One of the easiest and cheapest ways to have your own app designed, is by using what you already have.
Whether you are a pub, hotel, restaurant, barbers, hair salon or pretty much any other B2C type business, you will no doubt already have a website. Your website will already contain all of your information, opening hours, prices and maybe even a booking form, so if you can use this already existing material to create an app, it’s going to keep the costs down.
Obviously the app landing page (opening screen) will be designed completely differently and from scratch but if there are plenty of other elements on the website that can be used, you could be cutting the cost by up to 2/3.
However, there is a big BUT. In order to wrap and suck in the content from your website onto your app, your website will need to be structured in a way that whatever is being displayed from your website, fits perfectly into your app. So let’s take a look at a couple of areas you might want to consider, especially if you are about to put a new website together, which will be “app ready” for the future.
You’ll here a lot of people talk about “responsive websites” and what they are referring to is a website that reacts slightly differently in the way it displays your site on different platforms. A website might look great on your laptop but how does it look on a mobile phone? Some websites you go to will have been designed to be responsive and will change their appearance depending on device. On phones and tablets, text and images can be “blown up” in size, to make them visibly better on your phone. This is all done in the “structure” of the website, rather than the content itself, so it’s important the platform you use is already “responsive”.
One slight problem is that even though the platform might be ready, unless you know how different tablets and phones react to images, text, what falls into what order, it’s difficult to get it all 100% responsive and in order. For example, Apple look at every website from top to bottom but also from left to right. So if you are using a sidebar, which appears on the left hand side of the screen, you may find that this leaps to the top of the page on an iPhone and all your content is below. If your sidebar is on the right, the content will appear first and then the whole contents of the sidebar below.
This isn’t a huge problem for apps, because we would usually remove the side bar altogether. Inside the app, people won’t really want external links to your facebook, twitter, adverts or other links, so the sidebar can just be removed.
However if you have some parts of your website where you have an image on the left and some text on the right, followed by some text on the left and an image on the right to make it look cool. On a phone you will get the first block of text, followed by the first image (fine) but then you will get the 2nd image, before the 2nd block of text (which might look a bit strange). This can be adjusted within the app or that page itself can be designed to react differently when it is resized, even before it is turned into an app, which makes things easier.
If you’ve written your website in WordPress, providing your theme is fairly recent, the chances will be that it is already responsive. However some themes are better than others and sometimes it works out cheaper in the long run to update to a new theme and re-organise your website, prior to actually trying use elements of it in your app.
If you are using content from your website, the app will need to obviously take feeds directly from it. This is particularly the case if you have a blog, magazine or website that relies on regular content. If the speed of your website is slow, well obviously it is going to have an affect on the app. Don’t worry too much if its just your home page that is a little slow (although you should still try to make it as fast as possible), you may have a slider or some big images that only load on the home page, the app won’t use your home page.
Why Even Turn Your Website Into An App?
The great thing about websites is that they can be found on google, the downside is they can be found and then promptly forgotten. In fact, even customers who have used your business, won’t have you on their minds day by day. You might have a special offer, a seasonal deal or a new piece of content you want to promote and outside of pounding it out there through your social media and email, customers won’t know it exists.
With an app, you can send push notifications. Every time you have an offer or add a piece of content, your customers will get a notification to their phone or tablet. Push notifications are by far the best way to send out notices to your customers. Forget text messages, don’t rely on mail chimp, push to their phones and everybody will see the notification…. And for FREE.
I’m not saying that you stop your social media activities to promote your special offer, just also promote the fact you have an app and every customer that comes to visit you, make sure they download it too.
You can also add booking forms, profiles and other things to your app that aren’t on your website. Customers can book appointments, table reservations, anything you have to offer, from their phones. even if you don’t have an in-house booking system, you can still create something in the app, which looks like a booking form but tells the customer, their booking will be confirmed in 24 hours. You’ll then receive and email booking request via the app and, if you can meet their requirements, you can confirm by both email and push notification.
If you’ve thought about having your own app but don’t really know where to start, why not start by letting us have a look at your website, to see whether parts of it can be used as an app. If it can, you’ll save a bundle of money and time. Plus when you update your website, your app will update without the need for you to do any more work.
Get in touch via our contacts page and we’ll take a look for you. We don’t charge for this service and will email you with our thoughts within 24 hours.
App Yourself Up 🙂