How to Make a Website an App: The Step-by-Step Process

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The world is swiftly becoming more mobile-centric, with everyone increasingly depending on smartphones for various tasks, from shopping and learning to socializing and working.

As a result, people recognize the need to adapt their digital presence to meet these user behaviors. In this context, transforming a website into a mobile app isn’t just a trend – it’s a strategic necessity for many.

Let’s delve into the various aspects of how to make an app from a website. In this guide, we discuss the why, when, and how of the process, consider critical decisions such as whether to have an app on iOS or an app on Android, outline the step-by-step procedure for creating your app, and touch upon submission guidelines for app stores.

Does Your Website Need a Mobile App?

Does Your Website Need A Mobile App

Before diving into the process of turning your website into an app, you should evaluate the need for such a transformation. The factors you must consider include your target audience and their preferences, the comparison of website and app user experiences (UX), the potential business advantages of app creation, and the costs and time commitment involved.

Identify the Target Audience and Understand Their Needs

The first step is to clearly identify your target audience and understand their needs. Here are some of the questions to consider: 

  • What demographic groups do they fall into? 
  • What devices do they use to access your site? 
  • How do they interact with your website? 
  • Which features are they frequently using? 

All of these questions can help define whether your audience would benefit from and appreciate an app.

You also need to gather data about your customers’ mobile usage habits. If your audience is predominantly accessing your website from mobile devices, and your site’s mobile experience is less than optimal, an app might be a valuable addition – though you should still consider improving your site’s mobile performance.

Compare Website and App User Experiences

The next step is comparing the user experience on websites and apps. Websites and apps often serve the same purpose but offer different experiences. Mobile apps typically provide a more streamlined and engaging user experience. They offer better personalization, faster navigation, and offline accessibility and can take advantage of mobile device features like the camera and GPS.

This doesn’t always mean making an app from a website will be the superior choice, though. If your website is well-optimized for mobile browsers and meets all user needs effectively, the value addition of an app might be minimal.

Business Advantages of Making an App

There are several business advantages to creating an app for your website. A well-designed app can increase customer engagement, improve customer loyalty, and potentially open up new revenue streams, such as in-app purchases or advertising. Apps also offer better opportunities for personalization and can send push notifications to users, keeping your brand at the top of their minds.

Having an app can also boost your brand’s image. In today’s tech-savvy world, having a mobile app signals that your business is modern and customer-centric, which can enhance your reputation and credibility in the marketplace.

Consider the Costs and Time Commitment Involved

Despite these advantages, creating an app isn’t without its costs. Depending on the complexity and features of your app, it could be a large investment. You’ll need to account for design, development, testing, and maintenance costs.

Creating an app is also a time-intensive process. From conceptualization to launch, it can take several weeks to months, depending on the complexity of the project. Once the app is launched, you’ll also need to be prepared to invest time in updating and maintaining it regularly based on user feedback and technological advancements.

How to Determine if Your App Should Be iOS or Android

Choosing between iOS and Android for your app is a big decision with far-reaching consequences. Ideally, you would have an app for both operating systems. But, if you have to choose, the choice should depend on several factors, such as your target audience and revenue models.

Factors iOS Android Why?
Revenue from in-app purchases   iOS users spend significantly more on in-app purchases compared to Android users. If your app’s revenue model will rely heavily on in-app purchases or subscriptions, iOS may be more suitable.
Market share   As of 2023, Android holds 71.44% of the global market share, whereas iOS holds 27.89%.
Device fragmentation   Device fragmentation refers to the wide variety of devices and screen sizes that an app must accommodate. iOS has far less device fragmentation compared to Android, making it easier to design, develop, and test apps.
Customization Options   Android, being an open-source platform, offers more customization options. If your app needs to take advantage of unique device features or custom functionalities, Android might offer more flexibility.

These are just a few of the considerations. The choice between iOS and Android will depend on your specific circumstances and business goals. Some businesses may also opt for cross-platform solutions, such as React Native or Flutter, to target both iOS and Android users simultaneously. 

However, this has its own set of trade-offs and should be considered carefully.

How to Turn a Website Into an App

Infographic on The Steps To Make a Website Into An App

Developing a mobile app from a website involves a series of structured steps that require careful consideration and planning – and this comes after the considerations (like OS) that you’ve already taken into account.

