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In the past, web app development required a great deal of coding effort and skill, so it was limited to the domain of highly technical developers. Today, thanks to no-code platforms, even non-technical users can develop web apps quickly and easily. Consequently, more and more organizations are investing in no-code platforms for future web app development.
These platforms have become so popular that Gartner predicts:
- By 2024, over 65% of development services will be completed using no-code platforms.
- By 2025, 70% of new apps will use low-code or no-code technologies.
Therefore, it’s high time for anyone looking to build web apps to grasp the basics of no-code development. This article will get you up to speed on the basics of no-code, its pros and cons, and how to build a web app using no-code.
What Is No-Code Development?
No-code is a development method for building web apps without writing code. It enables non-technical users with no prior development experience to build interactive web apps.
No code software typically provides a graphical user interface (GUI) that connects basic drag-and-drop functionality to a workflow string and automatically generates the code in the background. This enables users to build the logic they want in the app by defining what events happen when certain elements are clicked.
No-code also has some programming options for technically savvy users, which makes it a powerful development method for professionals and laypeople alike.
Advantages of No-Code Tools
The advantages of no-code platforms make them ideal for building web apps of any size. Let’s explore the most important benefits of no-code development platforms.
Rapid Application Development
With no-code platforms, users don’t need to spend time learning programming languages, syntax, and semantics. Instead, they can focus on development and creating rapid solutions. Modern no-code platforms can also handle data management, deployment, hosting, and maintenance—so businesses can spend more time on operations and less time on web development.
No-code tools enable businesses to swiftly deliver their services to customers without waiting for a developer to finish the job. As a result, small businesses can rapidly create software in-house using their own staff, which saves time and money—and helps streamline operations.
Intuitive Graphical User Interfaces (GUI)
Built for non-technical users, no-code development platforms feature intuitive GUIs that simplify the process of building websites. Today’s no-code platforms pair a wide range of UI components (e.g., text, buttons, icons) with basic features (e.g., workflows, styles, data plugins) that make it possible for almost anyone to build web apps with essential functionality.
Users simply drag and drop UI elements onto the web page—with no prior knowledge of HTML or CSS required! Some no-code platforms also support integrations with other web apps like Google, Facebook, and Stripe to provide more advanced functionality.
Less Technical Knowledge Is Required
No-code platforms only require a basic understanding of technology (e.g., components required to build web elements, basic data flows, interactions, security, performance aspects).
Drawbacks of No-Code Platforms
No-code platforms have several drawbacks compared with traditional development methods. However, modern no-code platforms mitigate those drawbacks by providing more intuitive features. Let’s take a closer look at the most notable drawbacks of no-code platforms.
No-code platforms leave little room for back-end development because the platform itself handles it. Many no-code platforms provide limited functionality because intricate development is not supported. For example, some basic no-code platforms cannot implement APIs or integrate third-party plugins, which limits functionality—and results in limited user engagement.
However, more advanced no-code platforms, like Bubble.io, offer advanced functionality with paid subscriptions. These platforms enable users to develop web apps with modern functionality, like email and SEO.
Limited Custom Code
When it comes to web app development, customization allows you to develop precisely what you want. No-code platforms provide the option to customize front-end code, which isn’t an issue if you’re looking for basic functionality with a sleek design. However, it limits the scope of functionality you can provide to users, potentially causing them to use other apps.
Lack of Control over Your Project
The limitations of no-code platforms can lead to a lack of control over projects. Sometimes it’s difficult to add extra functionality and infrastructure exactly as you’d like, which can impact essential areas of development, such as security, functionality, and design. The best way to get around these issues is to hire an expert no-code developer, like Idea Maker.
How To Build a Web App Using No-Code Development
Now that you understand the power and limitations of no-code development platforms, let’s explore how to build a web app without code.
Plan Your Website
All web apps should have a plan that defines the target audience and how the app should look. Understanding the target audience will help determine what features the website should have and whether no-code will satisfy these requirements. The plan should also include things like budget, resources, and development timeframe.
Once you’ve developed your plan, you might discover that no-code development isn’t suitable for your project. For example, you might require intelligent AI-driven customer service chatbots, which no-code isn’t able to provide. In this case, your best option is to hire a development company to create a custom web app.
Once you’ve decided that a no-code solution is the right approach for your project, the next step is to determine its features. Choose functionality that aligns with your target audience’s needs and the capabilities of your chosen no-code platform.
It’s also important that your website is visually appropriate for your target audience. For example, if you want to attract B2B clients, your website should have a formal and professional interface. If you’re struggling to determine your website’s functionality and overall design, consider hiring an experienced web design company.
Once you’ve planned your website and its functionality, you can start development.
