website into app
Back to articles Back to articles

How To Turn A Website Into A Mobile App

Katie Iannace September 21, 2022

It seems like everyone and their mother has a mobile app these days. Try searching the app store for nothing. No literally, search for the term “nothing,” and you’ll find an app called “Nothing”. Does the mere creation of an app justify its reasons for existing? And how does a business know if converting their website into an app is a good idea? Let’s take a look at why a company may turn a website into an app.

Why Create a Mobile App?

Consider the mobile experience of a user’s journey who is searching for a company, but that company hasn’t converted its website into an application. First, the user has to open their browser and search for the company’s URL in a tiny search bar. Once they’ve finished waiting for the site to load, they have to navigate through pop-ups, cookie warnings, and home screens before finding the destination they were looking for. And what if that site isn’t designed responsively for mobile audiences? What if it doesn’t load fast enough, or the user can’t find the navigation buttons on their phone screen after a few seconds? Well, it’s game over for that potential customer, and you may as well go ahead and kiss their business goodbye.

In a world where every user interaction is critical for the success of a business, it’s important to understand the benefits of creating a mobile application. Consider the ease of transaction when the user clicks on a mobile app, and boom! They’ve arrived at their main destination faster than the speed of a web browser. Unlike a web browser, mobile apps allow a greater degree of personalization for the user, allowing them to bookmark and favorite items, save media for later viewing, augment their reality, and access personalized recommendations such as coupons or member rewards. 

Creating a mobile app to complement an existing website not only helps companies establish a greater sense of branding but also helps to address and eliminate most of the pain points or sources of frustration a user encounters accessing a website from their phone. And according to Perficient.com, over 68% of website views come from visitors using phones. That means no matter how slick your webpage may look on a desktop screen, most people will never see it from their computer screen anyway.

Plain and simple, investing in mobile application development matters—and having an app in addition to your company’s website can provide a huge benefit in today’s market. 

make a website an app

What Type of Business Could Benefit from a Mobile App?

So who benefits most from converting their website into a mobile app? Basically, any business facing a specific user problem or digital pain point can benefit from creating a mobile app that provides a solution to the problem. While social media offers one of the largest niches in the mobile app community, industries such as health, government, finance, retail, fitness, e-commerce, transportation, and media all have benefits to reap from mobile app development.

How Much Does it Cost to Develop a Mobile App?

A mobile application is a significant investment—of both time and money, which is why it’s extremely important to understand the costs and benefits associated with the process.

A well-developed app can help solidify brand identity, grow and cultivate an audience base, provide customers with around-the-clock access to your business, and allow unbridled access to company insights. While the cost may seem heady at first, it’s important to remember that you are making an investment into securing your company’s future. 

So what costs can you expect when developing a mobile app? The honest answer is that it depends on the complexity of the app you’re looking to develop. 

For simple, more basic apps such as notetakers, calendars, utility tools, or timers, expect to pay around $50,000. For moderately more advanced applications like dating, productivity, or e-commerce apps, anticipate a cost anywhere from $100,000 to $200,000. And at the end of that cost spectrum, more complex applications designed for social media, health & wellness, or enterprise organizations can cost upwards of $250,000 or more.

Learn more: How Much Does It Cost to Make a Mobile App

How to Turn a Website Into an App

Consider the work our team did for one of our clients—Kathy at Thingealogy.com was looking for a way to catalog memories associated with familial heirlooms, like her parents’ bedside table that had traveled with them since they were first married over 60 years ago. Kathy saw the opportunity to convert her website into a fully realized mobile experience for users to store information and data about their sentimental artifacts. However, she needed help taking her responsive integration to the next level. Designli began by mapping her clientele’s user journey, culminating in developing a versatile product that could catalog each heirloom and present this information in a format that would make sense across both web and mobile platforms. With full web and mobile integration allowing artifacts to be cataloged in a spreadsheet-style format, Thingealogy was able to elevate its technological platform and expand its business to new heights. 

