At the heart of no-code is creation. No-code is all about taking an idea and making it a reality. The barrier to entry for creating websites and apps is now lower. It’s an exciting time.
No-code is a term given to software applications that help people build things visually instead of by writing code. You can use no-code software to start building your own websites, software, mobile apps, and automated processes without needing to hire a developer.
I like to think of it like LEGO. No-code is turning things into digital LEGO bricks. Before no-code, you had to manufacture your own creations from raw material. It was hard, tedious, and required special skills. With no-code, you’re given bricks that snap together.
“The no-code movement rests upon the fundamental belief that technology should enable and facilitate creation, not be a barrier to entry.” –Webflow
Imagine that building a website is like opening a door. The door is locked. Only those who know how to code with HTML and CSS have the access code. But then something changed. No-code came along and removed the lock. That’s a whole lot more people who can open the door to build a website. Accessibility increased as it has many times in history.
No-code is following a historical pattern we see in technology. At first, technology is not accessible. It starts out as expensive or hard to use. Over time technology becomes more accessible. It decreases in price or becomes easier to use. Here are some examples:
- Printing Press to Typewriter to Laptop Computer
- Camera Obscura to Dry Plate to Film to Camera Phones
- Turing Machine to Programming Languages to No-code
No-code has been around for longer than you might think. It only recently received its name. The spreadsheet was the beginning of no-code. In fact, the first spreadsheet computer program was called VisiCalc because it was a Visible Calculator. No-code is often referred to as Visual Development.
Fast forward to 2003. WordPress was founded and allowed people to start a blog for free. WordPress carried the spirit of no-code by making blogs more accessible. You did not have to be a developer to code a website for your blog. Then, Shopify came onto the scene in 2006 to help people launch online stores without needing to code.
About 5 years later, both Bubble and Zapier were founded. Bubble’s goal was to make programming web applications visual. Similarly, Zapier’s goal was to build a visual solution to connect web apps together.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when the masses adopted the term no-code, but by 2018 people like Ben Tossell from Makerpad were evangelizing no-code and all of the possibilities it unlocks. Building Websites, mobile and web apps, and automation is now becoming increasingly more accessible which is opening up a new wave of creations in the digital space.
Automation plays a unique role in no-code. In order to make a website or app work, you may need to piece together things built in different places. For instance, you may have a list of contacts in Google Sheets, a website built with Webflow, and a mobile app built with Glide. To get them all to work together in a seamless experience, you can use automation software like Make or Zapier to connect them.
For instance, let’s say you run a Physical Therapy business. You want to make sure that anyone who visits your website and schedules an appointment is tracked and followed-up with. When someone schedules an appointment on the website it needs to talk to Google Sheets to track the information. From there the Google Sheet can talk to your custom mobile app built on Glide for your team to see all new appointments. Then, someone from your team can claim the new appointment and follow-up with them.
Automation would allow all the apps to talk together. It sort of looks like a USB hub for a computer:
Because Zapier is the connector for so many things built with no-code, it’s good to know how it works regardless of what you end up building. I write a weekly newsletter about no-code and Zapier if you’d like to learn more. Subscribe below:
Here are some things built with no-code:
- Moritz Petersen’s personal website built in Webflow
- Gregory John’s Buildcamp.io built in Bubble
- Kenan Saleh’s Halo Cars operated with Zapier, Airtable, Retool
I also made a list of real things (like Apple Notes) that were rebuilt with no-code to show you what’s possible. Check out that list here.
Here is a list of no-code tools:
- Voiceflow – Design, prototype and build voice apps.
- ManyChat – Automate & Combine Facebook Messenger and SMS to Grow Your Business.
- Rows – The spreadsheet for builders.
- AppSheet – Make apps with no-code. AppSheet’s no-code app building platform allows you to quickly build apps to collect, or connect to, data.
- Coda – It’s time for a new doc that brings words, data, and teams together.
- Adalo – Create apps as easy as making a slide deck.
- Universe – Universe is the easiest way to make a website on mobile.
- Parabola – Hand off your routine data tasks by describing them in Parabola.
- Landbot – The Most Intuitive No-Code Chatbot Builder.
- MemberSpace – Turn any part of your website into members-only with just a few clicks.
- Bubble – visual programming for websites and applications.
- Gumroad – Super-simple e-commerce for creators.
- Airtable – Part spreadsheet, part database.
- Glide – Create mobile apps from a Google Sheet.
- Notion – Notes, tasks, wikis, and databases.
- Shopify – eCommerce.
- Carrd – Simple, free, fully responsive one-page sites for pretty much anything.
- Zapier – Connect Your Apps and Automate Workflows.
- Webflow – Build better business websites, faster. Without coding.