Combining No-Code and Design to Accelerate Innovation

The No-code movement has a lot of momentum behind it right now. Companies like Webflow, Airtable, and Zapier, among others, are enabling people without a coding background to build digital products. More companies that enable no-code building are popping up left and right. No-Code twitter has grown into a big community over the last year. It’s full of no-coders showcasing some great products while supporting and encouraging each other. It even seems like a VC gold-rush into the space is on the horizon.

Not only will this allow great businesses to be built, but this will also accelerate corporate innovation. Two specific ways this will happen is through design sprints and pretotyping.

I’ve been involved in design sprints over the last several years. I’ve even written about some of my experiences. A key activity in a design sprint is creating a prototype that can be tested with users.

In many cases, the digital prototypes I’ve seen are interactive screens built in a prototyping tool like figma or sketch. Users can click through the screens and get a sense of what the product is like. Although these screens are very well designed, the freedom and functionality is usually lacking. Another restriction is that you’ve traditionally needed designers involved in the sprint to create a usable prototype.

No-code changes both of those issues. Depending on the type of digital prototype you want to build, you have different options.

If you just want to build a landing page to gauge interest, you can use carrd. What about a membership site? Webflow is perfect for that. You can even make certain content gated by intergrating tools like Memberstack. What if you want to build an app that has very custom interactions? Bubble has a lot of functionality that should get you what you need. In the case where you need automation work done, zapier and integromat are fantastic options that can connect different tools in useful ways.

The range of what types of prototypes can be build quickly using no-code tools is really impressive, especially compared to a few years ago.

The other great thing about this is that anyone can use these tools. There are education resources for each one, and while each one has it’s own learning curve, you’re no longer dependent on a designer to be in a sprint.

Although this is great for a prototype in a traditional design sprint where you do user testing, what can you do if you’re interested in asking potential customers to put their money where their mouth is? No-code can help with that too.

Recently, I’ve been following Alberto Savoia. He’s been putting out a fantastic video series on LinkedIn which I highly recommend watching. He discusses his concept of pretotyping, which is to put a new idea out in the market as quickly as possible and ask for ‘skin in the game’. Ideally this is a monetary investment, but it can be an email address, etc. based on the results, you’ll know if you have an idea worth pursuing.

No code enables this as well. You can have a fully functioning product that takes payments more quickly than ever before. Memberstack can do this, and Bubble has an integration with Stripe. It’s a great first step to see if you have a viable product.

For ideas that evolve beyond a design sprint or pretotyping, even some of the basic software engineering work can be done by no-code tools. This is a massive win for companies when designers’ and software engineers’ time is already at a premium. Let them handle the more complex projects, and let participants in a sprint build the first iterations of a product.

I’m curious to see how this develops going forward. Later this summer or in the fall, I’m thinking about running some type of design sprint in the no-code space. Since so many people are used to making things quickly, I’ll be interested to see what comes out of it.

If you have experience with no-code or design sprints and have thoughts on how they might work together, I’d love to hear from you. I’m most active on twitter @mattpupa, but will also respond to emails as well.