As a solopreneur wanting to validate my own SaaS startup, I spent the last week testing 17 different no-code app builders.

In this article, I will share my findings on the best no-code app builders available today, along with examples of real startups using them. My aim is to provide the most comprehensive comparison of popular no-code platforms for budding entrepreneurs like me.

My Criteria for a Good No-Code Platform

We will cover everything you need to know, including:

  1. Core Features: Mobile responsive templates, databases, team collaboration and version control, etc.
  2. Ease of use: Will you be able to figure it out on your own or will you need to hire paid help?
  3. Easy of Migration: Can you easily import/export data as well as code? Risk of vendor lock-in
  4. GDPR: Whether they provide built-in GDPR compliance (which, surprisingly, not all of them do)
  5. Custom-code and extensibility: Is it fully no-code? Any limits on custom code you can add?
  6. Scalability: Can it scale with your business growth, or will you need to switch to something else later on? How easy is to export your data?
  7. Customer support: What kind of support and resources are available if you get stuck?
  8. Community and Documentation: To answer common questions.
  9. Budget: What are the costs involved?

Summary: Top No-Code Tools

NameKey FeaturesBest ForStarting Price
BubbleVisual app builder with customizationBuilding apps, dashboards, CRMs, social networksFree plan; paid from $32/mo
GlideSpreadsheet-powered app builderInternal business process appsFree plan; paid from $125/mo
FlutterflowDrag-and-drop app builder with Firebase integrationBuilding cross-platform mobile apps with backendFree plan; paid from $30/mo
WebflowVisual canvas, templates, customizationProfessional websites, SaaS, ecommerceFree plan; paid from $29/mo
ThunkableDrag-and-drop mobile app builderCross-platform mobile app development, Free templates
BravoConvert Figma/XD designs to iOS/Android appsDesigners building native mobile apps$19/mo
MailchimpSurveys, social campaigns, customer databases, simple websitesSmall businesses growing audienceFree plan; $10/mo
ParabolaVisually connect data, automate tasksData integration and automation$80/mo
VoiceflowDrag-and-drop AI voice app developmentBuilding voice assistants without coding$50/mo
AirtableSpreadsheet-database hybrid with customizationOrganizing various data and projectsFree plan
CodaAll-in-one collaborative workspacesUnifying spreadsheets, apps, databasesFree plan
LandbotCustomizable chatbot assemblyCreating guided chatbot conversations$40/mo
ZapierConnect and automate appsWorkflow automationDepends on usage
TypeformCustomizable forms and surveysData collection, research, lead generation
AdaloDrag-and-drop app builderPublishing web and mobile apps
SoftrAirtable-based web app builderBeginners making simple apps and sites
DraftbitVisual app development platformBeginners building basic mobile apps

1. Bubble.io

Bubble.io is incredibly powerful tool for startups to get their app to market quickly. Many founders I know have been using it to build all sorts of web applications without having to write a single line of code. It’s a full-stack platform, which means it takes care of everything from the visual design of the app to the backend database and logic.

Examples of Startups Using Bubble.io

You can use it to build apps like:

  • Minimum Viable Products to test market fit of ideas quickly
  • Niche marketplaces where users can list, search, and book products or services
  • Social communities with user profiles, posts, comments, and activity feeds
  • Business process automation tools that connect multiple systems and databases
  • Custom booking systems for scheduling appointments or rentals

Check out the images below to see how real companies are using it.

Pros

  • The drag-and-drop design tool makes it easy to visually build responsive interfaces that look good on any device, with tons of built-in templates and components like forms, lists, images, and buttons.
  • You get a customizable database that works like linked spreadsheets, with custom tables, fields, and relationships, plus granular privacy controls.
  • The visual workflow builder lets you define complex backend logic, like “When a user clicks this button, create a record in the database and send an email”.
  • There’s a plugin marketplace with pre-built integrations for stuff like email, payments, and maps, plus APIs to connect with external tools and databases
    • Popular plugins: Discord, Instagram, AirTable, Azure OpenAI, etc.
  • It’s got collaboration and version control features built-in for development teams.
  • Your app gets hosted on secure, scalable AWS servers, with automatic backups and compliance with laws like GDPR.
  • You can turn your Bubble app into a mobile app or a Progressive Web App if you want.
  • Export user data as csv.
  • Enterprise plan lets you have a dedicated cluster only for your apps.

