Mythbusting: “You can't build beautiful apps”

Okay there's an *element* of truth to this myth – but read on for the nuance.

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One common concern is that the apps you’re able to build with no-code tools are pretty basic in their design, and all look the same. Well there is actually some truth in that. But before you run off, there’s more to consider than whether you can create the most originally designed app that’s ever existed. 

When it comes to building customer-facing apps, a typical worry is that what you’ll be creating won’t look bespoke and beautifully designed. That your app will look just like anyone else’s who’s used the same no-code app builder. Your customers will feel uninspired and upset. Your brand will suffer. You’ll lose all respect and credibility. The business will begin to crumble and… okay, you get the jist.   

*Note, we’re not talking about internal apps used within an organisation here. Generally speaking, they’re more about functionality than form. 

Typically, those fears come from two places:

• Fear of homogeneity

There’s definitely a concern about your app looking the same as all the other apps out there, which is perhaps best summed up by the example of Squarespace. The website builder lets you pick from hundreds of templates for building a website. You can customise certain aspects, like colours, but when the website goes live, it tends to look like plenty of other websites out there. A similar logic is applied to apps. A lot of apps use the default Apple library and look and feel pretty similar. It’s a rare app (eg, Spotify), that has a clear and distinctive design. 

• Fear of limiting creativity 

The second is if you have a designer involved in your project. You want to give them as much design control as possible with few limitations. Let their creative juices flourish and all that. You want the app to look exactly as they design it in Figma, or whatever design tool they use. The worry is that no-code tools won’t allow that. 

A range of apps looking pretty on a mobile

The truth

1. There’s a broad scale of design freedom

Most no-code tools will give you some degree of customisation straight out of the box. You can change colours, fonts, button sizes, shadows, logos and images. Relatively minor details, yes, but nevertheless important. That said, plenty of tools are quite restrictive in terms of what you can do.

If you do have a very strong brand that demands design flexibility, options exist. Webflow is a great option for a website builder; Bravo Studios offers full design freedom for mobile apps. But these tools almost always come with a tradeoff: they’re far harder to use and have a steeper learning curve than other solutions that maybe don’t look quite as good. 

2. Form and functionality are handled for you

Your app’s UI and UX need to work first and foremost. Colours need to work well together; it needs to be accessible for anyone to use; the layout needs to make sense. These common design problems are all handled by the no-code tool you opt for. You’ll be creating an app that has a normative design that users know how to use – not something illogical and potentially mad that people have to get to grips with. 

3. Familiarity is a plus

That neatly leads us to our last point. Most people who can’t code can’t design either. So unless you do have a designer ready to flex their creative muscles, leaning into ‘generic’ no-code app designs makes a lot of sense. Think of Glide as an example. Most Glide apps look better than most day-to-day apps that you use and are really comfortable to use. You might not be able to customise much when you build an app with Glide, but you actually don’t need to because the chances are that it’ll look great.

Glide doing what it does best: making apps

The takeaway

This is one of those myths with a fair bit of truth around it. But that’s not to say it should deter you from building a customer-facing app using no-code tools. If you don’t need complete design control (and not many businesses really do), no-code platforms provide something that looks good – and works – right out of the box. You might look like other people’s apps, but that isn’t necessarily the drawback you think it is. 



About the Author
Duncan Griffiths Nakanishi

Duncan is lead editor at NoCode.Tech. He's a writer and editor with 8 years experience working in the media across business, culture, lifestyle and tech.


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