One of the strongest technology trends of 2019 has been the rise of NoCode tools and platforms. Those tools and platforms are starting to change the way people build web and mobile applications, and create workflows that automate repetitive tasks and save time and money.
That trend isn’t limited to entrepreneurs building and validating new product ideas, but has extended to small businesses managing their inventories and employees with tools like Google App Maker and to enterprises creating internal apps with Microsoft Power Apps.
In the next post, I will be sharing my list of the top NoCode tools for 2019.
Today’s post answers the question of whether or not you should use NoCode tools and what are the best scenarios that you can use them for, depending on your role.
NoCode tools for entrepreneurs
The most obvious audience for NoCode tools are entrepreneurs who want to validate their ideas by launching them in a fast and cheap way. To launch fast, an entrepreneur has to hire a developer to write code, which isn’t cheap. And to launch cheap, she has to learn to code and make it herself, which isn’t fast.
Unless you are already a good coder, launching cheap and fast isn’t always an option.
And NoCode tools solve this dilemma by allowing entrepreneurs who aren’t coders to make things that only experienced coders could do a couple of years ago.
For entrepreneurs, NoCode tools eliminate the time required to communicate their vision and requirements to designers and developers by allowing them to turn that vision into a fully working prototype without losing any detail in the translation.
This reduces the cost, time and risk to find product-market fit.
The best NoCode tools for entrepreneurs
- Bubble (for building fully functional web apps with complex logic, user management, payments, etc.)
- Shopify (for building eCommerce websites and online stores)
- AirTable and Google Sheets (for creating internal and public databases to run the business and gain insights about its operation)
- Sheet2Site, Sheety, and Glide (for turning a spreadsheet into an interactive data-centered website using pre-defined design templates)
- Carrd (for creating single-page micro-sites for eBooks, courses, conferences, etc.)
- TypeForm, Wufoo or Google Forms (for capturing leads using easy to use forms)
- Zapier or IFTTT (for automating data collection, conversion, and communication between existing apps)
- Stripe and PayPal (for payment processing)
- Reality Composer (for creating AR experiences that run in the mobile browser — See some examples here)
NoCode tools for developers
While entrepreneurs with no coding experience are the obvious audience for NoCode tools, the not-so-obvious audience is developers who know how to code.
And I know that you might be wondering: why would someone who knows how to code use NoCode tools?
To answer this, let’s start by drawing the line between programming and coding. Programming is figuring out the logical steps needed to solve a problem or make something work. Coding is implementing those steps. To be a good coder, you need to be a good programmer, but to be a good programmer, you don’t need to know how to code; you just need to know problem-solving and systems thinking.
I used to write code for 15 years, and now I use NoCode tools to create concepts and solve problems faster than I’ve ever done when I wrote code.
Writing code and fixing bugs is time-consuming, and NoCode tools make developers more productive by allowing them to use existing ready-made building blocks containing the logic that they would have otherwise had to write from scratch.
And many NoCode tools allow experienced developers to write code that adds functionality and features that aren’t possible yet with those tools.
In other words, you get 80% of the result with 20% of the effort, and then only write code to implement the remaining 20%.
Best NoCode tools for developers
- Bubble (for building fully functional web apps)
- Adalo and Thunkable (for building mobile apps)
- BuildBox (for making web and mobile games without code)
- VoiceFlow (for building voice apps)
- PhantomBuster (for automating workflows and extracting data from various apps and platforms)
- DashDash (for performing complex calculations and running workflows on spreadsheets)
NoCode tools for designers
Another audience that can benefit greatly from NoCode tools is designers.
The past couple of years have witnessed a big push for designers to learn how to code, so they can turn their ideas into working prototypes that demonstrate how a product works, without having to throw requirements and specifications across the fence for developers to implement.
Traditionally, designers had to create fake clickable prototypes using Keynote or PowerPoint, or work with a developer to implement certain features that need to be tested if they required interacting with data that cannot be faked.
