Guide
Starterpack: Mobile app builders

Fancy building a mobile app for your business? Here's what to know.

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For plenty of businesses having an app to call your own can be a game-changer. You'll be meeting the customer where they are, simplifying the buyer journey and strengthening your brand. This starter pack explains what mobile app builders are, how they can help you or the business you work for, and the no-code tools in the space you need to know about.  

A mobile app is a type of software application designed to work on a mobile device – like a phone, tablet or watch. In the past, the thought of building your own app would probably have sparked panicked fever dreams of lines of code and costly developers. But the rise of no-code means that pretty much anyone can quickly, easily and cheaply explore the wild world of mobile app development without knowing how to actually code. That opens a whole world of possibilities: from launching the next TwitterYouTube, or Facebook (let's dream big), to simply creating a high-spec, professional-grade app that boosts your business.

The hard part is that there are many tools to choose from, all promising the world, which create different kinds of apps and which have different learning curves. That's where this guide comes in. We're going to help you figure out which no-code app builder will best suit your business needs and how your team actually works. If you haven't found the right tool by the end of this guide, we'll... be pretty disappointed.

The homepage of Adalo, one of the no-code tools we've chosen

1. The tools

  • Adalo - 4 stars. Best native app builder.
  • Betty Blocks - 3 stars. Best for technical enterprise teams. 
  • Bravo Studio - 4 stars. Best for designers and Figma users.
  • Draftbit - 3 stars. Best low-code option for those with technical experience.
  • Glide - 4 stars. Best for beautiful progressive web apps.
  • GoodBarber - 4 stars. Best for small businesses.

2. Why build a mobile app for your business with no-code

Whether you're looking to build a new app from scratch or have an existing business that you think would really benefit from one, no-code mobile app builders can help. Remember: you don't need coding experience and you don't need developers.

It gives your business a competitive edge

Having your own app can help you deepen your relationship with existing customers, strengthen your brand in a variety of ways, launch loyalty programs, increase your sales and simplify how customers actually buy from you. Given how competitive many sectors are, this is a logical way to give your business that much sought-after competitive edge.

​And the scope of what's possible is broad. You could build a disruptive app that is the core of your offering – like a ride-share, fitness, or dating app. You could build an app for mobile paymentsocial integrationcustomer communication, or loyalty features. You could build an app to improve your e-commerce functionality on mobile. You could create a mobile version of your main website or product.

Anyone can learn and build

The fact that anyone can learn no-code tools means there's no reliance on programmers or an engineering department. Many no-code and low-code programs have drag-and-drop interfaces or pre-built components, so they’re easy to pick up. Low-code tools are still accessible but are best suited to those with some programming or SQL experience who are looking to save time and effort on the app-building process.

It's less pricey than programming from scratch

Despite the range of benefits, hiring an agency or a team of developers to build an app from scratch can be costly. No-code app builders make it possible for any business to build a mobile app at a much more affordable price. Even if you have an engineering team at your company, no-code will reduce the amount of time spent on building your app, reducing labour costs and freeing them up to focus on building advanced features.

3. What type of mobile app should you build: Native apps vs. web apps

You'll need to get to grips with the difference between native apps and web apps so that you can choose the right app builder. Each has different functionalities and use cases, and not all mobile app builders can create both kinds. For more info about the difference between native apps and web apps, watch our video on app types.

Native apps

A native app is installed directly on a user’s device. Unlike a web app, a native app can access the features of that device, like the microphone, camera, GPS, address book, or push notifications. Native apps are developed to work on specific operating systems like iOS or Android and can be downloaded from the Apple App StoreGoogle Play, or a business’s website. To be available on these app stores, your app will need to go through the approval process. That can take a little while, but it's generally a positive for your business because being on an app store immediately gives your app authority and legitimacy – and assures users that the app is safe and secure.

Web apps

web app (aka a 'progressive web app' in certain circles) is accessed through the web browser, so it's functional on whatever device a person happens to be using. These are websites that are specifically designed to be easy to use, fluid, and responsive on any device — especially mobile. Web apps are especially useful for collaborative tools and online shops. They're faster and cheaper to build, making them much more accessible to most businesses and you also won’t have to build multiple versions for different operating systems, as is the case with native apps. There's no waiting around for app store approval either.

