How to create an app for your WordPress website without coding

With over 34% market share, WordPress powers more than a third of all websites on the internet. Its open-source software, extensibility, ease of use, and active community have made it the go-to platform for launching websites of all kinds.

Whether you want a simple app to complement your WordPress site or a fully customizable native app, WordPress offers plugins for both. In this guide, we’ll explore the main options for building mobile apps with WordPress and help you choose the right approach.

Benefits of Creating An App for a WordPress Site

WordPress is already a popular platform for building websites. If you have a WordPress website, creating a mobile app for it will open your product to more opportunities

Leverage existing WordPress skills and community. Most WordPress developers are already familiar with WordPress themes, plugins, and custom development. These skills can be used to build mobile apps more efficiently than learning a completely new platform. The large WordPress community also provides support and additional resources. You can also use this simple and fast WordPress app builder tools to convert your website into an app in minutes

Options for Building Mobile Apps with WordPress

WordPress offers several options for building mobile apps, each with their own pros and cons:

Native Apps

Native apps are built specifically for a mobile platform like iOS or Android. They offer the best performance and ability to leverage device capabilities like the camera or GPS. Native apps must be built separately for each platform and require knowledge of native languages like Swift or Java.

The main advantage of native apps is they provide the smoothest user experience with fast performance and full access to device features. The downside is they require more development effort and have higher costs.

Hybrid Apps

Hybrid apps use web technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript wrapped in a native container. This allows building cross-platform apps using web development skills. Popular frameworks for hybrid apps include Ionic, Cordova, and React Native.

Hybrid apps provide portability across platforms with a single codebase. They can also access some device capabilities through plugins. However, performance is not as fast as native, and they cannot leverage all native features.

Progressive Web Apps

Progressive web apps (PWAs) are web apps that use modern APIs and features to provide an app-like experience. PWAs run in the browser but can work offline and send push notifications.

The main benefit of PWAs is they require only web development skills. They also offer easy cross-platform support with a single codebase. Limitations include lack of full access to native device capabilities.

Each approach has tradeoffs between performance, development effort, and device access. The choice depends on the specific app needs and resources available.

Choosing the Right Approach

When deciding how to build your mobile app with WordPress, there are a few key factors to consider:


What is your budget for app development? Native apps tend to be more expensive as they require specialized skills and separate codebases for each platform. Hybrid and progressive web apps can be more budget-friendly since they utilize web technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Evaluate your resources to determine the best approach.


How quickly do you need to get your app to market? Native development takes more time due to multiple codebases. Hybrid can be faster by leveraging a common codebase. PWAs can launch most quickly since they are just websites. Consider your timeline constraints when choosing an approach.


What features does your app require? Native apps can tap into full device capabilities but may require more specialized development. Hybrid apps have some limitations but can still access native features through plugins. PWAs offer limited native access. Review required features against each approach.


Who is your target audience and what devices/platforms will they use? Native apps allow full optimization for each platform. Hybrid and PWAs enable cross-platform reach but may not offer as tailored an experience. Consider your users and where they will access the app.


How will you handle ongoing maintenance and updates? Multiple codebases mean more maintenance effort for native apps. Hybrid and PWAs centralize logic and assets for easier upkeep. Factor in long-term maintenance needs.

Considering these key factors will help determine the best approach to build your WordPress mobile app affordably, efficiently, and with the features you need. Analyze your specific project needs against the pros and cons of each option.

Native App Development

Native app development involves building apps specifically for a given mobile platform, like iOS or Android. This allows full access to device features and optimized performance, but requires building the app multiple times for different platforms.

One way to build native apps with WordPress is using the WordPress REST API with a framework like React Native. The REST API provides access to WordPress content, while React Native allows building native iOS and Android apps with JavaScript.

Benefits of this approach:

  • Apps have native look, feel and performance
  • Can fully leverage device capabilities like camera, GPS, etc
  • Better user experience compared to web or hybrid apps
  • Can distribute through app stores like Apple App Store and Google Play


  • Need to build app separately for iOS and Android
  • Requires expertise in native languages like Swift, Java, Kotlin
  • More complex development and longer time to market
  • Higher development and maintenance costs

Overall, native app development provides the best user experience but requires more effort and costs compared to hybrid or web apps. The WordPress REST API + React Native approach helps streamline part of the process while still allowing native capabilities.

Hybrid App Development

Hybrid apps provide a middle ground between native and progressive web apps. They are built using web technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, but are then wrapped in a native container that allows access to some device features.

Some popular frameworks for building hybrid apps include:

  • PhoneGap/Cordova – One of the most popular options, PhoneGap provides a wrapper around HTML/CSS/JS code and allows access to device features like the camera, contacts, etc. Built apps can be distributed on app stores.
  • Ionic – Built on top of Cordova, Ionic provides useful components like navigation and UI elements out of the box to speed up hybrid app development.
  • React Native – Developed by Facebook, React Native uses the React framework to build the UI but still compiles down to native code.

