Building an app is no longer reserved for savvy nerds or capital-rich angel investors who can put a whole team to work in India. Even if you don’t have a minute’s experience building apps, it’s now possible to build interactive apps with tens of thousands of users.
I’m sure you once had a great idea for an app. It could be that you’ve become so frustrated with how an existing app works, or that the app of your dreams simply doesn’t exist yet.
It really doesn’t have to be the new Facebook, Twitter or Reddit. An app with just a few thousand users can be enough to generate a steady passive income. It can even be an app that only you use; an app that makes your life a little easier, more organized or more adventurous.
Instead of hiring an app developer, you can now build this app yourself.
I really believe that no-code app builders are a monumental breakthrough in technology that put the power of building apps in the hand of the everyday person. Let me tell you why.
What is a No-Code App Builder?
No-code app builders are tools to build an app without the need for programming knowledge.
The interface is visual and you can add elements to your app by dragging and dropping. You can then modify all the properties of an element to meet your needs. For example, you can change the color of a button, the font of all headings or give round corners to an image.
App builders are full of useful elements that are commonly found in apps. For example, you can easily build a form, embed a YouTube video or show a location on Google Maps.
Webflow and Bubble are two of the most popular no-code app building tools.
The Best No-Code App Builder
Bubble vs. Webflow
The difference between Webflow and Bubble, is that Webflow is best for design, but the underlying app structure is simpler. That makes Webflow’s learning curve lower, but Bubble’s set of features greater.
In Webflow, you will likely rely on integrations with other tools. These integrations extend your Webflow app with functionality. For instance, if you want to let visitors create an account, you can use Memberstack. Do you want to retrieve something from a database? You can use an integration with Zapier or Airtable.
Whilst in Bubble, you can build all these functions yourself without being dependent on a third party. That will probably take more time, but you can make it exactly the way you want it and it will improve performance of your app.
With Webflow you can start for free and then upgrade to Lite for $16 monthly or to Pro $35 monthly. Bubble also offers a free development area and a Personal plan for $29 per month.
There are also other no-code you can check out such as:
Which is better for your app idea is up to you. Maybe the combination of multiple tools is best, for example Webflow for the landing page and articles and Bubble for all interactive pages. Try out a few no-code platforms and see which one you likes best, and is capable of building the app you have in mind.
How No-Code Will Change the Future of Apps
That opens the doors for smaller companies and indie developers to develop full-grown app quickly. Market research firm Gartner projects that low-code application platforms will be responsible for more than 65% of all apps by 2024. All these smaller alternatives will have the potential to snatch away market share from big tech companies.
A human-friendly interface
No-code platforms provide a more human-friendly interface for interacting with Web tools, databases, and interactive elements.
Building complex logic would normally take a dozen lines of code, where a typo can cause the entire app to crash. In contrast, building logic and workflows in no-code app builders is linked to visual elements and can be changed with a few clicks.
People are visually oriented and drag-and-drop is comes much more naturally than writing lines of code. No-code app builders are WYSIWYG, or What You See Is What You Get. And if you get something you don’t want to see, you can easily revert to an earlier version of your app.
When building apps becomes a commodity, it will result in other types of people building apps. It will no longer be the nerdy college frat boys who build an app to rank all the girls on campus — I’m looking at you Mark Zuckerberg. Instead, the topics covered by apps will become more diverse.
Someone who likes gardening can build a plant watering schedule, a meditation center can build an online community of zen friends, and a digital nomad can make an overview of the best places to work from.
Anyone with a goofy hobby can build a goofy app.
Since the time required to build an app is much shorter and no external coders are needed, the app can be very personalized. If you currently have a particular way of keeping track of your to-do list, you can build an app that fits your precise way of living. You can create your personal dashboard, ask yourself personal questions every day, or save your favorite places.
For anything you do on a daily or weekly basis, there’s an app you can come up with that will make your life more efficient or organized.
Disadvantages of No-Code App Builders
There are some drawbacks to using a no-code app builder. When building an app on a no-code platform, you are…
Tied to the platform
You are tied to the building platform. It’s generally not possible to export your app and host it as a standalone app on your own server. That means you are at the mercy of the good intentions of the app builder’s developer. He may change prices or make unsolicited changes to the app editor. Or what if the platform shuts down entirely?
Relying on External Plugins
You can install plugins to extend the functionality of your app, but usually these plugins are poorly documented or of abysmal quality. The quality of a plugin is hard to determine upfront, so it will take some trial and error to find the right plugin or workaround.
Even though it is possible to create many types of applications with no-code platforms, there are still limits to what can you build. This has its reasons. Sometimes artificial barriers are put in place to ensure the security of the app builder, which makes running external scripts or modifications impossible. It could also be that the app builder does not support all platforms, for instance only iOS apps or web apps, which can hamper your user base. Or your idea may simply require so many custom features that it’s more practical to ask a clever developer instead.
What kind of app will you build?
Personally, I’m working on a website called LeaveMyDesk. There you can find all the workspaces near you where you can focus on getting your work done.
LeaveMyDesk gives you all the essential information about cafes, libraries and hostels, such as the internet speed and the number of power outlets. It’s a website digital nomads and remote workers cannot do without. The website is completely built with Bubble.
The tools to build an app are right in front of you. What are you going to do with them?
I’d love to hear about your app ideas and your first experiences with no-code app development. Hit me up at email@example.com
How to Build Your First App with Bubble
by Coaching No Code Apps
If you want to build an app without coding and want to get started with the Bubble platform, this 2-hour tutorial will get you started right away. It covers all the basics and how to build interactive elements to your first app.
Advanced Bubble Tutorials
Gregory John offers excellent tutorials for some of the more advanced features of Bubble. His calm and extensive explanations of build processes will make no-code app development understandable and enjoyable.