Why building another no-code tool
July 30, 2020
We are building a no-code platform where you can develop mobile apps. There are literally a bunch of tools out there. But I believe they are missing something important.
Use-case centric approach vs. UI centric approach
Adalo, Thunkable, and other countless examples are focused on making fully customizable UIs, typically what you see first is a Figma-like visual component builder screen. I agree that UIs are essential, but it is not the number one priority for their users. When you describe an app, you don’t talk about the app’s primary color, nor button positions on a screen. You talk about what the app does at a high level.
Twitter is microblogging and social networking service on which users post and interact with messages known as “tweets.” Airbnb is a marketplace that connects guests(people who’re looking for a roomto stay) and hosts(people who list their place to accommodate.)
Design tools like Sketch and Figma set the current notion of the term “prototype.” People often think of “prototype” as visual mockups. Those are great for creating high fidelity designs. And I am a big fan of Figma. But when it comes to no-code tools, the expectation is different. So it doesn’t make sense to me to start as a UI builder.
How people use no-code tools
The use of no-code is different depending on who you are. The current users are mostly 1) entrepreneurs and 2) hobbyist.
There are key features you want the no-code platform to have. Those can be separated into two categories.
- Sharable(access control)
- Essential UI Flexibility - Interactive
- Advanced UI Flexibility
There are no perfect solutions that cover the above right now.
Idea Testability - The sum of all three short-term goals is not even achieved.
Creation shift to mobile
Creation has been widely done on PCs, rather than mobiles. It is a common argument in tech that smartphones are only used for consumption, not for creation.
There are two pretty basic problems with this line of thinking. First, the idea that you cannot create on a smartphone or tablet assumes both that the software on the new device doesn’t change and that the nature of the work won’t change. Neither are good assumptions. You begin by making the new tool fit the old way of working, but then the tool changes how you work . More importantly though, I think the whole idea that people create on PCs today, with today’s tools and tasks, is flawed, and, so, I think, is the idea that people aren’t already creating on mobile. It’s the other way around. People don’t create on PCs - they create on mobile. (Source: Creation and consumption)
Even if there is a notion of “creation for PC and consumption for mobile” is applied, it doesn’t mean it will always be case. People used to edit photos and videos on PCs. But it is democratized by Instagram by making editing easy on mobile. Now TikTok is pushing the boundaries.
It seems to me that when people talk about what you ‘can’t’ do on a device, there are actually two different meanings of ‘can’t’ in computing. There is ‘can’t’ as meaning the feature doesn’t exist, and there is ‘can’t’ as meaning you don’t know how to do it. If you don’t know how to do it, the feature might as well not be there. So, there is what an expert can’t do on a smartphone or tablet that they could do on a PC. But then there are all of the things that a normal person (the other 90% or 95%) can’t do on a PC but can do on a smartphone, because the step change in user interface abstraction and simplicity means that they know how to do it on a phone and didn’t know how to do it on a PC. That is, the step change in user interface models that comes with the shift from Windows and Mac to iOS and Android is really a shift in the accessibility of capability. A small proportion of people might temporarily go from can to can’t, but vastly more go from can’t to can.
You ‘can’t’ create mobile apps on a smartphone(not possible.) That’s the status quo even though it is technically feasible. And there is no such thing as a mobile app where you can create mobile apps in people’s minds right now(don’t know.)
People started to notice there are tools to create a website or a web app without code. Most of the website and web app builders focus on PCs, and very few of them are focusing on smartphones. When it comes to a mobile app builder, none is focusing on smartphones.
What we will do is migrate and enhance the experience of making mobile apps onto mobile. It is both design and technical challenges. But we believe the mobile focus has the potential to beat the web experience by turning more people involved in producing.
We are running beta testing right now. If you want to join the beta testing group, let us know. We will be launching in public in October.