The main benefits of hybrid apps are:

  • Write once, deploy anywhere – The same HTML/CSS/JS code can be reused across different platforms like iOS and Android with minimal changes.
  • Easier to develop – Web developers can leverage existing skills compared to learning platform-specific languages like Swift or Java.
  • Access to some native features – Can access device capabilities like camera, contacts, notifications etc.
  • Cheaper and faster development – Reuse of code speeds up the process compared to pure native.

The drawbacks include:

  • Performance – Hybrid apps may not be as fast and smooth as truly native apps since they still rely on web runtimes.
  • Limited access to APIs – Don’t have full access to all native device capabilities and APIs.
  • App store approval – Since they use web code, some app stores have restrictions on what APIs can be accessed.

Overall, hybrid apps provide a good middle ground for many use cases where a web app may not suffice but a full native app is overkill. The ability to reuse code and skills makes development easier and faster compared to pure native.

Progressive Web App Development

Progressive web apps (PWAs) are web apps that use modern web capabilities to deliver an app-like experience. PWAs offer many benefits compared to native apps, including:

  • They are cross-platform – a PWA can work across iOS, Android, desktop, etc. without needing to create platform-specific versions.
  • They are web-based – PWAs are built using web technologies like HTML, CSS and JavaScript. This makes them easier and faster to build compared to native apps.
  • They are responsive – PWAs work on any device and screen size.
  • They are discoverable – users can find them via search engines and require no installation.
  • They are linkable – PWAs can easily be shared via a URL.
  • They are installable – users can “install” them on their device for quick access, without going through an app store.
  • They are progressive – PWAs work even when offline, using service workers to cache assets and provide basic functionality.
  • They are secure – served over HTTPS to prevent snooping and ensure content integrity.

To build a PWA with WordPress, plugins like PWABuilder make it easy. PWABuilder handles generating manifest files, service workers, caching and more to make your site installable and app-like.

The main downside to PWAs is lack of access to some native device capabilities like the camera, Bluetooth, etc. Also, PWAs may feel slower than native apps, though that gap is closing.

Overall, PWAs provide an excellent middle ground between websites and native apps. They are much faster and easier to build than native apps, while providing a more app-like user experience compared to regular websites. For many use cases, they are an ideal mobile app solution using WordPress.

App Design Considerations

When designing your app, there are several key factors to consider for a good user experience across platforms:

Responsive Design

Your app should be fully responsive to adapt to different screen sizes and orientations. Use relative units, flexible layouts, and responsive images. Test across a range of mobile devices. A responsive design ensures your app is accessible and provides an optimal viewing and interaction experience.

Platform Guidelines

Follow platform-specific interface guidelines for each OS, like Apple’s iOS Human Interface Guidelines and Google’s Material Design principles. This provides a native look and feel users expect. Adhere to guidelines on navigation, gestures, components, imagery, animations, terminology, etc.


Ensure your app is accessible to all users. Use sufficient color contrast, add image descriptions, allow screen reader access, and enable system accessibility features. Make sure interface elements are easy to see and interact with. Accessibility expands your audience reach.

With careful planning around responsive design, platform norms, and accessibility, you can craft an exceptional mobile app experience that works seamlessly across devices. Keep the user at the center and test extensively to identify any usability issues. Iterating the design is key to mobile app success.

App Development Challenges

Developing a mobile app using WordPress comes with some unique challenges that developers need to be aware of.


Performance is critical for mobile apps. Users expect a fast, smooth experience without lag or delays. WordPress can sometimes have performance issues that need to be addressed through caching, image optimization, efficient code, etc. Slow load times will lead to poor user experience and ratings.


Mobile apps need thorough testing across different devices, operating systems, screen sizes, and networks. This is more complex than testing a website. Emulators and real physical devices should be used. All features and user flows need testing.


Security is vital for mobile apps that often store sensitive user data. The app codebase, APIs, user authentication, and data storage all need proper security measures. OWASP guidelines should be followed to mitigate risks.


Apps require ongoing maintenance like updating versions, fixing bugs, adding features, and ensuring compatibility. This is a long-term commitment compared to launching a website. Plan for resources to keep the app updated and supported post-launch.


Building mobile apps with WordPress offers some key benefits over traditional native app development. The main advantage is leveraging the CMS backend of WordPress to quickly build and iterate on app features and content. This can significantly reduce development time and costs compared to coding a native app from scratch.

The three main approaches for building apps with WordPress are native apps, hybrid apps, and progressive web apps. Native apps offer the best performance and access to device capabilities, but require more specialized skills. Hybrid apps use web technologies wrapped in a native shell, providing a balance of capabilities and easier cross-platform development. Progressive web apps aim to deliver an app-like experience through the mobile browser, with minimal need for specialized skills or app stores.

When evaluating options, consider factors like target devices, required features, budget, and in-house skills. Hybrid apps built with solutions like Ionic provide a compelling middle ground for many use cases. Progressive web apps are great for content and service focused apps with minimal device integration needs.

Overall, WordPress provides a powerful platform for quickly building and launching mobile apps. With the right approach and tools, brands can leverage their existing content and users to expand their mobile presence. The key is choosing the method that aligns with an app’s specific goals and resources.