When it comes to news sites, blogs, and other digital content publishers, making sure your posts are accessible on mobile devices is key.
While responsive web design is the first choice and a must-have, a web experience doesn’t always provide the easiest or most engaging reading experience for your most loyal readers.
This is why mobile apps often play a key role in how digital publishers distribute their content.
By improving User Experience (UX) and speeding up loading times, a native mobile app could have a significant impact on engagement, retention, and traffic for your content, while providing an additional opportunity to distribute your content, one you control and own, as opposed to relying on a third-party platform.
In this post, we’ll dig into some of the reasons mobile apps can be useful for digital content publishers.
Then we’ll discuss how you can easily create your own WordPress mobile app. Let’s jump right in!
Why Mobile Apps Are Making a Comeback for WordPress Publishers (6 Key Reasons)
There are several ways publishers can improve the experience they offer their readers using mobile apps. Let’s look at some of the reasons this has become such a popular solution.
1. Mobile Apps Offer a Better User Experience
A responsive website can accomplish quite a lot when it comes to making it easier for readers to view your site on their smartphones or tablets. However, generally speaking, apps tend to provide a better experience than websites.
A few factors account for this difference. The first (and possibly most important) is performance.
53% of users will abandon mobile sites that take more than three seconds to load – the average news site takes around 10.5 seconds. On the other hand, native mobile apps can load in as fast as a fraction of a second.
NYTimes, Wall Street Journal, HuffPost and Buzzfeed all offer fast mobile apps and an intuitive reading experience.
Your readers are used to the fast, intuitive mobile app experience major platforms like Apple News, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter give them: tap on an icon, scroll through a fast newsfeed, and tap on a story to read it. Plus, push notifications keep them up to date with the latest stories.
How does this compare to your responsive site?
Without an app, you’re left to rely on social media, email newsletters, and people simply remembering to open Safari or Chrome and type your URL to get them back to your content. Is that enough?
Arguably, that’s not the best user experience, and something that can’t promote the kind of loyalty and return traffic you’re trying to get.
2. Your Own Apps Are the Ideal Platform for Loyal Readers
App users tend to be far more loyal than desktop readers.
“People who download our app visit much more frequently and consume 10 times more articles than people coming from the mobile Web”, said Jimmy Maymann, CEO of The Huffington Post back in 2014. Today their apps have millions of users.
The New York Times found that its mobile app users are 60% more likely to become subscribers than those on desktop.
By downloading your app, readers are subscribing to your content and choosing to have your brand on their home screen, to remind them of checking it whenever they have a moment, along the many other apps they use daily.
After all, when’s the last time you saved a bookmark on your mobile browser? People expect to find an app for anything they use frequently.
Of course, not everyone will download your app. Getting people to install an app remains hard – you need a brand and an audience. This is similar to how difficult it is to get people to give their emails for a newsletter.
However, a mobile app will have a great appeal for your most loyal readers: it gives them a fast, intuitive experience to continue consuming more and more of your content.
It’s not surprising that publishers see their apps performing better than their websites in terms of pages per session, time spent, and return visits.
Providing the best possible UX is key to retaining your readers, and we all know it’s easier and cheaper to retain the audience you have than it is to acquire a new one.
“The retention rate for annual app subscribers is the highest of any of our subscription offerings,” said Bryan Davis, senior manager of audience marketing at The Times.
What’s more, apps are becoming increasingly popular among crucial young demographics. 18- to 24-year-olds now spend over 65% of their media time in mobile apps, which adds up to an average of three hours per day. The Times has seen 14% of app subscribers come from this hard-to-reach demographic group.
3. Mobile Apps Make Subscriptions and Membership Revenue Models Easier
Features such as in-app purchases make it easy for readers to buy subscriptions and register for membership programs.
The New York Times app, like many others, makes payments easy using in-app purchases:
For publishers that haven’t yet started using memberships or subscriptions, an app can be the ideal place to start testing whether their most loyal readers will be willing to purchase and support their journalism.
No complicated paywall integrations are required. Payments with in-app purchase are very low friction, and app users are already some of your most loyal readers. That means they’re more likely to convert to being subscribers, as the experience of The Times confirms.
4. An App is a Channel You Own
It may seem as though you have a strong handle on your online presence. Between your website and various social media platforms, it’s easy to feel you have everything you need to create and share your content.
However, relying on social media to reach your audience makes your brand dependent on third parties. Platforms regularly change their algorithms. With these changes, traffic may suddenly dry up, as it happened when Facebook deprioritized news in the newsfeed last year.
There’s a real risk when ‘building your house on rented land’. A better strategy is to build assets you control and a direct relationship with your readers, your website, a newsletter, and your mobile apps.
Publishers that build direct relationships with their readers are those that more easily thrive with a membership model.
5. You Can Avoid Ad Blockers and Use Native Mobile Ad Networks
US ad-blocking usage is at 40% on laptops, and 15% on mobile devices. Mobile apps, on the other hand, are not affected.
