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How to Turn Your Website into a Mobile App and 5 Brands That Have Already Done It

Alekh Verma | February 7, 2023
website to mobile app

Smartphones have altered the way people access information. Anything you need to know about a company can be acquired in seconds. Gone are those days when people used websites, now every task from reading the news in the morning to buying goods, is done using a mobile application. According to a report in 2021, over half the visits to a website come from a mobile device. This means people no longer rely on bulky desktops or laptops to access any business.

If your firm already has a website but wants to provide a more user-friendly mobile experience, you can convert it into an Android or iOS app that provides your clients with a mobile-optimized interface. This is especially useful if your website isn't very responsive on mobile devices, as you may create an app alternative for them.

Need for a Mobile Application

If you’re wondering why not just stick with the website. Your website is already established and you wouldn’t want to disrupt that. Why go for a mobile application after all?

Then let us tell you that nearly a third of all small businesses have already incorporated mobile applications into their businesses. People have understood the power a mobile application holds and are fully utilizing it. Here are some of the reasons why turning your website into a mobile app might benefit your business and your customers.

1. Ease of Access

The ease of use of apps over web pages is at the top of our list of benefits. Fewer barriers between your business and the user is always a good idea. According to recent research, mobile consumers spend 83 percent of their time in applications, and we believe the ease of access is a major contributing factor to this data.

While webpages must be visited, applications live on your consumers' smartphones. This implies that potential buyers must use a search engine, type the site's web address, or (most likely) browse to a mobile bookmark they've created to view your webpage. Doing this requires a lot of effort from the consumer’s end.

2. Advanced Optimization (or SEO)

In comparison to Google ranking standards, a mobile application delivers a more dynamic competitive edge. If a user is searching for some information on their mobile phone (which most people do), then they’ll type their query in the Google search engine, and Google is more likely to show your business on their search page if you do have a mobile application as Google and other search engines are built to deliver the most relevant results based on the user query. Google showing your business makes more sense if you have a mobile app, as Google would assume the user is looking for a mobile app because they are using a mobile device to access this information.

Furthermore, optimizing apps in app stores with the proper keywords and better SEO techniques increases your chances of reaching clients.

3. Mobile-friendly Interface

One of the worst things that can turn your customer off from using your brand is having a bad experience while browsing your website. And this is likely to happen if your website is not specifically designed to be opened on mobile devices. As a business owner, you should constantly prioritize providing a positive user experience and ensuring that your customers are not annoyed when using your website.

So, what should you do in such cases? Build a mobile app from scratch or just patch up the potential flaws to turn your website into a mobile app? We suggest the latter. In this manner, you can keep your desktop version the same while providing a more user-friendly mobile version.

4. Push Notifications

One of the most compelling reasons for e-commerce businesses to have a mobile app is push notifications. Using push notifications, you can proactively inform your customers about sales, new posts, personal offers, etc., without them even having to open your app.  

Your alerts appear on the user's locked or home screen when push notifications are enabled, so they may see your messages as soon as they check their phone. Furthermore, by monitoring user activity, businesses can use this option to focus a user's attention on their areas of interest.

5. Integrations

Another advantage of turning your website into a mobile app is that mobile apps have more access to your phone's functionalities than web browsers. Thus, it presents a greater opportunity to engage with the customer productively. To make your user experience even more engaging and immersive, you may combine your app with phone contacts, browser data, camera functionalities, and other smartphone features like GPS.

In addition, mobile apps can use the phone’s notification features and security features to deliver high-quality service to the user.

6. Personalized Experience

Your customers are more likely to remember your brand if they have a personal connection with it. Building a mobile app that focuses on creating a personalized experience is the way to go if you want your customers to form a bond with your brand. Delivering real-time recommendations and filtered product bargains excites every consumer, allowing the app to form an emotional bond with them.

Moreover, you can analyze customers’ data such as behavior patterns, language, geography, interest, etc., to tailor-make experiences for them. Furthermore, the mobile app provides customers with the ability to customize their preferences. This aids the eCommerce sector in reaching the appropriate clients with the appropriate offerings.

