If you’re considering building an app, but don’t pass the bar for “Silicon Valley Whizz Kid”, you’ll be glad to hear that multiple WYSIWYG app builders have arrived on the market in the last few years to help you bring your ideas to life - even if you weren’t coding in the cradle.
With that said, apps can vary widely in their looks, functionality and ease of use. On top of that, some app builders can be incredibly hard to use - so much so that you may as well code - while others are so simplistic that you’re wasting your time if you try to build.
Worst of all - many app builders claim to build mobile apps, but they’re not real, proper apps that you can publish in the app store.
Luckily for you, I’ve been trying and reviewing WYSIWYG app builders for over nine years and I’m going to show you the best no-code app builders out there. My reviews have been read by over 1,000,000 (seriously, I track this!) people just like you since 2014, I’ve spoken to and advised hundreds of people, from all walks of life, about every app-building platform in this article - and every single one of those people were looking to build apps in the easiest way possible, just like you.
What is a WYSIWYG App Builder
If you’re looking for a “WYSIWYG” app builder, then you probably already know that the abbreviation stands for “What You See Is What You Get”. In practice, that means you want an app builder with a drag-and-drop interface for creating your app, an abundance of templates and other pre-created features - all of which allow you to create an app right in front of you without having to learn code. Above all else, a WYSIWYG app builder should have an easy-to-use interface.
The Best WYSIWYG App Builders
- Adalo for native mobile apps you can publish to the app store
- Bubble for web apps with extreme customization
- Glide for beautiful, easy apps
- Softr for web apps without a learning curve
What Kind of Apps Can You Build With a WYSIWYG App Builder?
- Native mobile apps: When people say “app”, this is usually what they mean. Native apps are “proper” apps that run on your iPhone, iPad or Android device. You can publish them to Apple’s iOS App Store and Google’s Play Store for your friends, family and customers to find.
- Progressive web apps: Often shortened to “PWAs”, these look, work and feel like apps - But you can’t publish them to the app store and they don’t always have great support for “native” functionality like GPS and push notifications.
- Web apps: Think of a website where you can log in to access private information, like Facebook or online banking. That’s a web app. These can only be accessed on a web browser and are not a traditional native app, but if they’ve been built with “responsive design” then they’ll look good on both your laptop and mobile phone web browsers.
What We Look For in The Best WYSIWYG App Builders
To narrow down my list of WYSIWYG app builders for you, I’ve focused on these user-friendly features:
- Flexibility and customization: if you’re building an app, you want it to be able to do exactly what you want it to. I’ve picked out app builders which give you lots of freedom to create what you want, with maximum customizability, the ability to connect to other apps and services and plenty of power under the hood.
- Ease of use: WYSIWYG means simple, so I’ve picked out the easiest app builders I could find. Each of these tools is beginner-friendly and I’ve personally seen all of them used to create successful apps by non-technical people.
- Beautiful, useful templates: No matter how user-friendly and flexible an app builder is, you don’t want to spend weeks building it or just staring at a blank canvas. I’ve looked at each tool’s template marketplaces to make sure you can get the best functionality and an attractive interface for your app - without having to be a professional designer!
- Support and tutorials: Each tool on this list makes app-building simple, but chances are you’ll still run into trouble every now and then. I’ve picked out tools which have great support (and I’ll give you the inside scoop on it), but also tools which have lots of tutorials and helpful videos to help you build any type of app you can imagine.
- Actually no-code: Many “WYSIWYG” builders claim to be “no-code”, but actually require you to understand how code works or need code to do anything useful. In my list, I’ve picked out only the true no-code tools which can build everything you like without any pre-existing knowledge.
Without further ado, let’s jump into my top five picks and why you should consider each.
What is it?: Adalo is a drag-and-drop WYSIWYG app builder for building mobile apps (and web apps) which can be published to the app store.
What I like about it: Adalo is the only app builder on this list which can publish native iOS and Android apps to the app stores. On top of that, it’s easy to use, infinitely customizable and has plenty of 3rd party extras for your app.
Who is it best for?: If you’re not technical, but want to do some particularly custom features or want to have your whole business on one platform - then Adalo shines.
Pricing: One of the more affordable options on my list, with pricing starting at $36/month and most users being comfortable at the $52/month price point. Unlike alternatives, Adalo has an unlimited-time free plan.
- Free plan: Adalo doesn’t just have a free trial - there’s a full, endless free plan you can use to build your app at your own pace, try it out with friends and make sure the app is perfect for you before you publish it.
- Responsive apps: The mobile app you build on Adalo also works as a website. This means you can build, for example, a mobile booking app and with one click, it becomes a website booking system without any additional work.
- Built-in database: Most no-code app builders either don’t have their own database (like Softr) or aren’t very focused on their own database (like Glide) - This means you need to pay for yet another service, like Airtable if you want to get the full functionality of a database. Adalo is the opposite: An easy-to-use, fully-featured database is included in the price.
- AI quickstart: You can actually tell Adalo’s new AI-powered app creator exactly what you want to build and it’ll generate the data you need and let you get straight to building screens. Dragging-and-dropping is so last year.
What is it?: Bubble is a super-configurable and extensible app builder for creating web apps.
What I like about it: Bubble is the most “limitless” option on the market, so you can truly build whatever you like. It also has the biggest collection of 3rd party plugins and services, so you can connect to anything you need.
