In this publication, we will look at how a non-technical founder of a startup can make a minimum viable product using NoCode tools without involving developers, managers and designers. We will analyze which tools are useful for various aspects of MVP, and what to look for when choosing them.
This article is the second part of a series of publications:
For the sake of readability, we have made the materials independent, but if you have any questions about the MVP idea, please refer to the first publication.
Things to consider before choosing a NoCode service for MVP
Before choosing specific tools, set a clear goal. Highlight the main function of the MVP and draw up a work plan for its implementation. In the previous article, we described the necessary sequence of actions.
Determine what types of tools are needed to implement the main MVP function. We will consider the following categories of NoCode services:
- frontend and backend
- mobile applications,
- integration of third-party services,
- storage and processing of data,
- presentation tools,
- marketing and distribution.
New NoCode tools appear on ProductHunt every day. To select a tool in each of the categories, you need to use some criteria. Pay attention to the following points:
- Is the NoCode service developing steadily? Evaluate how long the tool has been working, how many people use it and how they respond.
- Is it possible to export data? MVP is meaningless if the accumulated data cannot be stored and explored. Check the completeness of the export – some services allow to download only part of the information.
- Is it possible to use the service in a team? You can create a pilot product on your own, but in the case of a successful launch collaboration is required.
- How does the cost of using the service depend on the number of customers? Most of the popular NoCode services have a free plan, but the pricing policies of the paid plans vary considerably.
These questions will be useful when compiling a pivot table for choosing between several services of the same category.
Ideation of MVP
MVP data analysis includes short-term brainstorming and a long-term knowledge system. Local discussion of ideas is conveniently carried out on online boards, and the results obtained can be structured in the project knowledge base. You will also need a project tracker in which you will track the development of the idea and stimulate work with deadlines.
Visualization brings ideas from the world of abstraction to life. Sketch a prototype in any drawing application, or build a neat block prototype in Balsamiq. At the stage of visualization, the idea undergoes initial testing – what cannot be depicted cannot be realized.
Online boards. Miro and Mural collaboration boards allow you to look at a project from different angles. Ideas can be organized into mind maps, flow charts, and grouped notes. These tools provide a variety of pre-made mechanics, but do not limit creativity in any way.
Knowledge base. As the project develops, the volume of information grows, it needs to be structured. In this regard, Notion, Coda, or Google Docs, which is familiar to many, work great. Fibery provides a comprehensive approach for organizing a workspace with a structured database integrated with NoCode applications.
A project tracker is needed to keep track of the current state of work. Even if you are doing the project yourself, you need some kind of plan. Task trackers motivate and speed up work by dividing a large task into small points. You can use the built-in tools mentioned by Notion and Fibery, a regular Kanban board like Trello or its specialized counterpart Jira. The main thing is to see the whole picture.
Web and mobile applications: the face of MVP
An MVP should have some kind of platform to deliver the product to the customer. For example, a website or a mobile application. The choice of tools for building a site depends on the role of the site in the functioning of the MVP.
If the site is not a priority of the business model, a landing page on Carrd or Strikingly constructors as a multi-page site on Wordpress is enough. The site will allow you to establish a connection with the audience and collect a base of interested customers. All you need to do is describe the features of the product, its benefits and add buttons with an appeal: register, subscribe, request a demo. Product view templates are available on Canva and Vista Create. Here you can also find design ideas for visual content of the landing page.
To create mobile applications for Android and iOS, there is Adalo, a browser-based drag-n-drop builder. Glide can build mobile app form from Google Spreadsheet data. Thunkable app constructor has a powerful graphical programming system using interconnected blocks.
Design prototyping. App builders typically provide dozens of different templates and page blocks. But if these patterns don't suit you, some builders allow third-party solutions. For example, Figma is an online graphical application interface editor with adaptive design for screens of different devices. A detailed interface can be transferred with all styles to the application code. If necessary, the project is available for collaborative editing in real time.
A kaleidoscope of patterns. Although Figma has an intuitive design, it still takes time to get to know and implement the idea. If you want to quickly test several different application designs, InVision or Marvel come in handy. The latter also has built-in analytics, so you can see how many users have reached different pages of the application.
Storage and processing of MVP data
The choice of storage system depends on many parameters: the required data types (strings, numbers, images, other types of files), data storage volumes, data access frequency and records update frequency.
Some Frontend resources, such as Bubble, provide immediate access to the data store. In traditional development, such systems correspond to Fullstack solutions, when one system has both Frontend and Backend components.