7. Offline Capabilities

Depending on the location, weather conditions, and innumerable other factors, a user might have a weak or no internet connection, which completely disconnects them from your business if they’re using your website to connect with you. One of the most appealing features of a mobile application is that it can be accessed online. And it is one of the main reasons why some people might prefer using a mobile application over websites.

You can also include a variety of offline functions in your app. For example, Google Docs can be used without an internet connection since modifications are saved on the device and then transferred to the cloud when the user reconnects.

Let's get started now that we've discussed why your company needs a mobile application. But first, let's talk about whether your app will be available on iOS, Android, or both.

Android or iOS or Both

When it comes to building an app, one has to choose between building an iOS or Android app as both these platforms require different code variations. Ideally, you would want to build an app that works on both the platforms, Android and iOS; however, as both these require different coding, you would have to choose between the two if you do not have the resources or bandwidth to invest in two versions of an app. Assuming you don't want to create two separate apps and instead want to select between iOS and Android, let's talk about which platform is best for you.

  • User base

To begin with, Android does have a larger user base than iOS. According to a report in 2021, the Android OS had an 84 % market share, whereas iOS had a market share of little under 16 %. This implies Android devices are used by far more people around the world than iOS devices. However, you must keep in my where most of your customer base is located. For instance, most citizens in the U.S and Japan are iOS users, so if your customers are based out of these places then you must go for iOS, for other countries, Android would be the ideal choice.

  • Coding format

Aside from the number of users each system has, both operating systems are functionally similar, and you can host your software on any platform if you like. One other factor that you must keep in mind is the difference in coding format for both operating ing systems, i.e., APK files are used by Android, while .ipa files are used by iOS. Thus, you can make your app available on both Android and iOS, but you'll have to develop two unique apps - even if they have the same features.

  • Approval guidelines

The clearance guidelines are another difference between Android and iOS. Apple has very rigorous criteria, and it tends to only publish compelling and useful apps that make use of iOS-exclusive capabilities. "Websites delivered in an iOS app, web material not optimized for iOS, and restricted web interactions do not make a quality app," according to Apple. As a result, webpages that are transformed into iOS apps are more likely to be rejected by Apple's App Store.

Moreover, Apple pays special attention to the user interface, that’s why the most common reason for rejection is a bad user interface. If Apple believes your UI is not up to the mark as per its set of guidelines, then it will reject your app from the app store.

Now that we're ready to start developing apps, let's have a look at some key considerations.

Factors to consider when converting Websites to Mobile Apps

Turning a website into a mobile application has become easier than ever. Now there are several numbers of tools present on the internet that can help you convert your website to a mobile app. However, no matter how convenient or cost-effective, these tools can most definitely not match what a developer can achieve for your mobile app. That's why in some cases it's preferable to build a native app from the ground up rather than use a third-party solution.

With that in mind, it's critical to remember that app development necessitates planning and time. You might not know what it takes to construct an app from the ground up if you haven't designed one before. Here are a few factors that you should consider before converting your website into a mobile application.

  • Development Cost

Before you start building that app, you must know that building an app can be quite costly. Even if you’re turning your website into an app, it would still require the skills of a competent developer and the charges to market it properly. Unlike websites that can be built using numerous free website builders online, most apps require a developer or development team. Although there are some mobile app builders available on the web, they cannot be trusted completely to build something suitable. Moreover, maintaining and marketing mobile apps doesn’t come cheap either.

The expense of developing a native app might be quite high. However, investing some money at the outset of the process and getting a decent result right away is preferable to paying for a service to design the interface you want over and over again.

  • Screen Size

When it comes to creating a mobile application, one must keep in mind that the mobile industry is extremely huge and there are multiple screen size options available in the market. There are different phones and tablets, with different screen sizes, or foldable, which makes it essential that you build your app after factoring in all possibilities.