1. Strategy Selection and Planning

The first step in app creation is strategic planning. You need to define the purpose of your app and create a list of the primary features you want it to have.

This roadmap is important, as it gives you a general idea of the cost of development, time and resource requirements, and an estimated launch date.

If you have a lot of features you want to create but also a constrained budget, list out the features that are absolutely necessary. The rest can be implemented later.

Also, as we’ve already stated, understanding your target audience is also crucial at this stage. Their preferences will determine your app’s design and features and also the platform (iOS or Android) where you will release the app.

2. Hiring a Team

Once the planning stage is complete, you’ll need to assemble the right team to convert your website. This team could be in-house or outsourced, depending on your resources, skills, and budget.

The typical team for app development includes a project manager, UI/UX designers, app developers (front-end and back-end), and quality assurance testers. However, this largely depends on the scope of the project.

You’ll also need to identify the skills required for your app. This varied depending on the platform (iOS or Android), the development framework to be used, and the complexity of the app.

You have several options when it comes to assembling your team. If you have an in-house team, you can utilize their skills. If you don’t, you can hire freelancers, contract a development agency, or use a mix of both. Each has its own pros and cons.

  • In-house team: Having an in-house team can lead to better collaboration and communication since all team members are in the same location. However, it can be expensive, and you need to have all the necessary skills within your company. Otherwise, you’ll need to hire additional members.
  • Freelancers: Hiring freelancers can be cost-effective and provide flexibility. You can hire freelancers with specific skills as needed. However, managing freelancers can be challenging due to differences in time zones, languages, and work ethics.
  • Development agency: A development agency can provide a comprehensive solution, taking care of everything from design to testing. They have experts in different areas, ensuring high-quality work. However, this can be the most expensive option.

Regardless of your choice, be sure the communication is open and consistent between all team members involved. This will help avoid misunderstandings and keep everyone on the same page regarding the app’s development progress.

Remember, the success of your app depends heavily on the team developing it.

3. Designing the App Layout

The design phase involves creating an intuitive and user-friendly interface for your app. It should provide an easy and engaging experience for the user. Start with a wireframe—a visual guide that represents the skeletal framework of the app. This will help you plan the layout and interaction of your app interface.

Focus on simplicity and usability, and make sure that the most critical features are easy to access. Remember, a well-designed app with a poor user experience will fail to engage users.

4. Converting or Creating Content for the App

Next, focus on your app’s content. For some, this might involve converting existing web content into a format suitable for an app. For others, it might mean creating new content tailored specifically for the app.

Your content needs to be clear, concise, and easy to digest on a mobile screen. Make effective use of visuals to communicate information. Also, make sure that any multimedia content, like images or videos, is optimized for mobile viewing.

5. Integrating Required Functionalities

After setting up the basic structure and content, integrate the necessary features that will form the core functionalities of your app. These features could range from fundamental ones, like user authentication, to more sophisticated ones tailored to your specific app’s objectives.

If your app requires user sign-ups or logins, make the process as smooth and straightforward as possible. Implementing social media login options such as sign-in via Google or Facebook can enhance user the process.

Consider the essential features relevant to your app’s purpose. For example, if your app is e-commercebased, you would need to integrate a secure payment gateway.

If it’s a travel-based app, GPS and location services would be essential.

An app offering social media features would benefit from the integration of camera access for taking photos or recording videos.

6. Testing and Debugging

Thorough testing is an important step that should never be skipped. It helps identify bugs, usability issues, and inconsistencies in design or functionality. There are several types of testing, including functional testing, usability testing, performance testing, and security testing.

Debug any issues identified during the testing phase. Then, retest to ensure everything works as expected. An app that crashes freezes, or behaves unpredictably will quickly lose user favor.

7. Submitting Your App to Google Play or Apple App Store

After the development and testing phases, it’s time to submit your app to the app stores. Both Google Play Store and Apple App Store have specific guidelines that must be met for an app to be accepted.

Google Play Store Guidelines

Google Play’s guidelines aim to foster a positive and safe environment for all users.

  • App quality: Your app must offer a high-quality user experience. This includes factors like stability, responsiveness, resource usage, and design. Google provides an App Quality checklist to assist developers.
  • Content ratings: Apps must have an appropriate content rating based on their content and functionality. Misrepresentation can result in removal or suspension.
  • Privacy & Security: Your app must respect user data and privacy. This means having a privacy policy, requesting only necessary permissions, and ensuring data security.
  • Restricted content: Certain types of content, such as explicit content, gambling, harmful or dangerous content, and deceptive behavior, are strictly prohibited.

