With a decade-long commitment to low-code, we at Zoho Creator have always believed in a world where anyone can build applications.
In this blog, I will share some time-tested steps which let you improve how you build low-code apps. It’s mostly common sense, but some things can be missed in the excitement of getting a business system ready. This is true for newcomers and experienced app builders who want to refresh their tactics.
1. Knowing what you need:
The most important thing before building an app, or, for that matter, anything, is to know what you really need.
After reading through thousands of system requirement questions from customers, I have concluded two things:
1. Most of the time we know what we need,
2. but very rarely do we look into the complexity of the same.
What is the best way to figure out the requirements for your app?
Discuss it with your team; their input will play a vital role in shaping your app. Ask people one-on-one, in groups, in meetings—go haywire with questions. Once you have a good idea of what the needs are in different aspects of your business, you can select a platform to build the app.
2. Make a layout of your needs:
After figuring out your needs, the next step is to make a detailed plan. One effective way to make this plan is to fragment the needs into the basic sub-needs, using a divide-and-conquer algorithm.
In this method, the top level is the primary need itself. The second level is its sub-needs. For example, if the requirement is an event management app, then the sub-needs might be collecting customer information and booking events.
The third step is to map these sub-needs to the tools or features of the platform in which the app will be developed. In the example above, details like event fee data have to be mapped to a numerical or currency data entry tool in the platform. All the sub-needs should be mapped before the building process commences.
3. Piece your plan together, module by module:
Once the layout is in place, the next step is to build the app. While building, it’s always best to make it in parts called modules. Each module should perform a specific function when treated as a stand-alone part. For example, in the event management app, you’d have the customer information module to collect customer data, another module to choose which event to book, etc.
Modules are like the rooms of a building: Some need to have access between them, while others need not be directly linked. In the event management app discussed above, the customer information needs to be connected with the event booking module. After the interlinking of modules is done, your app is ready to be rolled out.
4. Push it out to a test audience:
Testing is an essential step of the app-building process. After you’ve finished the initial build, you must have others look at and play with it. The best audience is the people who will use it once it goes live.
If you find a bug in the app, be very careful about how you solve it. Test the app again before it goes live to see how the changes will affect it.
5. Add or modify when a new need arises:
Believe me when I say that your first live app is never going to be the final product. I say this from my experience working with Zoho Creator and seeing what our clients do with their applications. It will have to go through a fair number of iterations before it fits in with your people and processes. Even after this, as the business requirements change, you will need to tweak it further, adding or deleting modules to suit new needs.
Follow these steps regularly and you’ll build efficient custom apps with the fewest errors and the least effort.