Turning Your WordPress Site into Mobile App: Opportunities, Challenges and Solutions

Do you know, more than 24% of the websites are built on WordPress, and a considerable portion of these users prefer a mobile app? WordPress is the world’s most popular and widely adopted CMS platform powering millions of websites. You may be a startup or a fully operational business with a robust digital footprint or just a rising professional with a great web presence or just a brick and mortar store vying for a good web and mobile presence. Whatever description suits you best, WordPress as a CMS platform is pretty robust, flexible, scalable, feature rich and versatile to deliver up to your business needs and professional requirements.

The mobile friendliness or responsive quality of WordPress sites is well acclaimed. You can build your WordPress website perfectly responsive to offer visually appealing design across multiple screen sizes of mobile devices. But what about turning WordPress websites into fully fledged mobile apps with the state of the art features?  Well, thanks to an array of plugins now building WordPress sites into stunning mobile apps has become easier than ever before.

The ease of updating simultaneously

Why in the first place, you should use WordPress in mobile apps? Well, if you have a WordPress website building the mobile app on the same CMS is recommended since by updating the site you can update your app simultaneously as well. For instance, whenever you upload a new blog the same will be updated simultaneously on both the website and the app. Any changes made in the website will instantly be reflected in your mobile app as well.

Constraints and challenges

Now for turning your WordPress website into a powerful mobile app you need to consider a few important things. We all are aware of the robust scopes of customization with WordPress. But how much of this customization can smoothly be available when building a mobile app? Obviously, there are several challenges involved in the process. Integrating WordPress plugins and add-ons into mobile apps have several constraints and difficulties.

Building WordPress apps with app builders

Without any big technical expertise and skill set, you can develop a mobile app with App builders. This is particularly helpful for those who do not want to invest a good amount of money for building the app. But the downside is you cannot apply highly customized design and functionalities with these app builders. But if you do not need too many custom attributes in the new app, this comes as a pretty helpful solution. Obviously, there are other pros and cons that you should remember when developing with app builders.

There is an array of such app builders like Shoutem, Good Barber, Mobile Roadie, AppPresser, Telerik, AppBuilder, etc. All of them are not equal in respect of customization capabilities and WordPress support. Let us have a look at the various pros and cons of these app builders.

  • Pros: If you just need a mobile app presenting your WordPress blogs or contents and do not need too many added app features and functionalities, app builders are great. Most importantly, they are quick to build and least expensive. If you do not want to hire a developer gurgling out a good sum of money, this is the ideal option for you.
  • Cons: If you have really professional need to develop a robust mobile presence with a custom look, feel, and features, an app builder is not an ideal option.

Developing hybrid custom WordPress app

If you wish to include all the varied range of functionalities and feature set that any fully coded mobile app can deliver besides keeping the WordPress element, this hybrid custom development can be ideal for you. You can use technologies like Ionic Framework and the WP-API. This approach, unlike the app builders, allows integrating most of the plugins and add-ons for your preferred look and feel.

How is such a WordPress app made? Basically, by using web technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript the internal code is made and further it is wrapped with PhoneGap making them accessible by the native device. It works more like the single page web app built on WordPress API. Precisely this is why the WP-API plays such an important role in building custom hybrid WordPress apps. The WP-API built for WordPress core makes accessing WordPress content easier for a mobile app.

Let us now have a look at the pros and cons of this approach in developing WordPress mobile apps.

  • Pros: If you make use of the traditional approach in coming with a hybrid mobile app built on WordPress, it can deliver an array of performance-boosting attributes like caching, native transitions, offline access, etc. Moreover, it allows integrating several other APIs except for WordPress and allows access to a whole range of device features like the camera and push messages.
  • Cons: While this is another tested way to get your WordPress content into a mobile app, a lot of WordPress plugins cannot be made available that otherwise make your WordPress website UX interesting.

Transferring the entire WordPress site into an app: the AppPresser way

The whole challenge of building a WordPress mobile app revolves around making all the plugins and add-ons available on the app. In the two solutions mentioned above, there is the limited scope of making all the WordPress features and functionalities available just because of the huge challenge involved in transferring the custom plugins from the website to the mobile app.

Well, a completely free plugin called AppPresser ultimately came to rescue for millions of WordPress users by making the entire WordPress website available in a mobile app. For a wide array of plugins also AppPresser represent the only way to remain available for the mobile app. Besides allowing access to all your plugins it also allows using your custom shortcodes to tweak the functionalities further. Let us have a look at the pros and cons of this approach.

  • Pros: Do you want your mobile app to work just the similar way your WordPress website do? Do you want same range of features and functionalities in your WordPress app without spending a lot on development? Do you want to have a lot of customization scopes with all the WordPress plugins? Well, for all these and much more this can be the ideal solution.
  • Cons: Because of the absence of huge device storage and offline functionalities with AppPresser, it may not be ideal if speed or offline access is a big consideration for your project.  

About author: Juned Ghanchi is a marketing strategist, author and blogger with an 8 years career in digital marketing. He is the co-founder and director of marketing department at IndianAppDevelopers, leading mobile application development company in India.