Top Strategies to Convert a PHP Web App to a Mobile App

PHP and other web programming languages aren’t ideal for mobile devices. They can slow down processes on a smartphone, require internet access, and be insecure. On top of that, your programming language may have trouble interacting with your database, as many server-side programming languages aren’t developed for seamless integration. Those are some of the issues that can make mobile browsing a challenge.

It may be time to consider developing a mobile app when your start to notice interruptions in their experience. A poorly designed digital experience may damage your brand and cause sales or customer confidence to drop. Some signals that indicate a change is necessary can include long load times. Another signal you want to consider is the server processing cost. If it is high, a mobile app can reduce those costs.

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In my role as a project manager at the North West Company we hired Mindfield Consulting to develop several custom .net applications for us. Timelines were consistently met and I was always impressed with Mindfield’s responsiveness and ability to quickly grasp the problem and offer up creative solutions. Applications were of very high quality and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Mindfield Consulting for any custom development.

When to Consider a Mobile App

Here are some key pain points when considering the switch from a pure PHP web app to mobile capabilities.


  1. Security– since PHP is an open-source language, there can be security flaws.
  2. You have a complex site – PHP doesn’t work well with a lot of information, nor complexity.
  3. Increasing Server / Hosting Costs – PHP can use too many computer resources. A mobile app can reduce server costs.
  4. Negative customer service reviews – A web app can significantly improve the ease of navigation.
  5. Online sales are dwindling – an app can make it much easier to browse and buy products.
  6. Desire to grow user base – Small numbers of active monthly users. An app can boost those numbers.
  7. Limited Amount of Data Input – An app can deliver much more comprehensive data.
  8. Low click-through rates – Hybrid desktop and mobile strategies can increase click-through rates and sales.
  9. Limited User experience – mobile devices offer other possibilities like GPS, BlueTooth, Augmented/Virtual Reality, and gyroscope features.
  10. Web application suffers from performance issues – In PHP some types are interpreted slowly. A mobile application can speed up the response.


If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you may not be fully taking advantage of mobile browsing. With a mobile app, it can be easier to stay competitive and gain insights you need to scale operations for the long term.

Upgrading to a Mobile App

A mobile app can be more flexible and deliver solutions faster. It can deliver fast run times, improved customer experience, and boost sales. Additionally, native apps in the iOS or Android environment may be the most secure applications you can find. You will find that changing from the potentially insecure PHP or Java to a mobile app strategy can fundamentally change an organization, saving millions in costs.

Native Apps

Your native app will run on the mobile device itself and not require internet communication. Your app will run faster and be more responsive than PHP or Java. A native app can access the camera or the contact list on the phone, making the app more useful to you. There is little downtime, and potentially lost sales, when upgrading the app on the customer’s device. Your server costs will drop, as your program isn’t running on your servers as much. However, upfront programming costs can be a barrier to entry, as it can be more expensive in time and money.

Native App Advantages

  1. Much faster
  2. Takes up less server storage
  3. Can use all the options on a mobile device
  4. Works offline
  5. Richer user experience
  6. Safer and more secure
  7. No app downtime when upgrading

Native App Disadvantages

  1. Limited to a single platform
  2. Increased development time and cost
  3. Can be slower to market


Hybrid Apps

Yet, native apps are not the only type of mobile app you might consider. One of the downsides of a native app is that they work on only one platform, whether that be a cell phone, laptop, or tablet. That means developing a native app for everything is expensive. That’s why many developers have started using hybrid apps. They combine the abilities of native apps, like access to a device camera, with the ease of updating a website. For those reasons what you need to operate, develop, and scale up this application can be less expensive. It is a straightforward method of reaching a broader audience.

Hybrid App Advantages

  1. Works across many platforms
  2. Less expensive to develop than native apps
  3. Faster to develop
  4. Can change and update across platforms quickly
  5. Integrates with a larger range of applications

Hybrid App Disadvantages

  1. Extensive QA and testing required
  2. Not available offline
  3. Many OS and hardware limitations



Progressive Web Apps

Progressive web apps are backed by Google. Well built progressive apps should work offline, even though they appear as a website. Unlike a native app, you can build links into a progressive app, enhancing its discoverability on Google. Plus, you can regularly refresh the content, ensuring the most up to date products are always on your customer’s devices. It is a very convenient way to share the advantages your company has.

