The Do's and Don'ts when turning your WordPress site into a native mobile app


cc flickr by mkhmarketing

cc flickr by mkhmarketing

Everyday, I'm in contact with people who have a WordPress site and want to turn it into a mobile app. It's not surprising since more than 19% of the web runs on WordPress  

During the conversation, we always end up speaking about the best way to make this transformation, so I thought about sharing this with you in this blog post.

(Don'ts) Use the RSS feed

What most people do at first, is to start using the RSS feed to put content into their app. It's understandable because this solution very easy. Moreover, it looks nice because you retrieve the title, the image and the content of your articles. But that's all. And when it comes to use the app, critical features will be missing.

I don't recommend to use the RSS feed, except in one case. If you're looking for an app builder to create your app, use the RSS feed to see if the solution you're testing is good or not. This way you can base your test on real content, which is always better.

(Do's) Use a plugin to get a deeper integration

Using a plugin is the right way to pull content from your WordPress site into your app.

There are several plugins out there to create apps from your WP site. I will illustrate one in particular in this post, the GoodBarber plugin for WordPress

Unlike a RSS feed which is a standard web format, a plugin can be 100% custom made. That is to say you're able to design a plugin, or to use a ready made plugin, that bring into your app valuable features. The ones you really want to have.

For instance, if your WordPress site is a news site, I strongly recommended you to include the following features in your app :

- Categories
The plugin can have access to the structure of your website. You will be able to reproduce this structure into your app, or adapt it specifically for the app to enhance it's value.
The Plugin also manages actions like Adding, editing or removing categories, so that your app always remains aligned with your website.

- Comments sync
The Possibility to read and post comments is one of the most valuable features you need to have in your app. A plugin can take care of the synchronization between the app and website. Comments posted from the app will appear directly in the website and vice-versa.

- Search engine
A search engine is another must have. That's the way we behave on the web, going from one query to another. The plugin has access to the WP database. It will be able to return a list of results related to a query made in the app.

Even if phone's screens tend to become bigger and bigger, there is still less surface available to display content compared to a desktop screen. Add to this the varying bandwidth a phone gets to access the Internet, and you need to optimize the way the app will show content. A plugin makes it very easy to implement pagination. After that, designers can express their talent and find the most elegant ways to construct the navigation through pages or the infinite scrolling.

Ready to go?

It's easy to turn your WordPress site into a mobile app. Whatever solution you choose, you'll get help from the community and the people who develop tools to make your life easier. Don't hesitate to get in touch with them and start building your app now! :)