Having a mobile app is incredibly important in today's digital world. It can provide customers with an easy and convenient method of accessing your business, no matter where they are located. With the significant rise in mobile usage, having a dedicated app can help you stay competitive and attract a broader audience.
While there are many different processes to developing an app, one of the most straight-forward options is using an app builder to convert your website into an app. This kind of tool will not only allow you to create a branded app for iOS and Android without having to write a single line of code, but also offer your audience the choice to connect with you however they prefer.
Ready to build your own mobile app? Get started with Wix.
Why do you need a mobile app?
Branded mobile applications offer a long list of benefits for both businesses and customers. They are especially relevant for companies that deal with frequent, repeat purchases or offer service booking systems - such as restaurants, eCommerce stores, gyms and salons.
Here are some of the reasons why you should consider making your website an app:
Improved user experience
91% of consumers prefer to shop with brands that offer personalized recommendations and create unique shopping experiences. Apps offer a user-friendly, easily navigable interface and personalized experiences that users can access immediately upon download. Businesses can also use customer engagement data from apps to provide updates and recommend products.
“An app provides a direct access point from the home screen of a mobile device, and a native app experience is typically slicker and faster than a comparable web experience,” says Cathy Boyle, principal analyst at eMarketer.
Consumers spend more time on apps than they do on websites: According to eMarketer, smartphone users spent 88% of their time online on apps. While professional websites establish an online presence for website monetization by converting users to customers, an app can help you retain those customers and grow your revenue.
Search engine optimization (SEO)
Google rolled out mobile-first indexing in 2018 in response to the growing number of people accessing the internet from their smartphones. The search engine wants to provide the most helpful search results to users, so Google now ranks websites based on mobile website content instead of desktop.
This applies to apps, too. Once Google detects a search conducted from a smartphone or tablet, it will also display “app packs,” or a group of 3-6 apps that the user may find relevant, in search results. You can use this feature to strategically get eyes on your business’s app and potentially field new customers.
Having your own mobile app allows you to directly reach out to your customers. You can send push notifications when something new or exciting is happening in your business such as a sale, new product launch, or an upcoming event. These interactions are incredibly effective for encouraging customers to come back and engage with your app, as well as strengthening your brand
Integration with smartphones and tablets
Apps can also integrate with other useful phone features, like contacts, location and camera, to provide a seamless user experience.
Considerations for making your website an app
Native apps are typically the most complex type of application to develop as they must be custom built for each mobile platform. This requires a significant investment in terms of time and resources to ensure that it works on all desired devices. They also have access to device features such as camera, contacts, and accelerometer. The downside of native apps is that they can take longer to develop and require more maintenance than a hybrid app.
Another consideration to keep in mind is the functionality of the site–this includes making sure that all of the website content is displayed properly and that features available on your site can be replicated and improved upon in the mobile app.
Finally, you’ll need to ensure that the look and feel of the app is consistent with your website, including colors, fonts, logos, images, and other elements. Additionally, it's essential that the user interface is easy to use and intuitive so that users can quickly find what they need without struggling.
Choosing a mobile operating system
You can feature your app on two primary platforms: iOS, Apple’s mobile operating system, and Android, the Linux-based system that sells apps on Google Play. Most smartphones and tablets run on one of these operating systems.
However, you can create an app on a platform that builds versions for both iOs and Android and requires zero coding knowledge, like Wix. That way, your app can reach both markets no matter what type of device they have.
However, if you choose to hire a developer to design your app or use a program that only designs for a single platform, consider these points:
Your target market. Android and iOs users have different consumer profiles. While Android devices have the greatest global market share, more users in Western Europe, Australia, and North America use iOS. Also, iOS users have a higher annual household income ($200,000) than Android users ($50,000-$100,000). iOS users spend, on average, more time on their phones per day than Android users.
Android is an open source platform. When it comes to app development, Android’s platform offers flexibility. In contrast, Apple’s App Store requires approval before featuring apps, to make sure they meet the platform’s strict guidelines.
Time. Swift, Apple’s coding language, makes it quick to develop iOS apps. On the other hand, Android apps use Java, a more time-consuming coding language.
Examples of websites made into apps
A significant number of the most popular mobile apps today started as web-based platforms. Here are some examples of popular websites that have been developed into apps:
Facebook is perhaps the most iconic example of a website that has been turned into an app. The Facebook app provides users with easy access to their news feed, messages, and notifications, as well as allowing them to easily upload photos, update their status, and more.
Netflix was originally founded as a DVD service, but its early vision of streaming services potential turned into a Hollywood disruptor that has completely changed the way we consume media content. With its mobile app, users can access an extensive library of films and TV shows from their smartphones or tablets, making them available to watch anytime and anywhere.
Google Maps is another popular example of a web-based service that has been converted into an app. Using this mobile app users can access detailed maps of their area, as well as directions and navigation services.
Amazon is one of the most popular e-commerce websites, and it has an app that makes shopping on the go easier than ever. The app provides quick access to product listings, reviews, and purchase options. It also offers features like Amazon Prime and Amazon Alexa.
Uber’s success would be far from what it is today if it hadn’t turned its web-based service into an app. By offering a mobile native platform, the ride-sharing company is able to make it much easier for users to order a ride from their mobile devices at any point in time, which has led them to become one of public transportation’s biggest competitors.
Best app builder features to lookout for
If you decide to opt for using an app builder instead of taking the developer route, there are several features you should look out for:
Intuitive user interface, with guided steps that make sense and are easy to navigate.
Customization tools that allow you to tailor the design of your app according to your own preferences and needs.
Device compatibility that supports your target market and goals.
Seamless app and website sync that ensures your online presence is synchronized without requiring double the time and effort.
Automatic updates so that your mobile app works with the latest operating system versions.
How to make a website an app
Once you’ve mastered the ropes on how to make a website, you can create an app with Wix’s mobile app builder that suits both iOS and Android. The builder integrates with your website, creating your app from your existing content. Then, customize it as you see fit.
Here’s how to do it:
Log in to your Wix account and then download the Wix App Builder from your site’s dashboard.
You’ll see the following options under Customize Your App:
Choose a name and icon
Pick your app’s theme and preferences
Edit your layout and add content
Go through each step and select your preferences. On the right, you’ll see a mock mobile screen displaying how your app will appear as you customize it.
Save your options then scan the QR code from your phone under the Advanced Customization menu. This will take you to the mobile editor in the Wix Owner App.
Here, you can continue optimizing your app’s content, images, display and links.
To view a demo of your mobile app from an iOS device, download the Spaces by Wix app, log into your Wix account and click on your app’s site to view. To view a demo from an Android device, the App Builder will prompt you to download a mock app onto your device.
Once you are satisfied with your app, create Apple Developer and Google Developer accounts and submit your app for approval.
Finally, submit your app for approval through Wix. Wix will conduct an internal review and then send it to Apple and Google for separate reviews. Once approved, your app will appear on Apple’s App Store and Google Play.