Spreadsheet databases. For many MVPs, a tabular presentation of data in the form of Google Sheets or Airtable is enough. Airtable is a popular NoCode tool with a convenient API, which we already talked about in a blog. Such systems have a familiar look, databases are easy to edit and update.
To process data you can use built-in table database tools or integrator platforms such as Make and n8n. They can cyclically check the compliance of table values with specified conditions and launch a specific trigger app if necessary.
If you have some development experience, but you also like the speed of developing NoCode solutions, pay attention to Retool – it effectively connects frontend elements and classic database management systems.
MVP integration with third-party services
Perhaps a simple website or application is enough to implement the idea. But more often, MVP involves a variety of third-party services that need to be linked together into a single application. We explored the five most popular worlkflow platforms in our "How to choose the NoCode workflow platform" review.
Examples of integration of various services, resulting in a new quality, you can see at Startup Recipes website.
MVP usually involves commercial use. In order for customers to pay for a product or service, you need to connect one of the payment collection tools. The method is determined by the MVP selling model: product payment, subscription or donations for creative digital projects.
For one-time payments for the product on the site, connect payment systems:
- PayPal is the most popular payment tool with high customer confidence. At the same time, everything is included, even some cryptocurrency support. Cons: high fees and frequent blocking of accounts.
- Stripe is an end-to-end platform for accepting payments in online stores using any credit cards. Cons: a large number of verifications and a strict policy for choosing product categories that the company can work with.
- Shopify Payments is a low-fee e-commerce tool that is powered by Stripe but has its own usage policies. Cons: Shopify is pessimistic about dropshipping transactions.
Для обеспечения регулярных платежей по подписке компании используют B2B-инструменты, которые взаимодействуют с интеграторами платежных шлюзов, как Stripe и PayPal. К сервисам подписок относятся Chargebee и Chargify, сравнение которых представлено на Ecommerce Platforms.
To ensure recurring subscription payments, companies use B2B tools that interact with payment gateway integrators like Stripe and PayPal. Subscription services include Chargebee and Chargify, which are compared at Ecommerce Platforms.
Two different models for creative content MVPs: donation services like Buy Me A Coffee , or more general ecommerce sites like Gumroad, which has a host of artists, educators, musicians, podcasters, and bloggers.
Payment via link. Finally, if you just want to invoice via a link, use TillyPay and PayHere. This is a great alternative to conventional resources in case of a quick processing of an atypical payment. However, for regular payments, it is better to use the tools integrated into the site so as not to lose the trust of users.
The concept of MVP is to collect feedback from users of the product as soon as possible. This means that users must somehow find out the pilot product release.
Mailings. If you have a database of email addresses of interested customers, you can start with an E-mail newsletter. Mailchimp allows you to not only send letters, but also create complex marketing campaigns, including landing pages, simple websites. Contverkit allows you to set up a complex email campaign workflow with many different triggers. Klaviyo segments data and optimizes campaigns through email, SMS and social media.
Advertising campaigns. If you don't have a customer base yet, distributing an MVP made with NoCode is pretty much the same as marketing other digital products. However, there is such a tool for offline sales funnel management as Madgicx. It uses artificial intelligence to optimize advertising budgets.
Collection and analysis of feedback
Metrics. The main metric of any product is the number of people who use it. To analyze traffic on the site, there is SimilarWeb or Alexa. For mobile applications, be guided by the standrd statistics of Google Play and the App Store. You can track other metrics through the product itself: the number of registrations and the percentage of active users, the number and volume of purchases. A particularly important indicator is the share of buyers. Other marketing indicators also deserve attention – Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC), Customer Lifetime Value (CLV), Churn Rate, etc. You can read about them in the Key SaaS Metrics publication.
Behavior Analytics. Connect Google Analytics to MVP in order to optimize your website content, identify your audience, and increase sales. To keep track of preferences and how users interact with the interface, add HotJar snippet. So you will see which elements of the site pages people click on more often and you can adjust the design of the product. To measure engagement and time spent on various pages of your site, connect Amplitude or Mixpanel.
Today, almost any aspect of MVP can be implemented using NoCode tools, from prototyping to distribution. In this regard, the main advantage of NoCode services is the speed with which you can get a working application. However, after the release of the product, various development scenarios are possible. In the next part, you will learn how to act if the business hypothesis fails, and how to scale the MVP in the ideal case when the business is rapidly gaining.
If the tools of this post weren't enough for you, this article is well complemented by our review Mapping the NoCode Landscape.