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Creating a web-based app / platform yourself

Discussion in 'General Business Forum' started by Lucky8, Oct 10, 2020.

  1. Lucky8

    Lucky8 UKBF Regular Free Member

    215 26
    I keep hearing stories of subject-experts/business people creating a web-based app/platform themselves, rather than pay an app developer a fortune to do it. Also I hear of no-code/easy code app development tools.

    Has anyone out there done it and could share how they went about it please? Or do you have general know-how about how this can be done? I'm technically savvy, but not in these languages: where do I start?
     
    Posted: Oct 10, 2020 By: Lucky8 Member since: Jan 17, 2019
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  2. billybob99

    billybob99 UKBF Regular Free Member

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    You have to ask yourself, what is the point of this story - usually they're selling a course on how to build a web app/subscription platform for next to nothing.

    There are a ton of no-code tools out there like bubble.io - it all depends on what you're trying to build.
     
    Posted: Oct 10, 2020 By: billybob99 Member since: Apr 23, 2013
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  3. mattk

    mattk UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    2,336 855
    It depends what you're trying to do. No Code applications often replicate either simple forms or spreadsheet capabilities in an app. This is fine if that's the capability you need.

    Tools like Wix and other site builders offer drag-and-drop websites, but they have limitations and are not very efficient when it comes to the code they output.

    If you want a proper web-based application such as a forum, e-commerce and so on, the there are numerous off the shelf tools available, which can be configured by someone tech savvy, but don't require coding skills.

    Finally, if you want to build something from scratch, then you will need software development skills. There is generally quite a steep learning curve, but once you have got yourself setup with the appropriate IDE (the tool you write the code in), database platform and other tools such as a web server, then there are tonnes of resources online you are learn from.

    In reality, it depends what you are trying to achieve. I would be looking at the third option in the first instance every time. Why start from scratch when you can leverage something existing.
     
    Posted: Oct 10, 2020 By: mattk Member since: Dec 5, 2005
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  4. John Hemming

    John Hemming UKBF Regular Full Member

    390 62
    The underlying problem is that generally users want a good experience. If it is easy to produce a good experience then lots of people will have done it already and you have a marketing challenge. If it needs quite a bit of good coding then it is often better to get someone who has the experience. Happens that I do my own coding on my own service, but I have a colleague as well.
     
    Posted: Oct 10, 2020 By: John Hemming Member since: May 23, 2019
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  5. ffox

    ffox UKBF Regular Free Member

    1,381 260
    Depends greatly on what you need to do. Complex public facing apps can be very complicated. Simple internal usage apps to access your own resources for functions like stock check, customer contact lists and other resources can be achieved with a single click. Say more about what you want and you'll get a better quality response.
     
    Posted: Oct 10, 2020 By: ffox Member since: Mar 11, 2004
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  6. gpietersz

    gpietersz UKBF Ace Full Member

    1,580 397
    I think @mattk is right. There are lots of things out there. There are very good odds that something exists you can use with the right configuration, or just simple tweaks.

    Can you give us some examples?

    As other have said you are not going to get meaningful answers without some indication of what you want to do.
     
    Posted: Oct 11, 2020 By: gpietersz Member since: Sep 10, 2019
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  7. antropy

    antropy OpenCart Experts Full Member - Verified Business

    3,689 634
    Maybe in the first instance hire a freelancer to work alongside to create the app so you have their support and not doing it alone. Alex
     
    Posted: Oct 13, 2020 By: antropy Member since: Aug 2, 2010
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  8. gpietersz

    gpietersz UKBF Ace Full Member

    1,580 397
    Also, what do you mean by "technically savvy"? Options available to you depend on what skills you have so maybe if you can be more precise we can make suggestions of what might suit you.
     
    Posted: Oct 13, 2020 By: gpietersz Member since: Sep 10, 2019
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  9. Paul Norman

    Paul Norman UKBF Ace Free Member

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    If you are sufficiently techy savvy, then this is fine.

    My first question though, is whether it is the best use of your time. I find, in business, that if I stick to my strengths I can earn enough to pay other people to do the stuff that is not the best use of my time.

    Obviously, I cannot answer that question for you.
     
    Posted: Oct 13, 2020 By: Paul Norman Member since: Apr 8, 2010
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  10. Lucky8

    Lucky8 UKBF Regular Free Member

    215 26
    OK good points. So by tech savvy, I mean I was a programmer many moons ago. I coded etc, but I didn't develop apps, whether android/iphone phone ones or the web apps I am talking about. As Paul's point says - it's not a great use of my time. BUT if I could find a way to combine my tech aptitude + my knowledge of UX, I think there's a chance I could put it together myself with a tool, with the areas where I really want to spend my time (on the business, the marketing etc) which is the best use of my time. Note - I have *no* intention of ever learning to code again, I am only interested in simple zero or little-coding tools. I want to create, get it out, see what the feedback is, evolve, typical Agile, typical fast prototyping, grow, get others on board to take over all the tech, I focus on the business.

    As to what kind of web app it is (it may be accompanied by a phone app, but I'd rather not). In terms of functionality, it would be similar to the employee benefits and reward web apps/phone apps that are around. User profiles, database of information fed according to time/user profiles in a visually easy and appealing way, that frequency could be changed if it's annoying, ability for ad-hoc notices sent out by "super users" or my team. No need for any payments, there's nothing transactional going on here.
     