When designing a UI/UX, keep in mind different screen sizes and make sure that all images, charts, and buttons look good on different devices. Moreover, if you want to create an app that fits all smartphones and tablets, then make sure you hire a skilled and experienced UI/UX designer.

  • Search Presence

Helping people discover that you have a mobile app can be quite tricky. Naturally, most people search for a website more than a mobile app when they’re searching for a business. Even though Google will help by adding “app packs” to search results, you can also change the odds by adding a popup on your website to inform users about your mobile app.

This will entice users to download your app, especially if your website isn't mobile-friendly.

How to Create a Mobile App from a Website

Now that we've covered all of our areas, let's put our strategy into action and talk about how to turn your website into a mobile app.1. Determine whether or not you require a mobile app

If you've read this far, you're probably interested in app development. However, we must note that not every website requires a mobile app. If your website is mobile-friendly, then there’s a huge chance that you might not even require a mobile application to increase your customer experience. If this is the case then building a mobile app is just extra work and a total waste of money, and your customers might just prefer your website over a mobile app.

  • We’ve created a list of questions that you can ask yourself to determine whether you need a mobile app or not. Is my website mobile-friendly?
  • Is it possible to make my website mobile-friendly quickly?
  • Is it possible for my website to perform all of the functions that my app does?
  • Are the majority of my site's visitors using a desktop browser?
  • Does my website have a good search engine ranking?
  • Is there a mobile app available from my competitors?

The more "no's" you get, the more likely your business will profit from a mobile app.2. Make a list of the features that your app must have

Before you start building your app you must analyze what features you must include in it. This will not only give you an idea of what you'll need to construct, but it will also assist you in calculating prices and staying within your budget. It’s easy to get carried away and you would want to add every feature out there but you must remember every additional feature comes with a cost. If you keep adding unneeded features to your app, it will have a negative influence on your budget and may also confuse users.

Remember that the main purpose of every mobile app is to create something simple yet effective.3. Hire a development team

Finding an app developer may appear to be a difficult task. We know there are a lot of developers out there, but it doesn't imply they're all good developers who will understand your company and demands. When it comes to hiring a developer, you have the option to choose between in-house hiring or hiring a freelancer for the job, or outsourcing the development process.

  • In-House Hiring

In in-house hiring, you hire a developer as part of your team. This option is viable if you are an established company that wants to automate your process. If a team already exists, the labor shortages can be filled by having a job interview, selecting the best candidate for the job, and integrating him into the workplace with his coworkers. However, hiring a whole team of developers in-house can be quite costly as the company will have to take care of their salaries, benefits, and equipment. In addition to that, you’ll also have to handle the measures to ensure maximum productivity and quality work.

  • Freelance Developer

The other option is to hire a freelance developer. The contractual character of the agreement is a major benefit of this option, as it eliminates the need for the owner to pay for vacation days, social security, and other perks that an employee of your company gets. Being inexpensive, on the other hand, has its drawbacks, as many freelance app developers for hire are just unqualified for large projects. Also, if you hire a freelancer then you'll have to be in charge of communication and, more than likely, project management.  

  • Outsourcing Development

Hiring an outsource app developer is a beautiful amalgamation of both of the options mentioned above. In this option, the business owner recruits app developers or development teams that are solely hired on a contract basis. It's still less expensive than employing an in-house team, and the result is usually better than hiring a single freelancer because of the group setting. Furthermore, choosing an outsourcing company is scalable, which means you may scale up or down the size of the team to meet the specific needs of the project, therefore saving money.4. Estimate app development costs

Once you’ve created a feature list of your app and have the development team ready, it’s easier to estimate how much it’s going to cost you to develop the app. One simple rule is that your app is going to be more expensive if you have a list of complex features. According to a study, it costs anywhere between $38,000 and $91,000 to develop a “simple” app.

