Using Adalo to Create a Mobile App
Project Type: No Code App
Project Length: 3 months
Service Used: Adalo
Platforms: PWA, Android
This wasn’t my first no-code experience, but it definitely was my first full-on app that I’ve helped a client create. This was such a learning process that I felt compelled to create this blog post.
Originally, we had planned on using bubble.io to create the app, but figuring out how to save the various data types the app would need to save became too complex for me that I opted for another no-code platform – Adalo.
Side note, bubble.io is a super powerful app builder platform that I still intend on learning and using in the future. – okay back to the post…
What is Adalo?
Adalo is a no-code platform that allows you to build full on web apps without writing a single line of code. As a designer, I’m super pumped about where the future of no-code is taking us and the possibilities that this movement unlocks for non-technical founders with potentially world changing ideas.
Adalo’s pitch is “if you can build a presentation, you can build an app.” I found this tagline to be true; their builder was really simple and intuitive to use, especially coming from a more complex builder like bubble.io.
Pros of Using Adalo:
Adalo is powerful in that it allows you to create a mobile app rather quickly. Where it might slightly fall short is the limitation(s) it has when it comes to creating highly optimized apps for various screen sizes.
Adalo lets you build progressive web apps (PWA’s) that you can then publish as native apps for iOS and Android platforms. They made the process possible with their documentation and engineering. There were some hiccups but these were minor compared to the huge value gain of getting your Web Apps into the Android and iOS stores.
Note: At the time of writing this post, Adalo’s test flight builds for iOS doesn’t meet the new requirements set by Apple. So, we’re waiting while they figure this part out to publish the app to the Apple store.
Powerful third party integrations allow you to create a far more complex app. Adalo is pretty powerful with the functions it provides, but if you consider the external API’s you can connect to it, the power of your Adalo app is easily 10x-ed.
Learning how to use Adalo was easy. YouTube videos, documentation, and community forums are gold mines for learning the platform. Check out this video I made on resources to learn Adalo.
Cons of Using Adalo:
Currently, Adalo is not as customizable as a platform like bubble.io. We’ll be comparing these two in a separate blog post.
Sometimes the app builder takes a long time to load an app, especially if you have a massive app with a LOT of content. The app we just finished building is easily 200 pages/screens and can take 15-20 minutes to load on good days; on bad days, the builder just fails to load all together.
What they could have done better:
While they made bringing an app to life for non-technical people, i.e. designers, a reality, there were some areas where they could have done better, such as:
- Optimizing the builder experience
- Editing large amounts of text was choppy and not as smooth of an experience. For example, you have to click into each paragraph to edit or delete the copy, the cursor hops around sometimes, making the process frustrating.
- Making the Stripe integration, specifically the ability to cancel subscriptions directly from app possible.
- Figuring out how to go from web app to mobile app.
- Overall builder experience, ie: make the app load faster
- Ability to delete one’s own account to start over, currently, you have to email them to do that. And to have this done, you need to delete all the apps on your account first.
- Ability to align objects and the ability to distribute objects. If you claim using your platform is like building a presentation, I would assume that these functions would be available.
- Optimize the wysiwyg to actually represent what shows up on devices as sometimes different devices see different things. For example, alignment of object may vary by devices.
- Optimize the hand-off process for giving client ownership and control of their own app while allowing builder the ability to log on if the clients need “tech support” – currently, you have to email their tech support team to do that.
What they’re doing right:
With all the shortcomings mentioned above, Adalo has done many things right:
- Tech support was helpful and responsive, so was the community forum
- The ability to quickly move from mockup to prototype/MVP is such a value gain for users looking to build an app/MVP and test their ideas.
- The way they created the ability for developers to create their own components. (I haven’t explored this too much but look forward to digging into the possibilities this function provides.)
- API connections to third party apps, Airtable specifically, opens up many more opportunities.
- Building the app was fun
- The ease-of-use of the app made training my client on how to edit the content relatively simple.
- Their builder was relatively intuitive to use.
A quick note is that halfway through this project, their CEO sent out a personal email asking for feedback from no-code builders, their user base. Listening to your users is one of the most important things you can do as a product creator, so I appreciate this action towards their power users.
Overall, I look forward to building many more no-code apps with Adalo as well as other platforms like bubble.io.
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