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Decoding the Best No-code & Low-code Tools for 2024

Decoding the Best No-code/Low-code Tools for 2024

Developing software and apps is expensive.

Even more so if you will go through many development cycles (spoiler: you will).

No surprise companies and startups alike are always seeking ways to streamline their development processes and bring ideas to life more efficiently.

This is where no-code and low-code development comes into play.

These platforms are like the Swiss Army knives of the digital era – whether you’re a code-savvy developer looking to speed up your workflow or a business pro with zero coding experience, there’s something for everyone.

In this article, I’ll give you my take on the key advantages of no-code and low-code development and dive into the best tools available in 2024.

Note: This guide is probably one of the few you’ll find that has not been written by one of the tool makers or that is not just a dump of all the tools existing in the world πŸ˜…. It’s a professional opinion from someone (yours truly) that has been building software (with code and without) for the past 7+ years.

Why even consider No-Code and Low-Code Tools

Traditional software development involves a lengthy process, requiring skilled programmers to write thousands of lines of code.

This approach is time-consuming, expensive, and expects extensive technical knowledge even just to translate what you want to build into technical specifications.

No-code and Low-code development, on the other hand, offers a more accessible and cost efficient alternative. Especially when you’re starting from scratch.

No-code and Low-code development comes with many benefits over traditional coding:

  • Faster development cycles
  • Reduced costs
  • Increased agility and flexibility
  • Improved collaboration between business and IT teams
  • Easier maintenance and updates

These no-code and low-code platforms, allow users to create fully functional applications with zero code or only limiting it to where it matters.

These tools provide intuitive drag-and-drop interfaces and pre-built components, enabling even non-technical individuals to build powerful apps. Low-code platforms, meanwhile, offer a mix of visual development and some coding capabilities, catering to developers who want more flexibility and customization options.

Navigating the No-Code and Low-Code Landscape

no-code-tools-map
Image credits: Baserow

While the advantages of no-code and low-code development are clear, the sheer number of tools available is overwhelming. It’s a good sign of the growing popularity but it also makes it hard to understand where to start.

As of 2024, there are countless platforms catering to various use cases and skill levels.

confused

So, here I am, unraveling the mystery for you πŸ˜„

To make sense of this crowded landscape, we have to make a step back and to understand the core components of an application. Simplifying, an app generally consists of three fundamental building blocks:

web-app building blocks

Data: This refers to the information stored and managed by the app, such as user profiles, product catalogs, transaction records, etc. (think about excel tables)

Logic: The logic component encompasses the business rules, workflows, and processes that define how the app functions and interacts with data.

Interface: The interface is the visual and interactive layer of the app, including the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design (what the user actually sees and interacts with like tables, and buttons)

When picking a no-code and low-code tool, you have to consider which of these components they specialize in and how well they align with your specific use case.

Some tools excel in data management, while others focus on creating stunning interfaces or automating complex workflows.

(by the way this concept extends to libraries and frameworks used in traditional software development)

There are three main use cases for no-code/low-code tools:

  • Web-app to be used by external users(B2B or B2C).
  • Mobile apps.
  • Internal app (to be used inside the company).

Though not a comprehensive list, these cover the vast majority of cases.

I’ll dive deeper into each one of these cases and list the best tools for each building block, along with the respective pros and cons.

When you’re starting out, aside from your use case, the only criteria you should be focusing on is ease of use. Scaling limitations and more advanced criteria will play are role just at a later stage.

Walk before you run.

We’ll start with data and logic layer which are generally in common regardless of the use case and then focus on the tools I recommend for each specific case. Let’s dive in πŸ˜‰

Note: My recommendations stem from my 7+ years of experience in developing software products. Technology is forever evolving and newer, there are great tools that I didn’t mention here that will potentially break into this list in the future. I just picked an essential combination of popular, battle-tested tools I used regularly in the past years.

