"I prefer to browse the website on my phone rather than use their app." Said no one ever. Ok, there are a few exceptions where the app isn't as full featured as the mobile app the company provides, but for the most part if your analytics is saying that you don't have many people browsing your website using their phones, there may be another part to that story. Maybe you're considering responsive design, but there really isn't enough mobile traffic to justify the effort, it might just be that they're using apps, not web browsers to get information.
According to one survey taken in March of this year, US consumers are on their phone 2 hours and 38 minutes per day, and of that time spent on the phone, 2 hours and 19 minutes are using apps. Time spent on the web continues to decline where they spend about 22 minutes of that mobile time browsing the web on their phone. So if your traffic doesn't seem to justify responsive design, or a mobile site, then maybe you're right, maybe it's time for an app.
Getting Started Building a Mobile App
First of all you need to consider why you want an app. I'm guessing those number I mentioned are a good reason. Another thing to consider is what you want your app to do. If you have a content site like mine, and no transactions are needed, it could be a pretty simple thing to do get an app up and running, and only spend a few hundred dollars. I spent a few hours looking at different providers, and figured I would share some of that with you here. Some of these providers have pretty simple interfaces where you can create the structure of your mobile app, and even help you submit it to the various app marketplaces.
Here are the top 3 providers I have looked at in my research:
GoodBarber - These folks have a super simple interface for creating your app. It's really great for content sites like mine, providing a bunch of ways to display content. First you select a theme, and the themes they provide are very professional. Then you define the content you want on your app, and most of the app builders provide similar functionality. The content you select can be RSS, Twitter posts, Facebook, pretty much everywhere you have some channel to publish content, you can then have your app present it to people who have it installed.
Como.com - These folks are right up there on my favorite list, they have e-Commerce plug-ins, tie-ins with Amazon.com, and many features for building a business app.
AppyPie - They have tools for creating apps, and games. Even some low cost options that you can display ads for them (even though I really don't recommend it for company apps). They have options for submitting to the Apple, Microsoft, Google, and other marketplaces.
I still haven't decided which one I'm going to use, all three have some appealing options, and the cost is going to be about $300 to $400 dollars for a year. That's not bad considering I paid a lot more to host some websites. Also since all three providers can consume content from RSS feeds, it makes it all easy to manage your site, and apps from your content management system (CMS).
Time for some mobile development.