No-code tools have never been as important as during the COVID-19 pandemic. Numerous makers and indie hackers publish their digital products to help and support people during the corona crisis. COVID-Trackers, websites where people who are unable to buy groceries themselves can log in or apps that are a directory of local companies that are most economically affected by the crisis.
What is it all about
A term that has caused a sensation over the past year 2019 is definitely no-code. The so-called no-code movement is about people who create websites, apps, and services without writing a single line of code. More and more tools enable non-developers to create complex digital products. Some startups already rely fully on no-code technologies.
If we take a look into the past, only a very small group of software engineers was withheld from building certain systems or products on the Internet. In most cases, these people had to spend several months learning programming before putting a simple static website on the Internet.
Everyone is a maker now
Because of the no-code movement, everyone is a maker these days. Anyone with access to a computer with internet access can create a website and ultimately publish it on the internet. Numerous tools give us far more capabilities than Adobe Dreamweaver (yeah do you remember that piece of software? Oh my ...) once did. Thanks to no-code tools, it is possible to create a static website in a very short time without writing a single line of code. But it doesn't stop there. With tools such as Webflow, there are absolutely no limits to the user's imagination when it comes to creating modern and dynamic websites.
No-code tools drastically reduce the time we put into digital products. In addition, the expertise of programming is not necessary for many areas of application. You no longer have to be a programmer to build things on the Internet. We are experiencing a new wave of makers with different backgrounds, all of whom have set themselves the goal of letting their creativity run free on the Internet.
Bulldozer vs. Pickup
Andrew Wilkinson (Co-Founder of Dribbble, Founder of Metalab, and Tiny) found the right words for the No-Code Movement in my eyes. He describes "native code" like a bulldozer. Perfect if you plan to build on a commercial level. In comparison, No-Code is the pickup truck. Powerful enough to launch simple projects directly without any hassle.
Many may wonder why platforms like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace are not the leaders of the No-Code Movement. These tools come from the WYSIWYG era (What you see is what you get). These tools provide the user with ready-made systems, which can then be edited later. However, there is a serious difference to the numerous no-code tools. This difference is the flexibility of the customization that no-code tools enable.
Is it scaleable?
Of course, it still remains to be clarified when to take the step from pickup truck to bulldozer (according to Andrew Wilkinson's wording). Ben Tossel (who impressively drives the no-code movement forward with his Makerpad project) has already proven that no-code tools can be used to build services such as Uber or Airbnb. No-code tools are perfect for validating a certain idea at an early stage. Should it ultimately be a question of scaling an idea or a company up to a certain ARR, it is perfectly clear that it needs very specific specialists who will further develop and maintain the services, software, tools, etc. Ben Tossel is also of the opinion that 90% of indie makers and companies (smaller teams that implement up to a maximum of $ 10M / year) can fully rely on no-code solutions.
Accordingly, an area that no-code tools cannot (yet) cover is the area of enterprise software. Large organizations have large-scale requirements that no-code solutions cannot really meet. However, as already mentioned, no-code tools score in the validation phase of many startups. No-code tools enable startups and early-stage projects to validate their idea on the market with less investment in web development services.
You can easily use tools like Zapier, Airtable, Bubble, or Boundless to create an MVP and place it there to create traction. After expressing interest, they can decide whether to continue investing in the idea of scaling the product.No-code tools are changing the way we build products and launch projects. A basic technical understanding is no longer necessary to build a website or app.
No-code makes it easy to build anything
Due to the lack of my programming knowledge, it would take me a long time to code a website, for example, because I would have to look at code for reference again and again. Tools such as Carrd.co enable me to create a landing page in a few minutes. Carrd is a very simple website tool with which, as already mentioned, landing pages, but also easy to create one-pager. A startup that wants to create a landing page with as little effort as possible during its validation phase should consider looking at tools like Carrd.co or Landing.
But not only websites can now be created entirely without code. The no-code movement has also reached the mobile apps. Tools like Adalo, Lightwell, Glide offer users the possibility to create mobile apps purely visually. I would particularly like to highlight Glide on this list. After you have created the UI with ready-made blocks such as lists, maps, calendars, galleries, etc. you must of course also fill the app with data. And that happens via spreadsheets, exactly spreadsheets. Every app that is created using Glide is directly linked to a Google Spreadsheet. For example, let's take a project that I created with Glide because of the COVID-19 pandemic, namely styrialist.glideapp.io.
Building an app to help business during COVID-19 pandemic
This is an app that shows a list of various companies from Styria that are particularly dependent on our support in the current crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic forced many, especially small, companies to close their businesses. This, in turn, led to economic chaos. Therefore, many entrepreneurs took advantage of the change and revised their online shops, or finally decided to set up an online shop at all. Others tried to keep afloat using personal delivery services or vouchers. In order to draw attention to these companies, I decided to create a handy app that lists those companies that now rely on online shops, voucher campaigns, or delivery services.
The app should list the name of the company, the website or online shop, the location, and any comments in the detailed view. As a result, a lot of data had to be processed. I recorded all of this data in the spreadsheet linked to my app. In the Glide user interface, I can then read out the individual columns of the spreadsheet and thus also the data with mine, which means that they are displayed in the app. Just two days passed from the idea to the implementation and the final launch.
Conclusion: No-code is great
So it is clear to see that no-code tools have an immense advantage and that is the time factor. Never before has such a large mass of people been able to let their creativity run free and implement their ideas directly. Each of us now has countless tools available that make each of us indie hackers and makers. There are no longer any excuses that your idea remains just an idea because you lack the technical know-how.
The no-code movement continues to grow every day. And so the market for no-code tools, resources, and communities is growing.
Above all, maker communities are becoming increasingly popular as everyone becomes a maker. This also applies to tools that help the creators make money, make friends for side projects, and speak out. And these creative solutions can be created without writing code.
Is the no-code movement the future of building and making?
No-code will definitely not replace learning to code in the near future. There will always be a demand for engineers. Just think about all the no-code tools and software, they also need to be engineered. On the other hand, the default option of building and launching products will no longer be restricted to engineers. There is a new type of maker who will be responsible for his product from the idea generation, to the design and ultimately also to the making, building, and launching. Ben Tossel just wrote a great piece on the topic of the future of making if you want to dive deeper into this discussion.