What are you hoping to accomplish?
This was the first question in the kick-off session of the Makerpad No-Code Fundamentals course, a new cohort-based course I signed up for on a whim.
Before I answer that question, let's quickly talk about what No-Code is.
Did you know there's a No-Code revolution happening?
No-Code is not a new phenomenon. The concept has existed for a long time, but it has gained momentum and mainstream popularity in recent years.
If you've never heard of the term, you're not alone. I had no idea what it was until a few months ago, even though I've been using several No-Code tools in the past year.
No-Code is an umbrella term for the ecosystem of tools that allows you to build on the internet and automate processes — all without writing a single line of code.
Now, you have a whole range of tools that use drag-and-drop components and graphical user interfaces to visually build things that you would typically have to write code to build.
This concept is also called 'visual development' — because of the visual features — or 'citizen development' — because anyone can use it.
You probably have heard of tools like Google Sheets, Notion, Shopify, Stripe, Squarespace. Those are all No-Code tools.
So, what am I hoping to accomplish?
I don't work in tech, and I'm not looking to start my own business, but I love using technology to create systems in my daily life.
As I was learning more about No-Code, I randomly stumbled upon the course, and I realised this would be an ideal way to challenge myself creatively and mentally.
There's not a specific goal I am trying to accomplish; it's more around changing my mindset.
My entire adult life, I have told myself that if I can't do something perfectly, I shouldn't bother trying. Everything always needed to have a purpose or lead to immediate results. If not, why bother?
As writer and entrepreneur Paul Graham says:
One of the biggest things holding people back from doing great work is the fear of making something lame. And this fear is not an irrational one. Many great projects go through a stage early on where they don’t seem very impressive, even to their creators. You have to push through this stage to reach the great work that lies beyond. But many people don’t. Most people don’t even reach the stage of making something they’re embarrassed by, let alone continue past it. They’re too frightened even to start.
Signing up for this course was my first step towards pushing through those fears and build for the sake of building.
I also saw it as a way to put myself in a situation where I'll feel out of my depth. No-Code is overwhelming. There are a million tools and platforms, and as a beginner, it's easy to get lost and stuck, spending hours reading and researching. I want to become more action biased — trying new stuff and learning as I go. More doing, less worrying.
Fast pace and interactivity have been key
In the course, we'll be building five things in five weeks, like a landing page, a membership community, a directory, and so on.
Building 5 finished, high-quality products in 5 weeks is obviously impossible. These quick turnaround timings will force me to do the most basic things. I won't have time to overthink or do much research. I'll only have time for one tool and one feature. The idea won't be groundbreaking or unique. It won't be anything that I can use, and it definitely won't be perfect.
This approach is precisely what I need.
Our first assignment was to create a landing page, a one-page website.
Typically, I would start by researching different tools, reading about the pros and cons of each, looking for examples. Basically, lots of procrastinating and wasting time.
Now, I had to make fast decisions. I only had a couple of hours to submit the assignment, so I just went with the tool recommended by the course, Carrd, one of the most popular website tools in the No-Code space.
I briefly went through the instructions, watched one tutorial, thought of an idea and created a one-page website. You can view the fruits of my labour here, based on my most popular article on Medium.
It's super simple and basic, but I am still very proud of my buttons (go ahead, hover over one!) and the scroll points (go ahead, click on one!).
Then every week, there will be interactive group calls where several people share their assignments and talk about what they've learned. When I was called out to share my screen and show my one-pager, I was nervous and felt a bit silly. I felt the urge to come up with an excuse not to show it but decided to push through and show what I had. It was fun to do, and everyone was so supportive. It reminded me again of how we're only holding ourselves back in trying to protect ourselves from judgment and feedback.
You can do this too, and you don't need to sign up for a course
No-Code isn't just for people who want to create an online store or launch an app. It's just as much for regular people like you and me, who enjoy technology in their daily lives and want to explore their creativity.
Don't worry if you feel like you don't have any good ideas. They will come as you go. The key is to start small. Pick a random idea and build start building.
Some initial thoughts to get you going:
- Create a Notion page for your daily project management. Notion has tons of free templates. You can also read more here on how I like using it.
- Try out Carrd to create a simple one-page website. For example, you could make this about yourself or perhaps for an event you're organising? You can communicate all the details and include a sign-up page.
- Take a look at Typeform to put together a survey or a great looking quiz for your friends or colleagues.
- Are you looking for a new job or a new apartment? Use Airtable to keep an overview. If you need inspiration on how else you can use this, take a look at the templates.
Most No-Code tools have tons of templates and examples on their website that you can use for inspiration.
You will learn new skills, which never hurts, but more importantly, you'll challenge yourself creatively and mentally in ways that will benefit you in every aspect of your life.
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