Venturing into the mobile domain, converting your existing Website to Mobile App does not make your Website obsolete, rather it offers you new opportunities, new communication channels, to know and serve your customer better.
It provides more value to your users, minimizes loading time, increasing customer retention rate; moreover, it also provides better customer engagement opportunities and enhances brand visibility.
Airbnb, a significant name in the lodging industry, started way back in August 2008, with a Website. Five years later, in July 2013, the company allowed its hosts to create a listing and upload photos via Mobile App; by October 2013, around 50 per cent of its hosts were using its mobile platform.
These hosts tended to respond faster to customer queries, that is, bookings were now happening much faster with the Airbnb App; making Airbnb, one of the leading names in the lodging domain, with over a million guestroom listings worldwide.
The eCommerce giant, eBay was launched in September 1995 with the AuctionWeb website and ventured later into mobile domain after 13 years in June 2008, becoming one of the first companies to launch an iPhone Application.
Before you embark on your journey to convert your Website into a Mobile App, there are certain things you should know about the journey.
Things to Know Beforehand
1. A responsive website design and a mobile app do not serve the same purpose
The most common question while comparing a website design with a mobile app is “Wouldn’t a Responsive Website Design work, as an alternative to a Mobile App?”
A Responsive Website adjusts itself according to the device; its screen size and resolution. This makes the website content look better on smartphone and other devices.
A Mobile App, on the other hand, is a downloadable software package that you get from either the Google Play Store or Apple App Store. The App works in a close connection with the device OS and hardware like, Camera, Accelerometer, Gyroscope Sensors, to provide a seamless User Experience.
2. Your mobile app is not the miniature version of your website
Maintaining a two-pronged mobile strategy, with the presence on both mobile web and mobile app, doesn’t mean your app is a miniature and downloadable version of your website. Websites and Apps are two distinct self-sufficient products, that serve different purposes.
You can either choose to transfer all or only specific functionalities of your website to your app; or, you can build an app with the core features initially, and upgrade it over time.
Users do not always like all the features that you offer; copying all of them, will turn your app into a maze with too many screens, eventually leading your customer to get lost among them.
Therefore, try to accomplish each feature within a minimum number of screens, making it easier for your user to use and learn.
3. Less is more
Mobile Apps follow the principle of, ‘Less is More’.
A website provides content and useful information to the users, whereas an App is meant to ease out your users’ lives. Loading your App with lots of content, would not appeal to your users, and eventually, they would refrain from using it again.
White spaces on screens appeal more elegant to the eyes. More content does not appeal to the users and looks cluttered. For example, the Menswear App, Mylo, has sufficient amount of white spaces, presenting it with a soothing look.
Steps Involved in Converting Your Website Into a Mobile App
Step 1: Deciding what goes in and what goes out
Websites and Apps aren’t two facets of a single coin, rather they are two different coins with their own facets. A feature that you see doing wonders on one platform, might not be able to create the same magic on the other.
Therefore, you need to decide, which features and content to take on board with you; there will be some that are exclusively meant for Apps and others exclusively for Websites.
These features with their complementary content are brought down first to the App. They are further handed to the design teams.
Step 2: Designing a seamless user experience
“People ignore the design, that ignores the people”
-Frank Chimero, Author, The Shape of Design
User Experience is something that requires the whole of your attention; you have to put yourselves in users’ shoes, and then brainstorm ideas.
A website contains lots of images, videos, text, and other visual elements, whereas owing to the small screen of the mobile, you cannot accommodate everything on your App; that’s the reason we prefer only certain features to be brought down to the App.
Every screen on your app accomplishes a specific task, that is, a feature that might occupy only a single page of your website may take up to 2-3 screens on the App.
To not turn your App into a complete labyrinth, we strongly recommend you to highlight the core features, that provide the most value to your users.
Place the main Call-to-Action within the thumb-friendly zone of the device interface, for users do not like to tire their thumbs to reach the top unreachable corners of the screen.
c. Ensure smooth navigation
Websites have long and complicated interactions, and that’s what your users would not prefer with your app. Interactions with App are rather meant to be simple, your client logs in, does his/her work and logs out of the App.
You can choose to implement Hamburger menus, Tab bars and Gesture-based navigation to enhance the discoverability and accessibility of the content on your App.
Hamburger Menus are hidden menus that do not come onto the screen until a user taps or swipes to view them. They save a lot of screen space and provide users with a familiar option to navigate. The only disadvantage is that the button lies in the non-thumb-friendly zone.
