How to turn a WordPress site into a mobile or web application?

How to turn a WordPress site into a mobile or web application?

The WordPress CMS offers many tools to transform a WordPress site into a mobile or web application. Indeed, being a fairly versatile solution with resources and fairly detailed documentation, you can easily create an application. In this article, we'll tell you how to do it. In particular, we will talk about the extensions that you can use. And, then, we will see the approach based on web development. The last one will be to see how you can do it without plugins.

What you need to do before thinking about transforming a WordPress site into an application

Since WordPress is a relatively popular solution, many companies may wish to use it for various reasons. It is important to prepare your website for changes or adjustments.

Audit of the current site

Before you venture into transforming your website into an app, you need to do the website audit. Indeed, your website and content must be adapted to new criteria. We can cite among others:

  • Performance Analysis: Use tools like Google PageSpeed Insights or LightHouse to evaluate your site speed and identify possible improvements.
  • Content Audit: Make sure your content is clear, well-organized, and optimized for SEO. This is crucial, because the content will also need to be accessible and perform well on applications.

Design adapted to mobiles and tablets

You also need to make sure that your website is mobile and tablet friendly. This means your site should display correctly on all screen sizes, from desktop to smartphones.

Media Optimization

Optimize images and other media so that they load quickly and don't consume too much data on mobile devices. Consider using modern image formats like WebP.

User interface simplification

Clean up your interface to avoid unnecessary elements that can distract or slow down mobile users. Focus on simple and intuitive navigation.

WordPress REST API

Become familiar with the WordPress REST API, as it will likely be used to integrate your content into the application. Test the API to ensure it correctly exposes all the data needed by the application. It's also important to protect data that you don't want to display publicly.

Securing the site

Strengthen security to protect against vulnerabilities, especially if you're going to expose your content through an API. This includes updating WordPress and plugins, using HTTPS, and installing security plugins.

Plugin Compatibility

Verify that the plugins you use are compatible with API access and do not introduce performance or security issues.

Database management

Optimize your database to improve performance and responsiveness. This could include reducing database size, cleaning up unused tables, and optimizing queries.

Testing on different devices

Test your site on various devices and browsers to ensure it works consistently and without errors before you begin app development.

Options for turning a WordPress site into an app

To turn a WordPress site into a mobile or web app, you have several categories of options, each with their own benefits and levels of complexity. Here are the main approaches:

Progressive Web Apps (PWA)

PWAs are web applications that use modern web technologies to provide a user experience similar to that of a native application. They are accessible through a browser, but can be added to a device's home screen, work offline, and send push notifications. For WordPress, there are plugins like “ Super Progressive Web Apps” that can help convert your site to PWA. You can also develop one personalized to your needs.

Using specific plugins

Several WordPress plugins allow you to transform your site into a mobile application. Thanks to its plugins, you don't need in-depth development skills. For example, plugins like “AppPresser” or “WappPress” create a native app that you can customize and publish to App Stores. These solutions are often limited in terms of customization and advanced features.

Custom development via WordPress REST API

This approach involves developing a custom mobile or web application that uses the WordPress REST API to interact with your site data. You can use development frameworks like React (for web or mobile applications with React Native) or Flutter. This method provides maximum flexibility for design and functionality, but requires significant development skills.

Hybrid Mobile Apps

Hybrid applications are developed using web technologies (HTML, CSS, JavaScript) and are encapsulated in a native web view using tools like Cordova or Ionic. They allow faster and more economical development than native applications while having access to certain functionalities of the operating system. You can also opt for this option to develop your application.

Native apps

Although not the most common option for WordPress users, it is entirely possible to develop a native app for iOS and Android that connects to WordPress through its REST API. This requires specialized software development and is typically chosen for applications that require high performance, superior user experience, and intensive use of hardware features. Each option has its advantages and constraints, so the choice will depend on your specific needs, your budget, and your technical skills. PWAs and plugins are simpler and less expensive solutions, while custom development offers more control and adaptability.

Practical aspects of transforming a WordPress site into an application

In this section, we will discuss the practical side of turning WordPress into an application. If you want to create an app, there are resources available to you. We will see, based on the options we mentioned above, what you can do.

Opt for the PWA option

If you want to create a WordPress mobile or web application by adapting the PWA approach, you have two options:

  • do it. In this case, it will be a question of developing the application. Indeed, if you have programming knowledge, you can convert your website into an application using a certain approach. We offer you this article which explains more about what a PWA is.

Some plugins that allow you to convert WordPress to PWA

There are several WordPress plugins that can help you convert your site into a Progressive Web App (PWA). Here are some of the most popular and effective:

1 – SuperPWA

Super Progressive Web Apps is a simple and effective plugin that allows you to transform your WordPress site into a PWA in just a few clicks. Furthermore, it offers basic customization options such as defining icons, application name, and theme color. Additionally, it also takes care of generating the application manifest and service worker needed for offline operation.

2 – PWA for WP & AMP

This plugin offers advanced PWA feature integration for WordPress sites, including those using AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) . It supports push notifications, resource preloading for improved performance, and customizable offline cache configuration.

3 – WordPress Mobile Pack

WordPress Mobile Pack allows you to publish your WordPress content to a progressive mobile app (PWA). It offers theme customization options, allows users to save articles to their devices for offline reading, and includes support for push notifications.

4 – WP-AppKit

WP-AppKit is more geared towards developers who want to create mobile apps based on WordPress. It does not directly convert your site into PWA but allows you to develop applications that use WordPress as a backend. It supports both web applications and native applications based on PhoneGap/Cordova.

5 – WebSuite PWA :

This plugin is relatively new but offers interesting features for transforming WordPress sites into PWAs. It handles the basics like the application manifest and service worker files, and it's easy to configure. Each of these plugins offers different features and levels of customization, so it's important to choose the one that best suits your specific needs and the user experience you want to provide. Installing and configuring these plugins is generally a simple process, making PWAs a very accessible option for WordPress site owners wanting to improve the accessibility and mobile performance of their site.

Gilblas Ngunte Possi

Gilblas Ngunte Possi

Founder and Full-Stack Developer at Prositeweb.

My proficiency with modern tools and a keen analytical sense regarding information technology enable me to provide superior guidance in the development and implementation of your web solutions.

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