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Adam
August 21, 2021
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Which no-code tool to use to build our MVP?

Even if you’re a full-stack developer, it would be idiotic to build an MVP from scratch. I’ve made that mistake before. Kill that urge for perfectionism inside you and stop yourself from building things from the ground up. If humanity had to build everything from scratch, we would never make so much progress. Just like when we use power tools to make construction work easier and faster, there are powerful tools made for developers to build apps and websites.

Your goal must be onboarding the first users and converting them to being customers using whatever tools that gets you there faster. Let’s make peace with the fact that there is nothing perfect in this world even the things that look perfect have so many flaws and we just don’t know about them.

Let’s look at some of the platforms that we can use and their pros and cons:

Wix

Wix is a no-code website-building platform that does not require writing a single line of code. It’s very easy to use but does not provide any functionality. For example, if you want to add any type of functionality beyond what Wix provides you, you are in trouble. Wix is great if you want to build a simple E-commerce website and sell your teeshirts or other goods. If if you are a personal trainer or tutor and need to schedule sessions with your customers or students.

Pros

  • It’s very easy to setup your website. If you have no technical background and cannot write a single line of code, this platform may suit you. Keep in mind that at this level there are strong competitors to Wix that you should consider especially with better price.
  • It provides full e-commerce functionality and booking services

Cons

  • Wix is expensive compared to other services that you may find online for the same capabilities.
  • It is very inflexible. You can’t do anything boyond e-commerce, static landing page, or appointment calendar.

WordPress

WordPress is a PHP-based opensource platform that is flexible to your needs. WordPress is an open-source website manager that allows you to manage your users, user interface, transactions, and more. You can build a static page all the way to a fully functioning social media platform. However, you need to have some technical background to be able to set up the website and operate it. Don’t be intimated by it though if you are not too technical. There are so many great resources online that you can use to start your website. One thing to watch for is not paying too much for hosting services. There are online services that will host your WordPress website for hundreds of dollars per month! If you are paying more than a few bucks for your WordPress website, you are overpaying!

Remember when I said WordPress is open-source? It also means it’s free of charge. The only items that you may end up paying for are 1. Hosting and 2. Themes. What is hosting? Roughly speaking, hosting is the server service that keeps your website files and presents them when someone is visiting your website. There are great hosting services you can use such as BlueHost, DigitalOcean, AWS, and more. I personally have used DigitalOcean and really liked it. AWS is good too, but it’s hard to use and pricy. Do your own research as well. Things change over time and depending on when you are reading this article, a better service might have popped up.

Another item that you may end up paying for, is themes. Basic themes can be installed on your WordPress server for free.

Pros

  • It’s cheap and powerfull
  • It’s flexible. You can build anything from a simple static page to a fully functioning social media website.

Cons

  • It requires some technical background to host, build and maintain the website, but it’s not that hard.

SquareSpace

Square is very similar to Wix, but it’s newer and has better deals especially if you are just starting. They provide services from e-commerce to appointment management and more. Like Wix, they do the hosting for you as well. So, unlike WordPress, you don’t have to look for hosting services. But again, you’ll have to pay an extra price for it.

Pros

  • It’s very easy to setup your website. If you have no technical background and cannot write a single line of code, this platform may suit you. Keep in mind that at this level there are strong competitors to Wix that you should consider especially with better price.
  • It provides full e-commerce functionality and booking services

Cons

  • Wix is expensive compared to other services that you may find online for the same capabilities.
  • It is very inflexible. You can’t do anything boyond e-commerce, static landing page, or appointment calendar.

Bubble

Bubble is a drag-and-drop website building service that at least at this point does not offer full-scale ready-to-use websites. It is incredibly hard to use especially if you are new to web development. Don’t be fooled by the name and “no-code”. Don’t get me wrong though. Bubble is powerful, but the problem with it is that it is fragmented. Building a website with Bubble is like building a large and difficult puzzle. But once you figure out the pieces, and how to do things, it will become easier and easier to use.

If you are building your MVP and want to have your prototype fast and don’t have any experience with Bubble, I would recommend using WordPress, Square, and alike. However, if you have time and want to build a fully functional website without writing much code, Bubble can be your choice too.

Pros

  • It’s a powerful platform and once you learn how to use it (which will take a while), you can build nice MVPs with
  • Any functionality beyond simple buttons and very basic database operations is paid and you’ll need to pay ~$30/month for it.

Cons

  • It has a sharp learning curve. It’s sharper than WordPress!

In summary, I evaluate and compare these no-code platforms as follows:

Comparison of some of most known no-code platforms

How to pay the technical debt when using these platforms?

Using these no-code platforms comes with a price. They allow you to quickly whip together a working prototype, but they are not as scalable, responsive, and customizable as a fully developed and coded website. However, they’ll allow you to test your concept and make sure that what you are building is actually working and people want your solution. Sometimes it’s impossible to make the MVP fully functional. Well, don’t worry too much. That’s how MVPs are supposed to be.

Instead, fake it! Fake it until you make it. Add a magic button! Get your user’s information and claim that the process is done automatically and do it in the backend manually yourself and email them the results or something like that. Did you know that Groupon started with a WordPress website and they emailed the coupons to their clients? And those coupons were manually built by them. Everything was done manually. That’s why I love this quote from Paul Graham, founder of YCombinator, who says “Build things that don’t scale”. That way you don’t have to spend too much time building something that no one will use. At least, in this case, if no one uses your product, you have not spent months or years developing it.

Hope this helps,

Adam

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