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How to Build a Client Portal App

Client portal apps are becoming increasingly essential for how you engage with your clients and internal staff. They provide a centralized platform where clients can access their data, collaborate with businesses, and utilize various services. They also can allow your staff to keep up to date on onboarding, engagements, leads, and other entities that you want to track.

In short, a client portal is a front end for your internal staff and external clients that makes viewing/editing data easy.

Building a client portal app from scratch can be complex and time-consuming. We’re talking tens of thousands of dollars and ongoing server, developer, and maintenance fees. However, with the rise of low-code tools, businesses can now develop robust client portals with minimal coding in a fraction of the time that it would take to build something from scratch.

In this article, we’ll explore five such tools: Glide Apps, Softr, Retool, Bubble, and Noloco. We’ll compare them on the basis of Price per user for 100 Client Portal Users, Data Connections, and Ease of Use/Learning Curve. Many of these tools allow for smaller numbers of users, but given the need for many mid-range consulting companies, I’ll place the limitations based on 5–10 staff and 90 clients (100 total app users).

Note: to view the client portal app I built for Global Hola, go to the end of this article.

1. Glide Apps

  • Price with 100 Client Portal Users: $249/month
  • Data Connections: Glide Apps offers direct connections to Google Sheets, Airtable, and an internal database native to Glide. This allows for quick and efficient data management that can be connected to automation tools like Zapier. I used Glide to build my business client portal for our outsourcing clients at Global Hola.
  • Ease of Use/Learning Curve: With a friendly interface and drag-and-drop features, Glide Apps is suitable for non-tech-savvy individuals. Very quick to get off the ground and get an MVP.

2. Softr

  • Price with 100 Client Portal Users: $49 /month
  • Data Connections: Softr connects to Google Sheets and Airtable, allowing seamless data integration and management.
  • Ease of Use/Learning Curve: Softr provides pre-built templates and intuitive design elements, offering a moderate learning curve. I personally found it much more difficult to build on than Glide and Retool.

3. Retool

  • Price with 100 Client Portal Users: $1,485 ← Based on one standard user and 99 external users (just view/edit data from the front-end). To be fair, Retool does provide $25,000 in credits for start-ups to help build their app, but this will only last for one year. After that, it’s per-user pricing.
  • Data Connections: Retool supports various databases such as PostgreSQL, MySQL, Google Sheets, and more, offering robust data connectivity options.
  • Ease of Use/Learning Curve: With a bit more complexity, Retool might require some technical knowledge but offers powerful functionalities. I recommend Retool for building internal apps, but at the price point per user, it becomes a bit uneconomical. I’ve built an internal tool for a client that is amazing and great for their needs, especially since it deals with very large SQL databases and queries.

4. Bubble

  • Price with 100 Client Portal Users: N/A. They don’t do per-user pricing, but probably $29/month level could accomplish this.
  • Data Connections: Bubble offers a wide range of database connections and APIs, making it highly flexible for diverse data needs.
  • Ease of Use/Learning Curve: Although powerful, Bubble’s learning curve can be steeper compared to other tools. It’s more suitable for those with some technical background, and personally, I found Bubble’s templates to be good enough to get started. However, knowing how to build a proper Bubble app is an art for sure.

5. Noloco

  • Price with 100 Client Portal Users: $148.00
  • Data Connections: Google Sheets, Airtable, Postgres, Xano, MySQL. Salesforce & SmartSuite are coming soon.
  • Ease of Use/Learning Curve: I found Noloco to be moderate in its learning curve, and definitely less intuitive than Glide Apps. I found that it probably could handle a lot of different types of client portal setups, but it would take a while to learn.

Conclusion

The selection of a low-code tool for building a client portal app depends on your budget, the complexity of data connections, and the level of ease you seek in the development process. Glide Apps and Softr are excellent choices for those looking for a more straightforward approach, while Retool and Bubble cater to those needing more powerful functionalities.

Low-code tools have revolutionized the way we approach app development, making it accessible and cost-effective. By choosing the right platform, you can ensure that your client portal app aligns with your business needs and provides an exceptional user experience.

Want some help with keeping your clients engaged with your projects? Global Hola can help. We provide amazing virtual talents including virtual assistants, app developers, graphic designers, and customer service professionals to keep your projects and clients happy.

Want help maintaining your client portal?

Global Hola virtual assistants and customer service professionals can help.

Global Hola Client Portal Views (built in Glide Apps)

How to Build a Client Portal App | Global Hola Portal
How to Build a Client Portal App | Global Hola Portal
How to Build a Client Portal App