Remember when you had to know how to code in order to build an app? We've moved on from that world: no-code tools are here to stay, and they're powerful enough to let you build almost anything you can think of without ever typing function().
I've been working with no-code apps for a while, and as a die-hard tinkerer, I have a serious soft spot for them. For this article, I researched and considered about 60 different platforms, exploring each one and conducting extensive testing.
After spending way too much time tinkering with settings and building apps without code, here are my picks for the seven best no-code app builders—whether you're looking to flesh out that personal project or create a brand new SaaS product.
The best no-code app builder software
Softr for complete beginners
Bubble for a balance between power and ease of use
Glide for creating simple mobile apps
Draftbit for creating powerful mobile apps
Bildr for flexibility
Backendless for advanced control over your data and infrastructure
FlutterFlow for building for multiple platforms
Bonus (in beta): Zapier Interfaces
Building an app without code: The requirements
How we evaluate and test apps
All of our best apps roundups are written by humans who've spent much of their careers using, testing, and writing about software. We spend dozens of hours researching and testing apps, using each app as it's intended to be used and evaluating it against the criteria we set for the category. We're never paid for placement in our articles from any app or for links to any site—we value the trust readers put in us to offer authentic evaluations of the categories and apps we review. For more details on our process, read the full rundown of how we select apps to feature on the Zapier blog.
Most tools that let you build apps without code divide the process into three parts:
Structuring the database, which will hold all the information your users will input and request as they use the app.
Composing the user interface, where you'll create the screens, buttons, and input fields that your users will interact with.
Building the logic of the app, which, put simply, is determining what happens once an event is triggered; for example, "when the user clicks the 'Open' button… open the pop-up."
The best platforms create a visual programming experience that lets you put together an app exactly the way you want it, without having to code or even deeply understand the way computers think. In addition to making programming more accessible for the non-technical crowd, these app creators also help professional developers save time on building basic features, freeing up their schedule to tackle bigger coding problems.
Here's what I looked for when testing each no-code app builder.
Ease of use. The visual programming concepts need to be easy to understand. The user interface of all these apps is friendly and intuitive, and the platforms work without major performance hiccups or strange errors. Keep in mind: the easier app builders on this list, while able to deliver good results, can't compare with the power of those with a more demanding learning curve. If you're building a unique product, consider investing the extra time and effort to have as much freedom as possible.
Help and documentation. Having a good knowledge base is just the beginning. I also prioritized platforms that have good "getting started" articles, interactive guides, videos, and any other resources to speed up your learning and help you solve problems as you build.
Flexibility. Personal project? Enterprise app? No matter what you're looking to build, these platforms are flexible enough to let you build the features you want. For this reason, you won't find platforms on this list that specialize in internal tools or other niche no-code use cases.
Community. Documentation only gets you so far, and that's when having an active forum with more experienced builders is useful. These apps have active forums and independent content creators online, so you can kick back in front of YouTube and learn while sipping your coffee.
After signing up for each platform, I opened the suggested "getting started" article and set out to build a very simple CRM app. I created the functionality to add contacts and deals and a simple dashboard to keep it all together. I tinkered a lot, and whenever I got stuck, I Googled the problem and clicked around to find the solution either in forum threads, in the knowledge base, or on YouTube. Finally, I visited each platform's showcase and searched online for apps built with it to gauge how flexible they were and the level of success users were having with it.
One last thing before getting onto the apps: as the founders of Coaching No Code Apps said, "no-code doesn't mean no work." Be prepared to develop new skills and to get in the programmer mindset when you use these no-code app builders.
Just want to build an internal tool based on your spreadsheets? A no-code app builder might be too advanced if you're only looking for a productivity increase. Check out Zapier's list of the best database-powered app builders, where you'll be able to plug in your existing spreadsheets and build the right productivity system for you and your team.
