In today’s modern day and age, having a website is not enough to stay relevant and competitive. It is only one of the steps required to establish a solid digital presence for aspiring businesses. For many, app development is imperative. It is the future, and the future is now!
The truth is that mobile-optimized websites are a given. Having one is a no brainer, but mobile apps serve a different purpose. Studies show that 88% of all mobile time is spent on apps. The mobile app experience from smartphones is way better than simple web browsing, and there are literally millions of applications available for download on the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.
If you already have a website, you can build on it or convert it to a mobile app with ease. Most of the content needed is already at your fingertips. You simply need to put that content into a fully functional app, and this article will teach you how to do it.
iOS vs. Android: Which One is Better?
When it comes to mobile app design and development, two platforms dominate this niche -iOS and Android. The latter is Linux-based, open source, and more PC-like than the former, such that its basic features and interface are more customizable from top to bottom. However, the uniform design elements of iOS are sometimes considered more user-friendly.
If you choose to go for native development, there are key differences between the two platforms that must be considered such as cost, programming language, target audience, and development tools. There are more iOS users in the United States, but Android dominates the global market share.
It’s difficult to claim that one platform is better than the other. But instead of being forced to choose, you can use the services of an app developer to develop an Android app for the Google Play Store and an iOS app for the Apple App Store simultaneously.
Now let’s go to the meat of the matter and discuss the steps on how to convert your website into a mobile app…
Determine if You Need a Mobile App
If research and reading have gotten you this far, it’s likely that are you are keen to move towards app development. But right from the get go, it’s important to note that not all websites require a mobile application. If you already have a mobile-friendly website, you may not need a mobile app to enhance customer experience. An app may be additional work and expense that may not pay off if users prefer your website.
Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine if a mobile app will make sense for your business. You will most likely benefit from having a mobile app if you answer with more ‘no’s’.
- Do my competitors have an app?
- Is my current website mobile responsive?
- Can I easily tweak my website to become mobile-friendly?
- Do most customers visit my website on a desktop browser?
- Is my website ranking well on search engine results?
- Is my website capable of doing everything that my mobile app does?
The needs of your target audience should dictate platform development decisions. You must be able and willing to make adjustments in response to their needs and usage patterns. Do due diligence and research their behavior, desires, and habits to ensure that you’re making informed decisions.
Create a List of Required and Desired Features
Before you delve into app development, determine the features that must be included as well as those little extras that you’d like to add. This will help you visualize what you want to build and also help you estimate costs and stay within your allotted budget.
Don’t make the mistake of getting carried away thinking of integrating all the possible functions that your mobile app can perform. Moreover, don’t just repurpose your website in the form of a mobile app because this defeats your main purpose for app design and development.
By jotting down a list of essential features, you will be able to create an attainable vision and ensure all the features of your app are useful to your target audience, instead of merely flashy extras. Decide on the types of features you’d like your mobile app to have and how such features will benefit eventual users. When going through this process, it’s imperative to select only the features that support the core functionalities of your app.
For instance, an ecommerce app does not need social networking features. As much as possible, keep it simple and stick to what really matters for your business type, industry, and users. Lastly, consider adapting concepts that will support the native features and functionalities of different smartphones in the market.
In general, here are the must-have features of a successful mobile app:
- A responsive and user-friendly interface
- ‘How-to’ screens after the initial download
- A search option
- An intuitive UX
- Clear privacy options
- Multifactor authentication
- Multi-device synchronization
- Targeted push notifications
- A feedback system
Plan Your Budget/ Estimate App Development Cost
Now that you’re certain that you need a mobile app and you have determined its set of features, it’s time to crunch numbers. The main question is, “How much will it cost to convert your website into a mobile app?” The cost varies depending on a number of factors including the features you want, the time it will take to build the app, the operating system to be used, the development team you’re working with, among others.
A good rule of thumb is, the more complex your mobile app is, the more expensive it’s going to be to design and develop. See to it that you allot a portion of your budget for post-launch updates and maintenance. In case you find yourself overbudget, start by reviewing your feature list to figure out which ones are essential and which ones can wait and be added later.
Since the introduction of major mobile platforms, there’s a huge disparity in development cost for iOS and Android. But as of 2022, studies conducted by established app development companies show that the development cost for iOS and Android apps is almost identical. The major factor that determines the cost is app sophistication, which can be arbitrarily defined as – simple, medium, and complex.
To give you an idea on how much you need to prepare, check out these app development cost benchmarks:
- Simple app development cost – $16,000 – $32,000
- Medium complexity app development cost – $32,000 – $48,000
- Complex app development cost – $72,000+
Hire a Reliable Development Team
Mobile apps have become a part of life that helps order food, pay bills, read books, play games, watch films, stay focused, work or study from home, and much more. This explains why a lot of businesses and organizations are looking to break in. They start with an app idea but often fall flat because they don’t know how to hire a qualified and experienced development team.
There are two options these days – hire an in-house team or work with a reliable app development company. Both have pros and cons. For instance, an in-house team is often more expensive because you will have to pay for rent, software, hardware, taxes, etc. The upside is that in-house development will give you more control of the development process and build an app that’s tailored to your specifications.
Outsourcing is the cheaper option because you can hire developers from various locations and each one will most likely charge a different rate. The downside is that you can’t manage every aspect of development, so you need to ensure that you hire the right people to do the job. One way to achieve this is by scheduling regular meetings between you and your developers. This will keep your project on track and allow you to make the necessary adjustments during the development process. This reduces the risk of you being handed a mobile app that doesn’t look and function like your original blueprint, after waiting for months for the developers to build it.
Test, Launch, and Maintain
Once your mobile app is created, you need to test it before offering it to real mobile users. This is imperative if you have been coding the application or using a development team to build native apps for Android and iOS.
Developers inevitably write bugs in their code, and the only way to identify and rectify the bugs is by thoroughly testing the app on different devices, platforms, and operating systems (OS). Testing will also allow you to fine-tune the features of your app and fix other flaws before users discover them.
Once you are pleased with the performance of your app, you can push it to the app stores. Bear in mind that there are various guidelines for both Android and Apple. But on the whole, the Apple App Store is a little stricter. After your app is approved, it will already be available for download.
Note, however, that the job isn’t complete once your app is live. You must deal with post-launch maintenance and support which includes regular updates, ongoing bug fixes, introduction of new features, and more. This is why it’s important to engage the services of a reputable app development company. Majority of the post-launch tasks will be handled on your behalf.
Make no mistake about it, websites are here to stay. They are great for brand exposure and driving traffic through search engines. However, they can only do so much in terms of what you can achieve with mobile app development. If you want to take your website to a whole new level, it’s high time to develop an app.