App development · Developers

No Code App building Services

Aleksandra Czajka Freelance Senior Software Engineer, Developer, Web Developer, Programmer - Full Stack

Last updated on November 8th, 2019

Morning Everyone!

I'm curious to know other start-ups' experience with building either an MVP or full app with services that offer no-code ways to do that - like Appmakr (but there's many others). Doing some research and trying to understand why more startups are not using these providers.

Edit to my question: Doing some research and trying to see why startup entrepreneurs, not being able to find developers swiftly are not using these providers to 1. build their proof of concept faster and cheeper and 2. build their proof of concept to attract better developers/tech founders by proving the viability of their project with such a proof of concept.

All my best!

Clay Nichols Helping other startups grow after launching 2 successful startups.

November 8th, 2019

If you can create something that would solve enough of the customer's Pain for them to pay some small price for, it seems like it could be a starting point (MVP). However, I would plan on it being a throwaway prototype.

Approach i used was to figure out the most demanding features we needed and then find example apps (in that No Code platform) that use those features. I'd suggest having an experienced developer help you figure out those features.

Garet Claborn CEO, Lead Developer at Approach Corporation

November 5th, 2019

Appmakr and friends do not have the flexibility to make platforms and useful business software. They are more for making content display systems with a few widgets. You can make a commercial app to complement ecommerce stores, blogs, media and things of that nature using such services. However making even an MVP in cookie-cutter app builders is no good aside from maaaybe the frontend. If you dont have something unique enough that app builders cant handle, then you havent solved any problem worth selling.

Lion Burger CTO

November 5th, 2019

I will give you my educated guess.

A minimal viable product (usuallly misunderstood as a synonum for "beta version") is all about experimentation. Mobile apps on the app store are all about complete feature sets and polished UX.

These are two distinct stages in the lifetime of a startup: before and after reaching product-market fit.

You cannot get experiments to the app stores. However, experimental progressive web apps can be found through regular web search, and otherwise promoted by just using their web addresses. There's no centralized authority to decide whether or not a web app deserves ever getting online.

Furthermore, mobile apps are naturally not something you can tweak and modify many times per week as required when experimenting and reacting to user feedback and other measurable metrics.

A startup is an organization in the process of finding a working business model. This is done through iterations on different aspects and variations of prospected business models until reaching (or failing to reach) product-market fit.

App generators are just an alternative to finding a technical co-founder who will develop a mobile app polished enough to appear on the app stores in exchange for sweat equity.

Both ways lead to the same result: after a lot of work, nobody cares about that new mobile app on the store, because it solves no problem anyone bothers searching a solution for.

Rich Cleeve CEO of Codestream, helping startups build great products

November 7th, 2019

Aleksandra, hi

There are some low code platforms (eg outsystems) with a lot of flexibility and the features you need for a proper dev-test-production process, but they tend to be marketed to larger corporations with licensing fees that can cost more than building an MVP from scratch.

Paul Garcia marketing exec & business advisor

November 8th, 2019

@ Aleksandra it has been my experience that non-tech founders have trouble finding technical services only for a lack of ability to pay, not because the talent doesn't exist. In marketing, when we "preview" a web site before building it, we create wireframes, meaning like a movie set, it's just showing the face, it doesn't actually work. When I create a demo for someone for example, I will sketch something out in Photoshop, turn it into PowerPoint slides, and when I click on what looks like a button, it's just advancing the slide to the next demo screen to show what the visual would have looked like, without actually programming any functions. Dressmakers do this with with drafting material. Construction people do it with sample boards for exterior finishes. Sculptors do it with maquettes.

I've even done this with complex database applications, where I had basic web pages that let me enter form form fields, but the SUBMIT button always took me to the next page with a pre-defined result, no matter what I filled in on the first page. These simulations don't require actually building an app to explain complex concepts that words are not conveying. It's certainly not an MVP, but often you don't need to build an MVP when you're validating your ideas, just some series of visuals, a "like this."

An experienced programmer can do a pretty good job determining whether something can be done and how it would be done, without every writing a line of code. Proof of concept is less about will the product work (unless you're integrating with some other existing software), and more about proof of product-market fit. Since marketing strategy comes before product development, its unlikely that you'll need a working model to prove your concept. Those validation steps are much less technical and almost never require coding to prove, nor do they require a technical founder..

So, yes, if you want to show someone what your software will look like

Peter Pantilla Online Solutions & Project Management Guy

November 12th, 2019

Agree with Outsystems as a pretty good option

Aleksandra Czajka Freelance Senior Software Engineer, Developer, Web Developer, Programmer - Full Stack

November 5th, 2019

Thanks Garet! So, it seems that they're just too cookie cutter and don't really offer too much as far as custom features. That's definitely a bummer. Seems you might as well just use web to test out your ideas since it would be easier to just put content that's accessible from every device with squarespace, etc.

Aleksandra Czajka Freelance Senior Software Engineer, Developer, Web Developer, Programmer - Full Stack

November 5th, 2019

Ah, great point Lion. Hard to iterate fast with mobile apps. Sounds like it's even harder with a cookie cutter app builder. One question for you... what do you mean by "you cannot get experiments into the app store". I totally agree with you that, with web it's much faster to iterate, faster to build and accessible to every user on every device. However, if I wanted to specifically test out my MVP as an app... i.e. if the core of my idea made it so that it has to be an app, I can just implement a core set of features as an app and launch it.... I've done it before with iOS. I'm just wondering whether there's any app building service out there what so ever that actually allows me to do that. As a developer, over the past 20 years I've always preferred to build from scratch (of course, not without modules (ex: react native npm libraries)) and ran into may scenarios where I wasted time because a product I was testing out said it could be done easier and faster, but instead wasted hours/days of my time trying to hack it to do what I wanted. So, inadvertently these products seem to offer pretty much the same - come for ease of building - leave because of hardship of debugging, troubleshooting and trying to rip it apart to make it do what you want it to.

Aleksandra Czajka Freelance Senior Software Engineer, Developer, Web Developer, Programmer - Full Stack

November 6th, 2019

Bumping this up again. Really want to know startup people's experience with this.

Paul Garcia marketing exec & business advisor

November 7th, 2019

My assumption, is that when you use no-code tools, you have no ability to fix technical flaws, being entirely dependent on the kits offered by someone else. They may also not offer services to fix those flaws. Think of it like buying a car.

You can specify the options and accessories before you make your purchase, but you don't know how to build a car. You can't get just any old thing, you can only pick from the list of accessories and options that are offered by the car maker, or go to another car maker. When something goes wrong with your car, you don't know how to fix it, and worse, you can't take it to any mechanic, you can only take it to the dealership. And then, the dealership may tell you that they don't work on cars, they only sell cars. That leaves you the option of living with what you have, or selling the car you bought and getting another mode of transportation.

If someone gives you a kit to build your software, and it doesn't do what you want, can't do what you need, or breaks, you either are stuck, or you have to trash your first product and start over from scratch with a custom solution.

This is one reason that some people choose web applications instead of mobile apps. At least there the development expertise is lower, and the ability to look under the hood is much easier, and the web applications are typically more compatible with the widest variety of end user devices.