The best no-code app builders at a glance
Easy to start using, plenty of useful templates
Free plan available; paid plans start at $29/month
Balance between power and ease of use
Build nearly anything, great for prototypes and MVPs
Free plan available; paid plans start at $32/month
Creating simple mobile apps
Easy to create good-looking apps, install test apps on your phone
Free plan available for individuals; paid plans start at $25/month
Creating powerful mobile apps
You can build native mobile apps, varied range of data source connections
Free plan available; paid plans start at $29/month
Highly visual building process, plenty of time-saving features
Free plan available; paid plans start at $29/month
Advanced control over data and infrastructure
Highly flexible, high control over every part of your app
Free plan available; paid plans start at $15/month
Building for multiple platforms
Deep control over design and functionality, fully extensible with code
Free plan available; paid plans start at $30/month
Automation-first app building
Integration with thousands of apps, automation-focused
Free while in beta
Best no-code app builder for complete beginners
Very easy to start using
Plenty of useful templates
Limited advanced logic
Don't be deceived by how simple Softr looks. It may lack the complex vibe we associate with powerful apps, but the range of things you'll be able to build—and the customization options at your disposal—is surprisingly good.
The user interface makes a lot of sense. You won't have to tab out to the documentation to put together the first prototype of your app:
On the left part of the screen, you'll find the big app settings, a section to add pages, user management controls, and visual themes.
At the center sits the canvas where you'll stack blocks to build your page. These can be either static blocks (containing information that stays the same, useful to create landing pages and feature sections) or dynamic blocks (where you can display data from the database or embed a simple checkout form).
Once you click on any block, the block settings open on the right side of the screen. Here you can edit the content, layout, and interactivity of each block.
Finally, on the top, you can change the width of the canvas to target desktops, tablets, or smartphones, and access the controls to preview or publish your app.
You can use two data sources to power your apps to begin: Airtable (free plan available) or Google Sheets (free). It's easy to integrate either of them, but for some reason, most templates that I tried forced me to go with Airtable. You can change the data source later in the settings, though, so it's not a big problem.
I started out from the existing CRM template, and I was impressed by how complete it was—it didn't take me long at all to implement the features I wanted and build an app without code. There's a range of other templates available, from project management apps to job listing websites, and each offers the basic pages, design, and functionality to put you on the fast track. Still, I advise you to click on the video tutorials section and hop on one of the recorded workshops to start learning the ropes from a blank slate. One or two hours should be enough to give you a big-picture understanding of how everything works top-to-bottom.
Softr also connects with Zapier, so you can create and delete users in Softr whenever you take actions in other apps. Here are a couple of examples.
Create Softr app users for new Jotform submissions
Really, Softr's biggest strength is that it has most of the features of an advanced app builder without the difficulty. If this is the first app you're building, Softr will introduce you to all the concepts and still get you a great result at the end.
Softr price: Free plan available; paid plans start at $29/month.
Best no-code app builder for power and ease of use
Build nearly anything
Great for prototypes and MVPs
Bubble has its own visual programming language, making it accessible for beginners to create an app without code, while still providing the freedom and flexibility of a platform on the low-code spectrum. You'll have control over the way your app looks, its data structure, and overall performance. Because of this, Bubble is great for putting together both prototypes and fully-fledged products ready to scale. It's so robust that a few no-code agencies use it exclusively to build apps for their clients.
A normal day in front of the editor involves building the UI with controls similar to Canva, working with data on a screen that looks like Excel, and setting up the logic in a step-by-step way using workflows. The learning curve is steeper than usual, but in a fun way: it's easy to grasp the fundamentals, giving you enough confidence to start building. A few hours in, you'll hit a big roadblock that'll send you over to the forums or YouTube. After experimenting and researching, you'll be able to solve the problem and feel a burst of skill, renewing your confidence and speeding up the building process.
How do I know this? Full disclosure: I've been using Bubble for the past few years, I've written about it in the past, and they're part of my client list. I've built six apps with Bubble, and every time I begin a new one, I do a little better. I wrote a piece for the Zapier blog on how to build a simple to-do list app using Bubble, so you can definitely start there if you'd like.
