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Top No-Code App Builders For 2023: A Comprehensive Review

June 8, 2023

Looking for a no-code platform that suits your needs? Check out our in-depth, absolutely not-biased (no, really! We love competition) review of no-code apps that rock in 2023.

Oh, brave explorer of the digital universe, you've landed at the right spot! Let's talk about no-code app builders. But not just any builders—we're diving into the creme de la creme, the elite, the Top 10 no-code app builders of 2023. But first, some methodology to the process.

It better be really no-code

No HTML, no CSS, no JavaScript—unless you want to build something really specialized. For every tool on this list, you don't need to write a single line of code if you don't fancy it.

The ease of use

The user interface should be friendly, and the platforms should work without random glitches that make you want to throw your computer out the window.

Flexibility

Whether you're building a personal project or an enterprise app, these platforms need to be flexible enough to create whatever your heart desires—and scale it up to high heavens.

Help and documentation

A good knowledge base is only the start. Bonus points for platforms that provide starter guides, interactive guides, videos, and other useful resources that help you learn fast.

Community

Documentation can only do so much. Having an active forum with experienced builders is priceless. The apps on this list have large communities you can visit and get help if needed.

So, buckle up, it's going to be a wildly informative ride!

What is a no-code app builder?

The basics again, ugh!

No-code application builders, plain and simple, are platforms that empower anyone – be it designers, creatives, SEO wizards, you name it—to whip up usable software in a jiffy, sans coding. 

Initially designed for non-techy team members involved in product development, these no-code platforms enable anyone to craft fully functioning apps using intuitive visual editors that serve up pre-coded elements like text boxes, videos, buttons, and so on.

Through user-friendly drag-and-drop tools, WYSIWYG editors (what you see is what you get), workflow automation, sleek design, and cloud-based spreadsheets to store your data before it's displayed... no-code platforms pull off A LOT. Speaking of…

No-code app development benefits

The ace up the sleeve of no-code app builders is pretty obvious: you can be blissfully ignorant about coding and still get your job done! Want to create an app on par with Airbnb or Facebook? No worries, you won't need coding for THIS. Well maybe some, depending on how crazy you want to go, but get to that level first—you’ll figure it out later.

Here's what no-code app builders bring to the table:

  • They supercharge your workflows.
  • They trim your costs.
  • Testing, tweaking, and updating are hassle-free.
  • They shave time off getting to market.
  • Collaboration? A piece of cake.
  • You can kiss most obstacles goodbye.

But…

Without the power of traditional coding, you might bump into some limitations with what the app builder can do. 

Got some coding chops, or have teammates that do? Then, a low-code version could be your golden ticket. Remember, some no-code platforms also let you modify code. Which is a separate topic on its own.

That’s the gist of the no-code platforms’ reason to be.

No code vs low-code app development

No-code platforms might feel like they're a bit light on customizability. That's because they're more about swiftly sorting out information, instead of getting down and dirty with unique code.

No-code app builders:

  • Are like the holy grail for non-developers and business creators who wouldn't know coding if it hit them in the face.
  • Make a killer impression with top-notch UX & UI.
  • They're all about the drag-and-drop: move elements around to whip up functional applications.
  • They're the ultimate ally for non-technical users lacking coding know-how but wanting to build applications.
  • They'll play nice with databases, web services, or APIs so you can integrate data without needing code.

Now, low-code app builders are that middle ground between no-code and full-on manual coding. They're the shortcut you need to speed up app building, ditching the need to repeatedly churn out the same code. Essentially, you get to create software with just a smidgen of programming.

Low-code builders:

  • Are the ultimate sidekick for tech-heads and developers looking to fast-track their craft.
  • Yes, they demand some coding knowledge, but they're also generous with their drag-and-drop elements.
  • They aim to solve a broad range of software issues.
  • might have an open system platform, which might kick up a few bugs when updating your apps.

But don't go thinking no-code platforms are inflexible. Many no-code application builders also give you the green light to tweak the coding. You can edit their pre-configured blocks and come up with new elements. So developers can still get their coding fix to meet their business's unique needs, while the coding-challenged in the business can chip in their two cents.