What designers need is a tool that allows them to create a working version of their designs with the same ease and productivity as the tools they use to create their designs.
And that’s precisely what NoCode tools enable designers to do.
Not only do they save the time required to create requirements and specifications by turning their prototypes into working concepts and features, but they can also use real-world data in those concepts, and test them with real users before handing them off to their development team members to implement and integrate.
Designers shouldn’t learn to code; they should learn how to program!
Best NoCode tools for designers
- WebFlow (for designing websites, CMS’s, and eCommerce)
- MemberStack and MemberSpace (for adding subscriptions and members-only areas to a website)
- Boundless (for designing data-driven dynamic websites)
- Glide (for designing data-driven dynamic mobile apps)
- Coda and Notion (for designing private and public documents that behave like apps)
NoCode tools for product managers
As a program manager, a big part of your job is working with designers and developers to make sure what is being designed can be implemented, and what is being implemented is what was originally designed. That includes creating requirements and specifications to describe how a design will be implemented, what it will display, how it will respond to user interaction, and how it will handle errors.
You will also need to work with user testers to define how different use cases will be tested.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could just open a tool, import the design, program some logic, add some data, and show developers how it works, instead of spending weeks creating those requirements and specifications?
Not only does this save you time, it also eliminates so much of the guesswork behind how it would feel once it is implemented, and how users will react to it, because you can test a fully working version of the design, and iterate on it till you have the best one, before handing it off to developers.
When I was a product manager at Microsoft, I witnessed how ecstatic developers were when I handed them a working prototype of a design for them to implement and integrate. Spec review meetings were over in 15 minutes, instead of 2–3 hours!
Best NoCode tools for product managers
- Coda and Notion (for managing projects, creating specifications, and tracking issues and progress)
- Bubble and Glide (for building and testing fully working prototypes)
- Zapier and IFTTT (for automating repetitive tasks)
- Reality Composer (for prototyping AR experiences — step-by-step tutorial here)
- Google App Maker and Microsoft Power Apps (for building team-facing apps and automating internal workflows)
NoCode tools for executives
NoCode tools also provide endless opportunities for busy executives who want to save time, save money, manage internal operations and track the overall business health, without relying on IT departments or borrowing developers from customer-facing products.
For instance, an HR executive can use Google App Maker or Microsoft Power Platform to turn a simple spreadsheet into an internal tool for employees to submit and track vacation requests. She can add workflows to automate sending emails to managers when a vacation request is made by their employees to get approval, and later to those employees to submit their travel expenses for reimbursement, without writing a single line of code.
NoCode tools are also being used in administrative offices at schools and universities to manage admissions, help with course booking, enhance career placement, and manage sports teams.
The best NoCode tools for executives
- Zapier (for automating repetitive business tasks)
- Coda and Notion (for creating smart documents to enhance business operations, manage inventory, and track employees)
- Google App Maker and Microsoft Power Apps (for creating internal tools that would otherwise require IT departments to build)
- AirTable (for everything that they currently use spreadsheets for)
NoCode tools for sales professionals
Another audience that would greatly benefit from using NoCode tools is sales professionals. Various tools can help them track leads, transcribe sales calls, automate follow-ups, and request referrals from previous clients, to name a few.
A real estate agent can set up a simple spreadsheet with her current listings, and use Sheety or Shee2Site to automatically update her website with those listings without writing code. She can also create a second spreadsheet with a list of her clients and their areas of interest, and set up a Zapier workflow to automatically email people interested in specific neighborhoods every time she adds new listings for those areas.
She can also create a new Birthday column in that spreadsheet, and use Zapier with Thankster to send her clients greeting cards on their birthdays.
The best NoCode tools for sales professionals
- Sheet2Site, Sheety, and Glide (for creating and updating websites from spreadsheets)
- Zapier or IFTTT (for automating repetitive tasks)
- TypeForm (For capturing leads)
- Descript (for transcribing sales calls)
- Thankster (for automatically sending birthday/greeting cards)
- AirTable and Google Sheets (for storing listings and tracking leads)
NoCode tools for freelancers
Freelancers are often overwhelmed by the amount of work they need to do ON the businesses, in addition to working IN their businesses.
