One place for hosting & domains


      3 Solutions for Converting Your WordPress Site into a Mobile App

      Nowadays, a lot of people interact with the web mostly by using mobile devices. That means it’s more important than ever to provide a quality mobile experience. Otherwise, you risk alienating a large part of your potential user base.

      There are many ways you can improve the overall experience for your mobile users. For example, you can design a responsive website so that it looks (and works) perfectly on smaller devices. You can also go a step further and convert it into a fully-working app.

      In this article, we’ll talk about why converting your website into a WordPress mobile app can be an excellent idea for some site owners. Then we’ll discuss several tools and techniques that will enable you to do so, and discuss how to pick the right one for your needs. Let’s talk apps!

      Why Your WordPress Company Site May Need a Mobile App

      When it comes to user experience, responsive design is king. We’ve previously covered why you should create a mobile-friendly site (and how to do it), but you can also create a mobile app version of your site. Let’s go over some of the reasons you might want to use this approach:

      • Apps provide a more native experience for mobile devices.
      • You can use notifications to stay in touch with your user base.
      • If you use subscriptions, they can be managed via mobile payment systems.

      That said, an app is not a replacement for a mobile-friendly website, and vice-versa. Ideally, you’ll have both, which will enable you to maximize your potential audience. After all, some people don’t want to install any additional apps on their phones, whereas others vastly prefer the experience an app provides over that of a mobile website.

      It’s important to understand, however, that creating a mobile app isn’t particularly easy. Depending on what features you want to include, you may need a background in development, or you’ll have to hire someone to help you get the project off the ground. That process, as you might imagine, can get expensive.

      The good news is that if you’re using WordPress, you get access to multiple tools you can use to create a mobile app version of your website. There is a range of options that vary in price and ease of use, so you can pick the approach that’s best suited to your needs.

      3 Solutions for Converting Your Company WordPress Site into a Mobile App

      While there are many ways to create WordPress mobile apps, the following methods are three of the most common and accessible choices. Let’s look at each, in turn, to help you decide which ones you should consider. We’ll start with the simplest solution.

      1. Use a WordPress Plugin to Generate Your App

      As a WordPress user, you’re probably familiar with using plugins to implement cool features and functionality to your website. However, what you may not know is that you can use plugins to create a fully-working WordPress mobile app.

      There are a few tools that can accomplish this, but let’s focus on one of the most popular: AppPresser.

      AppPresser plugin.

      First, it’s important to note that the AppPresser plugin by itself doesn’t enable you to generate a mobile app. You’ll also need to sign up for a paid AppPresser account, which will be linked to your WordPress website through the plugin.

      Once you have both pieces in place, you can customize your mobile app from within the AppPresser platform and generate installable files for both Android and iOS when you’re done.

      AppPresser app creation and customization process.

      The app creation process is simple – you get to use a builder that feels just like the WordPress Customizer. However, as you might imagine, there are limitations to using a tool like this. Since you’re not building an app from scratch, you get a small set of features to play with. If you’re looking to create an app with very specific functionality, using a plugin probably isn’t the right approach for you.

      Ultimately, using a plugin to generate a mobile app for your WordPress site makes the most sense for projects that don’t require a lot of advanced functionality. For example, AppPresser would be a great choice for blog and news apps. It also handles e-commerce reasonably well, which makes it a useful option for those running a store on a WooCommerce website.

      The AppPresser plugin itself is free, but as we mentioned, you’ll need to sign up for an account on the platform. A basic AppPresser account, which supports one app (for both iOS and Android) will cost you $228 per year.

      Be Awesome on the Internet

      Join our monthly newsletter for tips and tricks to build your dream website!

      2. Opt for a Solution Designed for Companies and Professional Projects

      Of course, if you’re working on a company site, your needs are different than those who are creating mobile apps for blogs or online stores. Choosing a tool explicitly designed with companies in mind can help you create an app with features that are well-suited to your needs.

      Consider Appful, for example.

      Appful content app.

      This solution can convert your website and social media posts into a powerful content app for connecting with customers and employees. Features such as white labeling, full-service maintenance, and scalability make it highly suitable for growing companies. In fact, it powers apps for several well-known organizations, including Greenpeace, PETA, and even the United Nations.

      Appful works similarly to AppPresser, in that you’ll connect to the platform using a dedicated WordPress plugin. Then, you get access to a set of tools you can use to design a mobile app version of your site and customize its functionality. Only in this case, you’ll receive an assortment of useful templates that enable you to create a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) faster.

      Preview of the mobile app version of a website.

      On top of that, Appful also includes several other handy features, including support for offline reading, integration with Google Analytics and Apple watches, and more. Plus, the developers can also help you design a more customized app if you need specialized features, which makes this a solid middle ground between using a plugin and working with an agency (which we’ll talk about next).

