- Retail is democratized, but tech isn’t.
- What is no-code?
- The No-Code Tools Everyone Needs to Know
- The biggest challenges with Adoption of No-Code
- Tool Selection
Retail is democratized, but tech isn’t.
Retail then vs. now is totally different. Developing a brand, creating a product, and driving revenue almost all required specialists to execute. Getting your product in front of customers was super difficult. Those that had the distribution, made it; but those that didn’t couldn’t survive. But then Amazon took off, and doors opened up. Distribution became simple: list your products here and Amazon will get you customers. Then Shopify came about, helping anyone launch their own online stores and build their own customer experience (CX) and brand feel.
The products that were once impossible to get seen are now a click away on the internet. With a wide variety of tools available, entrepreneurs and operators could launch their own online stores, run organic and paid marketing with social media, and start making money.
It’s easier said than done, but these tools have created a boom in direct-to-consumer (DTC) businesses by making it cheaper, easier, and faster to build a business on the internet.
For this reason, we’re seeing more diversity in entrepreneurship. Risk is lower, and people can take a leap of faith without spending too much time or money.
Technology is far behind. For too long, building something as simple as a website meant being a coder – forget about building an app.
So if testing an idea in DTC could mean making hair oil in your kitchen and launching a Shopify store with $20/month, building an app still means raising money from friends & family and hiring someone to build it for you or onboarding a technical co-founder and cutting your ownership in half.
The issue isn’t just about building it though – it’s about having an idea in the first place. Having an “aha,” innovative idea is difficult when you don’t have any understanding of the possibilities with tech. Most of the 99% of the non-technical people on earth can’t even imagine what problems tech can solve. It’s these people who face the most common problems every day – but it’s the technical, product, or super entrepreneurial people developing ideas. The overlap between the builders and those being built for is too small.
What is no-code?
No-code is an emerging space of easy-to-use, yet extremely powerful tool that enable non-technical people build apps, interactive websites, complex databases, business automations and a lot more.
For example, Wordpress is an example of no-code because it allows people to build websites without having to know how to code.
Websites have been the first to enter the no-code space, but now there are tools to build way more complex applications. And even for technical people, no-code is a much faster way to get a product up and running, albeit less customizable.
I’m not technical, but with the right tools I’ve built business automations, online interfaces, and websites. It’s given me the opportunity to operate more effectively and test (read: fail at) new ideas faster and cheaper.
The No-Code Tools Everyone Needs to Know
Understanding what tools and resources you have available is the first step in becoming a no-coder. Unlike with code, no-code is limited in what you can build and you need to work within the confines of the tech you’re using.
Here are my favorite no-code tools. Put these together effectively, and dyou can build just about anything.
- There are tons of website builders out there (Carrd, Wix, Webflow, Weebly, Wordpress) but I prefer Squarespace based on my experience. It simply has the best bang for your buck when it comes to appearance and the time it takes to build. The tool uses drag-and-drop technology and is super easy for beginners to use. It is a bit rigid though – you’ll find that sometimes you want to move a block over by a centimeter, but this just isn’t possible. On the plus, this makes mobile-friendliness effortless.
- Fun fact: this site was built with Notion. Notion is a super dynamic docs tool; pages have tons of functionality like embedding videos, databases, links, etc. The best part is that any page can be nested inside another, making making it super easy to keep track of your personal and work information.
- To build this site, I used a tool called Super.so which turns a Notion base into a website where you can create a theme and add your own domain name. This makes websites more agile, cheaper, and faster.
- Airtable is like Excel on steroids. It’s terrible for something like building a financial model but perfect for tables where records are added with unique information. Columns can be equations, text, linked records from another table (aka spreadsheet), lookup fields, or something else. It’s extremely powerful. It’s a database more than it is a spreadsheet.
- The next big feature in Airtable is Views. One minute you can look at your data like a spreadsheet, the next like a gallery of click-able pictures. Views also allow you to hide specific fields for when they’re less relevant. For teams, members can create their own views where they only see columns relevant to them. Best part – you can embed a view on your website or share it as a link and let viewers filter and sort based on their preferences.
- Most know Airtable as a back-end database, but if used right, you can actually turn this into an app with these additional tools/features:
- Embedding views on your website
- Use this to display select information.
- Creating Form views
- Another view option is a form where you can turn fields (aka columns) into questions and collect information by sharing a link or embedding it on your site.
- Create a marketplace with Softr or Pory
- Softr and Pory are a few tools that allow you to display your Airtable base as an online marketplace with the functionality of a marketplace.
- Build user sign-ins with Pory or Stacker
- Let’s say I built a mock-Airbnb with Airtable and you filled out a form to get your apartment listed. You take some pictures, add the location, and price it at $300/night. But then you change your mind – you want to set the new price at $250. The problem is that you’d have to submit a new form with all new information to make these changes. Currently, viewing or editing your preferences would mean emailing me.
- With Pory or Stacker, you can create a user sign-in that allows users to view and edit only their records in the database.
- Zapier (pronounced Zah-pee-er, by the way) connects with various software tools to allow for automation between them. This becomes key for keeping data organized and eliminating manual tasks. It works using triggers & actions. Think: when X happens, do Y.
- Here’s an example of a workflow with Zapier:
- Trigger: New form filled out on Airtable
- Action: Send email confirmation
- Action: Create Google Drive folder titled “Name – Google Drive Folder”
- Action: Add Google Drive folder link to Airtable.
- Boom, now you have an email sent, new Google Drive folder created, and it’s all organized in Airtable. The possibilities with Zapier are endless.
The biggest challenges with Adoption of No-Code
A huge challenge in no-code is in getting non-technical people to overcome their own mental roadblocks and start using no-code tools. As I’ve mentioned, thinking in no-code is where the opportunity is to democratize the development of new technology and help operators in all functions work more productively.
I believe education on the possibilities of no-code & how to use the core tools above will catalyze its adoption.
There are so many tools out there right now - choosing the right ones have given me (and I’m sure other builders too) analysis paralysis, making it hard to get going with my project.
Technical builders love the customizability that comes with no-code and are often afraid to give this up even if it means launching a lot faster.
No-code will continue to grow. For right now, education is key in stunting the growth of the space. As it becomes more adopted, workplaces will find ways to eliminate mundane tasks and entrepreneurs will build their MVPs a lot faster.
Because of no-code, everyone is a builder. And the days of waiting for a technical talent to come your way to act on new ideas is coming to an end.
If you’re looking to launch a no-code project and need some help, shoot me an email!