The transition to mobile is inevitable and accelerating; many of your readers are likely visiting your site right now on their smartphones and even more are likely to be doing so tomorrow (excellent infographic on those trends here). For those of us who have just gotten used to the idea of running a website that shows up on a desktop, the prospect of also making our websites work on mobile devices is incredibly daunting.
Fortunately, there are WordPress extensions that are making that process more accessible to the average site owner and less labor-intensive. Two popular options/methods for making your site more mobile-friendly are to either design your site with a responsive theme or make your existing theme more readable and navigable on mobile devices. There is, however, a third option: you can turn your website into a mobile app. Take a look below at some plugins that help you convert your WordPress website into a mobile app.
A plugin that comes strong recommended, WiziApp does a great job of making the process of creating your own app as easy as possible. Their relatively intuitive interface allows you to: name your app; design or upload a splash screen; decide how much information about each post to include (date, author, comments, page, thumbnail); add tab bar menu items; set push notifications; enable sharing options; and enable AdMob ads. Helpfully, while configuring these options you can see a live preview of what your app will look like. Once you are ready, complete your app description and they will publish it to the App Store for you.
Native Apps Builder
Another excellent option, the Native Apps builder plugin aims to be as comprehensive a solution as exists in the market. There are three things that really jump out. First, they have gone to quite a bit of effort to ensure that it integrates with as many third-party applications as possible (Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, etc.). Second, the team at AppsBuilder is serious about their hosting duties and focused on trying to maintain your application’s uptime . Third, they work hard at getting it to work across platforms: iPad, iPhone, Android, Windows phone, and others. If there is one nit I could pick with it, though, it would be that their app creation interface is not quite as intuitive to use as it should be or as some of the others are.
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Still in its Beta phase (which is in your favor – their basic membership plans are now free. Free!) , Weever App promises to be an extremely exciting App offering. It has an attractive and relatively clear interface (it does take a minute to figure out what it is doing, exactly) that allows you to toggle between various options before publishing. And what a lot of options! Weever Apps has made a point of allowing the user an especially fine control over their app and how it looks and functions. In addition, they are making a point of trying to make it closely emulate and reproduce the functions of your WordPress site. Definitely an application to look out for.
(this isn’t actually all that informative of a video, but I couldn’t pass its glorious cheesiness up)
WP App Maker
For those of you who are more Android focused, there is a dedicated plugin to help you create your own app for that platform. No poor relation, though, WP App Maker is also the easiest, fastest, and cheapest solution available for the aspiring native app publisher. Although it does sacrifice some of the extensive customization and capabilities of the other plugin options, it still allows you to craft an attractive, tailed app for your website with plenty of features (it supports Google Analytics for tracking and AdWhirl for advertising). They do not handle publishing to the Android Market, so after downloading the app that the plugin creates, you will have to upload it to the market yourself. If you need help with the publishing process, here is a video tutorial (from WP App Maker), a checklist from Google, and an excellent tutorial document.
For those of you who think that creating a mobile app from your site’s content is overkill for your purposes, here are some other plugins that you might want to take a look at:
- WP Readable creates a simple mobile display of your posts with a clean look, light customization, and the ability to swipe from post to post. Designed to be simple to use and easy to read.
- WP Touch ”automatically transforms your WordPress website into an application-like theme” that allows your readers to easily view your posts on mobile devices. They also offer a Pro version which is a little more feature-rich.
- Onswipe serves the under-emphasized tablet market by providing a number of attractive, clean, and readable themes that make your site easier to read and interact with on those devices. Find out more on their, no surprise here, incredibly tablet-friendly website.