Cons

  • You can’t export your app’s code (you can export user data) to run outside of Bubble’s platform, posing a risk of vendor lock-in.

Pricing

The pricing is based on “workload units” (things like database queries and workflows running), which can be hard to predict and optimize, especially for high-traffic apps.

Bubble. Io pricing
  • Free ($0/month): Development version, API connector, component library, 1 app editor, 50k workload units/mo, 6 hours of server logs
  • Starter ($32/month): Live app, custom domain, recurring workflows, basic version control, 175k workload units/mo, 2 days of server logs
  • Growth ($134/month): 2 app editors, premium version control, two-factor authentication, 10 custom branches, 250k workload units/mo, 14 days of server logs
  • Team ($399/month): 5 app editors, sub apps, 25 custom branches, 500k workload units/mo, 20 days of server logs, choice of hosting location, centralized admin, dedicated server, priority support, enhanced security.

My Take

Bubble is an incredibly flexible no-code platform once you get past its (short) learning curve. With its drag-and-drop interface, you can create complex apps such as marketplaces, social networks, and business tools. Apps built with Bubble can scale impressively, handling up to 100,000 concurrent users. However, it may not be ideal for static websites (use cheaper choices like Webflow or WordPress), games (use Unity or Unreal), or those with highly custom UI and performance requirements (use code frameworks like Next.js, GoLang, etc).

I highly recommend that founders go through Bubble’s free resources, including documentation, forums, and workshop videos. These resources will teach you a lot about designing good user experiences, even if you don’t end up using Bubble.

Bubble. Io’s getting started course.

2. Glide App

Glide is a fantastic tool for beginners who want to create apps quickly without diving into complex coding. Its integration with popular data sources like Google Spreadsheets, AirTable, MySQL, and Postgres makes it easy to sync data in real-time. The UI editor is fast and responsive. Glide is great for beginners. And surprisingly powerful.

Examples of Real Startups Using Glide

Pros

  • Directly integrates with data sources like Google Spreadsheets, AirTable, MySQL, Postgres, etc. Any changes made to data instantly sync with the connected data source.
  • UI editor is very fast and snappy; even has a dark mode.
  • Glide gives you many pre-made templates and components to build with, like maps, calendars, and even chat. You can make apps with plenty of features quickly.

Cons

  • Although they keep adding new components and templates, the customization options are limited.
  • Some limits: Right now, Glide can only handle 25,000 rows of data per Google Sheet. It also takes up to 3 minutes to show new data in your app. This might not work well for apps that need to update instantly or handle lots of data.

Pricing

Glide apps pricing
  • Team ($125/month): 20 users, $4/additional user, 5K updates, 5 editors, unlimited apps, 35+ integrations, 25K rows, Basic API, AI, support
  • Business ($310/month): 40 users, $6/additional user, 10K updates, 10 editors, unlimited apps, Call API, 10M rows (Big Tables & SQL), Advanced API, SSO, priority support, 30-day free trial
  • Enterprise ($750/month): Custom users/updates, unlimited editors/apps, volume discounts, custom terms, SLA, consultant, priority support, account manager. Contact sales.

3. Flutterflow

FlutterFlow is a relatively new player in the app development arena, making waves since its launch in 2021. This platform has garnered attention from developers and enthusiasts alike due to its unique blend of no-code and low-code capabilities. In this review, we’ll explore FlutterFlow’s features, pricing, scalability, and learning curve to help you determine if it’s the right fit for your app development needs.

Pros

  • Combines no-code and low-code features for easy development and customization
  • Integrates smoothly with Google Firebase for backend services
  • Supports cross-platform app development for iOS, Android, web, and desktop
  • Offers an AI assistant, automated testing, and real-time collaboration
  • Enables direct deployment to app stores and full source code export. This is important because it helps to avoid vendor lock-in.
  • Offers regional pricing which makes it standout from competitors, especially for founders based outside of the USA.

