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App Development
8 minutes read

Can You Turn a Website Into an App?

by Mario Tatis
App Development
8 minutes read

If you have a great website and you want to break into the mobile space, you may be wondering if an app is really necessary, and can you turn a website into an app? The answer is yes, and honestly, if you don’t already have a mobile app, you should consider creating one. Yes, even your business website could benefit from being converted to a mobile app. 

In this post I will convince you why mobile apps are better than websites and explore the different options you have to transform your website into an app. 

The Importance of a Mobile App

We all know that Google has prioritized indexing mobile-friendly pages first in their search results. Why? Because most people access the Internet from their smartphone. Similarly, did you know that mobile users spend 16 times more time on mobile apps than they do on their mobile browsers? Recent research has found that people spend 87% of their mobile time on apps compared to only 13% of their time on the Internet

The numbers are pretty clear, mobile apps get more traffic than mobile websites. Sure, you could rely on responsive web design to create a mobile-friendly website, but this won’t allow you to send your users push notifications when you have new products or sales. Plus, if your customers don’t have access to the Internet, they won’t be able to access your website. 

You can turn any web application into a mobile app. However, you should be wary of converting website tools you find online. These online tools rely heavily on plugins that offer you little customization. Ultimately, these free tools leave your User Experience wanting. We never recommend cutting corners especially when it comes to User Experience

How Can I Convert My Website into a Mobile App?

Now that we have shared some of the mobile app statistics with you, you’re likely wondering how you can get started converting your website into a mobile app. There are three main ways you can approach your app build. If you have a business website that you want to migrate to a mobile app, your options are to build any of the following types of app:

  • Progressive Web App
  • Native App
  • Hybrid App

Let’s look into these three different options in greater detail. There are pros and cons to each choice; so while you are learning more, think about what type of mobile app you want to create, how you want your app to be used, and how you want your mobile app to look. 

Progressive Web App 

These types of mobile apps are technically web apps that are created to look, feel, and ultimately behave like native apps. Your customers or users won’t even have to go to an app store to download your mobile app. If you build a Progressive Web App for your website, your mobile web visitors will have the opportunity to save your app directly to their mobile device’s home screen. 

This allows them to bypass the mobile browser and the process of entering a URL. Once they have your Progressive Web App saved to their home screen, they can access your app just like any other mobile app on their phone. 

The pros of building a mobile app in this manner are plentiful. For one, this method is very cost-friendly. Progressive Web Apps are also still indexed by Google and other search engines in search result pages. These apps allow you to send your users push notifications, and they allow your users to use your app while offline. 

Native App

Android and iOS operating systems differ in many ways. Android app development utilizes different programming languages than iOS app development. Native mobile apps are written in the supported programming languages of the devices they are created for. For example, a native iOS app would be written in either Swift or Objective-C, and native Android apps would be written in Java or Kotlin

Native mobile apps provide the best possible User Experience. These apps are designed to look good and operate seamlessly on specific devices and operating systems. Native app development gives you the most control over the way your app looks and feels to the user. If you don’t want to compromise on your mobile app’s speed, security, or User Experience, choosing to develop a native app is your best choice

We’ve already gone over quite a few of the pros of native apps, but just to give you a full picture, the pros of native apps are: rich User Experience, high functionality and performance, offline support, and complete personalization. The downside to native app development is that it is the most expensive type of mobile app to develop. Additionally, it will take more time to develop a great native app than it would a Progressive Web App or hybrid app. 

You may be turned off by the idea of developing a separate app for Android and iOS operating systems. However, if you take the time to understand who is using your website, you will be able to see which devices account for the majority of your traffic. You can develop a native app for the most prevalent traffic source first, and then develop an additional native app at another time. 

Hybrid App

Hybrid app development is a unique approach to app development that takes elements of both Web Apps and native apps, hence the name hybrid. Hybrid apps are downloaded in the same manner as native apps, through an app store, but once downloaded they run a lot like Progressive Web Apps due to their source code. A hybrid app will most likely be written in HTML5, CSS, and Javascript much like a webpage

Hybrid apps have grown in popularity because you can code them once and run them on all operating systems. Like a cross-platform app, you won’t need to create separate apps for Android and iOS. Hybrid app development allows you to save time when converting your website to a mobile app. For example, if your website is built with React.js, you can use the React Native hybrid framework to help turn your website into a mobile app. There are additional hybrid mobile app frameworks you can use to help develop your hybrid mobile app such as Flutter and Ionic. 

The pros of hybrid app development are:

  • Shorter development times
  • Cross-platform functionality
  • More cost-efficient than native app development
  • Work online and offline
  • Easy to maintain. 

The cons to hybrid app development are:

  • Less functionality when compared to native apps
  • Slower overall performance
  • A User Experience that is less rich 

The Advantages of Mobile Apps Vs Websites

You now know a lot more about the different types of mobile apps, but what are the other advantages of turning a website into an app? We’ve already discussed some of the key advantages mobile apps have over websites while we were exploring the different types of mobile app, but let’s take a closer look and see some of the key advantages now. 

Customization 

Mobile apps give people the ability to personalize their experiences. User behavior, engagement, and habits can all be used to help deliver a more personalized app experience. Websites simply can’t deliver high-quality personalized experiences like an app can. 

Offline Access

Smartphones changed the world because they enabled people to bring the Internet with them wherever they go. Mobile apps are great because you don’t need an Internet connection to use them. People’s attention spans have gotten shorter in recent years. If people have to wait for your webpage to load or enter a URL they are less likely to interact with you. A mobile app allows you to reach your audience even when they are offline

Utilization of Native Features

Mobile apps, even hybrid apps are designed with the built-in features of smartphones in mind. The features most often utilized are the phone’s built-in camera, the touch screen, and GPS device. These features help deliver a first-rate experience. Think about food delivery apps using your GPS location to show you nearby restaurants and deliver your food to your location. This is an example of an app using the phone’s native features to deliver a great User Experience. 

Final Thoughts

It no longer makes sense not to have a mobile app in today’s modern tech landscape. No matter what type of business, organization, or idea you have, a mobile app will benefit you far more than a website

This is not to say that websites are no longer important, but more people are accessing the Internet via mobile browsers. People have come to expect that there will be an app to meet their needs. Much like the old iPhone commercials used to proclaim, “There’s an app for that.” Can you turn your website into an app? If you want to engage your audience, drive traffic and conversions, and build a solid brand identity, you need to seriously consider turning your website into an app as soon as possible. 

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