We are fortunate to have a vibrant community of hundreds of members from all different places across the globe. We come together to talk about tools, tech, no-code and new ways to make creating & building even more productive than before. 

At Makerpad we love sharing our member’s journey through learning no-code, using new skills in their workplaces, building projects and even launching businesses. 

Each week we’ll be highlighting a member from our community and sharing their story, background and previous projects through our Member Spotlight blog post series.

This week we are chatting to Mark Bowley who is based near London in the UK.

Mark is the creator of Tiny Design Lessons‍Hey Mark, great to have you be part of the Member's Spotlight. Can you give us some background on how you got into no-code? How long have you been using no-code tools and what got you first interested?

Strictly speaking I've been using no-code tools for years with things like Squarespace, Wordpress and Zapier in my client work. In particular I've created, modified and supported many Wordpress sites using low-code methods. However, I got fully into no-code in late 2019 after finding some tweets from Ben at Makerpad. I discovered there was a whole host of new tools coming along, as well as a community building around it. This ignited my inner desire to build side projects and products of my own.

As a designer I've never been interested in learning to code fully. Even though I can manage with it, it's just not visual enough for me and my way of thinking. I'm more interested in visual problem-solving, not so much the technical build. 

I've previously always had to partner with developers, which prevents you from experimenting freely. That in turn makes it hard to learn fast and come up with better ideas. So the rise of no-code tools has meant I can build, experiment and learn faster myself, without needing a technical partner all of the time.

Learning a few no-code tools can really bring independence to the projects you want to create! So can you take us through some of no-code projects have you built in the past and what tools did you use for them?

I started creating a lot of personal experiments at the end of 2019 to learn new tools, mostly with Glide, Carrd and even Landbot. I carried on with this into 2020, and eventually the most successful experiment was Deck of Carrd. It’s a design gallery of Carrd websites and it’s brought me a lot of exposure, even though it was fairly simple. I guess it was the first time I created something I knew there was a need for, after listening to the community. ‍

I also took part in the Makerpad T30 Challenge, where I built Maker Design Tools, a curated database of design resources. The website uses Carrd and the database lives in Airtable. I used Keynote for the marketing graphics, Notion for instructions pages, and Gumroad for the sales.

Your projects all have a great design aesthetic. Are you adding your design style to any other projects? What are you currently working on and what stage is it at?

I'm currently working on Tiny Design Lessons which I hope to turn into a platform of simple design help for creators. This came from wanting to combine my design background with helping the no-code community in some way. I noticed a trend of makers saying they struggled with design, but didn't have the time or inclination to learn from courses. I started with an eBook which was published in October. 

The eBook idea came from feedback I gained over a summer of validation, talking 1:1 with makers in the community and showing them iterations. This proved invaluable and I settled on creating an eBook of bite-sized lessons that could be applied whilst carrying on building. 

In creating the eBook I actually made some unusual tool choices. The first was using Airtable to compile the content. As my book's pages were all individual lessons, they all used a similar content template. This meant it suited a spreadsheet or table setup, and Airtable is a good choice as it handles various types of content, text, images, links, etc. This is then easy to output via Page Designer (an internal Airtable app) into a PDF.

I also used Apple Keynote for the graphics and marketing images. I wanted to show that you don't need pro design tools to create this sort of thing, and Keynote is surprisingly good. It has similar capabilities to Canva but in desktop form.

I also used Notion to host live web pages of extra resources for each lesson, and Gumroad for the sales. The email newsletter uses MailerLite. As of the end of 2020 the ebook has sold over 60 copies and the mailing list is almost at 300. 

Validating your idea with 1:1 calls has given you a product you can be confident will grow even more in the future.  Thinking more of the future, what are you looking forward to seeing happen in the no-code space in the years to come? 

I'd like to see more adoption and acceptance of no-code tools in business, as it has such potential for efficiencies and gains. However I wonder if they need to adopt more of a maker mindset internally for this to happen.

It would also be great to be able to do meet-ups, events and in-person collaboration, but I think that may have to wait a while longer.

I’m sure that no-code meetups and conferences will be huge when they return, they are such a fun way to grow your no-code network and learn about new tools. Do you have a favourite no-code tool? And what's the next no-code tool you're thinking of trying out?

The designer in me wants to say Carrd, but I think Airtable would win at the moment. It’s got so many possible use-cases and it gives you new ways to experiment with data.

You can use it as a simple place to store data, or go all out in building apps and tools. As a next tool I'm torn between focusing more on Webflow, or having a better play with Bubble.

Thanks so much for sharing your story with us Mark. We look forward to hearing more about your journey soon! 

Keep an eye open for our next Member Spotlight blog post coming soon!