Turn a Website into a Mobile App: Key Principles and Practices
Even if you already have a site optimized for browsing on mobile devices, you shouldn’t stop there. According to comScore statistics about 47% of mobile traffic now comes from apps. While in the process of using smartphones, most people’s attention is focused on interacting with apps.
Having a presence on different platforms allows you to reach the maximum number of users, which is crucial in the conditions of a highly competitive market. Therefore, it is worth considering converting your site into a mobile app, as there is no rational basis to ignore the opportunity.
Nowadays, ensuring the quality of the cross-platform experience for the target audience is an important condition for making a business successful. In this article we will share some tips on how to turn a website into an app, as well as tell you about the key principles and practices that can help you solve this problem successfully.
Convert Website to Mobile App: Deciding on the Strategy
We previously wrote on the subject of why a business needs a mobile app, and in this article you can read more about the main reasons why it should be done. So let’s get down to business right away.
To successfully turn a site into an app, you need to decide on a strategy. You can choose one of three options:
- Create a copy of the source site – that is, transfer all its functionality to the app.
- Transfer a limited number of features, only the most basic functions. Adding further functions can be done after a while.
- Create a product with a number of unique features that are available to users only within the app.
Each of the options has its own strong points and drawbacks, so you need to start out from your own goals and capabilities.
The most affordable in terms of budget, and the fastest considering the implementation time, is the second option from the list. In the first case, development can be quite expensive, and there is no guarantee that many of the features of the original site will be needed by users at all. The third option should be considered more like an option for a startup.
In general, the most reasonable solution is to create an app that has the basic functions that users will find sufficient for comfortable work (like MVP). This will speed up the work and will allow you to effectively balance the cost of the project, which is very beneficial in terms of budget costs.
Go from Website to App: basic principles
According to our experience, the fundamental obstacles on the way to a successful conversion of a website into an app lie in the understanding of the mobile audience behavior, which are often not clear for the customers. Therefore, we decided to formulate a number of basic principles that need to be adhered to in order to get a good result.
Functionality. First, you have to remember that to interact with the app users use a touch interface, not a mouse. At the very least, this requires getting rid of small items that are difficult to use with your fingers, and make sure that the rest of the elements (e.g. buttons) are comfortable in this respect.
Many complex functions of a website are simply not needed in an app, or will be too expensive in terms of implementation. But at the same time, you can use the capabilities of the phone or OS – for example, payment confirmation using a fingerprint.
Just write down the full list of your website’s features, and then highlight the most important ones. All other functions can be added in the future.
Mobile UX. “Less means better.” That’s the basic principle you need to adhere to if you’re faced with the task of turning a website into a mobile app. Websites can contain many different visual elements, the implementation of which will be an unaffordable luxury in the app.
Most often you will need to create an additional screen for the implementation of a separate function, which results in time and money for development, and dealing with the app will become a real quest for the user. This is one of the reasons why we recommend starting with limited functionality.
The screen’s size, its resolution and mobile OS features, create a condition for developers where the quality of the user experience confidently comes first in priority.
Navigation features. Users don’t like having to waste time getting the information they need. Therefore, the structure of a mobile app should be as simple as possible, even if everything is completely different on the original site. Those navigation methods, which are familiar to Internet pages, are absolutely not user-friendly on mobile devices.
There are three popular components that are used when creating navigation in an app:
- hamburger menu;
- tab bar;
- gesture-based navigation.
Differences between platforms. iOS and Android are the two main OS’s, and own 99% of the market. They differ in design and functionality, and this must also be taken into account in the development process. The web is easier, since the Internet is an integrated space.
If you haven’t decided yet upon which operating system to create the app for, read our article where we discuss their features, pros and cons. This will help you make the right decision.
Design and structure. It will look different from the way it looks on the desktop computer screen. Some elements will have to be removed completely, and some will need to be seriously remade. For example, some website sections available in the form of links, you can put in the side hamburger-menu to save space on the screen.
The app’s structure is also very different from the structure when developing a site. You can’t afford to complicate it, as the users will not waste time sorting things out, but will simply close the app and remove it from their device.
Data processing. Web sites and apps interact with the database in a different way. The site usually refers directly to the database, but in the app the interaction is usually done through APIs. Sometimes this can create certain difficulties, which may make it necessary to rewrite the backend site from scratch or substantially upgrade the server functionality.
Working speed. Working with a mobile app, users expect an instant response. If they press a button, the reaction should be instantaneous. The longer the page takes to load, the more screens you need to scroll through and the more buttons you need to click, the less the user is motivated to interact further.
This should be taken into account by site owners; on a site, 3-4 seconds of download time is usually not considered a problem. In our case, it’s different.
The decision to invest in a new product is not easy, since the risks seem huge and the benefits are not entirely obvious. But the mobile market continues to grow and by converting your website into app you will provide your business with a number of advantages in the long run.
Yes, that’s right, development can be a challenge, but this is primarily the creation of a new marketing channel, investing in which you make the foundation for the growth and promotion of your business.
If you want to convert a website into a mobile app in order to expand the customer reach and realize new business opportunities, you can always contact us and we will help you to do everything quickly and with a high level of quality.