It used to take months to become sufficient enough to build and publish a web application. Business owners who did not know how to code would often turn to professionals to build their website, even if it was only a few static pages with a contact form. But things are changing, and fast.
It now only takes only a couple of clicks to get a website live and running, ready to receive visitors. And it’s not only simple websites: a new wave of powerful tools allow non-technical people to build anything from voice apps to chatbots and booking platforms without ever writing a single line of code.
Using spreadsheet-like interfaces, drag-and-drop, and other visual elements, these no-code tools allow anyone, regardless of their tech background, to build, deploy and maintain complete applications which on the surface work exactly like the real thing.
“No-code tools are reducing the amount of time and coding expertise required to translate an idea into something people can use. You no longer need to become a programmer to build things on the internet, empowering a new wave of makers from different backgrounds and perspectives.” – Ryan Hoover, founder of Product Hunt.
The impact on the tech ecosystem can not be overstated: soon, everyone will be able to become a maker. This means unlocking new potential from people who felt stuck just because they lacked the technical ability to bring their ideas to life. This means faster testing and iterating for coders and non-coders alike. This means building a startup will become more accessible than ever.
While there is some pushback from consultants and IT companies – as Jason Bloomberg puts it “if we take a traditional enterprise app that might require, say, six months, a dozen people, and two million dollars to build and deploy, and reduce those figures to two weeks, three people, and fifty thousand dollars – and end up with a faster, higher quality, more flexible app to boot – then who suffers?” – lots of makers are embracing no-code tools and building their own.
If you are new to no-code tools, here is a roundup of some of the most popular ones. Best way to use this list? Go check your folder of side project ideas, and see if you could launch a MVP for one of these in one day using one of those tools.
Want an extra source of motivation? Product Hunt just announced the second edition of Maker Festival, and this time it’s all about no-code. You have until March 29th to submit your product. Learn more about the prizes and key dates here, and see below for some tools you may find helpful.
Turn a spreadsheet into a website
Most people who are proficient with a computer know how to use a spreadsheet. And I don’t mean being able to play with complex formulas: just the basics of how columns and rows work. The good thing? With no-code tools, you could use that superpower to quickly build a functional website, with your spreadsheet working as a database.
- Sheet2Site by Andrey Azimov let’s you create a fully functional website with pictures, text, filters and links from Google Sheets without writing a line of code.
- Table2Site by Maarten Belmans allows you to turn your Airtable base into a website, using it as a complete CMS.
- If you want more flexibility and to keep your costs low, Sheety by Phillip Caudell let’s you turn any Google sheet into an API instantly, for free.
The benefits of this approach are many: you can easily access and edit the content from anywhere, collaborate with non-technical users who could quickly feed content into the website. Plus, Google Sheets automatically generates backups and version history. Alyssa X wrote a great tutorial explaining how turning a Google Spreadsheet into a website works behind-the-scene.
Add functionalities to a static website
What if you already have a static website, and want it to actually do stuff? There are now lots of options to add complex features to any website, such as e-commerce, user sign-in, and more. A great place to start is Makerpad by Ben Tossell, which teaches you how to build powerful applications without code.
In his tutorial, Ben uses a combination of Carrd, Webflow, Zapier, Airtable and other no-code tools to build complex applications such as an Airbnb clone, a marketplace, a meditation app, and a job board. All without writing a single line of code.
For more tutorials and templates, No Code by Sam Dickie is a great directory to explore.
The sky’s the limit
Depending on your working style and how visual you need the design environment to be, there are many options that can fit into your workflow and help you bring your product to market quicker. If you are working as part of a team, these could also be used to create powerful internal tools to track and manage various work streams.
- Bubble is a darling of the no-code world: completely visual, it allows users to create and host web applications without ever touching a line of code. Look Mom No Code offers templates you can use to quickly get you going.
- Coda created a new form of interactive document that can be used to create any type of app. They also offer many templates to start from, such as goal trackers, CRM tools, games, weather apps, sales forecasters, and more.
- Shots uses AI to automatically turn your designs into functional code to share with other people or upload to your servers.
- Voiceflow can be used to visually design, prototype and publish voice apps such as Alexa Skills and Google Actions without writing code.
- Even machine learning is not off the table… Lobe is a visual tool that allows anyone to build custom deep learning models without code.
With so many tools allowing anyone to start building a product today, new people will keep on joining the maker community. These will not remove the need for code, but will allow coders and non-coders alike to create and collaborate to bring their ideas to life. Even if you know how to code, these tools can be used for prototyping, for web applications where building everything from scratch may be overkill, or for areas you may not be familiar with, such as voice apps or machine learning.