When I heard about no-code for the first time last year, I went down a no-code rabbit hole.
I read articles, listened to podcasts and watched YouTube videos to find out more and I had a lot of questions about taking my first no-code steps.
Which tool should I use? What project should I build? Who should I follow on Twitter?
Paralysed by indecision, I emerged from the rabbit hole to continue life as usual. But a few months later I felt an irresistible urge to build things (without code). Take two.
This time, I decided to break down what felt like an overwhelming space into a daily 30-minute learning habit and started 100DaysOfNoCode. It helped me connect with fellow beginners, learn how to leverage the right tools and bring my own ideas to life.
By completing 100DaysOfNoCode and empowering 1000s of others to learn no-code, I've been able to see first-hand what works and what doesn't when starting out.This article distils my no-code insights and will help you cut through the noise to capitalise on the power of this emerging tech.
Why should I get started in no-code?
Before leaping into how you get started in no-code, let’s quickly touch on why you should be getting started in the first place.
Entrepreneurs can benefit from no-code in 3 key ways:
Fast - you can not only create software faster (and in turn pivot more quickly) but you can also use no-code to automate processes to boost efficiency
Cheap - you can start with tools that cost a few hundred pounds a month or less, rather than hiring a team of developers
Easy - the learning curve is much lower than learning to code
Getting started with no-code in 5 steps
So you can get up to speed with no-code in the quickest possible way, I've condensed my experience and insights into 5 roughly sequential steps.
1. Pinpoint your why
Yes, this space is incredibly exciting. But as a founder your time is scarce and there are always opportunity costs at play, so don't jump into no-code because it's a cool trend. Do so because it has applicable use case(s) to accelerate your startup.
Before you start worrying about which no-code tool to pick and the like, you need to understand exactly why you want to leverage this space. A few valid reasons could be that you want to:
Build your MVP
Optimise the efficiency of existing operational processes
Zapier is the glue that sticks different platforms together.
It helps move information between two applications using triggers and actions. For example, before Zapier, if someone completed a lead generation form on your website, you would then have to manually add this information into Hubspot. Zapier automates this manual process.
This webinar goes through how one startup leveraged Zapier workflows to become a $10M company.
Bubble is arguably the most powerful visual web application development platform in no-code right now.
It has a visual editor, database, workflow logic builder and can connect to third party APIs. With such functionality, you can create complex web apps including forums, booking applications, task trackers, marketplaces, CRM's and dashboards to name a few.
This article goes into more depth on what you can build in Bubble.
Adalo is a platform for building mobile and web apps that can be published to the App Store, Google Play, or as a Progressive Web App.
You can create attractive and functional applications that have payments, push notifications, database, charts, user authorisation, and that can connect with external API's, plus integrate with Zapier.
Check out their showcase to see what can be built.
Softr is an easy-to-use landing page builder for creating quick, clean-looking websites.
It's ease of use enables you to spend more time on your content and messaging and less on building. This is the reason why I recently transitioned the 100DaysOfNoCode site to Softr.
They’ve also recently added web-app functionality, so you can create job boards, curation lists and more using your Airtable database as the backend.
It's worth noting that these tools are greater than the sum of their parts when used in different ways together. Whilst individually they are powerful, they can be more so if combined. For example, Softr, Bubble and Adalo can be integrated with Airtable, as can Zapier trigger actions to happen to and from any of these platforms. Think of it like assembling a LEGO set.
3. Join a community
Join a group where the desired behaviour is the normal behaviour -James Clear
Ok, so you have the why and the tools. Now comes the hard part: actually being able to leverage these tools - and the no-code space more generally - to your advantage.
This is where community comes in. Here are 5 reasons you should join one:
Accountability - learning any new skill is tough, so having others keep you in check will push you forward.
Shared knowledge - good communities are those where members help each other out. If you're learning alone, you won't get exposure to the tips, tricks, resources or time that others learning the same skill can give you.
Collaboration -70% of no-coders intend to use these tools to build a business. This means being part of a no-code community will not only give you access to people learning the same skill as you, but also to entrepreneurs just like you. This could lead to useful one-off Zoom calls, or in the case below, full-blown co-founding partnerships!
Expert help - although the no-code space is still young, there's folk who have been around for a while and have expertise in one or many tools. So if you're ever stuck, you'll always be able to turn to power users in your community.
You're the average of the five people you spend the most time with - Jim Rohn
As no-code is relatively easy to build with, the rate at which people in the community launch things is inspiring, guilt-inducing and motivating all at the same time, so surrounding yourself with these people will only be a good thing.
4. Start learning
Now you're ready to learn.
While these no-code tools come with a far lower learning curve than coding, this isn't to say it will be plain sailing.
Just as it's tricky to pick which tools to use, it's also hard to find the best resources to learn them.
In keeping with my recommendations above, I've curated some of the best content to kickstart your learning in each tool:
It has a no to low learning curve, so you won't need any learning resources.
These are good learning resources, but they only scratch the surface of what you can consume. Here is a great thread to find some other gems.
5. Start building
Create more, consume less
This step doesn’t come after the previous step. Learning and building should run alongside each other.
It's easy to trap yourself in a consumption loop and pretend that each new video, article or podcast makes you more adept with these tools. It doesn’t work like that. In fact, you won't know where you're at with these tools until you actually start using them.
No-coders who have learnt the quickest have used a project-based learning approach.That’s what you should do too. Make sure to create something in each new tool you pick up, whether they be fun, disposable projects or one's you'll need.
Again, here are some beginner project ideas for you to tackle using my recommended tools:
Airtable - create a no-code journal to track your learning progress or a database to visualise your product roadmap.