​Which is right for you?

In simple terms, you're more likely to choose a native app builder if you need the functionality of device feature access, want the legitimacy of being in an app store and have the time and budget for it. You're more likely to choose a web app builder if you need to build something quickly and easily, and want users to access your site by opening your site rather than downloading an app. If you want it all, there are tools that do both!

4. What to consider when choosing a no-code mobile app builder

So, how to decide what no-code tool to go for? There are a few things to think about the needs of your business and how well they suit your team members’ skill sets. App builders can have widely different pricing structures, varying degrees of flexibility when building, and drastically different learning curves. For example, if you're a startup whose business model is based on your app, you'll need a lot more flexibility and the ability to create more complex apps. If you’re a small business, you may just want an easy-to-use tool with great templates and presets.

​We base our ratings on four key criteria: flexibility, design freedom, ease of use, and cost.

Гибкость

When we talk about flexibility we basically mean to what degree a tool allows you to create the functions you need. Increased flexibility may come with a more difficult learning curve, but it'll allow you to build to more exact specifications. Templates and pre-made modules make it easier to build something, but will likely come with a more limited level of flexibility on what your app can actually do.

​The most important flexibility consideration for mobile app builders is whether it allows you to create native apps, progressive web apps, or both. Another consideration is the ability to add logic and complex decision-making if you need complex app functionality. More options for third-party plugins and integrations also get greater points for flexibility.

Design freedom

This is all about how much ability a tool gives you to customise your app’s look and function. You ideally want a tool that balances ease of use with design freedom and control. Templates and drag-and-drop features are helpful because they help you build faster and easier, but they can be limiting. Having greater design freedom means you can shape your app to better suit your brand and aesthetic. 

​If you have a team with limited design experience, you might be happier with a tool that relies more on templates. If your app is a core part of your business model and you have designers in-house, you'll probably look for an app builder that gives you a high level of design freedom. In many cases, it's worth investing in a little more training to get your team up to speed on a more sophisticated mobile app builder.

Ease of use

It's a bit of a no-brainer but the easier a mobile app builder is to use, the easier it is for team members to build apps and unlock the potential of no-code for your business. Some tools are harder to learn and require time to master, but they may have advantages in terms of power, customisability, or flexibility. Some tools are more low-code than no-code and may be best for teams with technical experience, while others are incredibly easy for anyone to just pick up and start using. 

​It's worth surveying your team to gauge their level of technical experience and considering how much time they have to dedicate to learning new tools. This comes down to a judgement call: balancing the importance of your app with the time and energy your team should devote to building it.  

Cost

A biggie. There's a pretty wide range of costs and pricing structures for no-code mobile app builders. From a small business perspective, it's important to note that many tools have free trials. Most structure their pricing with tiers depending on the number of users – making them more affordable for those solo-founders out there but more expensive if you're at a larger business that needs multi-user access. Other tools create tiers based on the type of app. E.g. content-only app plans versus business-ready app plans.

​There are some very powerful tools at the upper end of the pricing range that will be unnecessary for many smaller businesses. Those tools and price points are appropriate for large organisations that need more support and functionality. Most of these 'enterprise' plans are custom priced, so you’ll need to contact them for a bespoke quote. When you're thinking about the cost, remember: no-code will greatly reduce or entirely eliminate your budget needed for developers, so it may be worth paying for a program that does everything you need it to. 

5. The best no-code mobile app builders

Here's what you've been waiting for: our roundup of the strongest mobile app builders for businesses, including breakdowns that’ll help you evaluate which is the right fit for you.

Adalo

Adalo is one of the few tools that delivers native no-code apps in a straightforward way. It's easy to learn, with a decent number of actions and logic steps that a user can customise to build the app they want. Adalo has built-in support for apps that share databases, meaning you can create multiple apps for one purpose. If, for example, you were building a rideshare app, you could create apps for both rider and driver, with a shared database and interactions (if you do want to do that, we've created a tutorial right here).