There are a lot of factors one should consider while estimating the development cost of creating a mobile app from scratch. Such as-

  • Features and functionality
  • Platform(s) you’re building for i.e., iOS or Android or Both
  • Customization of visual design
  • What’s your project type i.e., CRM, LMS, marketplace, EHR, etc.
  • Backend infrastructure and app administration
  • Location and structure of the development team
  • Vendor fee (hourly basis)

All of these elements come into play when you’re estimating the building cost of an app. And if you’re going over budget try to rethink the features you want to add to your app, and maybe remove some features from the list that you can add later. Remember, having too many features does not guarantee you’ll have a good app in your hands.5. Create a user-friendly UX design

After you’ve dealt with the basic functionality of your app, the next most important thing that you must focus on is building a user-friendly UX design. You must make sure your app is responsive and your interface creates a good user experience. Moreover, there’s no point in having a mobile app if it’s not more responsive than your website.

If you’re building an app that’s not adding any value to your customer life then you might want to rethink your decision. Instead of building an app that’s worse than your website, or is serving the same purpose, then you might want to invest your resources in making your website better.6. Test your app

Like any other social media post, landing page, or email campaign, you must test your app before submitting it to the app store. Doing so will help you test your app’s features and fix any glitches that might affect the functionality of your app in the future.

This will not only help you retain users who may delete your app due to these issues, but it will also save your support team time from having to answer consumers who are encountering problems with your mobile app. Even if you can't repair all of the defects before going live, at the very least you'll be aware of potential concerns and can prepare your service team for these types of questions.7. Submit your app to the app store

Submitting your app to the app store is the final step once your app is complete and ready to go. Both the Android App Store and the Apple App Store require roughly the same length of time to assess your proposal, taking about three days in total. Finally, your app should be available for download in the appropriate app store after it has been authorized.

5 Brands that have already converted their websites into mobile apps

Here are some examples if you want to have a look at what a website would look like once it’s been converted to a mobile app successfully. To give you a better sense we have prepared a list of big brands that have turned their websites into mobile apps.

  • The New Yorker

Since its inception in 1925, The New Yorker has evolved continuously, as demanded by changing times. It started using a print medium and since then has evolved to have a website and eventually a mobile application. It features news stories, cartoons, opinion pieces, a shop, and more on its desktop version of the website. The mobile application version of the New Yorker’s website adopts the same visual as the website- even providing the same features.

  • H&M

Many online stores convert their website to mobile apps for the comfort of their customers as most people prefer using a mobile app for shopping. H&M has a mobile app converted from its website, and it provides a comparable experience and gives the customers the chance to tailor their experiences as per their preferences. The app has one additional feature that sets it apart from the website i.e., its scanning feature. It allows you to scan the price tag of an item to check its availability in stock.

  • Blue Apron

Blue Apron is a business that provides meal kits that lend a helping hand to home cooks with their ingredients. Members can order meals and manage their membership on the website. Blue Apron has made it even easier for clients to discover new recipes, remember their favorites, and manage their accounts by transforming its website into a mobile app.

  • Calendly

Calendly is a scheduling application that’s widely used by people all around the globe. It allows users to schedule meetings without back-and-forth emails. The company produced a mobile application for iOS and Android to provide access to its core features to users that might need it on the go. On the simple mobile interface, users can schedule meetings, review and amend appointments, and book meetings.

  • Canva

Canva, like Calendly, took the strengths of its web platform and condensed them into a mobile app version to reach a larger audience. Its mobile application helps you with every feature that the Canva website provides and gives you the freedom to create unique graphics, alter images, and even edit short videos on your phone.

Web behavior is ever-changing and you must evolve with the times if you want to survive and thrive in the cutthroat competition. You must change your content to reflect how people search for information if you want to establish a successful website. In this situation, that means creating a user-friendly and resourceful mobile app for consumers looking for your business on their phone or tablet. Turn your website into an exciting mobile app and provide a better on-the-go experience for your customers by following the steps mentioned above.

Alekh Verma

CEO and Founder at eSearch Logix Technologies!

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