In today’s mobile-first world, businesses need a robust mobile presence to engage digitally savvy consumers. Turning your existing website into a multi-platform mobile app allows tapping into app store visibility while streamlining maintenance versus managing separate web and app projects.

This step-by-step guide will cover:

  • Evaluating if converting your website to an app is right for your business
  • Choosing the optimal app development approach
  • Following best practices for mobile UX design
  • Ensuring full feature parity across web and app experiences
  • Submitting your finished app to app stores for maximum visibility

Let’s get started on transitioning your website visitors into loyal app users!

Is Turning Your Website into an App Right for You?

While appealing, mobile apps aren’t the best solution for every business. Consider these key factors:

Your website traffic primarily comes from mobile

Look at Google Analytics. If over 50% of your sessions are from mobile, an app may better serve your users’ platform preference.

Your business involves transactions or user accounts

Apps more seamlessly enable payments, logins, push notifications, and other features users expect for shopping, banking, social media etc.

You currently don’t offer native mobile app experiences

If you only have a responsive website, turning it into an app provides a proven way to deliver Android and iOS access with one codebase.

Your website relies on advanced interactivity and real-time features

Apps can incorporate connectivity, multimedia, geolocation, 3D Touch and other interactive elements not fully supported on mobile web.

You want to deepen customer engagement

Apps encourage regular usage through features like notifications and SAAS functionality to access products/services. This fosters engagement.

If these factors apply, developing your website into an app likely makes strategic sense.

How to Turn a Website into a Mobile App

Once you decide to convert your website into a mobile app, how do you approach development? Here are the main methods:

Use an app building platform

Services like Appsheet, BuildFire and GoodBarber allow converting websites to apps visually without coding. Best for simpler, brochure-style sites.

Leverage a web app framework

Frameworks like React Native, Flutter and Ionic compile web code into native iOS and Android apps. Offers more customization.

Utilize app conversion software

Tools like Appy Pie’s Web2App and Mobincube directly convert websites to apps using automation and some manual customization.

Hire a developer

App developers can build fully native mobile apps matched exactly to your web functionality and branding. Provides the most flexibility but also costs more.

Evaluate your budget, timeline, level of customization needed and technical capabilities to choose the optimal approach.

Designing User-Friendly Mobile App Experiences

When adapting your website to app format, what UI/UX best practices should you follow?

Simplify navigation

Use a streamlined bottom bar with up to 5 top-level destination pages for easy access on the go. Offer search for finding deeper pages.

Reduce clutter

Cut back excessive text and content density so screens feel scannable versus overloaded.

Use mobile-first menus

Hamburger menus that overlay simplified options work better than crammed top navs.

Size touch elements appropriately

Ensure buttons, links and touch points are large enough for stress-free use.

Test on multiple devices

Continuously evaluate usability across varying iOS and Android devices and screen sizes.

Adhering to Google’s Material Design principles for Android and Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines for iOS also helps build familiarity.

Matching Your App and Website Features

A branded mobile app should offer the same utility and functionality as your website. Ensure features translate seamlessly:

  • Account management – Sync user accounts, transaction history, saved preferences etc.
  • Ecommerce – Enable the same shopping flows from browsing to checkout.
  • Search – Match website search relevancy, filters, sort and predictive suggestions.
  • Forms – Recreate multi-page forms for bookings, contact requests, surveys etc.
  • Media content – Stream the same video, audio, document and image assets.
  • Third-party integrations – Connect apps like social media, payment gateways or chatbots.

While adapting features, evaluate if any functionality like interactive tools can be enhanced in app format through mobile-centric options. But aim for full parity between both experiences.

Getting Your App on App Stores

The final step is getting your app approved and published on Google Play and the Apple App Store. This requires:

  • Polishing designs, copy and functionality for release quality
  • Ensuring the app adheres to each platform’s interface guidelines
  • Assigning security permissions and properly handling user data
  • Localizing the app into target languages beyond English
  • Drafting a title, description, screenshots and videos that effectively communicate your app’s value
  • Submitting the app for review and public availability in each store

Gaining app store visibility makes your brand discoverable to over 5 billion global smartphone users. Continuous promotion is then needed to boost downloads and engagement.

Reach Mobile Users Through Multi-Platform Apps

By converting your website into a fully native iOS and Android app, you can streamline development efforts while catering to mobile-centric consumers in an increasingly apps-focused world.

Just be sure to evaluate if an app aligns with your business model, design optimized user experiences tailored to each platform, match website functionality precisely, and distribute your app far and wide through app stores.

Does your business need a mobile app presence? What challenges do you foresee in transitioning your website to app effectively? Share your thoughts below!