Imagine a world where you can turn those “what if” moments into “what next”?
You know the moments we’re talking about.
What if my Google Sheets automatically synced to my CRM? Or someone created an app that planned dream weddings? What if I could streamline my job and work from the Galapagos?
Welcome to no-code: a new tech-world order where you can make and build amazing things in a few clicks (relocation to the Galapagos is not guaranteed).
In this no-code for beginners article, you’ll learn:
- What is no-code?
- What no-code software can do
- Zero code vs low-code vs no-code
- Types of no-code platfroms
- Our top no-code platforms for beginners
- How to get into no-code
- No-code glossary
Heads up: skip ahead to the glossary if you’re unsure of any terms in this article.
What is no-code?
No-code is a way that people create and deploy software without using code. No HTML, Python or Java is required.
Think of it this way: if technology is the door to growing your business, then these tools are the handle. They unlock innovation, automation, product development and so much more. They give everyone the opportunity to bring their technology ideas to life.
Building using low or no-code has some notable advantages for businesses too.
It can save you time and money. It reduces your reliance on developers and speeds up the minimum viable product (MVP) timeline. In fact, developers can use low-code tools to build cloud-native applications ten-times faster.
Empowering your workforce to use no-code platforms means they can automate repetitive parts of their job and build new software to increase capacity (without being a developer).
And it’s a great opportunity to test new ideas at a low cost. Hello, efficiency.
Plus, it means more people can participate in the software development process. Bringing new perspectives, ideas and creative ideas to the surface.
With a small investment in time, anyone can become a citizen developer in your business and beyond.
Important PSA: don’t quit your developer yet. These tools are great, but they won’t solve every problem.
What can you use no-code for?
We’d like to say the only limit is your imagination. But that’s not entirely true. There are some limits to how far you can take it. It’s helpful to think of no-code capabilities in three categories.
1. Build simple ways to manage information and data
There’s a concept in development called CRUD — it stands for Create, Read, Update, Delete. CRUD explains the basic actions you can ask a program to perform.
You can use no-code to build simple applications that complete any (or all) of the CRUD actions.
For example: creating a profile, quickly finding information about a product from a large inventory database or updating a product listing.
2. Link two tools together seamlessly
We use so many different apps, software and platforms in our businesses and workday.
No-code can allow you to get different tools to talk to each other and connect. These are mostly automations to reduce repetitive work or make tasks happen in the background.
For example: You work in sales at a chocolate company. You want new leads to receive a discount code. You use automation to make sure an SMS is sent every time someone fills out the online enquiry form.
Discover: Want to add ClickSend SMS to the tools you already use? Check out our 900+ integrations.
3. Build a product or prototype
It’s no-code, but it’s not for the faint of heart. If you know your way around some of the more complex platforms (like Bubble), you can create products like apps that people will use. Or, you can test out ideas and see if they’re viable.
For example: you could build a dating app to rival Tinder or a complex game like Pokemon Go.
Zero code vs no code vs low code
As you can probably tell, not all no-code platforms are created equal.
Some are more difficult to use than others. We’ll explain the differences between zero-code, no-code and low-code so you can get started.
Zero-code tools are exactly what they sound like: you use zero-code when you use them. It’s likely you’ve been a zero-coder for a long time without realising (Microsoft Excel 👀).
With these tools, you don’t need to know any of the technical stuff about how computers work. Because, you don’t use zero-code tools to create software. Instead, these tools are used to expand the capabilities of documents or databases. For example, using calculations in spreadsheets.
Drag and drop website builders, like Wix, are another example of a zero-code tool. You can build a whole website without ever adding a code snippet.
No-code steps it up a level, these tools are for building software without coding. There is usually a learning curve involved in mastering each tool, even though it’s short.
Think of it this way, these tools empower non-programmers to build digital stuff. Including chatbots, ecommerce stores, workflows, websites, apps, and more.
Webflow is a good example, you can build mobile-responsive websites without touching code.
