A busy entrepreneur’s guide to building apps without code

If you've clicked on this article, it's likely because you had a recent revelation. 

"It's 2021, and I still don't have an app."

We're indeed living in a world that isn't just embracing mobile-first but depending on it. As a business owner or prospective entrepreneur, building an app is key to making your venture "real". 

But how do you get started, and what do you do if you don't know how to code?

In this post, we'll walk you through the answers to these questions, including solutions for building apps without code. 

Learning to code while running a business: Is it even possible?

If you're feeling overwhelmed at the idea of getting an app from concept to deployment, you're not alone. It's a task that entire companies are built around achieving. So to try to undertake this task on your own is understandably daunting.

This task becomes even more overwhelming for those who are already in charge of running a business. Even a small business consumes copious amounts of time, energy, and money. Add coding lessons on top of that, and you're generally setting yourself up for failure.

While it is possible to learn coding independently, for free, the time commitment is more than the average entrepreneur can dedicate. Even non-entrepreneurs are realising that there's a reason programmers go to school.

Fortunately, there's an alternative that allows you to build apps without code...

The No-code Movement: The solution entrepreneurs have been waiting for

The No-code Movement is loosely defined as a move towards app-building that doesn't require any code. Instead, no-code solutions use builders, routines, and platforms to create apps without ever needing to know the difference between a bracket and a semicolon.

No code options are ideal for many situations, especially entrepreneurs with a full plate. Of course, you won't have the same levels of freedom as building an app from scratch, and there will be a soft limit on what kinds of features you can implement. That said, it's still a robust solution, and getting better all the time.

A great way to think of building apps without code is to compare it to website builders:

  • You could learn HTML, CSS, and the fundamentals of web design over six months, and then spend another six months building your website. 
  • Or, you could spend a few hours learning how to use a builder, and then drag and drop your website together within a week.

In other words, if you're not a professional programmer, and you don't have the capital to hire a professional, then no-code solutions are the answer you've been waiting for

How to start building apps without code

Alright, enough preamble! Here are the basic steps you'll want to take when building an app without code. Most of these steps have a lot in common with traditional app-building; it's the last few stages where things begin to depart. 

Keep in mind that, of course, this is not an exact blueprint. This is just a general guideline that will keep you moving in the right direction

Step 1: Have an idea

It's one thing to know that your business needs an app. It's another thing to know what that app should be. Sometimes, this is easy to resolve. If you sell pet food, then having an app that allows people to easily choose from and subscribe to pet food orders is probably the route to go.

If you own a restaurant, however, or write advice for carpenters, you might have a less direct roadmap to follow. Maybe you have multiple ideas for different apps, or you have no clue where to begin.

Before you start investing in a no-code solution (which is one of the last steps in this process) you need to have a concrete idea and function for your app. Is it going to be used to order goods, solve a problem for users at home, or connect them to exclusive content? Get these ideas down in writing!

Step 2: Research your idea

Once you've hammered out a couple of different ideas and are debating between them, it's time to turn to Google. There are a few specific things you'll want to look out for.

First, has anyone made a similar app yet? The odds are that yes, they have already made an app that resembles your idea. In this case, you'll want to see how the existing app differs from yours, how you can improve upon it, and how you can serve a distinct market with a similar idea.

If no one has ever conceived of your app idea before, start to consider why. Is it because there isn't enough of a market for this app, or is it just a completely novel concept?

If you're an entrepreneur, this is the kind of research you should be familiar with. You're looking for viability as well as possibility. See where the two meet and start building your app in that gap.

Step 3: Plan out your app's features

Once you have a marketable app idea, you're ready to start diving into the planning phases. Let's start with your app's set of features. 

Again, research is going to be key here:

  • Compile a list of the most common features found in other apps, as well as the ones that are unique to specific apps. 
  • Then, look for feedback from users of these apps. 
  • Which features do they value most? How is each app drawing its niche of the market?

From there, implement the features that seem to be must-haves in your market, and consider unique features you could implement to set yourself apart. Maybe you have a novel take on a popular feature, a better way to do something than has previously been done, or an entirely new idea. Write this all down!

Step 4: Start designing your app

By now, you should not only know what your app is going to do but how it's going to do it. You should also know why users are going to want your app, and why they're going to want it more than your competitors' apps. 

With this information on hand, you're ready to start designing your app. This includes the fun stuff (like designing the logo and picking out colour schemes) and the not as fun stuff, such as designing the layout for every screen, menu, and sidebar.

In general, this is done by taking a pencil and sketch paper and making a drawing for every screen you plan to have on your app. From there, draw examples for what certain menus will look like. 

Step 5: Choose the right no-code app builder

With your idea, research, features, and blueprints in hand, you're ready to start building your app without code. For the most part, that's going to mean finding a no-code app builder.

No-code app builders are exactly as they sound: they're apps that allow you to build apps without needing to enter any code. Oftentimes, they use drag-and-drop interfaces and are geared towards a specific type of app. We'll go into some suggestions further down, though there are plenty of options to choose from online!

Step 6: Build, submit, market, and profit

All that's left to do is the actual building of your app. This might sound like the part that needs the most explaining. However, it generally comes down to finding the right app builder and learning how to use it. 

Once built and tested for bugs as well as for user experience, you're ready to submit it to app stores. Each has its guidelines, so make sure you're familiar with these. Then market the app and reap those rewards you've worked so hard for!

The best app builders for building apps without code

Glide

For most users, an app builder like Glide is going to be the best solution. It allows you to build an app from a Google Sheet in less than five minutes, and uses a simple drag-and-drop interface. This allows you to easily copy your sketches and create the functionality behind your features.

Adalo

Like Glide, Adalo uses a simple drag-and-drop interface with most of the features (like buttons and menus) already built for you. It includes a database as well, so you can easily inform buttons, lists, and other elements of what data they're supposed to communicate to the user.

Thunkable

Thunkable is another drag-and-drop solution for building apps without code. However, it focuses more heavily on designs and animations, as well as niche features like transcription. This makes it a more adept tool for specific app ideas as opposed to more general projects. 

Need more tips for building apps without code?

Here at NoCode, we offer a wide array of articles, tutorials, and insights into building apps without code. Our resources can benefit you no matter what your current skill level is. Think of it as a free alternative to code college. 

Click here to see everything we have to offer at NoCode.tech


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