Plus, this is getting worse on mobile devices. Safari introduced ad-blocking back in 2016, with iOS 9. The latest Intelligent Tracking Protection (ITP), introduced with iOS 11, has already caused significant losses to publishers and the entire ad industry.
Publishers are seeing the impact on their mobile web ad revenue, including traffic from third-party apps such as Facebook. Native mobile apps, however, are not impacted.
With your own app, you can also take advantage of mobile ad networks that wouldn’t be available for your desktop or mobile site.
6. You’ll Be Able to Keep Readers Engaged With Mobile Push Notifications
Push notifications are an invaluable channel for driving traffic and user engagement. Alerts for your latest posts can reach your readers anywhere, bringing them back to your app.
This doesn’t have to be intrusive or annoying; it’s key for your app to provide options for users to select what they want to be notified for. Get it wrong, and you risk people disabling notifications, or worse, uninstalling your app.
For example, The Huffington Post asks readers on its mobile app to select the categories for which they would like to receive notifications the first time they open the app:
This increases the likelihood that users will find your push notifications relevant, and will actually open your app to continue reading.
Building a Mobile App
If you think a mobile app could be for you, there are several ways you can go about creating one to complement your WordPress site.
For publishers looking to build an app from scratch, you can expect it to cost $50-150k and take months to build. Building an app internally is also something only the largest publishers should consider. You can expect to involve iOS and Android developers, a designer, and a project manager (at a minimum).
What’s more, don’t forget that you’ll need to constantly keep your app updated to run smoothly on the latest iOS and Android versions. Work doesn’t stop with your app’s launch.
Responsive design will be enough for some, but not for publishers that want to offer the best experience for their most loyal readers.
If cost is what has held you back from building an app, in 2019 you can reconsider given the many WordPress-specific mobile app solutions on the market. These include:
Mobile apps offer a better user experience.
Your own apps are the ideal platform for loyal readers.
Mobile apps make subscriptions and membership revenue models easier.
An app is a channel you own.
You can avoid ad blockers and use native mobile ad networks.
You’ll be able to keep readers engaged with mobile push notifications.
Do you have any questions about creating a native mobile app for your content site? Ask away in the comments section below!
Until now, you had to manually delete this data or turn it off entirely. Deleting it means Google doesn’t always have enough information about you to make recommendations on what it thinks you’ll like, or where you might want to go.
Now, you can tell Google to automatically delete personal information after three months or 18 months. Here’s how you can do that.
Choose “Data & Personalization” on the left-side panel.
Select the arrow next to “Web & App Activity.”
Choose “Manage Activity.”
Select “Choose to delete automatically.”
Select either 18 months or three months.
Choose how long you want Google to keep your information before it’s automatically deleted.
I recommend selecting three months, since providing as little information as possible is probably the best for privacy. But Google’s activity page says this: “The activity you keep can improve your experience anywhere you use your Google Account. What you search, read and watch can work together to help you get things done faster, discover new content and pick up where you left off.”
Google said Tuesday it will expand these controls to make them easier to find inside of its apps. But for now, this is the quickest and easiest way to manage your privacy. Also, Google said it will roll out similar controls this week for how it tracks your location, so look for that soon.
If you’re not careful, websites can access your webcam and grab all kinds of permissions on your computer. Take back control of your browser.
AS WEBSITES AND web apps have grown in complexity, so have their demands: They want access to your webcam to make video calls, they want to know where in the world you are to serve up local information, and so on.
In fact, websites now ask for almost as many permissions as the apps on your phone do, though you might not be as familiar with how to manage them. We’ll show you how.
We’ll also explain how to restrict the cookies and other data websites can save locally on your laptop. It’s up to you whether you let sites track your identity across the web to better personalize the ads you see, but you should know the options that are available.Control Your Browser Cookies
While access to your laptop’s microphone or location is easy enough to understand, you might be less familiar with cookies, the name given to small bits of code that websites deposit on your computer.
Essentially, cookies help sites recognize you when you visit again later, and remember your preferences. They can also be used to build up a profile of you and your online activity, which is why many people prefer to restrict their use, particularly when it comes to ‘third-party’ cookies—those that can track you across several websites, so advertisers know what you’ve been looking for on Google and on Amazon.
You get to say whether cookies can be stored on your laptop, and it’s really a question of privacy and convenience. You may not want an ad for that one parka you Googled to follow you everywhere, but you also may not want to set your location every time you open up your favourite weather site. Fortunately, most browsers give you pretty granular cookie controls, as detailed below.Google Chrome Privacy Settings
If Chrome is your browser of choice, click the icon to the left of the address bar on any website to see what it’s allowed to do. The icon will usually be a padlock, indicating a secure site, but it might be a different icon, like an “i” symbol.
Choose Site settings from the menu that appears, and you’ll be greeted with a long list of access controls. These include location, camera, microphone, notifications, and sound, which dictates whether the site can start blaring out audio without your permission) To quickly put all these options back to their default state, click Reset permissions.
Alternatively, you can adjust each option individually. Typically, you can allow or block access to a permission, or have the site ask for permission each time. Any changes you make are saved instantly, so you can close the tap and go back to browsing.