Top 11 no-code app builders

This is what you came for!

Directual

💪 Pros

  • Scale anything up to any level
  • Build complex logic code-free
  • Use AI plugins
  • Use Web3 plugins!
  • The world is your oyster

😩 Cons

  • The frontend builder could use more templates
  • The pricing could be a bit more flexible

Pricing: starts at $29 and up to $300 per month on the top plan. There is a separate plan for agencies & freelancers at $39 per month per seat. Trial period—up to a month!

That is how Directual scenarios look like

Directual is the full-stack app development platform that brings together the power of traditional coding and a visual no-code approach. Here’s the rundown:

  • Keep an eye on your API load and processing load with the app dashboard's load statistics. Stay informed and stay ahead.
  • Configure your database effortlessly. Folders, data structures, object fields, field groups - customize it to your heart's content.
  • You can seamlessly integrate your app with site builders, CRMs, email platforms, messengers, AI platforms, social networks, and more.
  • Directual's NoSQL database is engineered to scale alongside your app. No worries, no limitations - it can handle millions of records without a hitch.
  • With the API builder, safeguard your data from prying eyes by configuring user-based access to specific fields with filters. 
  • Automate your backend app logic by building and interconnecting scenarios. Create workflows that suit your needs and run event-based scenarios at your convenience. Each step is lightning-fast, completed in mere milliseconds.
  • Connect your app with blockchain and Web3, seamlessly integrating with different networks, managing decentralized wallets, and monitoring real-time transactions. Stay ahead of the curve.

Here's the cherry on top: Directual offers a lucrative affiliate program. Earn up to a whopping 50% of client payments by referring others to the platform. It pays to be part of the Directual family.

Selling too hard? Oh well! 

Softr

💪 Pros

  • Build business apps on top of your Airtable, SmartSuite or Google Sheets data
  • Create free mobile apps as PWAs
  • Advanced authentication options (SSO, Google Sign-in, Magic Links, Sign in without passwords, Sign in with SMS and more)
  • Responsive design (web, tablet, mobile)
  • Customize layout and design to align with your brand
  • Advanced custom permissions and team collaboration features
  • Custom code option available to premium users for technical team

😩 Cons

  • No offline mobile mode
  • No Rest API integration

Pricing: Free 60-day trial for all plans available. Basic plan at $49 per month and the professional plan at $139 per month.

Softr.io is packed with features that'll surprise you. Forget about needing a manual just to get started. Everything's pretty straightforward:

  • Peruse app settings, add pages, handle users, and pick visual themes
  • Pile up visual blocks to craft your page—both status and dynamic
  • Tweak content, layout, and how things work
  • Adjust your canvas width for different devices and hit buttons to preview or launch your app. Very neat! 

You've got two choices for data: Airtable (yep, there's a free plan) or Google Sheets (also free). You can always switch it up in settings, too. Softr also has a range of awesome templates in case you need a headstart on things.

Bubble

💪 Pros

  • It's like a Swiss Army knife - you can build pretty much anything with it
  • Ideal for creating prototypes and MVPs that don't just look good on paper
  • Very slick interface
  • Big community
  • Been on the market for ages

😩 Cons

  • Pricing is as clear as a foggy day in London 
  • Doesn’t scale well at all
  • Logic is not as powerful as more backend-centric solutions

Pricing: starts with $0 and goes to $349 or custom pricing. The devil is in the operational limits, however, which are a tad too crazy to figure out right now. Workload units highly complicate assessing what you will have to pay at the end of the month.

Bubble boasts its own visual programming language, making it a child's play for beginners to cobble together an app without writing a line of code. It offers the freedom and flexibility usually seen in the playground of low-code platforms. 

You've got control over your app's aesthetics, data structure, and performance. This makes Bubble an excellent choice for both prototypes and real-deal products. Some no-code agencies love it so much, they use it exclusively to construct apps for clients.

But…

Working with Bubble is like spending a day juggling three jobs - a designer on Canva, a data analyst on Excel, and a logical thinking whiz setting up workflows. 