Progressive Web App Advantages

  1. Lower cost to create
  2. Easier to deploy and create
  3. Enhanced discoverability
  4. Works in all browsers
  5. Do not have to qualify for the marketplace
  6. Improved customer loyalty

Progressive Web App Disadvantages

  1. No app store access
  2. Fewer features available
  3. Bluetooth or other RFID may not be useable


Strategies for Converting PHP App to a Mobile App

PHP is a custom-designed programming language. It started as a tool for a single person to develop his website. Since then, it has been redesigned for added functionality. As a result, many developers don’t believe that you can convert from PHP well, due to all the customization. However, as PHP is a very prevalent language, there is an extensive range of solutions to this problem.

Code Conversion Approach (Complex but Time Consuming)

One of Mindfields’ specialties is custom conversion. As converting from a web app to a mobile app is extremely complex, most automated tools do not give you a top-notch product. As a result, your native app can be hard to navigate and be slow, especially if converted from PHP or Java. In our experience, the most satisfied customers and the greatest benefits come from custom conversions. Mindfield can build you an app that retains the best of your PHP website and guarantees excellent mobile functionality. That’s why we think a custom conversion process is best.

Custom Conversion Pros

  1. A one-time upfront cost
  2. Experts to convert your website
  3. Added functionality and workforce collaboration
  4. Optimized speed
  5. Proprietary and secure code

Custom Conversion Cons

  1. More upfront expense
  2. Longer development times
  3. Your staff may need time to learn the app

Build a Mobile App From the Ground Up (More Investment Upfront – Cheaper Long Term)

Some web apps offer many advantages and suffer some limitations that your website does not. At the same time, as your organization grows, your data and technology need to grow with you.  If the restrictions of both the target and source app are applied to the process, your data might not be able to grow hand in hand with you. That’s why Mindfield thinks that new web apps are advantageous. You will be able to cover all the bases your website does while adding the new functionality your organization needs to grow.

New Mobile App Pros

  1. Can work offline
  2. Easy-to-navigate menus
  3. Can work across multiple platforms
  4. Easier to change and update
  5. Fully customizable

New Mobile App Cons

  1. May not be compatible with older mobile devices
  2. App store approval can be daunting
  3. Can take a long time to download
  4. Browser support may add complexity

Third-Party Converters (High Risk of Failure or Lack of Maintainability)

Third-party converters are an option, which can be quick and easy. A company could use services such as Yet, they do come with disadvantages. It might take a while to find a third party you trust to operate for a long time. If the company disappears, so does your application.  If you are satisfied, the advantages will be that conversion is quick, and can include up to date branding.

Third-Party Converter Pros

  1. Quick with a very rough conversion of your website or app on the surface
  2. Relatively inexpensive until you need to make changes
  3. Low level of complexity to kick off the process
  4. Can add branding/white labeling

Third-Party Converter Cons

  1. Not all mobile operating systems or OS versions are covered
  2. Might be more sluggish than your website as it will likely not be performance optimized
  3. Not all PHP app are supported as it cannot access logic or code in the back-end
  4. Usually costly as user counts increase



finger cursor over Settings MenuIf you are lucky enough to have a website on a popular platform, like WordPress, Shopify, or Etsy, you may have an easy solution. There is a competitive market for plugins, and websites like Apppresser and Ideapress serve that market well. It’s quick, easy, and relatively inexpensive. It can be a subscription-based model meaning that you will pay for the plugin every year you use it. Plus, you may have to pay before you know if the plugin will work well for your website. Quite a bit more detail on the drawback of WordPress plugins is available at Assiststart.

Plug-Ins Pros

  1. Custom Developed for Website Themes
  2. Quick installation
  3. Short development times on your end

Plug-Ins Cons

  1. Developers may not provide timely updates
  2. Ongoing subscription costs
  3. Poorly written plugins slow down your site
  4. Can reduce website security


Ultimately limping along with an antiquated PHP app can only take you so far . This type of legacy technology can turn off a customer from your brand forever. However, with a handcrafted mobile app, you can discover new customers, shave time off to production, and directly connect with your customers every day. Connect with us if you want the right people to develop the right technology for your application. Our experts will assess, update, and optimize your software.

Convert your PHP Web App to a Mobile App with Proven Experience

Mindfield Consulting has helped Organizations lead their industry by creating powerful technologies birthed from PHP, that allowed our clients to redefine a the way they interact with their customers and data to reduce risk and increase the delivery velocity of key products. We help organizations find the right mix of packaged and custom software from planning service delivery to remote locations to global trading systems for precious materials and resources. Mindfield Consulting has over two decades of experience delivering technology that meets every mission. Our client’s win when they are empowered with the right technology and the right people for over 19 years across Canada. Mindfield specializes in custom software development, elearning for corporate training, and jira expert consulting.



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