      Overall, this approach offers a more user-friendly experience than most other tools. Creating a WordPress mobile app using Appful is a mostly painless process, and the service will even take care of publishing your app to the Android and iOS stores for you. Plus, you don’t need to pay to use the service until that point, which means there’s no pressure. Prices vary depending on the scope of your app and are available by request.

      3. Work With an Agency to Develop Your WordPress App

      Naturally, a third option is to hire someone to get the job done for you. When it comes to WordPress mobile apps, you’ll find no shortage of freelancers and agencies willing to take on the project — no matter the scope. This can save you a lot of time.

      Of course, hiring professional and talented developers is seldom cheap. Developing even a simple app can easily cost you thousands of dollars. The upside is that you’re not limited by what an app builder can do. If you work with an agency that knows what it’s doing, it should be able to advise you on what’s possible and what isn’t, and help you bring your vision to life.

      Considering the costs associated with this approach, we can only recommend it if you have a very large budget, and you need an app version of your WordPress website that includes functionality you can’t add using DIY tools. For simpler projects, hiring an entire agency or even a couple of freelancers might not be particularly cost-effective. If you do decide to hire out, there are plenty of places to find WordPress developers and agencies.

      Professional Website Design Made Easy

      Make your site stand out with a professional design from our partners at RipeConcepts. Packages start at $299.

      Mobility Matters

      A lot of your website’s visitors will be using mobile devices. To provide them with the best possible experience, you can create a streamlined, app-based version of your WordPress website. Depending on what tool you use, you should be able to include all the same functionality your website offers, while creating an experience that feels much more native to mobile browsers.

      Do you have any questions about how to get your WordPress mobile application off the ground? Join the DreamHost Community and let us know!

      Source link

      The Importance of Data Backups

      Backups are important, even in the filesystem level!

      I’ve been a Linux user for around 13 years now and am amazed with how progressive the overall experience has become. Thirteen years ago you were using either Slackware 3, Redhat 5.x or Mandrake usually. Being 14 I was one of the “newbies” stuck on Mandrake because my 56k modem was what is known as a softmodem – a modem that lacks quite a bit of hardware and relies on your computer’s resources to actually function. Back then to make these work in Linux was a complete nightmare and Mandrake was the only one that worked out of the box with softmodems.

      Back in those days you didn’t have the package management tools you have today be it yum, aptitude, portage or any other various package management utilities. You had to find your rpms while praying to god you found the right ones for your specific operating system as well as playing the dependency tracking game. Slackware was strictly source installs and the truly Linux proficient would pride themselves in how small of a Slackware install footprint they could get to have a running desktop.

      Growing frustrated at not understanding the build process and being constantly referred to as a newbie who uses “N00bdrake” I forced myself into the depths of Linux and after a year or so had a working Slackware box with XFree86 running Enlightenment with sound and support for my modem. I learned an extensive amount about how Linux works, compiling your own kernel, searching mailing lists to find patches for bugs, applying patches to software and walking through your hardware to build proper .conf files so daemons would function specifically. It seems that this kind of knowledge is being lost with Linux users these days as they are not forced to drop down to the lowest level of Linux to make their systems function.

      A good example of this is recently dealing with a hard drive with an ext3 filesystem that was showing no data on it. If you used the command df which shows partition disk usage the data was shown as taking up space, but you couldn’t see it. A lot of people conferred and figured that the data was completely lost for good while I sat there saying NOPE waiting for someone to give a correct answer. Unable to get one, I divulged that the reason this happened is because a special block what is known as a superblock had become corrupted and the journal on the filesystem lost all information. Issuing a fsck would not fix the issue and routinely would check out as “ok” as it is using the bad primary superblock. There are actually multiple superblocks on ext2, ext3 as well as ext4 partitions. These exist specifically for backup purposes should your main one become corrupt to correct such an issue. Having toasted Linux countless times playing around with things such as software raid and hard-locking due to a poorly configured kernel, I have probably spent more time than I should’ve in the past reading about how the ext filesystem works. You in the past might have overlooked this when creating a filesystem in Linux but you will see output similar to this when creating an ext filesystem:

      Superblock backups stored on blocks:

      32768, 98304, 163840, 229376, 294912, 819200, 884736, 1605632, 2654208

      These are very, very important blocks and integral to maintaining data on your filesystem. Lost these numbers? You can still get them from a few methods as well:

      1. First you need to know what size of blocks you used on your filesystem. The default is 1k so unless you actually issued a specific command when using mkfs.ext3 then your blocksize is 1024.
      2. Now issue the command “mke2fs -n -b block-size /dev/sdc1”. This is assuming that sdc1 is the corrupt partition throwing no data. Since you’re issuing the -n flag this means the command will not actually make a new partition but will give you those precious backup superblocks.
      3. Now take any of those superblocks and make sure that your partition is unmounted. Issue “fsck -fy -c -b 163840 /dev/sdc1” to hopefully fix your partition. Once completed mount the drive and more-than-likely all your data will be in the folder lost+found. It might have lost the initial folder name but at least your data is there, and with a little bit of play you can figure out which folder is which.