​Adalo has an excellent ecosystem of third-party plugins (such as NoCode Monkey), easy integrations with other services or platforms, and native device actions – which basically means you can use phone functions like GPS tracking or Face-Id within the app. It also has many user-created templates and tutorials and a built-in community of experts for hire who are ready to help users overcome any issue they might run into. The downside is a frustrating user interface (UI) designer. It takes a lot of time and effort to get your app’s UI just right, and it lacks customisability compared to the other tools on this list, such as Bravo Studio. 

Pros
  • Native app builder
  • Easy learning curve
  • Large selection of third-party plugins
  • Community-created resources
Cons
  • Challenging UI builder
  • Less customisability
  • Less organisation-level support
  • Expensive
App types 

Native apps: Yes

Web apps: Yes

It's best for...

Small business users and individuals who need to build native apps with custom logic and a multi-app experience.

Ценообразование

In the flesh

Блоки Бетти

Betty Blocks is a fully no-code platform that's ideal for a serious and secure large business. It lets users build complex apps, draw in data from practically any source or service, and handle regulated or sensitive data sources easily. Betty Blocks is also partnered with Microsoft, so it’s great for anyone wanting to pair a no-code, free-form builder with MS Power Apps.

​Betty Blocks’ mobile offering is not very flexible and only supports building progressive web apps. It's also designed for the largest companies and has a pretty hefty price to match. For that reason, this is really one for large companies and those who require self-hosting. 

Pros
  • Truly no-code interface
  • Organisation-level security and data management
  • Ability to build complex apps
Cons
  • Capability limited to progressive web apps
  • High cost
  • Too complex for the needs of smaller companies; most suited to organisations
App types

Native apps: No

Web apps: Yes

It's best for...

Large organisations with complex needs – and large budgets.

Ценообразование

In the flesh

Студия "Браво

Bravo Studio is a unique product aimed squarely at designers and those with experience working with Figma or Adobe. The platform allows you to export a mobile app design from Figma and turn it directly into an app – a huge creative advantage for designers. You get pixel-perfect designs and have significantly more design freedom than any other option on this list. 

​The obvious downside is that if you don’t know Figma, then you need to learn that platform first, and if you’re not much of a designer in the first place, then, well, you're in trouble. You can work around this limitation by using Stage.so to create a design, which you can then export to Figma, and then again export from Figma to Bravo, but that can be complicated. Even typing that out felt complicated. Bravo Studio also doesn’t have as capable a backend and logic builder as other offerings like Adalo and Glide. Often users will have to take the time to understand APIs or work with other no-code tools like Airtable and Xano. Thankfully, Bravo partially makes up for this with lots of tutorials, partnerships with companies like Xano, and good hands-on help when you need it.

Pros
  • Lots of creative control
  • You can export mobile app designs directly from Figma
  • Lots of tutorials and assistance available
Cons
  • Difficult to use for non-designers or those without Figma experience
  • Less capable backend builder
  • You can only build native apps
App types

Native apps: Yes

Web apps: No

It's best for...

Designers and Figma users.

​​Pricing

​​In the flesh

Draftbit

Draftbit is more of a low-code app and requires a little comfort with coding. It's really suited for those with some technical expertise who want to save a ton of time and get many of the benefits of a no-code platform. The interface will be familiar to users of Webflow or even Xcode, and it can support actions, APIs, and other pieces of logic.

​Draftbit has great support for collaboration and version control, a rare feature in the no-code world. It also lets you export actual code, so you can use it elsewhere rather than being stuck on its platform. What that means is that if Draftbit shut down tomorrow, you could still take your code and continue to work on it.

Pros
  • Capability to build complex apps
  • Support for lots of logic and actions
  • Ability to export code
Cons
  • Requires coding experience
  • Pricier
App types

Native apps: Yes

Web apps: No

It's best for...

Developers and those with some coding experience who want the benefits of no-code speed, ease of build, and support.

Ценообразование

In the flesh

Скольжение

Glide creates beautiful apps and makes it easy to create some basic, useful tools. Despite what the branding might suggest, Glide becomes much harder to use as you try to build complexity, particularly with its database setup. That said, the excellent — if limited — workflow builder and the fact that you can have the same app feature on both desktop and mobile are big highlights. Glide has some large business-level support but falls down on a few business-ready features like permissions and audit trails. 