Cons

  • Steep learning curve for complex app customization
  • Limited selection of pre-built templates and components compared to other platforms
  • Paid plans with key features can be pricey for indie developers or small businesses

Pricing

  • Free Plan ($0/month): Visual Application Builder, 100s of page & component templates, Build Mobile, Web, and Desktop Apps, API & Data Integration, Web Publishing
  • Standard Plan ($30/month): Download project source code or APK, Custom Domain Web Publishing
  • Pro Plan ($70/month): Standard Plan features, Source Repository Integration, One-Click Localization, GitHub Integration, One-Click Deployment to Apple & Google App Stores
  • Teams Plan ($70/user/month): Pro Plan features, Real-Time Collaboration, Project-level Access Controls, 7 Day Audit Logs, Centralized Billing

My Take

FlutterFlow is a powerful platform that strikes a balance between ease of use and customization options. Its integration with Firebase and deployment capabilities are notable strengths. However, the learning curve and pricing may be hurdles for some users. FlutterFlow is best suited for professional developers or teams seeking efficient cross-platform app development while retaining the ability to customize with code when necessary.

4. WebFlow

Webflow is a no-code website builder that promises to be fast, performant, and easy to use. But how well does it live up to that promise? I spent some time exploring Webflow to give you a comprehensive review based on real user feedback (like the case study linked below) and my personal experience.

Pros

  • Design Flexibility
    • Over 2,000 customizable templates, including nearly 50 free options.
    • Intuitive drag-and-drop designer for fine-tuning layout, interactions, and animations.
    • 100% responsive designs ensure sites look great on any device.
  • Standout Features
    • Advanced custom animations and interactions using visual tools.
    • Built-in CMS for managing dynamic content efficiently.
    • Solid blogging capabilities, although not as robust as WordPress.
    • Integrated shopping cart and payment processing for basic ecommerce needs.
    • SEO tools to optimize your site for search engines, albeit more basic than specialized plugins like Yoast.
  • Performance and Hosting
    • Fast, reliable hosting with built-in SSL for security.
    • Automatic backups and version history for easy site management.
  • Community and Support
    • Active community forums and extensive documentation.
    • Regular updates and new feature rollouts.

Cons

  • GDPR Compliance: Firstly, Webflow does not offer a ready-made cookie banner to fulfill GDPR requirements. Additionally, when users submit personal data via forms, this information is stored on Webflow’s servers located outside the EU. This practice could contravene GDPR rules, posing a risk for European businesses. Webflow sites have faced problems due to this in the EU.
  • Ecommerce Limitations: Missing features such as abandoned cart recovery, limited payment gateways, and the inability to host digital products natively like Gumroad/LemonSqueezy. Big stores should go with Shopify.
  • Limited Code Customization: There’s a cap on how much custom code you can insert. Specifically, the limit for the header/footer code is 20,000 characters, while the limit for the embed component is 10,000 characters.
  • Template Restrictions: Once a template is chosen in Webflow, you cannot switch to another.
  • Steep Learning Curve: Despite its user-friendly tag, Webflow demands a fair understanding of HTML and CSS.
  • No mobile editor: You are forced to use desktop even for small/quick changes. Platforms like wordpress are much easier to use, even from mobile.

WebFlow vs Wix vs Squarespace vs Shopify

When stacking up Webflow against competitors like Wix and Squarespace, the latter are definitely more user-friendly for non-techies and offer features such as email marketing tools and mobile app support. However, if fine-tuned design control is what you’re after, Webflow is superior.

For e-commerce, platforms like Shopify provide more robust tools and scalability, catering better to large-scale online stores.

Pricing

Webflow offers three types of plans: Site plans, Ecommerce plans, and Workspace plans.

Site plans

Similar to those offered by Wix.

Webflow-pricing
  • Free ($0)
  • Basic ($18/mo)
  • CMS ($29/mo)
  • Business ($49/mo)

The plans differ in terms of access to CMS, the number of editable CMS items, monthly visitor limit, storage space, and the number of site editors.

Ecommerce plans

For sites meant to sell products.

Webflow-ecommerce-pricing
  • Standard ($42)
  • Plus ($84)
  • Advanced ($235)

The main differences between these plans are the number of products you can sell, transaction fees, and the number of staff accounts.

Workspace plans

Designed for professional web designers and agencies managing multiple sites and collaborating with multiple users.

Allow exporting site code for hosting on your own server or handing over to a developer.

  • Starter ($0)
  • Freelancer ($24)
  • Core ($28)
  • Agency ($42)
  • Growth ($60)
  • Enterprise (custom pricing)

These plans vary in the number of simultaneous users, number of managed sites, publishing permissions, custom code addition, site code export, and enhanced security and support (Enterprise only).