Apple App Store Guidelines

Apple’s guidelines are pretty similar to Google’s. They include:

  • App Quality: Apps should be technically polished, provide value, and offer a user-friendly interface.
  • User Privacy: Apple places a high emphasis on user privacy. Apps must request permission for data access and should collect only the minimum amount of data necessary.
  • Safety: Apps should not contain objectionable material, express hate, or promote harm.
  • Business Model: Apps should clearly explain their business model, including in-app purchases, DLC, subscriptions, and advertising.
  • Legal: Apps must comply with all legal requirements in any location where they are available.

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Here are a few common mistakes developers make during the app submission process and tips to avoid them:

  • Not thoroughly testing the app: Make sure your app is thoroughly tested, both for functionality and adherence to app store guidelines, before submission. An app with a lot of bugs or one that violates guidelines can be rejected.
  • Incomplete or incorrect metadata: Both Google and Apple require certain metadata for your app, including descriptions, screenshots, and contact information. Make sure these are accurate and professional.
  • Poor user interface: A poor UI can lead to rejection. Follow platform-specific design guidelines (like Google’s Material Design or Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines) for the best results.
  • Ignoring privacy policies: If your app collects personal data, a privacy policy is a must. Not including one can cause your app to be rejected.
  • Lack of original content: Both app stores value originality. If your app offers little value or replicates an existing app without any unique features or content, it can be rejected.

Importance of User Reviews and Ratings

Infographic on Importance of User Reviews When Launching an App

Now that the app is launched, people will be using the app and reviewing it accordingly. User reviews and ratings play a big role in an app’s success. Potential users often look at reviews and ratings to decide whether to download an app. High ratings can improve your app’s visibility in the app store, while positive reviews can enhance its credibility.

Encourage users to rate and review your app by making it easy to do so within the app. Don’t take negative reviews personally. Respond to this feedback in a constructive manner and use the feedback to improve your app. Show the user that you care about their primary interests.

Update and Maintain the App to Keep Users

App development doesn’t end with launch. Regular updates and maintenance are vital to retain users and keep your app relevant.

Updates should address any bugs or issues users are experiencing. They can also introduce new features to enhance user experience or keep up with changing technology and user expectations. Regular updates show users that you’re committed to providing them with a quality experience.

Maintenance involves monitoring your app for issues, optimizing performance, and ensuring compatibility with the latest operating systems and devices.

The Bottom Line

The journey to transform a website into a mobile app can be complex and multifaceted, but it also carries the potential for bolstering business growth, enhancing user engagement, and tapping into a broad, mobile-centric market.

The process involves strategic planning, careful audience analysis, mindful design and development considerations, rigorous testing, and thorough maintenance. It requires investment both in terms of time and financial resources.

However, the benefits it brings to your business — better customer engagement, improved brand image, the potential for new revenue streams, and the ability to offer a personalized user experience — make it well worth the effort in most situations.

When making the choice between iOS and Android, remember to consider factors like your target audience, your revenue models, and the specific capabilities you desire in your app.

No matter the platform, focus on delivering a user-friendly, functional, and visually pleasing app that echoes the values and objectives of your brand. Equally important is maintaining an open dialogue with your users. Their reviews and feedback will be invaluable for improving your app, fixing bugs, and planning future enhancements.

This transformation isn’t a one-time event but a continuous process that keeps your business adaptive and relevant. With each update and iteration, your app becomes a more refined reflection of your brand while providing an enhanced user experience.

The path may be challenging, but the rewards are substantial.

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Marshall Gunnell
IT & Cybersecurity Expert
Marshall Gunnell
IT & Cybersecurity Expert

Marshall, a Mississippi native, is a dedicated expert in IT and cybersecurity with over a decade of experience. Along Techopedia, his bylines can be found on Business Insider, PCWorld, VGKAMI, How-To Geek, and Zapier. His articles have reached a massive readership of over 100 million people. Marshall previously served as the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) and technical staff writer at StorageReview, providing comprehensive news coverage and detailed product reviews on storage arrays, hard drives, SSDs, and more. He also developed sales strategies based on regional and global market research to identify and create new project initiatives.  Currently, Marshall resides in…