Kathy dove headfirst into mobile app development, but for many, that process can be daunting. However, with the help of a mobile app development team like ours at Designli, it doesn’t have to be a scary process. Let’s break it down a bit to help you better understand the basic elements we consider in any mobile app development process.

1. Research

Before doing anything else, you must ask, “What problem are your users facing?” Then you must make sure your mobile app will provide the solution to that problem.

For example, our client at True Load Time came to the Designli team with a unique problem: excessive unloading wait times for truckers were causing billions of dollars in productivity loss. They needed a solution to communicate accurate loading and unloading times at shipping and receiving locations. This example highlights that when choosing to develop a web-to-mobile app, you must always keep in mind what solutions your users are seeking by using your app.

2. Choosing a Type of App

Just as there are different types of web browsers such as Safari, Mozilla, and Google Chrome, there are also different kinds of phone apps. Each web browser comes with its unique set of features. For instance, browsers like Chrome and Safari offer compatibility between various electronic devices, while Mozilla and Chrome offer unique features such as their web developer tools. Similarly to web browsers, phone apps are built in three uniquely different ways which are called web-based, native, and hybrid.  

Web-based applications (web apps) can be opened from within an internet browser (take Spotify, for instance) and are typically faster to build, easier to maintain, and do not require the user to download anything. 

Native apps are, as the name implies, coded in native languages unique to the phone system. Ergo, if you need a phone app for Android and iOS, then you will ultimately need to build two separate versions of the app. Have you ever wondered why an app looks so different on your friend’s iPhone than it does on your Android device? It’s likely because it was developed as a native app. While more time-consuming and costly to develop, native apps often provide the highest degree of user experience and performance. 

Hybrid apps, on the other hand, are a combination of both web and native applications. In short, hybrid apps are developed utilizing web-based languages such as CSS, JavaScript, and HTML. These apps are then tweaked slightly so that they work on both Android and iOS devices. Hybrid phone apps are great options for customers looking to develop a minimum viable product (MVP), or an application that can be developed as quickly as possible with as little risk as possible. However, hybrid apps can sometimes lag behind in performance and usability. They can also be difficult to update.

Learn more: Native App vs. Web App vs. Hybrid App 

3. Prototyping and Wireframing

These terms may sound oblique but think of wireframes and prototypes as the blueprint of any good mobile app. Using programs like Figma, a mockup is created for the mobile experience, giving investors and companies an idea of what the final product will look like before the web developers write the code for it.

Learn more: How to Make Wireframes for Your App

4. User Experience

Have you ever been so frustrated by the checkout process in an app that you eventually wanted to throw your phone across the room in frustration? We’ve all had a bad user experience at some point or another online, which is why good UX (user experience) is so important and often goes unnoticed. Good UX makes a user’s journey to the end goal seamless and worry-free. Small details like ensuring the right buttons are placed far enough apart from each other can make or break an entire app. It also considers every user, making accessibility features available to all.

Learn more: Behavioral Design is the Future of UX

5. Graphic Design

How an app makes you feel is important. If an app looks cheap, most users will immediately question its trustworthiness. However, an app with slick graphics can keep a user intrigued enough to stick around and discover more.

Does your app look like an extension of your website? Good mobile app design should always incorporate a solid sense of brand identity into every facet.

Learn more: How to Use Emotional Design to Create a Great App

6. Full-Scale Integration and Iteration

Once the app coding phase is completed, user testing commences. It’s during this phase that any glitches or flaws are refined until the app is ready for launch. However, as we all know, any good app is never finished. Through periodical updates, new features and versions are constantly iterated in hopes of promoting new ways for the user to engage with the app.

Learn more: 6 Best Usability Testing Methods for Mobile Apps

Final Thoughts

Turning a website into a mobile app is a vital step toward the positive growth of any business enterprise. Having a skilled team of UX/UI designers, web developers, and graphic designers on your side can make creating a mobile app effortless for yourself and your users. We’d love to help you launch something great.

You might also like:

Let's build together.

We'd love to hear about your product or idea.

Get in touch