the information, the design, the app icon, update pages, include push notifications, and other settings. We can dive deeper into these options: 

Step 4a: Info 

This is where you can edit the name of the app, the description, and which website is connected, along with other options, like the Privacy policy URL, Imprint URL, and more.

Step 4b: Design 

The design page is where you can choose the primary color for your app, and also upload an app icon.

Step 4c: Pages 

The Pages section is where you can tie your pages or your posts to pages of the app. By default, the website’s home page is shown as the “Home” section on the app, but you can choose something else if you wish. Here, we’ve added a Blog featuring the “Featured” posts, which can be shown as a separate menu item on the app. And also added a “Search” option here as well. But you can amend it to any page, or anything else!

Step 4d: Marketing 

Marketing is where you can set up and send push notifications to your users and review past sent notifications. You may not use this now but this can be a great way to communicate with your customers and have it show up on their phones!

Step 5: Test your app 

Once you’ve had a chance to build your app, you can then test it out! Click the “Test App” option on the top menu and you’ll get an option to either test the app in the browser or download an iOS or Android app where you can login and test the app there. 

Both options are great, but it is always best to test on your phone with their companion app so you can really get a feel of what your customers will be seeing.

This allows you to test how it would look on your phone or any other phone that you might have, and play around with the customizations you’ve made, so you can be truly happy with your app. 

Step 6: Publish Your App! 

Now that you’ve designed everything, time to publish and launch your app! On the web dashboard, you can click “Request Launch” on the top right, or on the mobile app you can also click “Request Launch” when you click the right app.  

That will open up a “Request Launch Form” where you can enter your details, and that will then go to the Appful team to check for functionality, content, and guidelines, and they’ll reach out for the next steps and to finalize the publishing of your application!

And that’s it! Once they reach out, they’ll update on the next steps and if they suggest any specific changes, and you can then publish your app to both the iOS and Android app stores! The only other thing you’ll need to do is to let your customers know that you’re on the App Stores and maybe even put it up on your website! 

Increase customer engagement with a WordPress mobile app 

Having a website is crucial for any business today, but it is not the only means to engage with your customers. Having a mobile app can exponentially grow your customer base and reach and give your customers another way to engage with your content. Using a plugin like Appful can make it easy and simple to convert your website to an app and not have to go through any long development cycles. It can help bring your business to mobile, and then you can also say, “there’s an app for that”!