Also keep in mind that successful software development is not strictly (nor mainly) about the tech, design plays a crucial role too. To put it in numbers, in my experience, it’s a 70% design and a 30% tech game. If want to know more about the design process drop me a line on Linkedin!

Said that let’s have a look at the list πŸ’ͺ🏼

Best No-Code and Low-Code Tools to Store Data

Google Sheets (Ease of Use: β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…)

Strengths: Remarkably easy to use and can band-aid as a basic database for small web apps. Also, it’s free.
Limitations: It’s not a real database, it’s just a matrix (going a little nerd here πŸ€“) given that it lacks relationship management. Hard to create complex data structures.

Airtable (Ease of Use: β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…)

Strengths: More powerful than Google Sheets, it takes spreadsheet usage to the next level by adding database functionalities. If you have to start with one tool, start with this.
Limitations: it will become expensive if you have a lot of users. Moreover, Its performance may degrade with very large datasets or overly complex configurations.
Learn more: Airtable Guide

Xano (Ease of Use: β˜…β˜†β˜†β˜†β˜†)

Strengths: The most feature-rich no-code tool in this category. This is ideal for larger and more complex apps as it offers a more advanced database plus backend functionalities.
Limitations: Steep learning curve, is not very user-friendly platform for beginners since it requires solid technical knowledge. Its pricing model can become quite costly.
Learn more: Xano Getting Started

Bonus: BaseRow (Ease of Use: β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…)

The best open-source alternative to Airtable. It has fewer features (lacking native automations and interfaces) but is significantly more affordable, and even free if you host it yourself. An excellent alternative if your primary need is a database.

Learn more: Get Started

Best No-Code and Low-Code Tools to build business logic

Zapier (Ease of Use: β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…)

Strengths: Zapier stands out for its ease of use and vast integration capabilities, connecting over 3,000 services to automate workflows. It’s particularly effective for automating repetitive tasks and data transfer between apps without writing any code.
Limitations: While versatile, Zapier is not suitable for highly complex automation that requires custom logic or processing. The cost will skyrocket as you scale up your zaps (automations) and tasks.
Learn more: Zapier Learning Center

Make (formerly Integromat) (Ease of Use: β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜†)

Strengths: Make offers a visual approach to automating workflows and connecting apps and services, supporting complex, multi-step automations with conditional logic. It’s more flexible than Zapier and pricing scales significantly better.
Limitations: There’s a bit of a learning curve to fully leverage Make’s capabilities, especially for users unfamiliar with logical operators or webhooks. Don’t expect the smooth user experience you have in Zapier.
Learn more: Make Academy

Best No-Code and Low-Code Tools for Interfaces

Web App Development (i.e. Saas, client portal or websites)

If you’re looking to build a web application that will be used by external users, whether for a B2B or B2C purpose, here are the top tools to consider:

Softr (Ease of Use: β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…)

Strengths: Softr is an intuitive platform that allows you to quickly create beautiful web apps using Airtable as the backend database. Its drag-and-drop interface and pre-designed templates make it ideal for building simple to medium-complexity apps.
Limitations: Softr may not be suitable for highly complex applications or those requiring extensive customization.
Learn more: Softr Academy

Webflow (Ease of Use: β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜†)

Strengths: Webflow is a powerful visual development platform that gives you full control over the design and functionality of your web app. It offers a wide range of design tools, animations, and interactions, making it perfect for creating visually stunning apps.
Limitations: Webflow has a steeper learning curve compared to some other no-code tools and may require more time to master.
Learn more: Webflow University

Bubble (Ease of Use: β˜…β˜†β˜†β˜†β˜†)

Strengths: Bubble is a comprehensive no-code platform that allows you to build complex web applications with custom workflows, data management, and integrations. It offers a high degree of flexibility and scalability.
Limitations: Bubble’s learning curve is highest on this list in terms of no-code, and it may take a significant amount of time to build and optimize your app. I’d use it only it no other option is available.
Learn more: Bubble Academy

