If you’re looking to create a mobile app and you already have experience with WordPress, perhaps you should consider using one of the freemium or paid plugins designed to take your entire WordPress site and transform it into a mobile application.
In fact, for some people looking to save money, it can even be worthwhile creating a totally new WordPress site for the sole purpose of converting that into an app later on.
Using app builders, frameworks, or even app developers can be a costly experience, requiring a large amount of money up front, or time spent on learning programming languages, best practices and other skills.
Learning WordPress on the other hand, is a widely applicable skill, and won’t take more than 1 hour or so, even if you’ve never created a blog post on the popular blogging platform before.
And since it is so easy to convert a WordPress site (if it is setup correctly,) to a mobile application, it can often be worth the time to install a brand new WordPress installation, and create the content using the control panel, and then convert all of that into a native mobile app.
Building an app this way allows the user to use live previews when writing the content and building the menus and structure, compared to an app builder where you fill in a bunch of data and hope the results are to your liking.
While there’s a place for both app builders, frameworks and app developers, for some people this just costs too much, while other people won’t need the complex solutions offered.
Of course, if you need to integrate third party API functions, or write complex algorithms, you can not use WordPress plugins without developing custom code, but that has always been the case with app builders, also those not dealing with WordPress.
For a super simple mobile app, choosing WordPress makes sense from a business perspective, and done right, also from the users perspectives.
Although the plugins below are not 100% free, most of them offer a free preview, meaning it’s possible to develop sophisticated solutions and test them out before paying.
Most of the above plugins require a paid subscription to gain access to all of the features, but considering the starting costs of many mobile apps are in the range of several thousand dollars and upwards, the plugins can still be the most cost-effective solution out there.
There are of course an alternative to a fully fledged mobile application that can be downloaded in app stores, and that is called a “progressive web app.”
This concept was developed by Google in late 2015, and offers a similar experience to mobile apps, but working exclusively on web browsers. However, it is still possible for users to download the progressive web app, and install it on their phone, just like a normal app.
The difference is that progressive web apps are not submitted to app stores, and therefore people searching in Google Play or Apple’s App Store can not find the progressive web apps there.
On the other hand, if you are planning on sending your website visitors to the App Stores to download the mobile app, it’s possible to keep those users on your own web pages, by allowing them to download a progressive web app.
While progressive web apps are not able to tap into every single hardware feature on mobile phones, the most common features such as cameras, microphones and other widely used hardware functions are already implemented and ready to use.
Mozilla has released a set of 4 free plugins to install that helps WordPress users make use of progressive web apps, but these will require programming experience, or at the very least, a time investment in order to implement these functions correctly.