Interested in building a web app with WordPress? Check out our beginner-friendly guide to learn how to do it in 4 easy steps!
If you want to build a web app with WordPress, you might have some questions...
- Can it be done?
- Is it easy?
- Is WordPress really powerful enough to build apps?
TL;DR - Yes to all of the above!
In this post, we'll dig into the above questions & then show you how to build web apps using WordPress in four simple steps. Let's get started!
Can you make a web app with WordPress, really?
Okay - so you want to use WordPress to build mobile apps & web services. Great news! You can do that. In fact, making a web app using WordPress is conceptually very simple.
So what is a web app? At it's core, it's a mini website designed around a specific user experience. Users interact with the site (typically on their mobile devices). Based on how they interact, different things happen in the web app.
Here's a simple example: a real estate web app. This app could allow agents to add listings, or allow buyers to interact with them by leaving comments or requesting appointments.
There's a bit more work to do if you want to get something on to the iOS and Android app stores. But if the question is "can you build web apps on WordPress websites"? The answer is yes!
How web apps in WordPress work
If you compare WordPress with traditional app development frameworks, many developers will tell you it's a non-starter. The idea of combining several plugins for backend functionality... on a blogging platform... to build web apps... while that is possible, it's not ideal.
But what if you had a low-code WordPress plugin that allows you to develop fast, scalable apps? And what if you could build them without the need to leverage tons of PHP libraries, external APIs, and web service plugins?
This is exactly what our plugin, Formidable Forms can do!
Several years ago, we built Formidable Views, one of the first ever low-code WordPress Application Builders ever released. It's a feature-rich tool that you can use for a wide variety of projects, including web apps.
How Formidable Views works
This flexible platform lets you create custom WordPress web apps from scratch or from existing templates. You can package forms, Views, and pages into individual app bundles.
Additionally, the app builder lets you create customized apps without any PHP knowledge. Furthermore, you can organize all of your complex apps in one place and streamline entry management. It even displays statistics and graphs with quality visualizations.
Formidable Views allows users to build asynchronous behaviors. Let's say a visitor fills out a form that you created to work within your app. Once they submit that form, a series of events can be triggered by Formidable automatically:
- Create a private page with a dashboard
- Generate and view graphs or charts of the data they submitted.
- Upload the data to a user profile that other users can see
How to create a web app with WordPress (4 steps)
Now that we understand more about the app builder, let's learn how to use it in the tutorial below. Here are the basic steps we'll follow:
- Download and install Formidable Forms Pro.
- Create a custom empty app.
- Add views, pages, or forms to your app.
- Embed or export your app.
Step 1: Download and install Formidable Forms Pro
If you haven't already, the first step will be to download, install, and activate Formidable Forms Pro. You can do so by navigating to our website and clicking on Get Formidable Forms Now:
If you plan to create an app that includes Views or use a template that has Views, you'll also need to add the Visual Views plugin. You can do this by navigating to Formidable → Add-Ons:
If it is not already active, select the Activate button for the Visual Views plugin.
Step 2: Create a custom empty app
As we mentioned earlier, there are several ways to build a WordPress web app with our plugin. You can choose a template or start from scratch.
To create a custom application, you can go to Formidable →Applications → Add New:
Next, name your app, then click on Create empty application:
Note that you can also create an application from forms and views. To do that, you would select Add existing forms and views.
On the next screen, simply select the Add Item button at the top. Now you can begin building your application.
Step 3: Add views, pages, or forms to your app
Now you can decide whether you want to add a form, view, or page to your application:
If you select New Form, you'll be brought to the form builder. Here, you can create a new form or choose a form template:
If you click on Existing form, you can search the list for the forms to add to your app. You can also select Create a new page to create pages for your application items.
Step 4: Embed or export your WordPress app
After you build your web app, you have the option to embed or export it. To embed your form, you can navigate to the application page and then select the Embed button beside it:
Next, you can choose where to embed it. You can select an existing page, create a new page, or insert it manually using shortcodes.
To export an application to another site, you can go to Formidable → Import/Export and select your application. Then, click on Export Selection:
You can also visit the application page and select Export at the top of the page.
This will export the app in an XML format. That's it! For more details and instructions, you can refer to our App documentation.
If you want to create custom applications, our Formidable Forms Pro plugin makes doing so easy. You can use our WordPress Application Builder to build a wide variety of web apps including testimonials, directories, recipes, and more.
And there's even more possibilities with out Application Organizer. You can search for items in your apps based on name, location, age, or any other criteria. You can also export your apps to use on other sites and embed them on new and existing pages.
Ready to start building your WordPress web app? Download our Formidable Forms plugin today!