Think of these as shortcut tools for developers or people with coding knowledge. Low-code tools streamline the process of building code for software development. They can write and build code for common problems much faster than a developer could.
Basically, they leave your dev team free to focus on solving the big picture problems. Instead of the smaller, repetitive tasks.
Work to your level
It’s extremely exciting (we get it). We all want the ability to bring an idea to life or make our businesses work smarter.
Just remember, even though you don’t need to master code, there’s still a learning curve.
Choosing the right type of tool — zero, no or low —for your level of understanding is key to achieving your goals. Keep in mind you can always level up as you go.
If you’re a complete beginner, this free introduction to no-code course is a great place to start.
Types of no-code platforms (and our top choices for beginners)
1. Automate almost everything
Automating processes sounds difficult. But, using automation no-code platforms is much simpler than it sounds.
These tools get two pieces of software to talk to each other. A digital handshake, if you will. This means that when one thing happens on one service, it triggers an action on the other.
For example: you’re a marketing company and you want to streamline the onboarding of new clients. Because it’s tedious.
A new client accepts a proposal sent via Better Proposals. An update is instantly shared via Slack #teamwins. The proposal is uploaded into Dropbox. And, a new project is created on Basecamp.
Meanwhile, the client is subscribed to your MailChimp email list and gets sent their first onboarding email. Your Account Management team receives an email via Outlook telling to set up a kick off meeting. An invoice is instantly created with QuickBooks.
Yep — you can make all of that happen in the background without knowing a line of code.
Zapier is probably the most famous automation tool (for good reason). It’s simple, user-friendly and easy to learn. They call automations ‘Zaps’, there is a huge range of Zaps already pre-built for you. So you can set up automations in just a few clicks.
2. Streamline tasks with SaaS tools
Want to move something from the ‘too hard basket’ to the ‘to-do list’? There’s probably a SaaS (Software As A Service) tool for that.
SaaS tools won’t help you build a new product. But, they will help you to carry out complex tasks that you were previously only able to do with coding.
For example, ClickSend is a SaaS tool. You can use it to do many technical tasks, such as, sending an SMS when people purchase something from a website.
Typeform is an online form builder. You can use it to build sleek, people-friendly forms, surveys, tests, contact forms and online chatbots. It’s often used to collect data and feedback.
The tool connects with many other apps and software. The data you collect can be sent straight to your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) or Content Management System (CMS) — instantly.
3. Build your app ideas
These are the most powerful platforms. No-coders use them to build software products — web apps and mobile apps.
While you don’t need to be a coder, you do need to feel comfortable with understanding logic and basic software concepts. Especially, if you plan to make something that looks incredible for users and manages complex tasks in the background.
It will take some time to learn to use these types of tools. But, once you have the knack — you’re set.
Lots of these platforms come with templates to build from and plugins. This will speed up the development process and ensure you don’t have to build everything from scratch. We like that.
Use Adalo to create mobile apps with zero programming experience. The drag and drop builder simplifies the process so no-coders can make e-commerce apps, social media, event apps — and more.
It’s a great tool for entrepreneurs or small businesses who want to test ideas and build a prototype, without investing a big chunk of budget.
There are pre-built templates and components, such as forms and galleries which make it easy for beginners. More experienced users can create fully-custom apps.
4. Simplified software builders
If you’ve got a simple idea in mind, can you just need to get it made — a simplified software builder might be for you.
These simplified builders are more restrictive than the build-anything tools. But, they’re still quite powerful.
You use them to build an app, however the apps you create will be much less customisable. They often have pre-determined user paths and logic. Which can help you get started.
They’re great for those who know what problem they need to solve and only require simple functionality.
This tool builds low-end, simple apps from data in spreadsheets (seriously). It pulls data from your spreadsheet to create simple but effective apps that manage to look great too.
It’s perfect for creating apps that visually display data. For example, you work at a very large organisation and you need to create a searchable employee directory with contact details and photos. Glide would be a great and very cost effective solution.
