Want to create a mobile app for your WordPress site? The idea has always sounded cool to me. But...I have zero idea how to code a native mobile app. Heck, I can barely hack my way around WordPress.
And if you’re an average WordPress user, I’m guessing that you find yourself in much the same situation as I do.
So...what to do? Are we doomed to need to outsource app development to some expensive design studio? Well, maybe if you want to create something super fancy. But if you just want to create a functional appified version of your site, you can do it with a plugin called WordApp. And it’s not just for blogs - you can also create app versions of your WooCommerce store or BuddyPress site.
And today, in my WordApp review, I’m going to show you exactly how to do that.
What Does WordApp Do?
WordApp helps you create a native mobile app version of your WordPress site for both iOS and Android. That native app part means you can actually take these apps and upload them to the respective app store, whereupon your lovely visitors can download your app straight to their smartphone.
But you don’t have to limit yourself to a native app, either. WordApp also lets you use your app design as the mobile version of your site for free, which is pretty neat. You can toggle this functionality off if you want to use your normal responsive design, but I think the design that WordApp spits out is more attractive than many mobile WordPress sites.
Ok, let’s get into the actual features of WordApp. Here’s everything this nifty plugin can do:
- Build your app with a live preview
- Customize colors, menu items, icons, and more
- Builds apps for both iOS and Android
- No programming knowledge required
- Monetize your app with AdMob advertising
- Supports WooCommerce and BuddyPress, as well as any other plugin at WordPress.org
- Easily send push notifications to your app straight from your WordPress dashboard
It’s a pretty functional and intuitive plugin. Let’s get a bit more hands-on, though…
Hands-on With WordApp
Ok, the devs set me up with a test site, so I didn’t have to go through an installation process. But from watching their help video, it seems pretty simple to get to the stage where my test site starts at.
Let’s jump straight into the App Builder. The app builder is where you’ll build out most of the functionality for your app.
What’s really nice is that you have this preview that always gives you a shot of what your app will look like. While the preview isn’t 100% real-time (you have to click Save to see the changes), it’s pretty dang helpful. With some other app builders I’ve used, you had to select your options and then guess how they’d look on the front-end. WordApp lets you see how things will look right away:
So what can you customize in the first tab? Here, you’ll set up your basic app color scheme, as well as important information like your app name and logo. You can also choose a theme and what page should open first in your app. As you can see, changing a color and hitting Save lets me preview what that color will look like:
Configuring Your Menu Items and Bars
In the next tab, you can set up all of the various menus used by your app. Basically, you’ll configure the Hamburger icon as well as the mini bar at the bottom of the screen. Here, you can see what happens when I turn off the Top Menu:
For the bottom menu bar, you can choose which buttons to display as well as which icons you want to use for each option. For example, I can change the Home icon to something...a little less homey:
Choosing Icons and Splash Screen
Finally, on the App Structure tab, you can choose important details like:
- Your app icon (for users’ home screens).
- Your app splash screen
- App meta information
And, well, that’s it! The devs advertise that you can create an app in under 5 minutes. And from my experience, I’d say that’s definitely true. I mean, you’ll probably want to spend more time to get things perfect. But it’s a very simple process. Keep in mind that you're not going to have any advanced functionality in your app - but for a 5 minute setup and no code required, you can't really expect that.
When you’re finished, you just click the Publish App button at the top:
Then, WordApp will email you with two files for iOS and Android:
You get your app files surprisingly fast. I think it only took me ~15 minutes from clicking the button to getting my email.
What About Advertising?
Ok, I told you that you can use WordApp to add advertising to your mobile app. To do that, you just need to head to the AdMob tab and insert your details:
Pretty dang simple.
Can You Create Pages Just For Your App?
Need to create mobile specific pages that you don’t want showing up on the desktop version of your site? WordApp gives you a new Mobile Pages custom post type that you can use to add content that you only want to display on your app:
The Mobile Pages use the standard WordPress Editor, so the only real benefit of this is segmenting your pages.
Sending Push Notifications to Your App Users
I want to show you one more nifty feature before I wrap up this review. Remember how I said you can send push notifications directly from your WordPress dashboard?
Yup - it’s as simple as heading to the Send a Push Notification tab, filling in your message, and scheduling when you want it to go out. You can even preview what your notification will look like on your users’ screens:
It’s a super simple way to stay connected with your users.
How Much Does WordApp Cost?
A native WordPress mobile app in under 5 minutes...how much is that going to cost? Surprisingly little.
You can create a mobile HTML site and Android app for free. Then, to get additional features or the iOS app, you can choose from one of the following plans:
- Bronze - $4.99 monthly / $2.99 yearly.
- Silver - $6.99 monthly / $4.99 yearly.
- Gold - $9.99 monthly / $8.99 yearly.
You can view what each plan gets you below:
Not exactly breaking the bank!
Wrapping Things Up
This review is a bit shorter than I was expecting because of just how dang simple WordApp is. Seriously - 5 minutes isn’t a lie.
If you just want a mobile HTML site, you don’t need to spend a dime. Otherwise, WordApp is still pretty affordable at less than the price of Netflix per month.
Just one thing to note - if you try to google WordApp - the first result is a decidedly different service. So make sure to head to WordApp by clicking the links below: