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How Drew Thomas built a cross-platform weather app
4 min read

How Drew Thomas built a cross-platform weather app

Yesterdays weather
How Drew Thomas built a cross-platform weather app

Hey! What are you working on and what led you to building with no code? Have you got any previous experience of building sites/apps?

I was recently able to get Yesterdays Weather, a no-code native app, published in both the Apple and Google app stores.

Yesterdays Weather is one of four active projects I run under my consulting brand Work and Whistle.

I do have some experience. I started my career by co-founding a digital agency. With a staff of almost 20, we ran client projects and our own business using lots of proprietary, coded software. It gave us a real advantage back then, but a few years back, I realized that tools like Squarespace and Wix were going to drastically change our business (and all businesses like ours). I wrote for Smashing Magazine about it in 2016.

That was pre-Webflow (for me anyway), so it wasn't even as obvious as it is now, but I've been falling down the no-code rabbithole and building with no-code since.

What platforms and tools have you used to build Yesterdays Weather? How long did it take to build?

Yesterdays Weather, at its core, is a coded API that takes a location and returns a sentence describing the weather. I actually created it in 2014.

Since the API still worked, I used it to try out some no-code tools: Thunkable for the iOS and Android apps, Bubble for the web app, and Carrd for the marketing site.

It took just days to build the app with Thunkable, and it was my first Thunkable app! Once it was built and approved in both app stores, I spent a couple more days making it work internationally and improving design details, but overall, it was days, not weeks.

The Bubble app was similar... two days tops.

The Carrd site was built in one sitting!

How have you gone about growing your user base? What has been most effective?

Yesterdays Weather is very much a casual side project, but I'm growing the user base because it's a shareable story... a no-code native app in both app stores.

Twitter and online communities have been the most effective ways I've gotten interest so far. Hopefully that will continue, as I've been invited to do a couple podcasts and interviews at this point.

Beyond the no-code angle, I haven't done anything to promote the app itself yet, but I plan to.

Yesterdays Weather, even as an API in 2014, was always for experimentation, so I'll continue using it to experiment with new tools and techniques, including ways to grow a user base.

Have you monetised it yet and if so, what is your revenue model?

The revenue is just app sales right now, and it's not a huge focus. If I see interest, I would love to expand monetization options beyond a one-time app sale.

I have a lot of interesting weather data that I can potentially spin off or add to the current app.

I did create a little funnel to convert web traffic into paying customers. It's freemium, basically... the web app is free, and if someone likes it, they can buy the more convenient native app for a one-time fee.

While I haven't seen thousands of app sales, it's worth mentioning Yesterdays Weather has already generated revenue indirectly through new consulting work for Work and Whistle.

What has been the hardest part of building, growing or monetising Yesterdays Weather?

Getting into the iOS app store was actually a huge challenge. Building the app was easy (thanks to Thunkable), and getting published in the Google Play store was simple.

Apple was a different story.

I was denied originally because they suspected I could be hiding content in a web view. I wasn't, but I had some extra components in the Thunkable build I needed to clean up.

Next time around they said my app functionality wasn't app-like enough! They suggested I just launch it as a web app! That's when I added the menu bar across the bottom and let go off the ultra-clean look it originally had.

Lastly, Apple accepted my app build but denied my screenshots because the iPad version wasn't a true iPad screenshot!

Eventually, I got it published, but that process was the only part of the whole project that wasn't dead simple.

Do you have any tips on building, growing or monetising a no code product/business?

My biggest tip, code or no-code, is to focus on consistent, high quality output. Progress every day compounds in ways that one-time launches or mentions just can't.

For no-code specifically, though, I'd say the same thing for building, growing, and monetizing... that the tools are mind-blowing/incredible/amazing/super-interesting... but they should be invisible.

No-code products are competing for time and attention with coded and no-coded products, so do whatever's necessary to thoughtfully finish and polish your product and business.

Sometimes that means pushing the limits of a tool or hacking two together, but it also means paying attention to details and making careful product decisions at every step... even if a lot of it shows up by default.

Where can we find out more about Yesterdays Weather connect with you?

Yesterdays Weather for any platform is easiest to find at yesterdaysweather.com.

To reach me, I'm @truedrewco on Twitter, and my consulting website is workandwhistle.co.

My other products:

The No Code List
Tools to build, grow, and run a no-code business

Really Simple Store
Dead simple, embeddable ecommerce

Joustlist

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