Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Apps are a rising force in the world of commerce. In 2021 alone, consumers spent an astounding $170 billion on apps — up 19 percent from the previous year. Users spend about 87 percent of their time on mobile devices on apps, and unlike websites, which are generally free to use, many apps require purchases.
Those statistics aren’t surprising when you consider the benefits of apps over web browsers. Apps are more user-friendly and visually appealing. The content fits different screen sizes perfectly, loads faster, and navigation is more intuitive. Some apps can also use a device’s hardware, such as the accelerometer or camera.
Faster load times are especially significant, considering that 40 percent of website visitors will leave a site if it takes more than three seconds to load. Faster load times also make checkout processes smoother than on a browser. For these reasons and more, apps are eating into websites’ revenue. As JMango360 reports, 40.4 percent of all users purchase more from a company after installing the company’s e-commerce app.
Apps also reach a previously unapped niche of customers. Websites cast a wide net and often reach the merely curious. For customers seeking richer, more interactive content, apps are far more effective. Younger users are also more likely to use apps — twice as often as those over 45. That’s a valuable share of the market that you can’t afford to ignore.
All that said, hiring someone to do mobile app development is not often practical for small businesses. In those cases, there’s another option.
Related: How to Make an App When You Can’t Code
Enter the progressive web app
A newer approach is to use a progressive web app (PWA). These apps have many specific advantages. They’re easy to build, share and access, and organizations can use them for numerous purposes. They also offer automatic updates, instant downloads and offline use. Also, unlike native apps, PWAs can be used across all devices.
Of course, PWAs aren’t the right choice for every small business — it depends on whether the app will employ the native functionality of a device. For example, native apps can access a device’s Bluetooth connection or camera, but PWAs can’t. If you need extra security or extremely fast speed, a native app might be a better choice.
Given the business advantages of apps and the advent of PWAs, it seems like a no-brainer that leaders of small and medium-sized businesses would race to launch their own software. But sometimes, finding a suitable developer can be difficult. And even if you do find one, their fees may be too high for your budget.
Fortunately, business owners can opt for a no-code solution to get the job done without breaking the bank.
Related: These 3 Million Dollar Apps Were Built By Non-Coders
3 tips for getting started with no-code apps
Before you plunge into developing a no-code app, here are three steps that will set you up for success:
1. Get clear on which features you need for your app
Any project worth doing needs to be thought through carefully from the initial planning stages, and development without code is no different. Consider which exact features you’ll need for your app, such as a drag and drop design interface, database integration, analytics and reporting features, scheduling capabilities or e-commerce functions. Be sure to choose a platform that uses templates, as they’ll help you build an app quickly and visually, which is the most intuitive approach.
Also, see if the no-code solution provides a way to extend the app using code in case you might need a developer to tweak it in the future. No one wants to have to start over from scratch at that point, and many no-code solutions can be low-code, too.
2. Choose the right no-code app builder
Be sure to check a platform’s website for price transparency. Ask yourself: Can the platform scale with your company? Is it regularly updated? What companies have used the platform successfully already? Questions such as these will help you gauge the platform’s suitability for your needs over time.
When choosing a no-code app builder, look for platforms that offer the features you identified in the previous step. This may also help determine whether you need a native app — such as when you need to use some device functionality that a PWA can’t provide.
3. Create your fusion team
App development should never happen in isolation, so bring in a wide swath of stakeholders to get input on the app’s creation. Build what’s known as a “fusion team” — a combination of groups from across the organization to give input on developing an app for a specific function. For example, ByteDance, the company behind TikTok and other highly successful apps, has achieved success in this way by using shared-service platforms (SSPs) to foster effective teamwork.
With SSPs, ByteDance can support highly flexible, specialized teams to work on specific apps while calling on centralized business, technology and operations functions for support. This allows the company to deploy people as needed from these teams.
Related: Create Multi-Platform Apps for Your Business Idea With Minimal Coding
Join the no-code future
Apps are critical to business strategy these days, and with the availability of no-code solutions, there’s no reason not to have one up and running for your business. By doing a little homework, using a PWA solution, finding a platform that works for your company’s needs, and getting a great team together, you can create an app with little to no coding and capture greater market share.
But don’t delay — the same option is available to your competitors. Fortunately, getting started with mobile app development is easy. Before long, you’ll be enjoying the increased brand recognition and customer loyalty that comes from an app — without the massive expense associated with developing a native one.