WeWeb (Ease of Use: β˜…β˜…β˜†β˜†β˜†)

Strengths: WeWeb is a hybrid platform that combines no-code development with the ability to add custom code snippets. It offers a visual drag-and-drop interface for building web apps, along with powerful features like real-time collaboration and version control.
Limitations: WeWeb may not be as beginner-friendly as some other no-code tools, and its pricing plans can be more expensive.
Learn more: WeWeb Documentation

Mobile App Development

When it comes to building mobile apps, here are the top no-code and low-code tools to consider:

Glide (Ease of Use: β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…)

Strengths: Glide allows you to create beautiful and functional mobile apps using Google Sheets as the backend. Its intuitive interface and pre-designed templates make it easy to build apps quickly, even for non-technical users.
Limitations: Glide is primarily focused on data-driven apps and may not be suitable for apps requiring complex logic or integrations.
Learn more: Glide Documentation

Adalo (Ease of Use: β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜†)

Strengths: Adalo is a powerful no-code platform for building native mobile apps for iOS and Android. It offers a visual drag-and-drop interface, custom animations, and integrations with various services.
Limitations: Adalo may have a steeper learning curve compared to some other no-code tools, and its pricing gets very expensive for advanced features.
Learn more: Adalo Academy

FlutterFlow (Ease of Use: β˜…β˜…β˜†β˜†β˜†)

Strengths: FlutterFlow is a low-code platform that allows you to build cross-platform mobile apps using the Flutter framework. It offers a visual interface for designing UI components and supports custom code for more advanced functionality.
Limitations: FlutterFlow requires some familiarity with the Flutter framework and Dart programming language, making it more suitable for developers with coding experience.
Learn more: FlutterFlow Documentation

Best Tools for Internal App Development

For building internal tools and applications for your organization, consider these top platforms:

Airtable Interfaces (Ease of Use: β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…)

Strengths: Airtable interfaces allow to create simple interfaces for internal apps. It has pre-built templates and customizable views that make it easy to build and manage data-centric applications.
Limitations: Airtable’s interface capabilities are relatively basic (although growing fast), and it may not be suitable for complex internal tools requiring advanced functionality.
Learn more: Airtable Interface Guide

Retool (Ease of Use: β˜…β˜…β˜†β˜†β˜†)

Strengths: Retool is a powerful low-code platform specifically designed for building internal tools and admin panels. It offers a wide range of pre-built UI components, database connectors, and integrations with popular services. You can build basically anything with it. It’s one of my overall favorite ones.
Limitations: Retool has a steeper learning curve compared to some other no-code tools and requires more technical knowledge to fully utilize its capabilities.
Learn more: Retool – Getting started

WeWeb (Ease of Use: β˜…β˜…β˜†β˜†β˜†)

Strengths: WeWeb, as mentioned earlier, is a hybrid platform that combines no-code development with the ability to add custom code. Its collaborative features and version control make it well-suited for building internal tools within teams.
Limitations: Like Retool, its learning curve is higher than other no-code tools and some coding knowledge/concepts are required.
Learn more: WeWeb Documentation

Still overwhelmed by choices? I’m here to help cut through the noise. Whether you’re aiming to enhance your workflows or captivate your users with intuitive designs, I’ve got your back.

Reach out, and let’s transform your vision into something tangible. πŸš€

Wrap up

And there you have it – your cheat sheet to the no-code and low-code galaxy, where building digital masterpieces doesn’t require a Ph.D. in computer science.

These tools are your shortcuts to turning ideas into reality, breaking down the barriers that used to make software development feel like rocket science. So, whether you’re planning to revolutionize your internal processes or launch the next big thing in the app world, pick one of these tools and start building.

These insights should guide you, whether you’re a tech start-up seeking to rapidly prototype or an established enterprise looking for innovation. Your team can now focus on strategising, conceptualising, and innovating, leaving the hefty development tasks to these intelligent tools.

Keep experimenting, stay curious and agile.

Happy building!

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