We are in the middle of another shift in how we use computers to access information, build applications, and automate tasks. The no-code revolution empowers non-technical creators to develop online applications, productivity tools, workflows, websites, and storefronts. From making a simple data workflow to spinning up an MVP of your latest idea for a killer app, no-code tools get what you need to get done faster and without any programming. In this post, we will explain the movement, why it matters, and then share the fifteen no-code tools we feel everyone should know about.
Let’s start by defining what no-code actually is. Simply put, it is a way to create digital assets without directly writing any code. Those assets can be a website, a backend process that moves data around, a web app, a form on a website, or a mobile app. The term no-code describes how you create, not what you create. To understand the full implication of this approach, it is good to compare it to the way we create content and applications now.
Most websites and applications use some sort of recipe to tell the computer what to do. The recipes are written in standardized languages like HTML, Java, C#, Python, SQL, or PHP. Creating that recipe is programming, and programming usually involves using a strictly defined programming language. That is the code.
The no-code movement is about removing the need to give detailed instructions in a textual language. Instead, a visual interface is used to describe what is wanted. Then the platform creates detailed instructions for you. This enables more people, gets products in the hands of users faster, and shortens the time needed to make changes
Most no-code platforms fit into one or more of the following categories.
Tools in this category help you build web or mobile applications. They can be simple forms that gather and store information or complex apps that leverage machine learning to gain insights.
These build interactive websites. More than a static website, no-code website builders create dynamic and interactive pages or sites. They allow the inclusion of complex capabilities like user-login, accessing data, and eCommerce. All without writing a single line of code.
These tools visually connect applications, move data between them, and process the information. No-Code workflow automation tools give people the ability to connect those different sources and automate laborious tasks.
Before jumping headfirst into the no-code pool, it is important to determine if it is the right approach for you and your company. You should also make sure it is appropriate for what you want to create.
Although the approach greatly simplifies creating websites, apps, and workflows, as a maker you still have to be able to map out what you want to accomplish. If you can not describe what the inputs are, what the outputs need to be, and what you want your users to accomplish, you are not ready to start creating with no-code.
As powerful as no-code environments have become, they are not always the best fit for every project. Make sure what you need to accomplish is supported by your no-code tools. Identify what applications you may be connecting and if those connections exist. Lastly, recognize that even though many no-code platforms can carry out complex tasks efficiently, complex algorithms may need coding to get the functionality and performance you need.
There are hundreds of no-code solutions available today. Many applications have no-code customization and automation capabilities built-in. In addition, there are very specific resources that specialize in one thing. To keep things simple, we have identified eight tools that do what most people need. Here they are, presented in alphabetical order. Please note that the cost information is per month and only the key features are listed.
Web-Application: Adalo, Bubble, Glide, Sharetribe
Data management: Airtable, Ninox
Workflow Automation: Integromat, Zapier
Other: Landbot, Webflow
Adalo is a great platform for creating simple apps, especially mobile apps, quickly and easily. It keeps things simple by limiting the functionality to what most makers need and supports enough integration to make most apps quickly functional. The ability to publish directly to Apple and Google is a big plus.
Small - medium businesses, startups, freelancers, and individuals. Consulting companies.
Focused on collaboration, Airtable does those things you wish your spreadsheet did. The intuitive interface allows users the ability to define how to gather and process data, and then how to display it. It can even create applications and integrate into other no-code and traditional platforms.
Small-medium businesses and startups. Enterprise employees looking to create simple internal apps.
Bubble is the dominant no-code app for creating web and mobile apps quickly with significant functionality. Its large ecosystem allows users to find solutions for any missing capabilities and plug into other platforms quickly. It is ideal for creating MVPs without getting bogged down in programming or managing development teams.
Personal Note: At HuggyStudio, we mostly focus on building apps with Bubble. The tool removes many of the barriers that usually limit an entrepreneurs' creativity. It is not necessarily the easiest platform to start with, but the most useful to master, as it offers the most freedom when designing your app. It offers many possibilities that other no-code platforms can’t match at this point of time. For entrepreneurs, this is the closest you can get to software development without writing code.
Non-technical entrepreneurs and enterprises looking to speed up their innovation process.
Glide is one of the simplest ways to turn information into an application. Starting with a Google Sheet, users can quickly transform their data into an application. However, the simplicity and ease of use do limit the flexibility and customization available. For the right application, it can be a fast way to launch an app.
Target: Anyone who needs to create a simple app from a single set of data
Integromat bills itself as the “glue of the internet” because it allows users to connect a massive amount of applications and automate workflows through an intuitive and visual user interface. It can be used to connect applications built with other no-code tools as well as eliminate the need for manual handling of data.
Users new to application integration and workflow automation
Landbot is a no-code chatbot builder. It allows anyone to design a customer journey that can introduce a human at any point. Templates and an intuitive interface guide the user towards a working chatbot. Customers can navigate through the designed flow or a human can take over.
Any business large or small that wants a powerful chatbot experience without programming knowledge.
Opening up database access to the masses, Ninox allows users to create useful database applications with templates and a graphical user interface. Besides the web platform, users can run native apps on Macs, iPhone or iPad. Users build applications from templates and a drag-and-drop interface. Supports collaboration.
Small and medium sized companies that want to build apps on top of their data that do more than display reports. Applications can add, delete, modify, and display data.
Sharetribe aims at enabling companies of any size to create marketplaces where their vendors can rent or sell goods, space, or services online. With integrated availability and booking, payments, commissions, reviews, and vendor-customer communication tools, they offer a complete no-code solution for creating a platform where you enable others to buy and sell from each other.
Individuals to companies who see the opportunity to create a marketplace but don’t want to reinvent the wheel and create a platform from scratch.
The visual focus of Webflow is focused on the front-end developer who wants true WYSIWYG website building to create dynamic, visually appealing websites. It contains a lot of functionality, so it can take a while to learn, but once mastered, it frees up creativity.
Creatives focused on the visual experience and who want a dynamic visitor experience
Zapier is the platform that all data connection and workflow automation tools compare themselves too. It has the largest amount of supported applications and a large and active user community. It offers a reliable and intuitive way to connect multiple applications and automate manual tasks.
Anyone who wants to connect applications to automate workflows.
There are a lot of options out there, and your unique needs determine what is the best solution for you. After reviewing the suggestions above, a good next step is to reach out to a local no-code group or join an online no-code community like no-code.ch. We organize free meetups and provide no-code practitioners with resources and guidance that will help them on their no-code journey.