One of Bubble's greatest advantages is that the community is active, there's a lot of help to get started, and there are plenty of content creators offering thorough step-by-step videos, introductory courses, and written guides. And if you want to learn faster, you can also hire coaching or enroll in one of the development bootcamps.
You can also use Bubble's Zapier integrations to connect it to thousands of other apps—also without any code. Here are a couple of pre-made workflows to get you started.
Create Google Sheets rows for new workflow trigger events in Bubble
Modify things in Bubble from new changes detected by Browse AI
If you want an app builder that's flexible and will let you set up all the advanced logic you need to bring your digital product to life, Bubble can help. It won't be an entirely smooth journey if you're a complete beginner, but you'll come out on the other side with a strong app and the skills to keep improving it further.
Bubble price: Free plan available; paid plans start at $32/month.
Best no-code mobile app builder
Easy to create good-looking apps
Install apps on your computer or smartphone
Limited advanced logic
Even though Glide works well on desktop, the way it structures the layout and functionality of your apps makes it a much better fit if mobile is your target. And the best part is that you won't have to fine-tune the way it looks—it's pretty right out of the box.
Glide calls each page a tab. These tabs can have one of eight available layouts—for example, swipe, checklist, or cards—which establishes their overall look and functionality. The details layout is the one that lets you fully customize the structure of the tab, letting you add components like date pickers, buttons, and other input fields.
One thing I found particularly useful is the fact that you can install the apps you create on your computer or phone with a couple of clicks. This will place an icon that, when clicked, will start a progressive web app—an app that works via the internet, not natively on your device. This is great for testing, sharing, and distributing your app easily. If you want to add it to the App Store or Google Play, there's a service available that'll help get everything ready for the approval process.
Because Glide does so much for you in terms of design, it may limit you in terms of UI freedom. The same applies to the logic you can build on your app: the range of available actions and triggers is great, but it might be hard to set up advanced functionality. But you can use Zapier to take care of that: Glide integrates with Zapier, letting you trigger workflows directly from the app you're building. Here are some examples:
Log bountyblok tasks from new Zapier actions in Glide
Send emails via Gmail for new Zapier actions in Glide
Create Google Sheets rows for new Zapier actions in Glide
If you're new to creating apps without code, Glide University is one of the best learning resources I encountered in this category, offering a varied collection of high-quality videos with a focus on the "getting started" content. They show how to use the app effectively and also teach some basic concepts about app building, which will help you nail the best practices faster.
From what I've seen in communities, Glide seems best suited to build marketplaces and directories. I especially liked Telesomm, where sommeliers list themselves and their services, so enthusiasts can buy sessions with them. It's optimized for mobile, and you check it out here (all built on Glide).
Get started quickly with Glide University.
Glide price: Free plan available for individuals; paid plans start at $25/month.
Best no-code app builder for creating powerful mobile apps
You can build native mobile apps
Varied range of data source connections
Developing for the web is possible but not as intuitive as with other builders
If you don't feel in complete control when using Glide, Draftbit is your next option. You'll be able to fine-tune everything on your user interface and access more advanced logic. The learning curve is tougher than in Glide, but that's the trade-off.
Instead of using components to put together the user interface, you'll use a set of containers and elements you can arrange inside: database views, touchables, icons, buttons, and a lot more. Track the hierarchy and structure in the menu on the left side of the screen; and on the opposite side, you'll have everything you need to edit each component: layout, style, database interaction, and behavior.
As you build your app, Draftbit assembles the code behind the scenes. Every time there's a change on the editor, it takes a bit of time to translate it into code. But once it's ready, you can preview it in a range of preset screen sizes or directly on your phone by installing a test app. That way, you can build on your desktop and see how it works on your smartphone right away.
You never have to dive into the code or edit it yourself, but it's always best to have access to it. If your app ever blows up and becomes a fast-growing business, you may need to get pro developers to build advanced features for you. When that happens, Draftbit offers monthly subscriptions where you can hire their experts to do just that. They can take care of development while you move on to product design, marketing, or business growth.