The learning curve is like scaling Mount Everest, but in a fun, adventurous way: you grasp the basics easily, giving you the confidence to dive in. But just when you're having a good time, you'll hit a roadblock, and it'll feel like a bucket of cold water on your enthusiasm. 

That's when you head over to the forums (which are great, to be fair) or YouTube. Once you overcome that obstacle, you'll feel a wave of accomplishment, rejuvenating your confidence and propelling your building process forward.

Directual loves Bubble, though. It’s quite a power duo in some cases.

Backendless

💪 Pros

  • Highly flexible - it's like a gymnast
  • Gives you high control over every nook and cranny of your app
  • On-premise hosting
  • Looks good

😩 Cons

  • Learning curve is like climbing K2
  • Not perfect for frontend tasks (the name implies that kinda)

Pricing: starts at $0 for cloud pricing, goes up to $50k/year for on-premise machines, and even further up to custom prices for tough requirements. Suited for small-timers and big corps alike, it seems.

Backendless is not for the faint-hearted, it's for those who thrive on tech challenges. Compared to other apps on this list, its ease of use ranks pretty low. And, it almost flunked the "is this really no-code?" test. So why is it here, you ask? Its flexibility, documentation, and community got it past the finish line.

Let's add some color to this picture. 

Modern apps typically have two major components: a front end (the pretty part with user interface, buttons, and input fields we play with) and the back end (the invisible infrastructure of servers and connected services storing data and doing the behind-the-scenes logic magic). Backendless emerged as a backend-as-a-service platform, lending a helping hand to developers scrambling to piece together databases and services for a website, app, or cloud service.

In a surprising plot twist, Backendless introduced a UI builder, enabling you to craft an interface and then link it to your databases. You can go code or no-code: it has a codeless approach, meaning you don't have to wrestle with code, but the logic and terms bear a striking resemblance to actual coding. This approach makes the logic-building process slightly more digestible while also serving as a launchpad for those looking to dip their toes into coding waters later on.

It’s a fantastic platform for pure backend purposes, which is pretty much their entire value proposition.

Retool

💪 Pros

  • Very good for internal tools and helping product managers sort their own needs
  • Metric ton of integrations and templates
  • Sizable customer base of big brands
  • On-premise hosting

😩 Cons

  • Not really a no-code platform but its close
  • Not suited for full-stack development

Pricing: starts at $0 and goes up to $50 per month +$15 per end user, with custom options available. That’s the catch—it’s load-oriented.

Retool is a no-code app builder that's designed for developers, and yeah, that might seem odd. I mean, can't developers just code their stuff?

Retool's game is to slash the time it takes to construct and launch a working app. Yes, you can bust your chops writing every single line of code. Retool, however, lets you pull and drop pre-constructed, pre-coded components into your app?

They've got a decent range of templates to kickstart your internal project. Admin panels, dashboards, software integrations - the works.

Retool is more of a low-code than a no-code platform. You'll have to get your hands dirty with JavaScript queries at some point if you want to soup up your app. And yeah, you'll likely want to inject some of your own custom code somewhere along the line.

It also assumes that you have some basic grasp of coding. So if you're a complete newbie, it's not your best bet. However, for developers who want to craft apps for internal use and don't want to blow months on building something from the ground up, it's pretty solid.

Adalo

💪 Pros

  • Focused on mobile app development which is a great niche
  • Has some beautiful templates
  • Perfect for mobile app MVPs

😩 Cons

  • Does not scale, at all
  • Good value for the features is found at the top pricing tiers
  • No source code—crucial for app devs
  • Weak backend-integrations (Xano is the only option)
  • The functionality is rather limited

Pricing: starts at $0 and goes up to $250 a month based on your needs

Adalo is a no-code platform for mobile apps, mostly. It has a simple drag-and-drop interface for designing and user-friendly tools for building. It’s pretty simple like that. Plus, with a single click, your app can be launched on both the iOS and Android app stores. 

This makes Adalo a good choice for entrepreneurs wanting to bring their app concepts to life without incurring massive costs.