You can edit individual cookie permissions by clicking Cookies on the same menu as Site settings. For easier control, choose Settings from the Chrome menu, then Advanced, then Cookies—you’ll see separate options for blocking third-party cookies, and for stopping specific sites from leaving cookies.Mozilla Firefox Privacy Settings
In Mozilla Firefox, site permissions are also accessed by clicking the icon to the left of the address bar—which again might be a padlock or a simple “i” symbol. If you see a permission you no longer want to grant, click the small cross next to it.
For a more detailed look at the permissions you’ve given to sites, click the cog icon next to the Permissions heading. The next screen—also accessible through Options on the Firefox menu—lets you set access to the location, camera, microphone, and notifications. Click Settings to make any changes.
From the dialog box that pops up—for location permissions, camera access, or whatever—you can remove websites one by one, or remove them all at once. It’s also possible to block all future attempts to request a given permission using the tick box at the bottom. That means you can block all sites from accessing your laptop’s webcam by default, rather than adjusting it on every single site you visit.
Those of you who depend on Microsoft’s Edge browser can check up on site permissions by clicking on the padlock or “i” symbol to the left of the address bar at the top—it’s just the same as Chrome or Firefox. You can revoke any permissions that have already been granted can be by clicking the relevant toggle switch.
For a more detailed review of a site’s permissions, click Manage permissions from the drop-down menu. Choose a website from the list that appears, and you can toggle permissions like notifications, camera access, and access to the full screen mode on or off. To cancel all the permissions a site has, click Clear permissions.
The same drop-down menu showing the Manage permissions option also has a Media autoplay settings link. Click it to control whether videos and audio can automatically start playing on this site, without any interaction from you.
To control cookie use in Microsoft Edge, open the browser menu and choose Settings. Open the Privacy & security tab, and you can choose to block all cookies or only third-party cookies under the Cookies heading. There’s an extra setting on the same screen for blocking pop-up advertisements.Apple Safari Privacy Settings
When it comes to Apple Safari on macOS, you can see the permissions a site currently has, and make changes to them, by opening the Safari menu and clicking Settings for This Website. You’ve got options for camera, location, and microphone access, for example, and a setting to block pop-up windows.
To make changes, just hover over the relevant option to access the drop-down menu. For a more detailed look at these settings for all the websites you’ve visited in the past, choose Preferences from the Safari menu, then open the Websites tab. From here you can set global rules for websites, letting you block all sites from requesting access to your laptop’s webcam, for instance.
Use the Block all cookies checkbox to stop all websites from saving all cookies, although this might prevent some sites from functioning correctly. More granular control is available via the Manage Website Data button: The subsequent dialog box lets you clear cookies from particular sites, or clear all the cookies that are saved on your laptop in one go.
This happens all the time on the websites we visit. “Do you want Chrome to remember this password”. Sure, why not. It is so convenient. “Sign in With Google”, “Sign in with Facebook” are the other convenient options. Who is going to remember all these passwords anyway.
Google remembers all the searches you do, mixes and matches it with information you have already provided when signing up with them – like your age, gender and other personal and professional details. Other details can be easily guessed by the Google’s Search software to make a complete online profile of anybody. They do not sell your personal information to anyone.
Below is a copy paste from the Google Safety Center.
“We use data to serve you relevant ads in Google products, on partner websites, and in mobile apps. While these ads help fund our services and make them free for everyone, your personal information is not for sale. And we also provide you powerful ad settings so you can better control what ads you see.”
You can even ask Google to delete your search history entirely or for particular time periods. Not many people know this. There are a lot of other ways in which information is processed and used that if misused can be a potentially harmful privacy concern. We will talk more about cookies and other ways in forthcoming posts. Stay tuned.
We search on Google because we want to find out something we don’t know. In other words, we have a problem, and we are looking for a solution. This could be finding a cheap hotel, how many movies Salman Khan has done after he turned 50, or could be anything under the Sun.
You must have noticed that Google always returns the most relevant results based on what you search. These results are sometimes ads or links to various websites offering the information you are looking for. Somehow Google knows it all.
Yes, you guessed it, it all depends upon what you type in Google. These are called keywords for techies and are just questions or phrases for most for us.
The reason why Google search is free and most popular is because it works on one and only one principle – to provide you and me with relevant information for free. Google doesn’t charge you for getting that information, however, it does charge companies who want their ads to show up in the search results. (You do get charged in a way, more on this later)
You might think, oh, that makes sense, I am selling homemade medicines so I just pay Google to show my website or ad when someone searches for “grandma’s cure for common cold”. Fortunately, it doesn’t work that way.
Google will not only match what a user entered in the search box to the page content of a website, but also how relevant, user-friendly that information is. There are about 200 criterias that the Google software uses before it decides to show your website in the search results on the first page.
If you have not heard about this trick, it’s called SEO – or Search Engine Optimisation. It’s a full time job of professionals, who take care of the keywords, design your website in a manner that Google likes and more importantly your users like it.
We will talk more about it in my forthcoming posts and as a man of quotes, here’s my punch line – if you want to bury dead bodies, do it on the second page of Google search results – no one goes there.