Best of all, it’s easy to get started and you’ll learn some no-code concepts along the way.
5. Productivity boosters
Timelines, to-dos, keeping on track and project management — these are all things that your favourite productivity tool helps with.
These tools bring documents and data into one digital space for easy collaboration. They can be drag and drop with templates, like Monday.com or very flexible like Notion.
Monday.com is more than a productivity tool. They call it a work management platform. Using Monday.com, you can automate workflows and core business tasks without the up-front investment of building a program. They even have no-code building blocks for super-fast app delivery.
Plus, there are plenty of drag-and-drop templates, workflows, and integrations.
How do you crack into no-coding?
We love these tools. But, they’re not a magic wand to creating software.
You don’t need to be a tech genius to be a no-coder. But, you do need to grasp the basics of how software and computers work. It’s highly likely that you have a good understanding of this already (even if you don’t realise it).
Here’s some basic concepts you should know before diving into this world.
1. Logical thinking
Computers and software creators use logic — ‘if this, then that’ thinking. You’ll need to think logically about how software functions, what should happen next and how users move through software. Considering what can go wrong, planning for unusual cases and exceptions to the rule is important too.
2. Structuring data
You’ll need to think about how you structure data and databases so that computers and programs can understand it (and take the appropriate action).
3. Technical terminology
There is a lot of jargon used in the development world. Learning it will help you to understand each tool and what it can do.
Speaking of jargon, scroll👇 for our glossary.
Low-code: A method of developing software and apps using drag-and-drop functionality —with very little coding knowledge needed.
No-code: Create software and apps without writing a single line of code. Also used to automate work and repetitive tasks.
Zero-code: Zero-code tools are used to expand the capabilities of documents or databases with absolutely no code. For example, using calculations in spreadsheets.
No-coder: A person who creates apps using no-code principles and is part of the growing online no-code community.
Responsiveness: When a website is designed to adjust its layout and content to fit different screen sizes and devices, like laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Meaning, it’s accessible and readable on any device.
UX: User Experience (UX) is how a person feels when interacting with a website or application. If a website or app is easy to use, navigate, and understand — that’s good UX.
Wireframe: Think of this as the skeleton of an app or website. It’s a simple diagram that shows the application or website’s functionality. And, shows where the text, images and buttons go.
Domain: The unique address of a website. It’s used to translate an IP address into a readable string of text so people can find your site.
Subdomain: A part of a domain name prefix added to a domain name to separate a section of your website.
Hosting: A service that allows you to store your website or application files and make them accessible on the internet. It’s like renting a space on a computer (called a server).
Slug: A slug is part of a URL (web address) that identifies a specific page or post on a website. I.e: www.clicksend.com/slug
URL: Another word for a web address.
URL Parameters: Additional information that can be added to a URL (web address) to provide additional information to the server. They are added to the end of the URL and are separated by a “?” mark.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO): A way to improve the visibility and ranking of a web page on search engines like Google — by making changes to the website’s content, design, and structure.
Versions: Different releases of a program or application. Each version may include new features, bug fixes, and improvements.
Deploy: the process of making a website, app or product live and accessible to users.
HTML: The standard programming language used to create web pages. It provides the structure and layout of a website, using a set of tags and elements to define the different parts of a web page.
CSS: Stands for Cascading Style Sheets. It’s a coding language used to style and layout a website (aka, make it look good). You can change colours, fonts, and overall design with CSS.
MVP: A version of a product that has enough features to satisfy early customers and provide feedback for future product development. MVP stands for Minimum Viable Product.
CRUD: Stands for Create, Read, Update, Delete. CRUD explains the basic actions a developer can ask a program to perform.
Integrations: Combining different systems, applications, or services to work together seamlessly. Allows different systems to share data, communicate, and perform tasks in coordination.
Want to try your no-code skills out with SMS? We’ll show you how to use our 900+ integrations with all your go-to apps. Or, you can teach yourself in true no-coder style (it’s easy to get started with ClickSend).
Let’s go: sign up for a free trial.