      Now take a breather, relax and be happy that your data is not completely gone. I suggest in the future pulling up a source-based distribution like Slackware and try setting up an entire system without using any package management. See how it goes, prepare to read a lot of documentation but in the end you will be thankful as you will learn more about Linux this way than any other method.

      The Value of Virtualization

      You’re probably familiar with many arguments for virtualizing your systems. Virtualization can make your systems more secure, by reducing the number of applications and users on a single machine. It can make it easier to scale, utilizes your resources more efficiently, reduces costs, is faster to set up, and shields you from hardware failures, providing you with better uptime. VMs have another advantages over conventional servers, though, which is less commonly listed but still pretty important: they’re automatically instrumented.

      Let me explain what I mean. Lets say you’re having some problems running your website on a traditional server. Your traffic has gone up, and now you are having outages during peak times. You speak to your tech support staff, and the admins agree that there’s a problem — but they’re not exactly sure what the cause is.

      Usually at this point, the admins will start ‘keeping an eye’ on the system in question. This often means being logged in and running top or vmstats. If the problem recurs, hopefully the admins will catch it, and the output from the monitoring software will give them hints as to what went wrong. If the admin is not around when the problem happens, though, they might not get the data they need, and then the process will have to start all over again.

      Another solution is to start monitoring the server using a monitoring program like Cacti or Ganglia. This is a little more reliable than manual monitoring because the software won’t get bored or distracted and miss the fault event. But monitoring software has its own problems. It is often a hassle to setup. It requires punching holes in your firewall, making your server less secure. It takes up resources on an already precarious machine, possibly making downtime more likely. And if the problem affects the network, the remote monitoring machine might not be able to communicate with the trouble server to get any useful data at the exact time when the data is needed.

      This is where virtualization comes to the rescue. The hypervisor — the software which makes virtualization possible — already has a lot of statistics about the virtual machine. Our Cascade cloud platform automatically gathers such statistics for every VM, storing the data in approximately five-minute increments in our own internal logging database. The data gathering happens in the context of the node, not the VM, meaning that the VM will not see a performance impact from the monitoring. Also, the fact that every VM is already monitored means that if a fault occurs, you won’t have to wait for a second fault to figure out what went wrong. The data to analyze the original fault might already be there.

      Let me give you a concrete example. Just today, we had a problem with a customer’s VM; his PHP site went offline and the VM required a reboot to bring the site back online. The admins had a hunch that the VM was overloaded and couldn’t handle the traffic, but they didn’t know what resource was running low.

      Here are some graphs generated by our internal system, Manage, which allowed our admins to get to the bottom of the problem. First, lets start with a graph of network bandwidth for the VM:


      This graph illustrates the problem precisely. Around 8:50 PM, the VM stopped serving requests, or the amount of data served dropped precipitously. When admins logged in, they saw this in the kernel logs:

      Oct 31 20:58:03 vm1 kernel: INFO: task php:41632 blocked for more than 120 seconds.

      But why did this happen? Maybe the CPU usage for the VM was too high? Well, we can answer this question using our CPU graphs, which display CPU usage data for both the VM as a whole on its node and for each virtual CPU inside the VM:



      Sure enough, the VM is pretty busy. It is making good use of all of its virtual CPUs, and its overall load on its node is often over 100%. However, the VM has 4 VCPUs, which means that if CPU were the limiting resource, the load would be as high as 400%. It looks like each VCPU is only being about 25% utilized. Also, the fault occurred at 8:50 PM, and we don’t see a CPU spike around that time. In fact, CPU usage for some of the virtual CPUs appears to drop around 8:50 — VCPU 0, at least, had nothing much to do during the outage.

      So what could be the problem? For an answer, lets turn to yet another batch of data we are able to get from the hypervisor: disk statistics



      The VM is not a particularly major user of disk IO — mostly steady writes consistent with saving log activity, with a few read spikes which might indicate someone searching through the file system or perhaps a scheduled backup. But here’s something interesting: right around the time the VM experienced its failure, swap file usage skyrocketed. Now we know exactly why the VM failed: it ran out of memory, and swap was too slow to fulfill the heavy traffic requests the VM demanded.

      Getting data like this on a regular, traditional server would have required complex monitoring software, a steady stream of network traffic, a whole another monitoring server and skilled labor to set the whole thing up. On a Cascade VM, you get this kind of data for free, automatically. You won’t see these exact same graphs in LEAP, our customer portal, as these are generated for our internal interfaces only. But the data behind these graphs is also available to LEAP, which will generate much prettier, more usable visualizations, which permit you to easily drill down and explore what’s happening with your virtual machine.

      The conclusion to this story is that we increased the amount of memory available to the VM from 4 GB to 8 GB. This required just a quick reboot of the VM, with none of the downtime or stress required for pulling a physical server out of the racks and opening it up. This solved the customer’s problems, with better performance and no outages. So here is yet another way virtualization with Cascade and LEAP makes your life easier.