Choose a No-Code Platform
There are many no-code development platforms, and each has its advantages and features. For example, Bubble.io allows users with some technical knowledge to develop front-end code, which can increase the complexity of developments that are possible on the platform. It also supports multilingual apps and enables the integration of user-generated content from services like Google and Facebook.
When choosing a no-code platform, comparing and evaluating the pros, cons, and features of multiple options is a good place to start. If you have the knowledge or inclination to learn, you might want to choose a basic no-code platform and develop the front-end on your own using traditional coding methods.
Learn the Chosen No-Code Development Platform
After choosing a no-code platform, you’ll have to learn how to use it. Many no-code development platforms have first-party tutorials available on their websites, and these are an excellent place to start.
Alternatively, you can learn no- and low-code development platforms by taking online courses through eLearning websites, like Udemy and Codecademy. Both sites offer extensive courses on no-code development, which teach the basics regardless of which platform you choose.
Use Pre-Built Templates
If you need a helping hand to get started, you can also use pre-built templates or web apps. These pre-made resources can speed up the development process by giving you a quick jumping-off point where you don’t have to build the app from scratch. Keep in mind that these resources will need heavy modifications to suit your needs.
Where to Start?
Once you’ve learned how to use your chosen no-code development platform, there are several important things you should do before building your website.
Wireframe Your Project
Wireframing is the process of creating a basic mockup or a high-level design of your web app to help you understand how it will look and function. At Idea Maker, we use Mockflow to prototype our websites and cross-platform mobile apps. Mockflow’s intuitive drag-and-drop user interface makes it a simple platform to learn.
Once you’ve wireframed your project, you’ll better understand its necessary components. At this point, you might decide that no-code isn’t for you because of the complexities of your requirements. If no-code still seems like a viable choice, it’s time to begin defining data models.
Related Article: A Review of the 8 Best Wireframe Tools
Define the Data Models
The most important step of no-code development is defining the data models. Data is at the core of all web applications, and a data model is a visual representation of this data and the interactions between it (e.g., data tables, columns, table associations). Structured data models will help facilitate the business processes required to make your website function correctly. It’s possible to build a no-code website without defining your data models, but it will complicate the process and increase the risk of I/O errors.
Without technical knowledge, understanding how to define data models can be challenging. As a result, hiring a database management and development company is an excellent idea.
Determine the I/O Interface
Once you’ve clearly defined your data model, you should determine the I/O (i.e., input, output) interface to interact with the data. This could be a simple button that takes users to a specific web page—or it might be a component or contact form. Once a user clicks the button or completes the form, your data model will help you execute the user input result.
Outline the Development Procedure
Finally, you should outline your development procedure. Every good developer follows a process to ensure the success of their projects. Take a look at our seven-step development procedure for inspiration.
Hire an Expert Web Developer
If even after reading this guide, you still feel unsure about developing a website using no- or low-code platforms, consider hiring an experienced web developer. Here are several things to consider when hiring a web developer.
Check out the developers’ portfolios and shortlist those that look the most promising. Portfolios indicate the caliber of their work and can help you determine whether their experience is appropriate for your needs. You should also ask for samples of previous development projects to inspect their quality first-hand.
Experience isn’t just about the quality of their work, it’s also about the length of service. For example, you wouldn’t want to hire a developer who leaves you high and dry immediately after completing the project. Websites require regular maintenance, so you’ll want to hire someone who’s willing to invest time and effort into the entire project—including postlaunch support.
Effective communication is another essential aspect to consider. Good communication is key to any project’s success, and it’s crucial to saving time, effort, and money when working with web developers.
To effectively turn your requirements and vision into a reality, your developer must be able to understand what you have in mind. If you don’t feel you can communicate effectively with a potential web developer, consider someone else.
You must also make sure that the developer’s pricing model fits your budget. For example, if you’re unsure of your requirements and have an unclear plan, you’ll need to work closely with your developer to define the deliverables and how changes to the project specification will be handled. This way you won’t run into unexpected charges.
Keep in mind that the quality of your website will reflect your choice of developer—a cheap developer is likely to build a lower quality site vs. one that costs a little more. The same applies to outsourcing to off-shore developers. You can learn more about outsourcing developers by reading the extensive Idea Maker guide.
After reading this article, you should understand the basics of no-code development and how to build a website using a no-code development platform. Here’s a summary of what this article covered:
- What is no-code development?
- Advantages of no-code tools
- Drawbacks of no-code platforms
- How to build a website using no-code
- How to learn no-code development
- Other important things to consider when using no-code platforms
- Important things to look for when hiring an expert web developer
Now you are ready to build your website code-free.
No-Code Development from Idea Maker
IdeaMaker offers affordable no-code website development solutions. Our team of dedicated developers is ready to build your web application to your unique specifications. Schedule a free consultation to learn more.