No-Code January 21, 2021

Why are no-code sites all super ugly?

Rob @firefields

About 10 mins ago I had a breakthrough idea that I could create an app that auto generates a website based on a google doc (I've done this for a few people in the past. I probably first did this about 7 years ago!!) then I realised over the following 10 mins that there are about 50 people already doing exactly that all with the exact same preposition and the exact same website layout and pretty much the exact same name. normally called something like superSheets or sheetySheetSheet. but I notice none of them made any effort to make the templates even remotely appealing and considering they're normally thrown up to help someone market an event or something this feels like a missed opportunity.

I wondered if there is a place for a "turn a google doc into a website" app that has some decent templates to choose from?

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    Not sure if this is helpful but I've found things like webflow to be complicated enough that I would rather just write code in an IDE. But, I recently tried Carrd.co and was really pleased with it. My sites do no look like templates at all, plenty of ability to put my own style in place quickly. It's not too different than a Google Doc. But the feature set is limited for sure, so YMMV.

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      I've never used webflow because I'm old enough to remember dreamweavers wysiwyg view and still have nightmares about it. From what I've heard of webflow tho it sounds a million times better than it's predecessors. just looked up carrd... looks like a really nice product.

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        I'm old enough too. It's a bit better but that's a very low bar. More like photoshop as some others have mentioned. Another con of age is I have less tinker time, so learning a new tool like PS, or webflow, is not really something I do on a whim. This in my case was a non-starter. Generally speaking if you have time to learn it, it's probably pretty cool.

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      Found Webflow the same, and i hate not having access to the code.

      So I built another website builder. https://versoly.com/ has a UI to get started with and then you can easily access the code to change and import code.

      We have had a lot of customers swap from Webflow and Wordpress (which still amazes me)

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      Webflow is made for designers. That's why their interface resembles Photoshop/Sketch. That was their niche. I guess now they will have to pivot to improve the UX for non designers since they got funding, and they need to grow.

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      I'm firmly in the 'I LOVE WEBFLOW' camp, but I'm a designer and I'm used to tools like Photoshop/Sketch. There was a learning curve (and I'm still learning), but it has transformed my workflow completely. Instead of handing PSDs/Sketch files to clients, I now hand them responsive, live websites, and I get full control over the design process, optimisation, accessibility etc. Webflow is a designers' tool over a developers' tool IMO.

      Edit: also, sorry for this not being related to OPs thread. Doh.

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      i second this, I did not like webflow at all. VS code is my house...

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    There are a lot of people selling basic website templates. And quite a few of them are successful. This doesn't seem to be a winner-takes-it-all market.

    For no-code sites, that is probably also true. If your design is nice, there will be people who prefer it over others.

    Can you build a simple MVP in a day or two? That way you could test the idea quickly.

    Or throw up a simple landing page which showcases the design you could build from your Google doc (without building the full app), and see if people sign up. Check out how Buffer did it: https://buffer.com/resources/idea-to-paying-customers-in-7-weeks-how-we-did-it/

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      Thanks Nikwen. That's a great idea, I'll just do a couple of example check the interest. thanks for the article. checking it now.

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        Glad to help. Good luck with your experiment, Rob! ✌️

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    I agree they all look the same. And their functionality is extremely limited. Even to an extend that I'm not sure if I should give up and take something or just continue.

    I'm using SpreadSimple right now for the MVP of my shop and combine it with Carrd to make it look more appealing. The unfinished shop looks like this right now: https://ceremonialmatcha.carrd.co/

    I believe if you know how to use Webflow, that's probably the way to go. But if you want it quick and simple and low-cost, I think combining a standard sheet to website solution with Carrd is not that bad. At least to start out with. Once you do enough sales you can still move to Shopify or something else.

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    Because they haven't discovered the right tools... My chatbot can find you just what you are looking for in just under 5 minutes: https://itsgritted.webflow.io/

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    I would also say that design is subjective. But subjective in terms of do you prefer Stripe or Vercel or Tailwind website. I would agree that a lot of no-code builders have some room to improve their typography, layout and maybe have more hipster color palette.

    That said, there is a market gap if you target people that have an eye for design and that a dealbreaker for them. Try to find those people, and you'll have your market placement.

    AJ from Carrd.co started first as a designer making templates, and then created a website builder. I assume that a lot of people who created website builders are mostly developer than designers. But hey, you could argue its an MVP project, and it does the job - it creates websites from sheets. Being more visually pleasing is either a bonus, or a different niche. That's on you to figure out.

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      I had some similar thoughts. I'm doing a little research how many people are using these sites to throw up some kind of marketing site... like to market an event or service or even a restaurant or something. because those are the ones that would benefit the most from having a website that looks legit, but they might simply not use these services for some other reason.

      I don't think designs as black and white as completely subjective or completely objective. as I responded to Felix tho, I'm pretty confident it's several shades closer to objective overall

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        If that's your idea then you should niche down even more. Create templates just for a restaurant menu, or even some product store and then create an example somewhere how to hook it with Snipcart, and then you'll offer more value than just a static website.

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          thanks meoweloper. restaurants could be a good one too because they're on a budget and I've always wondered why so many restaurant websites are so ugly considering eating in a restaurant is purely experience.

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    is true, I think so too.

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    Design is subjective.

    It might be ugly in your eyes but not others. We keep seeing new website builders or converters launching every week because there's hard to find one design style that fits all appetite.

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      oh, I 90% disagree. A very small layer of design is subjective imho it's 90% objective. I think of it like a good hip hop song follows the same heuristics of music that a good rock song follows. people have different preferences but what makes a good song, the timing, been in tune and been in key, the chord progression... all those things are objectively good or bad across the board. That small amount of subjectivity is why it's good to give people different themes to choose from. but most the no code sites I just looked at just have plain and simple badly designed themes.

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        I respect your opinion and happy to be part of your disagreement.

        Echo @meoweloper

        Would be great to see your design work and how you managed to stand out from the Nocode space.

        All the best 💪🏻

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