Thunkable

💪 Pros

  • Good logic builder
  • Designed specially for mobile apps
  • Beautiful UI
  • Can deploy straight to app stores

😩 Cons

  • The functionality is limited
  • Does not scale all that well
  • Could use some more integrations
  • Also priced by download limits

Pricing: starts at $0 and goes up to $500 for the Teams plan. Custom offers are available, naturally.

Thunkable is a no-code app builder that stands out for its drag-and-drop functionality, focusing explicitly on native mobile apps.

You get complete creative autonomy when it comes to crafting custom native apps for iOS and Android. It doesn't confine you to restrictive templates, and the ways you can customize your app's appearance and behavior are extensive. You can construct your app using blocks, modules, and integrations with other platforms.

Moreover, Thunkable assists you in publishing your app on the iOS App Store and Google Play.

Betty Blocks

💪 Pros

  • Duplicatable app features
  • Automatic update system
  • Good UI builder
  • Good for internal apps

😩 Cons

  • A bit basic in terms of functionality
  • Not so good for startups and customer-oriented businesses
  • Names itself low code, despite being kinda no code more.
  • PRICY

Pricing: available upon request... But, we requested a price offer for us as a potential client. We don't indicate the exact amount, but the number included five zeros. So, Betty Blocks is not a cake for sale at all!

Betty Blocks! A good call if you're looking to hustle an application out the door without writing a single line of code. 

Their UI Builder lets you drag and drop your way to whatever front end tickles your fancy. You can combine it with any JS framework for absolute flexibility. They've also self-dubbed as a “Citizens Development” platform… which, let's be honest, is a head-scratcher, although it’s a good term.

The platform has lots of cool awards, though. It’s very cute!

Quickbase

💪 Pros

  • Well-engineered backend platform
  • Designed to support heavy-duty apps
  • A superior alternative to Airtable which is not on this list, sadly

😩 Cons

  • PRICY, but so is any other enterprise-oriented business
  • Not a good fit if you’re looking for a full-stack platform.
  • More low code than no code.

Pricing: starts at a mere $35 per user per month, with some fine print: 20 users minimum. Good for dev teams, but not everyone needs that many seats. Also Quickbase, your pop-ups are soooo annoying.

QuickBase: the no-code platform that's a relationship counselor for business and IT teams. It's a virtual jungle of applications, and even those who get sweaty palms at the sight of a command prompt can manage and scale across this platform.

With QuickBase, businesses can turn their brainwaves into applications at the speed of sound, featuring: 

  • Real-time roll outs – no internet, no problem
  • Security tighter than Fort Knox and compliance certifications up the wazoo
  • Tracks changes across all platforms
  • Powerful backend
  • Buttload of templates

QuickBase is adored by enterprise companies, because they know what they need. Just be aware that this is their target market, and if you’re just starting out, there are better ways to get a powerful database and internal tools set up.

Creatio

💪 Pros

  • OK for scaling
  • Decent UI pleases the eye
  • Active community and broad customer base

😩 Cons

  • Looks like more of an RPA than a no-code platform, which isn’t inherently bad. It’s low code more than no code, despite the marketing.
  • Steep learning curve—you’re majorly on your own

Pricing: starts at $0 and goes up..it’s hard to say, because the no-code platform has three separate products in it, all of which are priced separately…despite being a part of one flow. So…$50 something

Creatio is an esteemed no-code app development platform built for businesses and has been recognized by big-shot analytical firms such as Gartner Magic Quadrant and Forrester Wave. 

With Creatio, you get a whole bunch of in-built frameworks, tools, and templates so you can craft everything from straightforward SaaS apps to major business solutions. Plus, Creatio throws in some neat perks like predictive analysis and sales forecasting through AI and machine learning models for your custom-built applications. So it's a full package, ticking off all the boxes of low-code development.

Glide

💪 Pros

  • Very cool website—so dark and edgy (no sarcasm here)
  • A lot of templates for any industry
  • Great UI builder
  • Easy to learn

😩 Cons

  • Logic leaves much to be desired
  • Expensive

Pricing: starts at $0, goes up to $799, with custom offers available. 

Glide may work well on desktop, but its layout structure and app functionality make it a better choice for those targeting mobile users. 