Tab Bars usually lie at the bottom of the screen, containing a direct link to the major features that the App serves. And, one of the major advantage that it possesses over Hamburger menus is that tab bars lie in the thumb-friendly zone.
Gesture-based navigation is instinctively based. Instead of menus and bars, users can navigate through gestures. For example, WhatsApp, you can easily navigate to and fro between chats, status, and calls, just with a swipe. Gesture-based navigation comprises of features based on user instincts, like pinch, flick, swipe, rotate, spread, long press, and tap.
Step 3: Responsive design and development
Apps too need a responsive design, that adjusts the App content according to device size and resolution and meets all the hardware and software requirements
Regressive Testing is carried out, to make sure that the App content fits well, the functionality fulfils the purpose, communication channels work effectively and in all, the app serves its purpose.
There is a huge difference between how Website and Apps communicate with the server and the database. A Website address database queries directly to the database, whereas an App first communicates with its underlying API, which then forwards the request to the database.
If your website servers are optimized for mobile, developers can develop APIs that can connect with your existing database; and if required, then even the whole backend has to be redeveloped, from the scratch.
Step 4: Launch
Prefer starting with a Minimum Viable Product or MVP; in this, initially, an App with the core features is developed and launched, its user response is recorded and analyzed. Based on the analysis, further product development is carried out.
This way you get a product, that is in compliance with all the users’ needs and requirements.
Benefits of Converting Your Website Into a Mobile App
1. Increased consumer base
People are moving towards the Smartphone era at a high pace. Studies have shown that by 2019, there will be around 2.5 billion smartphone users globally, making it a potential market for you to make a mark. As of May 2017, more than 80% of the total digital minutes spent on mobile are spent on Mobile Apps, that is, having a mobile app for your business clearly dawns new opportunities for customer interaction.
App share of the total mobile minutes spent
2. Better user engagement
A website resides on the browser and can be accessed through URL. A Mobile App, on the contrary, resides at your customers’ fingertips; it forms a part of your users’ lifestyle.
Mobile Apps have the ability to connect to the users’ device features; camera, messages, contacts, accelerometer, microphones, GPS, gyroscope sensors, enabling you to serve your users with a better and personalized User Experience.
You can always notify your users via in-app and push notifications; serve them according to their GPS positioning, gestures, and interests.
3. Offline support
While website requires an internet connection mandatorily, an App can be accessed even offline! Your users can listen to podcasts, read articles and news, go through your product catalogues; that is, you can make your presence felt even without a network or wireless connection.
4. Competitive edge
Having a Mobile App for your business helps you stand at par with your competitors; not owning one gives your competitors an edge over you. In this digital era, no matter what the demography of your potential client is, you could surely lose upon a huge opportunity to attract them.
5. Presence among social media circles
A study by Global Web Index, a technology firm that provides audience profiling to marketers and media agencies, 44% of the people who use social media, log in just to check what their friends and peers are up to.
Having a Mobile App enables your business to form a significant part of your potential clients’ social interactions; people can share, review, buy, sell or avail your products or services while chatting with their friends.
For instance, YouTube’s new chat feature enables viewers to share videos with their friends within the App itself. They can discuss and post their views and comments about the videos.
6. Reach a wider audience
Having a Mobile App complimenting your website and business aids your promotional campaigns, helping you reach a wider audience. For your campaign to stand out and make a mark, you need an App that could act as a billboard for your business and leave an imprint on the minds of your customers.
You can either email or text about your latest deals, products, and offers; or you can notify them via push notifications enabling them to avail offers on in-app purchases and payments.
Apps open a whole new door for you to attract your potential customers.
With the technology evolving fast, people moving towards newer dawns, it’s high time businesses start realizing the potential of Mobile Apps. They have higher user and market penetration; you get newer opportunities to approach your customers, to facilitate their navigation and to address their problems.
Your Website may be doing wonders, but to reach out to a wider domain, you have to evolve your business ways. a website converts your visitors into customers, and an App helps create and enhance Customer Loyalty among them.
Incorporating both into your mobile marketing strategy helps you create a win-win situation, by leveraging both the domains.
We, at Enterprise Monkey, bring you all the three ingredients required to craft an impeccable User Experience; Knowledge, Experience, and Expertise. Get in touch with our mobile app development team and we will come up with the most optimised solutions according to your requirements.