Months ago I attended a meetup on no-code, and I remembered being particularly impressed by a live demo of Bravo Studio. The agency that presented its return on experience highlighted the following features:
I was already keen on testing Bravo Studio when I watched a video of BastiUI (a French UI designer making nice videos on YouTube and streaming while working on actual projects for clients) showcasing Bravo Studio and demonstrating how to build an app from scratch in a matter of hours! Then it was decided.
I knew I wanted to display my top 100 covers and I knew the app had to broadcast music. But I also knew that I had to explore Bravo Studio and that I should anticipate that there would most likely be a lot of rules and constraints to make it work. So I decided to proceed iteratively in some kind of test-and-learn process to combine discovery, learning, designing, building the app. I know this is not the typical way to design an experience and an interface. But I also know that if I start with a design I would most likely have to change a lot of things to make it work properly.
I had some directions set from the start: I wanted to use the fonts and colors of my company brand (homopixelus), keep things as simple as possible and think MVP to avoid falling into the classic trap of a never-ending project.
First things first. I created a playlist on Spotify. Using an API gateway and spotify API, I extracted the data I needed. Then using Excel and PowerQuery, I created a table with all the required information: artist, album name, link to an image of the cover, release date, etc. The order of tracks in my playlist was the same I use to create my redesigns of covers. As I did it with Figma I used a naming convention that allowed me to export images that could easily be reconstructed based on the order of the album within the Spotify playlist. And there I had my database ready.
From then on, I created a first screen on Figma to test the generation of a simple list of covers in Bravo Studio. Success. OK, moving on.
The mission of my app was to showcase my work of design on my top 100 album covers and provide a musical background while browsing and discovering the covers. As an MVP I thought of the following screens and features :
Initially, I wanted to use the Spotify API to create an automatic broadcast of music while browsing the covers. While testing the integration in Bravo Studio I discovered Spotify API to be (in my understanding) an API to control remote device. In other words, I could only control the Spotify app on the smartphone if it was launched and active (used within the last x minutes). Although I succeeded in properly integrating the Spotify API with Bravo Studio (including authentication of the user) I eventually gave up on it because I considered it was too distant from the use I initially imagined.
Before starting the design, I wanted to have a good knowledge on Bravo Studio features and main principles. Therefore, I quickly read the online documentation, reviewed some examples available on Figma and made the following assumptions (to be mostly proved right later on) based on my comprehension:
I then used all these constraints to design and build my screens in Figma. The learning curve has been very short and effective. In a matter of hours I had a v0 of the app ready and more or less working. From then it was mostly about adjusting the design to optimize the resulting experience. Fortunately the process is quick and easy in Bravo Studio:
It would be difficult to imagine something simpler!
Of course, there are some limitations but the opposite would be surprising. Here are some of them I have observed:
Should I do it again would I do things differently? Probably now that I have a better understanding on how things work, what seems to be possible and not (yet) possible, tagging, binding, API, etc. But mostly I expect to be more efficient and effective. The lesson learned is to keep things simple, be disciplined in the way you structure your screens and frames. The good news is probably than the simpler it is the better experience for the users, isn’t it?
I only used 2 APIs: Spotify and Airtable. And, as mentioned above, I eventually abandoned Spotify integration. There were both easy to integrate and use as long as you take the time to understand the specs and requirements of the collection of available requests. I found Bravo Studio’s interface quite easy and efficient to use. Compared to an API gateway all the main features are available while being simpler. In my experience it should cover most of the common requirements and expectations.
But again, I did not implement advanced features that could make things complicated. I suppose adding a like or favorite feature, ratings and comments, user profiles, transactional operations, etc. would require more advanced skills and experience.
I do not own a Mac and I do not own an iPhone (I know, am I really a designer? …^^) therefore I decided to give up on publishing the app on Apple’s App Store. I suppose I could have tried to install a macOS virtual machine, use the iPhone of a friend, etc. but I considered I had already proved my point by releasing the app on Google’s playstore.
One thing to keep in mind when you decide to push the button, whether it is the app of a large company or an app to test and try built by a freelance designer, the process is identical. Indeed, you need to build a dedicated page on your confidentiality / privacy policies, prepare screenshots of the app, a description, etc. In the end it takes a few hours to initiate the publishing process and 3 extra days to get the approval. BTW, Google provides a report of all the tests that were conducted and I must say it is quite impressive although being simultaneously depressing. There are a lot of warnings regarding accessibility I chose to ignore to avoid redoing the whole process again and again. Again, my initial intention was more a less a proof of concept for me and a way to determine the required effort to build an app using Bravo Studio should the need raise in the context of a mission for a client. And on those terms I consider my initiative to be successful.
Now that my project is over I must say it has been fun, relatively easy and smooth, and overall a great experience. Before starting I was skeptical about the nocode app builders. In the end, of course there are some limitations but Bravo Studio proved to be a good tool, mature, easy to use, and the company seems to invest in adding new features on a regular basis. My overall feeling is I found it easier to build an app with Bravo Studio than building a website with Webflow. There are no copy-paste, only synchronization, data is dynamic and linked to an actual database. API are easily integrated. I do not know about security and all the aspects a company could require and expect to release an app to their customers. But this last concern aside, I would highly recommend Bravo Studio to any designer who uses Figma and wishes to release mobile apps on their own. Last, I consider the subscription to be reasonable given the value it helps create (19€/month).
My final thought would be that I feel like having added a new skill in my resume and I am not afraid of mobile apps anymore. And I am now thinking of what could be my next app!