I was asked recently to take a look at a workflow made in excel. And by workflow, I mean they tried to shove an entire app into a spreadsheet. Here are a few takeaway for working with no / low code tools 🔽 :
If you're building on top of a spreadsheet, users will expect to interact with it like a spreadsheet. The document had a ton of macros that hacked together interactions by relying on unusual behaviors (view jump, weird selections rules)
After a bit of back and forth I realized that 2 parallels workflows existed in the same space. They wanted to unify all uses case into one space, but it ended up creating a lot of confusion by having 2 sources of data and a weird flow between elements.
I told you about the 2 workflows, it turns out that the simplest most polished one was used by 80% of the users. All the bloat was added to accommodate the power users that wanted more from the tool.
By releasing a slimmed down version they could :
1- make a quick release instead of holding the launch for months.
2- remove the complexity casual users would never use.
3- Do a proper version for power users.
This is a tricky one because it's hard to figure out limitations for no code tools before you hit them.
Whether it's Excel, Django or Zapier, you'll gain a ton of time using it for their strength. But beware of the off-road, it might give you extra headache. If needed, try to split your workflow and do a part custom, it can be the best of both worlds.
A more global advice but always good to keep in mind. The goal is not necessarily to tweak your product into being used in the first 10 seconds. Depending on the context, people would rather give a few minutes of their time to have a better grasp on the product. And for professional tools, the idea that it could be used without proper training is just crazy. Superhuman (the email app) is a great example of this principle.
Thanks for reading, hope you got value from this !