There are 1.75 Billion smartphone users in the world. That’s roughly 25% of the world population, and this number will only continue its rapid growth.
Given these statistics, it shouldn’t be surprising that now more than ever, people are using their mobile devices to access websites and browse the internet.
Over the past few years, WordPress mobile has steadily gained popularity — there’s a slew of different options for optimizing your site for mobile devices, as well as options for creating mobile apps out of your WordPress site. To gain further insight into WordPress mobile, I contacted Scott Bolinger, co-founder of AppPresser‚ a fast and affordable option for creating a mobile app with WordPress.
Q: Could you talk a little bit about how you entered the niche of WordPress mobile?
A: I started AppPresser in late 2013 because I saw a gap in the market for mobile apps that integrated with WordPress.
Matt Mullenweg kept mentioning WordPress as an application framework in his State of the Word speeches, and I took that to mean mobile apps. I’m not sure if that was what he was thinking, but it turned on a lightbulb in my head on the plane flight home.
I teamed up with Brad, Brian and Lisa from WebDevStudios to bring the project into fruition, and we launched in January of 2014. It’s been a very successful project so far, and there’s a lot more to come.
Q: You represented WordPress at MacWorld this year, can you tell us a little about the experience?
A: MacWorld was a great experience, we were selected as a finalist for the 6 About to Break competition and got to present at MacWorld and have a booth.
We didn’t end up winning, there was some stiff competition (VR glasses similar to Oculus Rift won). It was interesting to have a booth at a show where most of the people there didn’t use WordPress. We’d ask people walking by if they used WordPress, and most of them would say no. When someone said yes, we were really happy to talk to them!
Q: The mobile web is definitely growing, how have you seen WordPress deal with this growth over the years?
A: More people access the web on mobile devices than on desktop computers. However, over 80% of device usage is in apps, not on the web.
In general, WordPress themes have moved to being almost entirely responsive, which was not the case 3-4 years ago. Also, the new REST API is helping to launch WordPress into the application platform arena, which is a huge step forward.
WordPress can now be used as a UI for your data, with the front end being totally unused. You interact with the WP admin to manage your users and content, but that data can be displayed in a totally unrelated way. For example, in a mobile app or a web app.
Q: How do you think integrating the REST API into WordPress impacts the mobile conversion of WordPress sites?
A: The REST API doesn’t have much to do with converting sites to mobile, you wouldn’t really use it for that. If you want a mobile version of your site, a responsive theme is still your best bet.
However, if you need to do something that is not just a normal website, that’s where the REST API really shines. For example, we built an app that is basically a messaging app that leverages BuddyPress. Users can friend request and message each other privately inside the app, it uses the REST API to communicate with WordPress. The client can then manage all of their users in the WP admin, which is great because we didn’t have to build a UI for the client to see what’s going on, it was already there with WordPress.
That app (Vinitial) did not use the front end of the website at all, because it’s not a website. We just used the data from WordPress in the mobile app.
Q: How does the release of more and more different types of mobile devices impact your design strategy for AppPresser — for example, making a site compatible with future wearable devices?
A: Wearables are an interesting new market, but I’m not sure how that will affect us yet. Apps that work with wearables seem very niche right now, like health or home automation. If we see a path for us that makes sense into that area we’ll take it, but I’m not sure what that will be right now.
You can contact Scott on twitter @scottbolinger!
Marie Dodson is the editor at Torque. She enjoys writing, reading good books, and travel.