Pleasure to meet you!

If you're looking for a full-time software developer, I'm currently looking for full-time, gainful employment as a Software Engineer, so we should talk. My name is Barry Welch and I have a strong enterprise Java and .Net background while at the same time maintaining excellent AngularJS/Javascript, Ruby, and iOS skills. Call me: (316) 350-5541

Turning Your Website Into a Mobile App

"I've heard that a relatively inexpensive way to get an app in the App Store is to turn my website into a mobile app. How does that work and what would it cost?"

When I meet with a client who is looking to build an app, the first thing I do is try to determine if they really need a full-blown app, or if they have an existing web-property that can be converted into one. It turns out that major app development kits contain what is referred to as a "Chromeless web browser", which means you can launch an app that simply opens a web-page from the internet. There are some downsides to this, which we will get to in a moment, but the upsides are pretty strong. If you're new to this game, I probably just blew your mind, so lets slow down and take it easy while I walk you through the concept.

Apps come in a variety of flavors. You can make them as complex and bulky as you can imagine, but they can also be very lightweight and simple with just a few buttons and some text. Some apps, because they need to do a LOT of work, require that most of the code for the app reside in the installable file that Apple distributes to phones from the App Store. Games and other CPU-intensive apps tend to fall in the heavyweight category, as most of the app assets are bundled with the app installer. But, in some cases, there's not a reason to bundle ANY logic in the app, and you can simply use the app as a window through which you can view your existing website.

This begs the question: If you're just loading your website as a "window" in the app when it launches, why bother at all with making such an app. There are a handful of compelling reasons:

  1. Your brand (app icon) is on your customer's phone home-screen
  2. Your company will show up in searches in the App Store
  3. You can extend this app to do more things later (like push notifications, et al)
  4. Having a nice-looking app in the App Store sends a strong brand message
For a lot of people, the App Store is yet another channel where they can reach out to customers and hope to earn new business. I personally have sourced hundreds of prospects through app stores, many of whom pay me $30/month for SaaS services. Add to that the fact that I've helped clients source thousands of prospects through the App Store, and lets just say there is a real economic incentive to get this right. As with all lead-generation, the value is real, if you're prepared to effectively separate the wheat from the chaff. One more thought before we move one: App Stores are in an infancy stage, still many years after their conception. It truly is a remarkable opportunity with lots of virgin ground still waiting to be exploited.

If there are upsides to having your brand at the top of someone's phone screen and opening up a new channel of customer acquisition, then there must be downsides, right?. Well, yes, and there are a few worth mentioning:

  1. Apple hates (actively works to reject) apps that just load websites
  2. Website apps can't load content when the user is offline
  3. There is a yearly Apple Developer licensing fee
  4. You'll need help from a developer to get your app in the Store
  5. Your website needs to be "responsive", which means it must use a layout that plays nice with mobile phones
Lets dig into a couple of these really quick. First, the fact that Apple hates apps that just load websites. This is a fact, but its somewhat simple to workaround. The historical rule of thumb is that your app should have some kind of intrinsic value if you were to put it in airplane mode. Its a bit of a thick concept, so we should talk about this over email or on the phone rather than trying to explain here. More interestingly, I think, on that last bit above about the need for a "responsive" website... this is a real must-have. Your site should be designed in such a way that it looks good in desktop browsers as well as mobile, and there is a way to make this happen with some slick front-end programming by a capable developer.

Cost to Convert a Website to an App

Here is a breakdown of the steps necessary to build an app using your website.
  • Creating the necessary certificates and provisioning profiles
  • Creating an app wrapper that handles connection states (loading, ready, error, retry)
  • Converting assets to various required sizes
  • Testing in the simulator/emulator
  • Building and signing the installable file, validating and uploading
  • Creating app record (adding app icon, description, keywords, urls, etc)
  • Submitting for review
  • The cost: $650 for the first platform, $300 for each additional. (iOS, Android, and Windows Mobile)
In total, we charge around $650 per platform (iOS/Android/Windows), with a substantial price break for submitting both Android and iPhone apps ($950 total for both). We'll also help you mitigate any rejections and advise you on next steps. The menu for that is as follows:
  • Tabs + basic custom calculator (add $300)
  • Extra two pages with custom text/image content (add $300)

Converting your website into a mobile app is a viable and inexpensive way to get your brand into the app store, and its an route that many businesses are choosing to take. We've made it easy for you to get started. All you need to do is email your website url and an image to use for your app icon to If that's too much to ask, you can just call us at: (316) 350-5541