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How do you turn a website into an app?

TL;DR: If you’re a mobile product owner or technology executive, you may be facing big decisions on how to best support one or more mobile apps in an ever changing business environment. There are different approaches and options out there, but ultimately you need to ask: what mobile app strategy aligns with your budget, resources, timeline, and business goals? In this quick overview, CEO Kingsley Gifford offers insight into the technical solutions available for mobile app development, and shares how leading companies are leveraging their existing web content to deliver full-feature native apps.

Editor's note: This article first appeared here.

For the past decade, Median’s single go-to-market message has been simply, “Convert your website into native iOS and Android apps.”

While this "convert website to app" explanation is succinct, it also underestimates the value our platform and services provide, and so let's take this opportunity to dig deeper.

Understanding different app frameworks

The discussion first requires some background, so bear with me. You see, the mobile apps you use daily are typically implemented using a variety of development frameworks and methodologies:

  • If your morning ritual starts with Instagram or Microsoft Outlook (don’t tell me which!), you’ll be opening an app built using the React Native cross-platform framework.
  • If you then turn on the morning news or your “Get Ready” playlist on SONOS, you’re getting worried or energized with the help of an app built using Flutter, another cross-platform development framework.
  • If you next check the surge pricing for your commute via Uber or Lyft, you’ll be using an app built completely using native code.

Finally, if you decide to attempt today’s Wordle on the New York Times app, then remember to order a birthday gift for your best friend on the Amazon app, only to decide to book a flight to visit her using your frequent flier miles … you’ll be using hybrid web+native apps that embed a webview component to display web-based content.

How should we be building mobile apps?

Just as with these popular consumer apps, mobile product owners and technology executives face a decision on *how* to build a mobile app. This decision comes down to factors such as required functionality, budget, and time, and internal/external development team capabilities. And while there are reasons to choose cross-platform development frameworks or native code, such apps can be prohibitively time intensive, costly, and complex to build, test, and maintain.

An app framework that works for all industries

In many cases — for news/media, e-commerce, airline, hotel, employee portal, and other apps of all shapes and sizes, the optimal choice is to instead build a hybrid native + webview app.

Why webview apps? These apps provide the bulk of content and functionality through an embedded browser in the app — the same content you might see when browsing the equivalent mobile website — along with navigation menus and functionality such as push notifications that are built into the native app itself.

The number one reason mobile product owners choose native + webview apps

The single biggest reason mobile product owners choose to develop a hybrid native + webview app is to reduce initial and ongoing development effort. When maintaining separate mobile web, iOS, and Android apps, the overall time and cost can be on the order of 3x. In today’s environment, while apps remain a strategic imperative and receive full executive sponsorship, they are no longer a “golden child” emerging technology project with limitless budgets and resources available (thank you blockchain/GenAI).

And, frustrating end-users and executive team members alike, it’s often the case that due to the development and testing effort, along with app store approval processes, a significant feature lag results between web updates and mobile app updates. New features can be implemented and deployed to the web quickly, but a mobile app update with equivalent functionality isn’t available until weeks or months later.

With hybrid native + webview apps, existing web content can be delivered seamlessly to iOS and Android users, and effort refocused on an ever better user experience on the web — that app users also immediately benefit from.

So where does come in?

Just as leading companies typically don’t (or likely shouldn’t!) implement their own custom payment processing systems, their own internal analytics tools, or build a CRM platform from the ground up — neither does it typically make sense to build and maintain a native webview app from scratch.

Over the past decade, we have developed an incredibly powerful and flexible platform that simplifies building high-quality hybrid native + webview apps. With this platform, our customers build native apps that provide equivalent functionality between iOS and Android, and without requiring any native development capabilities.

Using Median, and with the added assistance of our expert team, our customers launch apps in days and not months. And they can add new native features and maintain their apps without any in-house native development. We save anywhere from 500 to 2,500+ hours of project and development effort for each app we help launch.

An image representing 'median - app development & design' with a modern and professional touch.

The dynamics we see with our customers (i.e. pressure to move faster and to provide ever more user functionality with limited corresponding development budgets) — plus the universal nature of our solution — means continued relevance and opportunity for Median, and we remain excited to be leaders in the mobile ecosystem.

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*DISCLAIMER: This content is provided solely for informational purposes. It is not exhaustive and may not be relevant for your requirements. While we have obtained and compiled this information from sources we believe to be reliable, we cannot and do not guarantee its accuracy. This content is not to be considered professional advice and does not form a professional relationship of any kind between you and LLC or its affiliates. is the industry-leading end-to-end solution for developing, publishing, and maintaining native mobile apps for iOS and Android powered by web content. When considering any technology vendor we recommend that you conduct detailed research and “read the fine print” before using their services.*
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