    Posted: Oct 13, 2020 By: Lucky8 Member since: Jan 17, 2019
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  11. ffox

    ffox UKBF Regular Free Member

    1,381 260
    Microsoft 365 and G-Suite from Google provide this. It's all web app from the ground up, and it can be accessed from a smart phone. No coding necessary at all.
     
    Posted: Oct 13, 2020 By: ffox Member since: Mar 11, 2004
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  12. gpietersz

    gpietersz UKBF Ace Full Member

    1,580 397
    That makes learning to develop it yourself a lot more doable. What languages do you know? What sort of work did you do? You might be able to find a language and web framework that fit well with what you already know.

    In that case hire someone else to do it. Zero code and easy to use is going to be very limiting.

    So the app would be the business? its an SaaS offering?

    If it can be done with no code tools, does your business model take into account that potential customers could use the no code tools themselves to replace it?
     
    Posted: Oct 13, 2020 By: gpietersz Member since: Sep 10, 2019
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  13. gpietersz

    gpietersz UKBF Ace Full Member

    1,580 397
    Your invariable answer to everything.

    You have not been working for the NHS recently, by any chance, have you?
     
    Posted: Oct 13, 2020 By: gpietersz Member since: Sep 10, 2019
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  14. Lucky8

    Lucky8 UKBF Regular Free Member

    215 26
    I'm talking C++ etc, and for a short while I was a developer. This was a *very* long time ago, I wasn't good at it, and I haven't coded a single line of code since.

    Could I ask you and those who say there are ways to explain to me why you think the other person's wrong? In the middle here, and trying to get deeper info about why some think it can be done in the way I describe, and some think it can't. Why? Why not?

    Yes, business model takes the DIY route into account. It's SaaS packed with information which they don't have.
     
    Posted: Oct 13, 2020 By: Lucky8 Member since: Jan 17, 2019
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  15. gpietersz

    gpietersz UKBF Ace Full Member

    1,580 397
    The languages you would use for web development are a lot nicer, and easier to learn than C++. On top of that web frameworks are also highly productive. You might be pleasantly surprised if you try it.

    The more flexible no-code/low code platforms seem quite complex and require a learning curve themselves. It seems to be that "no-code" ultimately means "disguised code with a nice GUI" and you are going to need the same skills and a fair bit of knowledge to use them.

    Some low code platforms admit that what they are doing is declarative programming. Simple things with some web frameworks come pretty close to this - for example if you add a subclass with just some string or number attributes and no methods.

    In short, if you do anything beyond a certain level of complexity you will need to learn stuff anyway. You might find its just a nice GUI around doing the same work. Its not dissimilar to how a complex excel spreadsheet can end up requiring quite a lot of skill to do right. A visual programming language is probably even closer, albeit less familiar, example.

    Of course if what you are doing is show some forms, fill in and store the data, and relatively straightforward browsing of data, no code might work well for you.

    My experience is that most web apps, even ones that look simple, end up requiring coding some algo, or doing some complex database queries somewhere along the line

    It depends on what you want to do. You should probably take a look at the example sites, documentation and example code (or code substitute) for both no code/low code options and some web frameworks. Maybe bubble or similar for the former (they even have an app you can play with, without even registering). Maybe Ruby on rails, Django (my favourite) or Symfony for the frameworks. Then you can make up your own mind - and if both approaches are capable of doing the job, it might just come down to what you prefer.

    Looking at the Bubble "showcase" sites most of them are very limited compared to similar sites built using code.
     
    Posted: Oct 14, 2020 By: gpietersz Member since: Sep 10, 2019
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  16. billybob99

    billybob99 UKBF Regular Free Member

    1,795 608
    And so it should be, if you want to run an actual business vs being the limiting factor that tries to wear all the hats.

    If building it yourself isn't an option, look at ways to validate the idea first. There are so many startups that marketed their idea as if they'd built it.

    I've validated SaaS ideas by throwing a few hundred into UI mockups and hammering PPC.

    From the sounds of it you shouldn't even be looking at building anything, bespoke, or no-code or anything in between.
     
    Posted: Oct 14, 2020 By: billybob99 Member since: Apr 23, 2013
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  17. gpietersz

    gpietersz UKBF Ace Full Member

    1,580 397
    I think that is good advice.

    Not yet, you mean?
     
    Posted: Oct 14, 2020 By: gpietersz Member since: Sep 10, 2019
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  18. mattk

    mattk UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    2,336 855
    What level of conversion have you seen between people expressing an interest in your mock-ups and actually paying for a product?
     
    Posted: Oct 14, 2020 By: mattk Member since: Dec 5, 2005
    #18
  19. Chawton

    Chawton UKBF Regular Free Member

    171 80
    You can test for this explicitly simply by deploying a mock up 'buy now' button. A courteous message thanking them for their interest and explaining that the final product is in development/being finessed will give you a very meaningful answer.

    A simple UI mock up can give you a very solid answer on paid uptake (cf retention).
     
    Posted: Oct 14, 2020 By: Chawton Member since: Mar 21, 2018
    #19
  20. Lucky8

    Lucky8 UKBF Regular Free Member

    215 26
    OK useful to know, can you tell me more? How did you start, then what did you do with what? How did you enable PPC (pay per clicks?) without a fully functioning application and only UI mockups? Did you do the mockups yourself, if so what with?
     
    Posted: Oct 14, 2020 By: Lucky8 Member since: Jan 17, 2019
    #20