Who is it best for?: If you’re tech-savvy and willing to roll your sleeves up and invest in learning Bubble, the power of the platform is unmatched by anything else on this list.
What’s the support like?: Like other options on this list, Bubble has a good tech support team available by email, and their forum is the most active I’ve seen - so you’ll get help fast.
Pricing: Bubble’s pricing is complicated - There’s an unlimited free plan and it only costs $29/month to launch your app, but you’ll be charged much more if you exceed your monthly “Workload Units” quota.
- Responsive design: Bubble is focused on web apps, and in 2023 you want your web apps to look good whether your user is on a desktop, laptop or iPhone. Bubble has a great responsive design system built-in, so your app will look good automatically as you use it on different screen sizes.
- Version control: This handy feature means you can create multiple versions of your same app, for example with different branding or features. You can roll back at any time too, perfect if you make a mistake you can’t fix.
- Bubble academy: If you want to sit down and learn Bubble properly, they’ve got a full library of videos and lessons which cover everything from getting started to advanced building techniques.
- Ecosystem: Bubble has the biggest ecosystem in the no-code space. That means there are plenty of templates, tutorials, hireable experts and plugins. The platform has been around since 2012 - so if you've got a problem in Bubble, it’s likely that someone’s ran into that issue before, solved it and posted the solution to the Internet.
What is it?: Glide is a point-and-click mobile and web app builder aimed at small, medium and large businesses.
What I like about it: Glide is by far the easiest-to-use option on this list, and the design is absolutely gorgeous. They’ve recently launched cutting-edge AI features too, which can add exciting new capabilities to your app.
Who is it best for?: If you care about design over features and don’t have the skills to make an attractive app, Glide is the best choice for you.
What’s the support like?: Rather than email support, Glide has live chat support on hand to help. They’ve also got some great video tutorials you can find on YouTube.
Pricing: Given their focus on established businesses, Glide’s pricing scales up fast and isn’t greatly suited for public-facing apps. You’ll need to pay $99/month if you want more than 100 users, or $249/month for 1,000 users. Any higher than that, and you’ll need to get on a call with their sales team.
- AI built in: Glide comes with AI features built in, allowing you to use AI to analyse data, detect text in images, generate text and much more. While other tools on this list can do the same, Glide’s version is slick and very easy to use.
- Database integrations: While Glide’s own “Glide Tables” database is lacking a lot of functionality, they have great integrations with popular data sources like Airtable, Google Sheets and SQL and their data editing interface is very easy to use.
- Templates: Glide boasts a busy template marketplace, with both free and paid options. As you’d expect, these are very attractively designed and easy to use, though they can look a little same-y when you browse through them.
- Workflows: Glide comes with a built-in workflow creator, allowing you to drag and drop different actions together - like sending an email, changing customer data or creating calendar events - to create powerful features for your app.
What is it?: Softr is a drag-and-drop web app builder.
What I like about it: Softr has an easy-to-understand “building blocks” interface, making it incredibly easy to use even if you have zero technical skills. You can also transform your web app into a PWA with one click, much easier than their close competitor Bubble.
Who is it best for?: If you want a web app like Bubble without the learning curve, and you don’t need advanced functionality, then Softr is the right choice for you.
What’s the support like?: Extensive, 17-hour-per-day coverage with live chat, even on the free plan.
Pricing: Softr is one of the pricier options on this list starting at $49/month and quickly jumping to $139/month - But the free plan allows you to launch to your first 100 users.
- Automations: Softr comes with seamless integration to popular automation services like Zapier and Make, meaning your Softr app can send emails, send SMS messages and connect to over 5000+ apps and services.
- Payments: Softr comes with built-in support to take payments. While every option on this list (except Glide) can also do this, Softr’s integration is particularly easy to use and supports Stripe, Paypal and Gumroad as payment gateway options.
- Charts: If you want to show data in an organized way or even create a dashboard view (like what you might see on your electricity provider’s website), Softr comes with plenty of options for creating and displaying charts.
- E-signature: Another treat for business-focused app builders, Softr has support for e-signatures. Perfect for apps which create contracts, require users to sign for parcels or need to prove a user agreed to something important.
What’s The Best Tool if I’m On a Budget?
Adalo has a generous free plan and you can build a legitimate app business on their $36/month plan. Bubble does start slightly cheaper, but “Workload Unit” costs can leave you with a bigger bill than you may have been expecting.
What’s The Best Tool if I Know a Little About Computers?
Having good computer skills will make Bubble much easier to use for you than it is for most people and help you unlock the near-infinite potential of Adalo. You’ll also be able to get the best out of every tool on this list - so try each tool and stick with whichever interface feels most intuitive to you.
Do I Really Need a Native App?
From a functionality perspective, a native app will give you better access to phone-only features like GPS and camera. You’ll be able to do much more with these features than you could in PWA-only platforms like Glide.
Arguably more importantly, building a native app gives you access to the Apple iOS App Store and the Google Play Store. These are huge distribution platforms which can get your app in front of millions of users and make it easy for anyone to download your app - but you do need to pay - For example, Apple’s app store costs $99/year.
On the other hand, Progressive web apps don’t require you to pay a fee to Apple or Google - plus they’ve still got some of the most popular native app features, like the ability to send push notifications.
If your app is going to be for a small group of people you know, you want to save on costs and you don’t care about functionality like GPS and camera access, then a PWA will be enough for you.
But don’t forget - Even in 2023, people still find it weird if your app isn’t on the app store!