In this post, we’ll show you how to use Stacker — our no-code tool for building apps powered by your data — to create useful web applications in just three steps. We also go over examples of real-life Stacker apps built by companies like Zapier, Segment, Makerpad, and more.
Additionally, we look at three other no-code tools that serve specific use cases like building a website or a native mobile app.
Here are the 4 no-code web app builders we cover in this post:
- Stacker: Our tool for building web apps powered by your data, without any coding or design necessary.
- Bubble: A drag-and-drop app builder with advanced design settings.
- Thunkable: A no-code mobile application development platform.
- Webflow: A visual editor platform for designing and building no-code websites.
Are you ready to build a useful web app, without having to worry about coding or design? Start your free 30-day Stacker trial.
Stacker is our no-code web app builder. You can use it to create all sorts of useful apps powered by your data without any coding or design skills.
Here are some examples of web apps our customers have built with Stacker:
- Segment’s app, used by over 15,000 startups. Segment runs a program that supports early-stage startups with software deals, resources, and credits — all through a portal built with Stacker. They house the data powering the app in Airtable while customizing the UI and setting permissions with Stacker. By using Stacker, Segment can give its members a way to login to the app, track their deals, and access a resource hub for startup founders.
- Zapier’s app for tracking employee budget spending. Zapier’s accounting team uses Stacker to build a tool that helps them manage their work efficiently and provide transparency to team members. The app lets employees track their budget spending and gives them access to a playbook with resources about life at Zapier.
- Makerpad’s app that improves students’ experience. In early 2021, Makerpad launched a cohort-based course to help students learn to use no-code tools. In order to provide the best possible experience for students, they created a companion app with Stacker. Thanks to the app, Makerpad’s students can login, track their learning progress, and exchange feedback.
Put simply, Stacker’s versatility allows our clients to build all sorts of apps, including portals, budget trackers, CRMs, internal tools, resource directories, project management tools, and much more — without writing a single line of code.
You can build similar apps for your business with our no-code app builder in three simple steps:
- Connect to your data sources or use Stacker as a database.
- Customize your app’s interface.
- Set permissions for who can access your app.
Here’s how this process works in detail:
Step 1: Connect to Your Current Data Sources or Use Stacker as a Database
When you create a Stacker account, you’ll be asked to select where the data for your app will live.
You can choose between three different options:
- Sync Stacker to your Airtable and Google Sheets data. When you sync to these data sources, Stacker automatically builds a working web app for you. Additionally, any changes you make on your front end are reflected on the back end (i.e., in the Airtable base or Google Sheet). As a result, you only need to update one tool. For example, say you use Stacker as a project tracker on top of your Airtable base. When someone marks a task as “Done” in Stacker, that change is automatically reflected in your Airtable base.
- Use Stacker as your database. With this option, you can move your data out of various platforms and house it in Stacker. This means you won’t need different tools for your app’s front end and back end. Going back to our project tracker example, you can have all the project data — tasks, deadlines, assignees, etc. — in Stacker, while also using our tool as your fully customizable project tracker. This lets you simplify your workflow and reduce the number of tools (paid plans) you’re using.
- Bring in data from 60+ different sources. Stacker supports various types of data sources, like CRMs (e.g., HubSpot, Salesforce, Pipedrive), project management tools (e.g., Asana, Jira, Mavenlink), databases (e.g., MySQL, MongoDB, MariaDB), finance and payment apps (e.g., QuickBooks, Xero, Square) and much more. You can also import data from an Excel spreadsheet by uploading a CSV file to Stacker.
Note: These sources are read-only. Any changes made on the app front end won’t be automatically reflected on the back end, i.e., on the original data source.
Once you have your app’s back end (your data) setup, you can start tailoring the front end to your needs.
Step 2: Customize Your App’s Layout
Stacker has many options for customizing your app’s front end, so you can make it visually appealing and unique to your brand, without worrying about pixels, aspect ratios, or other issues that programmers and designers have to resolve.
When you first start using our tool, you have the option to choose from different app templates, including customer portal, product, directory, and more.
(A quick note: If you’re bringing in data from Airtable or Google Sheets, Stacker will actually build an app for you based on how your data is organized. You can still customize your app, but you won’t start off with a template.)
Alternatively, you can start from scratch by clicking on the “Other” button at the bottom right-hand side.
Whether you use an app template or not, you can always tailor the layout to your specific use case. Here are a few of the customizations available to you:
- Create nested views for your tables to make it easier for users to navigate different pages. For example, you can have All Tasks > Marketing Team Tasks > Tasks in Progress.
- Present your app’s user interface (UI) as cards, in rows, as a board, table, inbox, or one record only. For example, a board allows users to see information organized by a category. In our project tracker example, these categories can be different task statuses like “Not Started”, “In Progress”, and “In Review”.
