Connect no-code tools together to build product ideas, quickly
We felt uneasy.
It was 2012. ‘Steve’ (name redacted) wanted to pour his life savings into an untested internet idea - and he wanted our company to code it.
The hard truth is that software development is expensive, timelines are notoriously unpredictable, and your life savings don’t go far when outsourcing. Inevitably, as you develop the idea, you discover you need to iterate and make changes or improvements.
But what happens when the money runs out - and you still have a huge list of tasks left to do?
This is a recipe for disaster. Unfortunately this scenario has played out too many times to count, and leads to conflict, strained relationships and failed projects.
Nobody should test their idea like this. In 2022, there’s a much better way - no expensive coders required!
# No-code MVPs are becoming the new normal
These days, nearly all MVP ideas can be built with no-code tools.
Most ideas from non-coders aren’t about creating new technology - they’re about solving a real-world problem, and the tech is just a tool to get the job done.
In 2022, we can see a record of success-stories where no-code MVPs have been used to bootstrap businesses to millions of $ of revenue - even all the way to acquisition.
- Product Hunt (opens new window) itself is a great example - the basic idea was made in 20 minutes!
- Makerpad.com (opens new window) is another great example - and interestingly, one of the best resources to learn about no-code! You can see a great collection of stories, ranging from successful early stage funding, to significant profitable businesses - as well as those headline-grabbing exits 🤑
# There are no-code tools for (nearly) everything now
If “there’s an app for that” was the new mindset entering the 2010s, “there’s a no-code tool for that” should be the mindset of the 2020s.
The following is just an overview of the major, established tools - alongside a newer browser automation tool we heard good things about 😉
|Automate anything with APIs
|Quick integrations between a huge variety of systems
|Create complex workflows by plugging APIs together
|Like Zapier, but cheaper at volume and designed for more complex automations
|Dynamic websites & CMS
|Ideal for static marketing websites
|Build applications with modern UI, data connections etc.
|Building the UI of your new app or website
|Turn spreadsheets into apps
|Connecting UIs to data
|Building an online shop quickly
|Collect information from users with web forms
|Making beautiful forms quickly
|Not a no-code tool, but the default integration with most no-code apps
|Automate manual tasks in the user interface of web apps
|Automating apps where APIs aren’t available or fast to integrate
# Check Product Hunt. Regularly.
The above list only scratches the surface. https://www.producthunt.com/ (opens new window) is a great way to shop around.
New no-code tools are being launched all the time - we seem to proliferate like rabbits 🐰🐰
So, If you can’t find the tool you’re looking for now, be sure to check back another time.
# No-code tools connected together are much more powerful than alone
No-code tools really shine when they’re used to join the dots.
For example, you’ll find it hard to build a customer support system with just Typeform in isolation.
But what if you attach a Zapier trigger for incoming emails, and then populate your data into Airtable? Suddenly, you have a powerful customer support system that has 80% of the features of a custom SaaS product... and you built it in a fraction of the time!
This is precisely where no-code shines: quickly building an initial product (or process) by connecting things together, and using the complimentary features of each tool to your advantage.
# API + RPA Automation are a great pair
We frequently see this happening with Zapier and Axiom. API + RPA automation are not competing - they’re actually a great match /blog/rpa-api-automation (opens new window)
Using these two flavours of automation together means you can literally automate anything. That’s not an exaggeration. We’ve seen customers automate tasks as varied as:
- Generating reports in YouTube Studio when new data is generated
- Fulfilling an order by inputting data into a form, when an email is received
- Scrape NFT data on a schedule or custom event
# How to connect no-code tools to build ideas quickly
# Be lazy. Use the fastest, simplest solution that works!
If you can, buy - don’t build. Time is money, and it will be ultimately cheaper to release early and learn faster than to spend ages building the wrong thing.
We’re a team of coders. But even we choose SaaS & no-code solutions before code, whenever we can.
For every problem, we first check if a SaaS tool exists that solves it.
If not, we then see if we can assemble a solution with our current no-code tools.
Only if we can’t do all this, will we consider coding a new tool or process. Sometimes coding new things is necessary, but it’s always a last-resort.
# Use Makerpad
We mentioned https://www.makerpad.co/ (opens new window) before as a place to read about no-code MVPs.
But makerpad is much more than this - it’s a community of creators that teach you how to use no-code to build virtually anything. Check out their tutorials for tons of in-depth no-code guides.
# Focus on Tools that interoperate
Some tools and businesses are walled gardens.
They want you to stay inside, and they don’t play nice and connect with others outside their ecosystem.
Avoid building within walled gardens - they will limit your app’s ability to grow!
When choosing a new tool, check for connections such as webhooks, app integrations, or APIs - this is a good indication that you’ll have a lot of room to branch out. You can also check whether the tool you’re considering has a Zapier app, as this almost always opens up a huge space to play in.
Of course, if you do find that you need to connect together systems without APIs, then axiom is a good bet - but we’d rather you not have these problems in the first place. We’re nice like that. 🙂
# Common no-code tool pairings
Some pairs were just meant to be together.
Sonny and Cher. Laurel and Hardy. Ant and Dec (opens new window) .
(...one for the Brits out there 🇬🇧)
Now, you can throw Axiom and Zapier into the mix 💑 .Though we’ve been known to flirt with Integromat on occasion, Zapier holds a special place in our heart as our first... Integration.
|Can be used for
|Build a payment system
|Trigger events when someone fills a form
|Build forms to create a database
|Trigger events when users perform certain actions
|Build data-driven apps with UIs
|Take payments on your online shop
|Automate e-commerce events - e.g. Add new customers to your CRM
|Automate events without APIs - e.g. Send orders to fulfilment forms
|Connecting systems without APIs, to systems that do.
There are too many combinations and permutations to list them all - hopefully this will give you a flavour of the kind of things you can do if you're creative!
# Creative combinations unlock new possibilities!
Often, you can build something new - something that you didn’t think was possible - by creatively combining building blocks like these.
We’ve seen some great ideas emerge whilst running axiom. Here’s a small sample:
- Customers scraping menus with axiom to build their own local or niche delivery startups
- Customers automating tax admin processes and creating new SaaS subscriptions from them
- Customers automating legacy systems and creating new APIs where none exist
This is just scratching the surface of what’s possible given the tools now available.
In 2012, we saw customers like Steve spend their life-savings trying to get ideas off the ground.
In 2022, anyone can make their ideas a reality. Your first limitation is not money, but how fast you can release, learn and iterate; something no-code tools speed up by an order of magnitude.
If you’ve got a cool idea you want to build, remember this before spending your life savings on developers!