The template store is super impressive, along with a growing tutorial library. It has also recently launched some useful integrations with platforms like Airtable. While this article is about mobile app building, it’s worth noting that Glide — just like Adalo — supports the ability to turn your mobile apps into web apps and tablet apps. But unlike Adalo, it does this automatically and doesn’t require you to build a separate app. Glide is limited to web apps only and doesn’t build native apps.

Pros
  • Very easy to use
  • Creates beautiful apps
  • You can build for desktop and mobile simultaneously
Cons
  • Not suited to building more complex apps
  • Doesn’t support more business-focused features, like permissions and audit trails
  • Mobile apps are not native — creates web apps only
App types

Native apps: No

Web apps: Yes

It's best for...

Small to medium-sized businesses and startups that value aesthetics and ease of use but don’t require a lot of enterprise-level support.

Ценообразование

In the flesh

GoodBarber

GoodBarber is much simpler and easier to use than the other platforms here, but it is also more closed-off. That makes it a great option for small businesses — like nail salons, bakeries, hardware stores, salons, or dog groomers — that have very limited needs. For example, it would make a great loyalty app that could show off deals and let a business send notifications to its customers. This is the kind of use case that GoodBarber is aimed at. Building an app is more about choosing configuration options and pre-made GoodBarber modules (like a loyalty module or calendar module), as opposed to the other mobile app builders where you’re designing a UI and logic flows (aka how a user actually uses the app) mostly from scratch.

Pros
  • Простота в использовании
  • Pre-made modules
  • Builds simple, professional-looking apps
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Less customisable
  • Fewer advanced capabilities
App types

Native apps: Yes

Web apps: Yes

It's best for...

Small businesses that need an easy tool for making useful but limited apps.

Pricing

In the flesh

6. Got a question?

If you've reached this point, there may be a few questions you need answering.

• Aren't I just better off using a developer? 

In a word, no. Even companies with engineers in their team will likely be better off building mobile apps using no-code platforms in some capacity, letting them build cheaper, faster and with more support (especially with integrations). You may be able to build an amazing app from scratch if you have the engineering resources, budget and time – but no-code will always be a benefit to that process.

• What’s my cheapest option?

GoodBarber, Glide, and Bravo Studio have the most affordable starter plans for small businesses. For affordability at a larger scale, plans are generally custom-priced and will require a quote based on your exact needs.

• What should I look to avoid?

Any tool that doesn’t suit your business model. All of these tools could suit your business based on your team's capabilities, experience and what you actually want your mobile app to do. If you're a startup focusing your entire business model on an app, you obviously shouldn't opt for a super simple app builder; if you're a small business that just needs something simple, don't choose an overly complicated tool. Choose the one that can build to the level of sophistication you need.

• What about Bubble and Webflow?

These tools are great no-code solutions, but they’re not focused on building mobile apps. As your team gets comfortable with no-code workflows, it’ll be easier to use all these tools for your business.

• Is there anything else to think about? 

Definitely. Some considerations a business will want to keep in mind are:

  • Native vs. Web apps. Not every tool can build both types of apps so make sure you choose a tool that can build the type or types of apps your business needs. 
  • Data compliance and regulation. Especially when it comes to handling customer data or financial or sensitive information, security, regulation, and data compliance should be a big factor in choosing the right app builder. Make sure you know where your chosen app builder hosts your data.
  • Pricing per user vs. per app. Make sure you calculate the full cost of an app builder based on how it prices its product, not just the initial sticker price. This will avoid having to hand around a single log-in if your team is more collaborative or needing to unexpectedly upgrade your plan if you decide you need to build more apps or add more colleagues.
Aren't I just better off using a developer? 
What’s my cheapest option?
What should I look to avoid?
What about Bubble and Webflow
Is there anything else to think about?
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Want to build a mobile app without coding? The tools in this list will help you with that – whether you're looking to create a social networking app or a two-sided marketplace. No coding required.

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