- Add buttons for important functions like delete, edit, save, etc.
- Change your app's color and add your logo (or your clients’ logos) and much more.
Again, none of these customizations require writing code or having design skills.
Step 3: Set Granular Permissions for Who Can See and Edit Your Data
Now that your app’s front end and back end are set up, the final step for creating a useful app is setting permissions for users.
Stacker gives you complete control over what each user can see and edit in your app.
Say you have a grocery delivery app, where clients can log in, order items, and track their orders. You can set permissions so each user only sees the data that’s relevant to them, like their profile, order history, and the status of their current order. Additionally, you can give them permissions to add or edit certain fields (e.g., those containing their contact info).
Delivery drivers can have totally different permissions that allow them to get their job done, without having access to data that’s not relevant to them.
With Stacker, you can add guests (in this case, clients and delivery drivers) to your app either directly by entering their email address or by connecting a user table from your data source.
Lastly, our tool also provides the option to create User Roles and set permissions for them. For example, you can have one role for users, another for your employees, and a third one for delivery drivers, with each one having different permissions.
Spedal — a courier bike service specializing in zero-waste deliveries — uses Stacker portals for a very similar use case.
Before Stacker, their customers used Google Sheets to add their orders. Then, Spedal’s team texted riders with the name and address of the order, which obviously involved a lot of manual back-and-forth.
With Stacker, Spedal’s team was able to create a secure portal for customers and an app for riders to track jobs.
Customers use the customer portal to log in and fill out their order details. Then, they track all their orders and check for delivery photos, which riders provide when a delivery is complete.
Riders use a separate app to log the Start and End of each job on their mobile phone and upload a photo on Spedal’s app to confirm each delivery.
Lastly, Spedal is also building new features for the app, which will allow riders to track the development of their professional skills.
Start your free 30-day Stacker trial and build a fully customizable web app for your businesses — without needing any coding or design skills.
Bubble is a no-code development platform for building different apps like CRMs, marketplaces, and platforms. It has a drag-and-drop design editor that lets users build layouts and create dynamic content, while also supporting a marketplace with templates and plugins.
While Bubble offers more design control during the no-code app development process, it also requires more design knowledge especially for building responsive pages.
Bubble has four plans:
- Free. Supports only the most basic features and comes with Bubble branding in your app.
- Personal. $29/month when paid monthly and $25/month when paid annually. Provides access to the core platform, API, email support, and more.
- Professional. $129/month when paid monthly and $115/month when paid annually. Comes with three units of server capacity, two app editors, and two development versions.
- Production. $529/month when paid monthly and $475/month when paid annually. Comes with 10 units of server capacity, 15 app editors, and 20 development versions.
Thunkable is a no-code platform for building native mobile apps. It has a drag-and-drop interface design canvas and different logic blocks for creating all kinds of mobile apps. Thunkable also manages all App Store (iOS apps) and Play Store (Android apps) compliance under the hood, so users can build an app once and have it available on both platforms.
Thunkable offers three personal and three business pricing plans:
- Personal plans: Free, Starter ($15/month), and Pro ($45/month). They all have different account storage, sharing, support, and publishing limits. The Free and Starter plans can’t be used to publish directly to the App and Play stores.
- Business plans: Business ($200/month), Team, Custom. The main differences here are the collaboration capabilities, advanced integrations, and organizational licenses, which are available on the Team and Custom plans.
Additionally, Webflow comes with a content management system (CMS), eCommerce features, and various search engine optimization (SEO) settings. Lastly, while you can build some very limited web apps with Webflow, you usually need a 3rd party tool to create something more robust.
Webflow offers four different site plans:
- Starter: Free. However, it only comes with enough space for 50 CMS records and 1GB of bandwidth.
- Basic: $15/month. The Basic plan doesn’t include any CMS items. Instead, it lets you build a site with a unique domain that can handle up to 25k unique visitors a month.
- CMS: $20/month. You get a custom domain, up to 2,000 CMS items, 200GB of bandwidth, and editor access for 3 users.
- Business: $45/month. You get 10,000 CMS items, 400GB of bandwidth, 10 guest editors, and your site can handle 250,000 monthly visits.
Additionally, Webflow has an option for building a custom enterprise plan, as well as three eCommerce plans (starting at $29/month).
Start Building Your Web App with Stacker Today
With Stacker, you can build no-code web apps for your business in three simple steps:
- Connect to your data sources (like Airtable and Google Sheets) or house your data in Stacker Tables.
- Customize your layout.
- Customize user roles and permissions.
If you want to try out how the process works first-hand, start a free 30-day trial of Stacker.