Draftbit also lets you create and control device variables, something that most other apps don't offer. These are mobile-specific features that keep track of your app, device, and screen variables, letting you leverage the phone's hardware and native services (like the camera) and manage user settings locally in the device. This keeps the app working even if the user is offline and can potentially reduce the amount of requests each phone makes to your servers—this is important for performance and for privacy.
The guides to deploy your app to Google Play and the App Store are pretty thorough, explaining the process well despite the technical requirements. If you ever hit a snag, be sure to reach out to the community—it's one of the most active of the platforms on this list.
Draftbit price: Free plan available; paid plans start at $29/month.
Best no-code app builder for flexibility
Highly visual building process
Plenty of time-saving features
A bit slow at times
Web apps, Chrome extensions, progressive web apps for phones and blockchain-enabled apps for Web3—these are the apps that work best on Bildr. What I like the most about it, apart from this flexibility, is the highly visual building process.
If you've ever used Figma, a popular product prototyping platform, the user interface will ring a few bells. If you haven't, then a whiteboarding app like Miro is the next best analogy. You'll see all the pages, screens, and patterns of your app in one big canvas. Need to structure a funnel or a user flow? Rearrange them as needed without having to tab out to your app planning doc.
Despite this intuitive user experience, building a new app in Bildr is more technical than most options on this list. There are lots of elements you can drag and drop on the canvas—form containers, rich-text editor boxes, toggle switches, and many more—and you can customize the properties, styling, connected events, and data. The design follows the logic of CSS, but you don't need to write it at any point: the menus figure out all the settings for you.
When you find yourself reusing the same collection of elements across pages—say, a form with three inputs or a hero section with two buttons—Bildr lets you turn that into a pattern. This makes that collection a reusable you can drop in new pages, helping you save time and create a more consistent user experience.
The dev team invested a lot in help content over the past few months. The video tutorials cover every beginner to intermediate topic, from Bildr-specific advice to general app-building best practices. I recommend going through the basics before diving in headfirst: once you grasp the big-picture logic of how Bildr works, you're going to pick up speed and reach your objectives faster.
Get started quickly in Bildr's 101 section.
Bildr price: Free plan available; paid plans start at $29/month.
Best no-code app builder for advanced control over your data and infrastructure
High control over every part of your app
Steep learning curve
Backendless is for brave, tech-forward folks. It ranks low in ease of use (compared to the other apps that made this list), and it almost failed the "is it really no-code?" test. Why is it on this list, then? Because of its flexibility, documentation, and community.
Let's add some context. The apps we use today can be divided into two main parts: a front end (the user interface, buttons, and input fields we interact with) and the back end (the range of servers and connected services to store data and process the app's logic). Backendless started as a backend-as-a-service platform, helping developers put together all the databases and services to get a website, app, or cloud service up and running.
More recently, Backendless added a UI builder, letting you create an interface you can then connect to your databases. You can do this with code or without it: the platform has a codeless approach, meaning that you don't have to write code, but the logic and the terms are close to actual coding. This makes the logic-building process slightly more accessible while also serving as a stepping stone to picking up some coding skills later on if you want to.
If you want to keep things on the no-code side, you can connect Backendless and Zapier to move data in and out of your app's databases. Here are a few examples:
Send Gmail emails when new objects are created in Backendless
Create or update Mailchimp subscribers from new user registrations in Backendless
Create Backendless database rows for new Google Sheets rows
The learning curve is scary, but Backendless Missions make it interesting. You'll complete a series of tasks that'll explain how the platform works, how to set up the back end, and how to connect things together in the front end. And this is the biggest advantage when you pick up Backendless as a beginner: you'll be closer to the actual structure and terminology of app building, which will be helpful when you need to scale, implement a new user interface, or add additional services to your app.
Backendless took me the most time to get from zero to finishing my simple CRM due to the learning curve, but I walked away with a better understanding of how apps work in general. If you want to build new skills as much as create apps without code, it's the best choice to do both.
Get started quickly with Backendless by following the Missions on the dashboard's left-side menu. Learn more about how they work.
Backendless price: Free plan available; paid plans start at $15/month.