Those business tasks include finding new clients, creating proposals, emailing invoices, sending payment reminders, logging miles, and keeping track of expenses.
Using various NoCode tools, freelancers can automate 80% of the business tasks they do manually, so they can focus most of their time on billable client work.
For instance, a freelancer can use AirTable to log projects and hours for each client and set up a Zapier workflow to email progress to the client every week. For any project marked as complete, another Zapier workflow can generate a Google Doc invoice for that project, convert it to PDF, email it to the client with a link to a Typeform page that collects the payment via Stripe integration. He can then set up a third Zapier workflow to send a thank you note to the client when the payment is received, or send a reminder email a week after the payment due date.
Best NoCode tools for freelancers
- AirTable (To track projects and log time)
- Zapier (to automatically generate invoices, and send reminders and thank you notes. Also to automatically touch base with old clients)
- TypeForm + Stripe (to collect payments)
- Webflow + AirTable (to create an online portfolio powered by project data from a spreadsheet)
NoCode tools for podcasters
Podcasters are another classic example of professionals who are juggling so many tasks and wearing so many hats. In addition to creating podcasts, they need to find guests, gather background information, email invitations, schedule episodes, send out participation instructions, record the podcast, edit it, transcribe it, post it and send links to guests. On top of that, they need to find advertisers, track ads performance, share analytics with sponsors, send invoices, and collect payments.
And many of those tasks can be fully automated.
For instance, a podcaster can create a spreadsheet with a list of future guests and use ClearBit to gather background information about each guest. He can then use Zapier and Calendly to send invitations and schedule upcoming episodes. Once an episode is recorded, it can be transcribed using Descript, and once that episode is live, a Zapier workflow can email the guest a link to share with their followers.
Another Zapier workflow can be set up to email reports to sponsors and advertisers, send them invoices and collect payments.
Best NoCode tools for podcasters
- Descript (for editing and transcribing podcast episodes)
- Google Sheets and AirTable (for keeping track of guests and advertisers)
- Zapier (for automating communication with guests and sponsors)
- ClearBit (for gathering background information about upcoming guests)
- Calendly (for scheduling episodes with guests)
- TypeForm and Stripe (for collecting payments from advertisers and sponsors)
NoCode tools for marketers
Marketers live and breathe data: they track websites’ conversion rates, newsletters analytics, content performance across social networks, new opt-ins, and sales funnels. They maintain content calendars, coordinate with content creators and editors, schedule product launches, collaborate with partners, submit press releases, and pay affiliates.
One way that marketers can use NoCode tools is to set up workflows to collect data from various silos (newsletters, website analytics, payment processors, social media, etc.) and aggregate them in several spreadsheets regularly. They can then go to Google Data Studio and create custom dashboards for products, partners, content, etc. and draw insights about what their top performers so they can optimize future efforts for maximum return.
They can also keep a list of bloggers, journalists and launch partners in another spreadsheet, and automatically email them before product launches to sign them up as affiliates using TypeForm or Carrd, and send them affiliate payments on a monthly using Zapier and Stripe.
Best NoCode tools for marketers
NoCode tools for teachers and educators
Let’s say you are a teacher who wants to organize students into group projects, or schedule an upcoming field trip and assign different tasks to student volunteers, what would you do?
This is traditionally one of those cases where you end up with messy and bloated spreadsheets with various collaborators, different access permissions, missed updates, and random inputs.
Instead of dealing with that mess, a teacher can create a spreadsheet for that group project or field trip, use Google App Maker or Microsoft Power Apps to build an internal app to share with her students so they can fill out and update the required information. She can then create a simple dashboard to track progress and set up a workflow to receive weekly emails with the latest updates.