How to convert a website into a mobile application
Some years ago, when the internet was still in its infancy, very few people saw the need to be online. Thus, the idea of how to convert a website into an app was alien to many businesses. These days, the tides have changed. More and more people are connected to the internet through one means or another. Therefore, websites have grown increasingly popular over the years.
Things are changing even further. As mobile internet users continue to grow all over the world and web development became more popular, websites built to be mobile responsive and regular mobile applications are becoming increasingly popular then old-school style websites. As a business owner in these modern times, you can take advantage of this and have a mobile application built for your business.
A mobile app offers lots of advantages for both small and large scale businesses no matter what business model your operate. It opens up a new market with a new crop of potential customers. An app also offers faster operability and better personalization of services for your customers. Of course, with all of these benefits, most businesses might still be unable to make the move probably because of the cost or the technical needs of mobile app development from scratch. But thankfully, you don’t have to build an app from scratch especially if you have a website already.
These days, there are several tech options to make the conversion of websites to applications possible. With any of these technologies, you get an app that users can interact with directly from their devices without having to put in your website URL in a web browse The major difference between these methods is in their implementation, possible cost, speed, and the quality of the final product.
You must understand the differences between each of these techniques. This way you can make an informed decision on the final approach to implementing this project. In this article, I will go over four of these techniques. I will explain the potential of each of them, why it is such a great option for your business and ways it can help you save cost. I will also mention some possible downsides for each methods.
Here is how it works; a converter takes all the essential features of your website and bundles it into an application. Alternatively, it allows you to create an app using pre-made templates or simple drag and drop features. You can then publish your completed app on any well-known store.
Using a converter to create an app is a really simple and cheap approach. You can find platforms offering a package as cheap as $30 to $2000 as the case may be. How much you pay depends largely on the platform, the time that it will take to create your app, and the features you want to add among other factors.
There are a lot of platforms offering packages for simply converting your website to an app in just a few clicks. Here are some of the fastest and most reliable ones:
this platform has a number of features that make it possible to create an app in just a few steps using simple drag and drop. You get several unique design options as well like the opportunity to brand the websites using your logo, unique design colors among other things. You will also be able to add a loyalty feature to your website or add a blog using RSS feeds among other things.
These are some of your best options for converting a website into an application. Other notable mentions include Swebapps, Onbile, Mobiloud, and so on.
Summary: A converter makes it easy to convert a website to an app or build from scratch with simple drag and drop. But this approach will only work if your website is built with HTML, CSS and JS. Features are also limited and app performance is rudimentary.
Progressive Web Apps
This is a relatively new approach for converting websites into a mobile app. It was developed by Google and it makes it possible to add a website or web application to the home screen of a smartphone hence making it possible to interact with it offline.
Converting a website into a progressive web app is quite simple. All you need to do is add a home screen icon, a web application manifest, and a service worker which will enable the site to work offline and load quicker. Apps created through this method may also be able to send push notification.
When a user loads a progressive web app in the mobile browser of any device. It will prompt the device to add the website to its home screen as an application. The app can work then continue to work in offline mode. Another advantage of this is that the website from which the app was created would rank better on search engines.
However, this technology only wraps the website into an app. It is not a fully functional application. Technically, it is still a website but functions as a mobile application. This means users will not get the same experience in terms of performance, animation, and interaction as they would get on a native application. Currently, this method can only be used for android app development and is not fully supported for iOS app development yet.
Still, a progressive web application is a great way to supplement your website and extend its reach. It can potentially improve the user experience of your customers on devices that support this kind of app. Still, given the low adoption, we may consider this method as simply an additional way to increase the reach of your website rather than a fully functional mobile application.
Summary: you can easily convert your regular website to a progressive web app which can be added to a user’s home screen for offline interaction. This is a simple and cheap approach. However, the application created is still essentially a website but functions as an app. Hence, performance is limited. This method is not supported for apple devices yet.
Hybrid Mobile Apps with Apache Cordova
It works for both Android and iOS devices and can be uploaded on App Store or Play Store when completed. you can add an icon to the app which will be added to the home screen of the device and will be able to interact with the hardware APIs. Apps created with Apache Cordova can get access to device functionalities like Camera, Geolocation, and so on.
Still, it is important to note that the user experience of mobile applications built this way cannot be as smooth as that of a native app built from scratch. The look and feel of the app will still be similar to a normal website with click delays of up to 300ms, phantom clicks on scroll among other things. To extend the UI components of these apps and make the experience similar to native apps, you may make use of additional modules and frameworks. But the experience will still be a little less than a native app experience. Apps created by this method don’t work offline. Their speed will also reduce drastically as the application becomes more complex. Other popular frameworks that offer this kind of service asides Apache Cordova include Ionic and PhoneGap.
This last method is a great choice if your website is built with React.js. It is a new technology that makes it possible to create hybrid apps from existing websites or web apps very quickly. This technology makes it possible to build a mobile application that can make use of the native features of your device such as native buttons, input and so on.
This is by far the best method in terms of app performance. Instead of making an app that runs in the inbuilt browser window like the other methods, the source code of the web application will be converted to a native mobile app. You will be surprised by the number of popular apps that are built using this method. Notable examples include Instagram, Facebook, Skype, Airbnb, etc.
Converting React-based website to react native mobile apps helps to reduce app and website development costs and saves time. You simply need to hire the service of a React Native website that can help you build your app in no time for both Android and iOS devices. Experience for simple websites or web apps is as close to that of native apps as you can possibly get. But this is not a viable approach for building mobile games or apps with significant computation.
It is also important to note that since this is a relatively new technology the open source solutions available are limited. Also, while apps built like this are great in performance, they are limited in terms of visual design. It is also not an ideal
React Native is currently one of the most popular frameworks for developing hybrid apps. Hence, it is the best method for converting websites to mobile apps. As you can see from the examples, it is being used by some of the biggest digital corporations in the world with several advantages.
Summary: If the application you intend to make does not need to maintain multiple connections with a server or perform any complex computation, then this is the most recommended solution. It is a new but rapidly developing method. Although more costly than the others since it requires technical know-how it is by far the most efficient.
The truth is, the best method of mobile application development for your business in terms of quality and performance is to have native apps built from scratch for each platform. Although this is the most expensive option, it is the best approach. Even if you have a web application already, you will need to build mobile clients for iOS and Android mobile apps. These will then be connected to the same back-end as your website client with some minor modifications in the back-end.
Usually, this type of mobile app development project may require you to hire two developers. You will need an iOS developer building the iPhone app with Swift or Objective-C while the Android app development team will use Kotlin or Java. Obviously, the development cost will be higher and more time will be needed to complete the project. But in the long run, this approach offers greater flexibility for your app. You may also decide to build your app for just one platform based on research about your market and target audience.