Best no-code app builder for creating apps for multiple platforms
Deep control over design and functionality
Fully extensible with code
Very steep learning curve
FlutterFlow was built by two former Google engineers on top of the Flutter framework, an open source standard for developing apps for multiple platforms. Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, and even Linux systems—Flutter can work in any of these environments.
The platform is very complete: it has a mountain of elements you can add to the canvas; the element editor on the right has the largest number of settings I've seen; and if you take a tour on the app settings page, you'll be able to control anything from authentication with social media to in-app subscriptions.
When building a new app, you can start from full-featured templates. If you don't want to be that locked in from the start, you can instead browse screen templates and add them to your app as pages. When the template bank doesn't have what you need, you can turn to FlutterFlow's AI engine: write a prompt detailing what you need, and it'll generate a screen with the appropriate elements. All you have to do is fix the styling and adjust the functionality, and it's good to go.
The relationship between power and difficulty is what you'd expect: FlutterFlow is hard to master but immensely powerful. To add insult to injury, it prefers Firebase as a data source. Let me unpack that:
Firebase is a Google backend-as-a-service platform that handles all of your app's infrastructure (think: the backstage of a theater show). It handles data storage, authentication, and improving user experience on your app.
There's a lot of developer jargon in both the Firebase dashboards and documentation. These assume you have at least intermediate-level technical knowledge.
Cloud Firestore, the database service, is a document database, not a relational one. If you've been no-coding for a while and have mastered the relational data models, moving to document-based may feel confusing. Jargon mode off.
The upsides? Firebase is super powerful, it's easy to scale your infrastructure when your app starts growing, and the free plan is generous, so you have a longer runway before take-off.
If you've read this far and you're still excited, don't think twice: dive into it. You'll come out on the other side with an accurate understanding of how app development works in general and a set of new real technical skills. If you're still skeptical, do it like I did: pick up Softr, Bubble, or Draftbit first, build a few apps to grasp the basics, and then move to FlutterFlow for hardcore mode.
FlutterFlow price: Free plan available; paid plans start at $30/month.
Add automation to your no-code app building with Zapier Interfaces
Zapier is a no-code automation tool that connects thousands of apps together (you're reading their blog right now). But they've also released a product that adds a native app-building option to the experience.
Interfaces (currently in beta) lets you create mini web apps with landing pages, forms, Kanban boards, and even chatbots—and can even use your own data sources (via Zapier Tables). You can stack these components across pages, making it easy to create a simple CRM or lead capture form. What makes it unique is that it's an automation-first platform, which means it's easy to connect your app to all the other apps in your tech stack, sending leads directly to your CRM, for example.
Keep an eye on Interfaces—it's growing at a nice pace. And it's free while in beta, so be sure to try it out by signing up for a Zapier account. I'm hoping that by next year, I'll be able to officially add it to the list above.
Other advanced no-code tools to support your app
Before I go, I wanted to namedrop a couple other platforms that you can use with these no-code app builders to build better apps:
Xano is a no-code backend-as-a-service tool like Google Firebase. It helps you store data in a relational database model, generating API endpoints that you can use to connect to all kinds of web services (like analytics and machine learning). It's much easier to use than Firebase, too, so give it a try if you want to separate the front-end from the back-end.
Algolia helps improve and speed up any search process inside your app. If you're dealing with deep databases with thousands of entries, search can slow down or even crash your app. This tool helps to figure out the user intent, quickly sort through your databases, and surface the right information faster.
Build an app without coding
Creating an app without code should be fun, honestly. And by now, you should have a general idea of which platform is the best for your particular project. All the apps in this list either have a free plan or a "free to learn/pay to launch" model, so you can create your account and start experimenting.
One last tip before you dive in: create two projects when starting out. One for the app you want to build, the other one for testing and learning. Whenever you hit a roadblock on your main app, head over to the testing project to brainstorm possibilities and implement potential solutions. This will build up your skills using the app builder while keeping your main project clean as you learn.
This article was originally published in January 2023. The most recent update was in September 2023.