It’s important to note that Workspace plans do not include hosting, CMS, or domain mapping. You need to purchase a Site or Ecommerce plan in addition to your Workspace plan for these features.

My Take

Webflow shines for those who have some background in web design and want to push the boundaries of what a no-code builder can do. It’s perfect for crafting interactive, visually appealing websites that stand out from the crowd. However, it might not be the best fit for complete novices or those running large e-commerce sites.

I recommend taking advantage of their free trial to see if it fits your workflow before committing.

5. Thunkable

Thunkable started as an Android development platform and has evolved into a cross-platform tool for iOS, Android, and web apps. If you need your app to work on both iOS and Android, Thunkable could be a great choice especially for non-coders.

Thunkable was the first no code app builder I used. In fact, I used it for a good 2-3 years before trying other tools like Webflow and Glide.

Pros

  1. Cross-Platform Apps: Thunkable allows you to build apps that work seamlessly across Android, iOS and the web – without any coding knowledge required. You can create PWAs (Progressive Web Apps) and Native apps (that can use mobile sensors or work offline). You can also publish to the App Store, Google Play Store, and the web, all from one platform.
  2. Beginner-Friendly Interface: The drag-and-drop interface is easy to understand and hit the ground running with, making app development accessible even for complete beginners. Its visual, block-based approach is helpful for students learning to build apps.
  3. Prototyping is very fast with Thunkable. It allows you to whip up an app with actual functionality in just a couple of hours. You can create components on-the-fly and see code changes reflected instantly on your device.
  4. Build Multiple Apps: With the ability to create up to 50 apps, Thunkable gives you freedom to explore multiple ideas and prototypes.
  5. Thunkable integrates well with modern tools and services like databases and APIs, expanding its capabilities.

Cons

  1. You’re confined to the components and functions provided by Thunkable and they have reduced the components in their free plan.
  2. Finding guides for common use cases can be tricky, and outdated documentation causes confusion.
  3. Debugging tools in Thunkable are poorly designed so it is difficult to find and fix bugs.
  4. Collaborating effectively within Thunkable and sharing components/code between projects is difficult.
  5. Limits are too restrictive – only 50 total apps and a total of 3 published web apps.
  6. For more complex app requirements, you’ll eventually need to have some technical know-how. At that point, you might be better off learning Flutter or hiring programmers.

Pricing

Thunkable-pricing
  1. Free Plan: Single User, Live Testing, Full Design & Development capabilities.
  2. Pro Plan
    • Price: Starting at $45 per seat per month
    • Features: Private projects, In-App payments and ads, Versioning.
  3. Business Plan
    • Price: Starting at $200 per user per month
    • Features: Custom branding, Unlimited storage, Direct iOS, Android, and web app publishing, Custom Integrations.

My Take

Thunkable is a powerful tool for building mobile apps without writing code. It supports many essential native features, making it highly capable. It does have a steep learning curve and feels more like visual coding than true no-code. You create app logic using blocks, which can be tricky for beginners.

Things You Need to Know Before Starting a No-Code Business

What Can You Build

No-code platforms let you build a wide range of SaaS products:

  • CRMs: Manage customer data, automate lead capture and follow-up.
  • Project Management tools: Create tasks, assign teams, track progress.
  • Marketplaces: Connect buyers and sellers, manage listings and payments.
  • Learning Management Systems: Develop courses, quizzes, track student progress.
  • Booking apps: Schedule appointments, manage availability and payments.

Creating the next billion-dollar company like Amazon would be a challenge because that kind of scale requires highly customized engineering solutions.

But you can do very well in the micro-SaaS space with these no-code builders. I have already covered some real case studies of profitable no code startups ($10k-$1M per month) without relying on large engineering teams.

Limitations to Consider

  • Programmer mindset: While you don’t have to write code, there is still a learning curve. You need to learn how to design a system, create joyful user journeys, think about trade-offs between features, speed, cost, etc. and be ready to debug issues. I will link to helpful resources for these towards the end.
  • Customization: Less control than custom development.
  • Integrations: Some very niche third-party services may not be supported.
  • Performance: Infrastructure constraints may start to kick in if you grow to massive levels.
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