9 Step Guide to Building a No Code App in 2022
A mobile or web application is an invaluable addition to any business today. For most businesses, it is the launchpad that drives engagement and makes their services more easily accessible. For entrepreneurial developers, the app is the service.
Whichever one of these you’re contemplating, you may wonder how exactly you’re to go about building the next big thing out there. If you’re a first-time developer, you may worry that this is going to be an extremely complex and complicated process.
Thankfully, the no-code movement today ensures you don’t need extensive programming skills to build your first app. Still, there are processes to be followed to ensure your app comes out exactly as envisioned – whether you’re a first-time developer or a veteran.
In this guide, we walk you through the app building journey, providing you with a sort of checklist of activities to ensure your process is as smooth as possible.
Step 0: Generate an App Idea
This step has been included for those who aren’t quite sure what they want to build, yet. Generating an app idea is the ground zero for any app development efforts.
Considering there are over 4 million apps in the app market, deciding on what to build can feel intimidating. But it doesn’t have to be!
If you’re building for your already-existing business, a great app idea should solve a pressing problem or two for your business. A business-specific app could be a website or mobile application for your ecommerce business, or maybe an app for receiving and managing client appointments.
For non-business-specific apps, the same basic rule of thumb applies: your app should always solve a problem. Of course, considering the millions of apps out there, no app idea is ever truly unique, but you still want to make sure you are taking a unique angle on or creating a new take on an existing problem.
One way to do this is by thinking of a problem you’ve faced for which you couldn’t find an app to help. You could also take this further by considering problems you faced where the apps designed for them felt like they weren’t enough.
That makes for two potential idea sources. The first scratches an itch you had for which you found no existing solution. Chances are, you aren’t alone in facing this problem. The second extends an existing solution by touching on blind spots the developers missed.
Additionally, you could always combine the great features of different applications to create something unique and helpful. Ultimately, you want to solve a problem in a way that is more efficient, more specialized, or cheaper – perhaps even a combination of all three.
Note that you can never go wrong with improving upon existing solutions, even if those solutions were provided by a larger market player. If your new app tackles the problems faced by the market, it’ll arrive at their doorsteps as just what they’ve been waiting for.
Now, with your app idea all figured out, you’re ready for Step 1!
Step 1: Define Your App Goals and Features
This is a critical phase in your app development process. What is your app about? What problems does it solve? How will it set about solving these problems? What key features are necessary for you to solve this problem? What features are nice to-haves?
Clearly defining your goals from the beginning will give you an objective to focus on during your development process. It will keep you from getting lost once you get your hands dirty, and keep you from spinning your wheels in non-productive areas.
App goals consider everything from the problem you’re solving to your approach. To help you define your app goals, you could consider the following:
- Why the app is needed (What problems does it solve?)
- Who is the target audience for this app?
- How will the app help this audience address their problems?
- What features are necessary for the app to solve these problems?
Once you’ve successfully answered the first three, it’s time to pause a little and think about the last question. Your focus when it comes to app features should be on the features NEEDED to help your users address their problems.
For this part, simple is always better. Attractive and/or popular features that don’t improve the efficiency of your solution aren’t necessary.
For instance, an ecommerce app should have the following core features:
- A list of products and their images on the home page
- A breakdown of products by types/categories/collections
- A details page with more pictures of the product, as well as a detailed product description and feedback left by other users
- Users should be able to add products they like to a cart
- A checkout system for users to pay for goods and set a delivery address
- A system for users to leave ratings and feedback on purchased products
For nice to-haves, you can consider user’s ability to:
- See similar products (if any) to the one they’re viewing
- See products that accompany the one they’re viewing
- Make payment using one of many available options
- ‘Bookmark’ or ‘favorite’ products for later
- Create an account so they can keep track of all their activities on the app
- View the movement of their order in real-time
Notice how the nice-to-have section is filled with features that may improve the user’s experience but aren’t critical to the success of the app? You do not want to encumber yourself with features in this category when you first start building.
Once you’re done answering all of the questions on the why, who, what and how, you can begin defining your goals and objectives.
For instance, your first goal for your ecommerce store could be to complete a usable app within a time frame. The next could be to increase adoption levels. And, a third could be to reduce cart abandonment rates. Each of these goals can be broken down into smaller objectives to help you on your way.
Step 2: Validate Your Idea Through Market Research
With your goals now defined, it’s time to make sure there’s a market out there for your product. This is where you try to read the minds of those your product will be targeting to learn how best to serve them.
A great place to start your research from is the app store on your device. If an app(s) already exists to solve the problem you have in mind, it is one indicator of the market for your product.
Be sure to take note of the apps currently in the niche as these are your competition. What do they do well? What do they do poorly? How will you tackle the market’s problem from a different angle?