In the world of Glide, every page is a "tab". These tabs can sport one of eight layouts – such as swipe, checklist, or cards. This decides their overall look and feel. The "details" layout is where you can get your hands dirty, fully customizing the tab with components like date pickers, buttons, and other input fields.

If you want to strut your stuff on the App Store or Google Play, they offer a service to get your app prepped and primed for the approval process.

However, Glide's knack for design may feel like a straightjacket, limiting your creative freedom when it comes to the user interface. The same goes for the logic you can incorporate into your app. While it has a decent range of available actions and triggers, setting up advanced functionality might feel like trying to thread a needle in a hurricane.

Comparing the top no-code app builders

Let's break down the performance of these no code app builders:

Ease of Use

In the context of user-friendly interfaces, Directual and Thunkable stand out for their simplicity and intuitiveness. They allow non-tech users to build functioning applications with little to no stress. 

Bubble and Adalo also receive high marks for their user-friendly platforms, providing a drag-and-drop interface that simplifies the app creation process. Quickbase, on the other hand, packs a lot of features and capabilities which might pose quite a learning curve for beginners. Whoops.

Features and Flexibility

Directual and Backendless stand out when it comes to delivering a broad range of features. From AI-based predictive analysis to enterprise-grade backend systems, Directual allows businesses to build intelligent, AI-driven apps. Backendless, too, offers a wide array of functionalities like user management, real-time database, and cloud code. 

Thunkable and Adalo are particularly handy when it comes to building native mobile apps, providing comprehensive tools for this specific need. Glide, Betty Blocks, and Bubble bring a high degree of flexibility to the table, allowing you to customize your apps to great levels indeed.

Pricing

If you're on a tight budget but don't want to compromise on capabilities, Directual, Adalo, and Creatio offer competitive pricing plans. These platforms deliver a rich set of functionalities at a more affordable cost, making them attractive options for startups or smaller businesses. 

On the other end of the spectrum, Quickbase and Backendless might require a larger financial investment. However, they justify their cost with their powerful features, making them a worthwhile consideration for complex projects.

Conclusion

Well…

What do you need to build? An MVP? Head to Directual, Creatio, or Adalo. Some backend stuff? Backendless, Directual, Quickbase if you can afford it. Need something in between? Glide, Betty Blocks, Thunkable. Need a mobile app? Adalo and Glide. Need something beautiful that won’t grow past the MVP stage? Oh my god, Bubble. 

Choose wisely, try it all, and combine! That’s the best bit. Directual works well with all of them, and you can truly unlock the meaning of no code by mixing and matching the strengths of various platforms.

FAQ

Are no-code app builders worth it?
Are no-code app builders worth it?

Yes, no-code app builders are absolutely worth it. They allow you to create fully functioning applications without any coding knowledge. This empowers a wide range of people, not just those with technical skills, to turn their ideas into real products. No-code platforms can significantly reduce the time, cost, and complexity involved in developing an app compared to traditional coding methods

How do I choose a no-code app builder?
How do I choose a no-code app builder?

First, consider your specific needs. Are you creating a mobile app, a web app, or some internal business tool? Different platforms excel in different areas (unsurprisingly). Secondly, think about your budget. Pricing models vary widely among no-code platforms. Also, consider the platform's scalability, flexibility, community support, and available templates or components.

Is there a future for no-code?
Is there a future for no-code?

Absolutely. The no-code movement is gaining significant momentum and is projected to keep growing in the coming years. The shortage of skilled developers and the high cost of traditional software development are major barriers. No-code platforms address these issues, allowing more people to create software and accelerating the development process. AI will only empower no-code platforms to become even more useful to end users.

Will no-code replace software developers?
Will no-code replace software developers?

No, no-code platforms will not replace software developers. While these platforms are powerful and continue to evolve, there are still limitations that require traditional coding skills. Custom-built software, complex integrations, and advanced features sometimes require the expertise of a professional developer. Developers can also leverage no-code tools to speed up their work. Rather than replacing developers, no-code is likely to change their role, making them more of a guide in the software development process.

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