Following on from our previous post, we’ve got five more reason to turn your BuddyPress community into a native iOS and Android app.

Of course, if you need any help creating an app for your BuddyPress community, you can reach out to our sales team, who will be happy to talk you through hoe BuddyPress Native App can help you get to the iOS and Android app stores.

1: App store presence

Just having your app in the iOS and Play Store app stores lends your community a greater level of legitimacy. It demonstrates to existing and perspective community members that you mean business.

Having an app store presence shows you have taken the time and thought to cater to your community member’s wants and needs. By providing a native app you are providing ease of use and the ability for your members to stay informed and stay up to date more easily.  

Having your community in the Apple and Google app stores allows you to add a smart link from the browser version of your community too. So anyone visiting your community on a cellphone can be automatically directed to download your app. While those visiting your community on a desktop device will not be distracted with irrelevant messaging.  

2: Optimised views

A community app should be designed to optimise the community member experience.

Responsive design, the method of creating websites that automatically optimise their layout, based on the screen the viewer is using, has revolutionised web design. But responsive design has limits. Ultimately, your community members are looking at a browser based community on a cellphone. This means they’re looking at a website, made to fit a small screen. Something will be compromised. It could be missed content, poor usability, sub standard navigation… the reasons will change from site to site and page to page.

Native apps are different. True native apps don’t simply squeeze your community onto a mobile screen. They translate your community into a series of mobile optimised views.  

Every view is optimised for the type of device. Every view can take advantage of native interactions; swipe to refresh, on page, camera access, etc. Every view is refined and focused on a single primary function.

And of course, this is all delivered in 

3: Agree once

Mobile browser are much better than just a few years ago. But they still limited. If you are looking to get community members to share pictures through a mobile browser, they’ll have to agree to camera access each and every time. This quickly becomes tiresome. It can lower engagement rates and affect the viability of your community.

Same goes for location sharing. Video sharing is often such a poor experience via a browser most people won’t even bother. 

With a native app, your community members can agree to camera access once and from then on they can access the hardware and camera roll without the friction of needing to agree via a distracting popup. And of course, you can access so much more. Notifications, location, better video uploading, 

4: Optimised Navigation

The navigation for an app can differ from the navigation of your BuddyPress community. Where a browser-based community’s primary navigation is typically positioned to the top or sides of the screen, apps are optimised for the handset experience.

Of course, apps are used differently. Primary navigation elements need to be within easy reach, which means the lower section of the screen. Choosing the position and content of navigation elements for a community will of course vary, based on individual community requirements, but broadly speaking, there are two key interfaces that work well within apps:

Tabs

  • Typically positioned at the bottom of most if not all pages, tabs are a common app interface element. They allow your members to quickly navigate to primary views within your community. Most apps support between three and five tabs. 

Side menu

  • A Side menu can be positioned to the left or right of the screen. Side menus will typically be hidden from view, popping out only when a design element is tapped (typically at the upper left or right part of the view). Side menus can be used for a range of primary and secondary views as well as key actions (log out, log in, etc). You may well have a side menu on your community already. While the two can mirror each other, this doesn’t have to be the case. 

5: Local storage

Running a local app means you can store key assets on the community member’s mobile device. Launch screen images, community logos, and static content can all be stored. Combined these go some of the way to improving the speed and responsiveness native apps offer over browser based community access.