The goal of any market research is to find invaluable insights that tell you whether or not you’d be wasting your time and money by proceeding with this venture. So, you want to learn all there is to your competition and your audience.
For your competition, proper market research should – at the very least – answer the following questions:
- Who are my competitors (direct or indirect)?
- How do they attempt to solve the problem?
- What features do they lack that customers desire?
- How can I improve on the solution currently offered by my competitors?
- What business models do they adopt, and how successful is this model?
For your audience, you’d want to know who they are and what they desire. This is critical to the success of your application as it provides you a picture of who you’re building for.
Audience research should provide answers to the following:
- What age group do they belong to?
- What stage of life are they currently in?
- Where do they work?
- Where are they?
- What are their hobbies and passions?
- What is their gender?
Other important things to learn about your competition include:
- How big of a brand are they?
- How frequently do they update their app?
- How highly is the app rated, and what is the mood around reviews?
- How many app downloads do they have?
Note that your market research shouldn’t be limited to what you find on any app store. To truly get the mood around your target customers, it is important that you also speak directly with them. Do this through ads targeting their demographic asking them to participate in a survey in exchange for a gift card or some reward of value.
Some ways to do this include: creating and distributing surveys, conducting interviews, and taking advantage of focus groups. These outreach programs make for a great way to confirm whether the features you identified in step 1 above will be welcomed by the market.
Once your research is complete, go back to your lists of necessary and nice-to-have features, and refine it using the insights from your findings.
Step 3: Select Your Development Method
There are many different ways to go about building an app today, and it’s always great you decide on one of these before you proceed. This is true even when you plan on building a no-code application.
The decision on which platform to use must encompass the following:
- What platform are you building for – web, iOS, or Android?
- Do you desire a fully native application or a hybrid one?
- What is your budget?
- What no-code platforms can you use to achieve your aim?
- What no-code platform offers the best combination of features and pricing?
Although the ideal tool may differ from project to project, Bubble is our top recommendation for no-code development. Its feature set, powerful customization options, extensive integration options, and highly customizable workflow, make it a great tool for development.
Step 4: Create a Wireframe and App Mockup
The final step before you begin actual app development is the creation of a graphic layout of your application. This is where you put your mental image of the application to paper.
A wireframe is a rough black and white layout of your app. Think of it as the skeletal layout of your application, with a focus on the features necessary to make the app work.
You don’t have to worry about appearances with your wireframe. In fact, you can draw your wireframe on paper, whiteboard, or using a digital tool. The most important thing here is that you illustrate the app’s features, placement of the various elements, and layout structure.
You also want to begin mapping out the user journey at this point. When a user clicks a button, where does it take them? What about when they select one option over another? How do the screens relate to each other?
Once you’re done with the rough sketch that is a wireframe, it’s time to start filling out the visual appearance of your application via your mockup design.
Mockups are realistic – but static – renderings of what the final app should look like. A mockup design contains images, icons, logos, and colors to make it realistic.
Your mockup design should thus contain all of the visual elements and functionality of your app, making it easy for users to sense what the app is about. As you may have guessed already, this has to be created using digital software.
Keep in mind that your mockup design is meant to be a pictorial view of your final app. So, be sure to select appropriate brand colors, font types and sizes, icon styles, and logo. If possible, consult with a graphic designer for this entire step.
If you wish to take it one step further, you could go ahead to design a prototype which will introduce interactivity to your design, with buttons reacting as if the app were live. This, however, is not an absolute necessity for Bubble users as this process can be done directly in Bubble before building your app.
Step 5: Build the App
If you’ve gone through all of the steps so far, you’re finally ready to bring your app to life. This is the stage you’ve worked so hard for.
Building your app is going to require all of the information and design sketches you’ve put together in earlier steps. This is also the stage where you get to use the platform you selected in Step 3 above.
For this step, you want to head over to your no-code tool of choice and create an account – if you’re yet to do so. Most no-code tools like Bubble come with app or page templates which you can customize to your taste.
If you find a nice template to use, it may save you development time as it provides you a base to get started. Otherwise, you’d have to create every desired element from scratch.
If you’ve already created your wireframe and mockup in Step 4 above, though, starting from scratch enables you to build out your app exactly as planned. This is what we consider the ideal option as you also end up with a unique application.
Your first step with any app design will be to design the pages (screens) following the styling set out in your mockups.
Then, you will create the navigation process for the application. This is where you decide how the app transitions from one screen to another, how popups appear, etc. Always aim for a transition that feels straightforward and natural.
Next, you want to work on the workflows and conditionals. The workflows handle any updates made to the database depending on how the user interacts with the user interface. Meanwhile, conditionals define actions that are triggered only when certain conditions are met. I.e. when a user makes a purchase, give them access to perhaps a certain item but not a specific other one.
Finally, it’s time to add personalized content to your application. Everything from the text and image content for specific pages, brand links, etc. are added at this stage. By the time you’re done with this, your app should be ready for release.
A cautionary note:
It is easy to fall into the trap of wanting more once you begin building. You begin to see extra features that could make the app even cooler. But you do not want to act on these.
Remember that the goal is to get your app out there quickly. Stick to the plan. Any extra features you imagine can go into your list of nice-to-haves to be developed later. Do not bog yourself down by adding unnecessary features to your development.
Step 6: Testing and Quality Control
Once you’ve got your app design ironed out, it’s time to make sure you’re ready for market. Your first task will be to preview and test the app on your desired platform.
For instance, an app designed for iOS users should be previewed on an iOS device. You are to simulate the user’s experience and test out the app logic and behavior to confirm it matches your plan. An app designed for both Android and iOS should be tested separately on both devices.
Of course, testing should be a practice even before the final product is ready. With the final product ready, you also want to test more than once. Try out every possible combination of actions a user may take, and confirm it produces the desired result.
For web apps, you want to preview them on desktop, tablets, and smartphones and make sure your layouts are responsive and visually appealing on all devices.
If things don’t work as planned, go back to your development platform, correct the issue, and test again. This is your chance to catch any lurking bugs and expel them before the product reaches the end user.
If you’ve got some extra cash to spare from your development expenses, you could consider paying a few users to test out the product and provide you with feedback.
Bugs are the bane of development. A bug-ridden app is a huge turn off, regardless of what problem it was meant to solve.
Step 7: Final Prep and Publish
Whew!!! You’re now at the most exciting stage of them all. Your app is ready to head into the wild and make a name for itself.
One last thing, though…
Both App Store and Google Play have requirements to be fulfilled and hurdles to cross before your app is listed on their platforms. Review the guidelines to make sure you’re in compliance.
Make sure to fill in your app metadata, too. This is where you include things like app name, description title, subtitles, and text, and app screenshots, video intros, logo/icon, etc. You’d also include keywords which will be used to rank your app here.
Finally, you want to ship the final copy of the application to the required file format and submit for review. The review process on the Play Store is a little less stringent than the App Store review process.
If you receive a rejection, don’t panic. Look through the message, identify your mistake, correct it, and ship again for approval. Soon enough, you should have your app available for download by every App Store and/or Play Store user.
Step 8: Marketing
Now it’s time to make sure your app gets in front of your target audience. The goal is to get your app to stand out from the millions of apps on the App Store.
Having the best app in the known universe is no guarantee that it’ll promote itself. For this, you need a robust, high-impact marketing plan.
Start by making your presence felt in all of the places your ideal users will be watching. This may be LinkedIn, Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat or YouTube.
Be sure to select the right platform for your audience demographic. For instance, you’re more likely to meet the younger demographic on TikTok and the older demographic on LinkedIn or Facebook.
Create content (video or text) for your chosen platform and let your audience know just what problems your app will be solving for them. Running targeted ads on these platforms is also a great way to get in front of your users.
If you have a few more bucks to spare, you could do a press release to grab the attention of magazine outlets and online news publishers.
Finally, hustle hard to get the word out. Leverage groups where your audience can be found on Reddit, Quora, or Facebook to get the word out. Be sure to join in discussions and only bring up your application organically where it’s relevant.
Step 9: Refine and Improve
So, your app has begun gaining some traction. Awesome!
It’s been a hectic few months, but you can finally breathe easy. Congratulations again!
This doesn’t mean you should stop, though. Now’s the time to revisit your nice-to-have list and begin upgrading the app. You want to ensure the app continuously gets better for the audience.
You also need to ensure it remains compliant to changing guidelines such as data compliance laws or payment processing legislation. And, as updated operating systems are released by Apple and Android, you need to ensure the app is compatible with the updates.
Finally, you need to listen to the market. Hear what your audience thinks is lacking, listen to the challenges they’re having… Take criticism positively and learn from them.
Then, work to ensure the app becomes even more satisfactory down the road. Fix bugs, roll out updates, refine, improve.
Creating an app is no small task, but it doesn’t have to be very complicated either.
To begin, be sure to establish your process. Take note of the tasks to come before you begin actual app development as these processes will make the app development process seamless.
Be sure to select the right no-code platform for your needs. Consider everything from the features and customization options provided to the platform you’re building for, when making this decision.
Then, take the time to build, refine, and iterate over your app until it is truly market ready. Be sure to also have a plan for marketing the app once it has been launched.
Finally, don’t forget to set a timeline for every step in the process. With all of your processes carefully outlined and your timeline thoughtfully created, you should successfully go from zero to hero without straying along the way.