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Avoid these 5 rookie mistakes when working with Knack apps

Low-code development has rapidly changed the landscape of the business world by presenting easy solutions to streamline workflow and analyze data.

By Aaron SmithPublished about a year ago 6 min read
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto: https://www.pexels.com/photo/young-women-working-on-laptops-in-creative-workspace-4126705/

Mobile apps in particular are invaluable to businesses because of their ability to automate workflow, enhance customer experience, utilize customer data, and promote brand recognition.

However, even with the expansion of app-development services that require minimal coding, it can be daunting (and expensive) for many startups and small businesses to dip their toes into the world of app innovation. We love Knack as a low-code platform, but there are several pitfalls that businesses should be aware of if they want to maximize their ROI and save time.

As development consultants, these are the most common beginner mistakes we see with Knack.

Skipping “auto-increment” and “date created”

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When you enter a new record into your Knack database, there are two fields that you want to be sure are enabled in order to streamline any record-upkeep and troubleshooting on the backend.

First, make sure you enable the Auto-Increment field, which you can access at the top of your Knack dashboard under the “Fields” drop menu. Selecting this option will consecutively number each object you enter into your Knack database. This serves the purpose of assigning each record its own unique ID. These ID numbers can also be customized to include letters and text formulas based on your company’s particular tracking needs.

The second field you should consistently add when entering a new record is Date Created. Activate this field by selecting “Fields” then “Date” then “Date/Time” under the toolbar at the top of the page, and then choosing “Current Date” as the Default Date under “Settings.” With this field enabled, each record will be permanently time-stamped with the date and, if you like, the time that particular object was created.

It seems small, but these fields spare a lot of stress on the backend if an issue arises with one of your records. Cloud-Secure Tech notes that unorganized and difficult-to-retrieve data can be disastrous for businesses attempting to keep up in a competitive market, contributing to significant delays in developing marketing strategies and an inability to provide users with the content they want from an app.

Rather than searching through potentially thousands of records, enabling these two fields allows you to use the approximate time a record was entered to pinpoint where the record resides, and search for inconsistencies in record ID numbers to see where a record may have been deleted.

Misunderstanding page rules and user roles

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More than 60% of media experts believe having a thorough understanding of data privacy should be a priority among businesses, with almost 90% weighing in that privacy surrounding personally identifiable information is one of the most predominant concerns.

Understanding how to use page rules and user roles in Knack apps is a great way to optimize clients’ data privacy while automating workflow. Page Rules, which can be found at the top of your Knack App Builder dashboard next to “Views,” are a simple, powerful way to make sure that accurate, updated information is automatically shared with the appropriate users through the app, and not shared with others who should not have access.

Page rules are different actions that happen automatically based on the criteria you define. If there is specific information on a page that should only be able to be viewed by individuals with certain permissions (staff members or individuals who have already pre-registered for a group, for example), page rules allow you to automatically redirect unauthorized users away from areas using the app.

Not only does this protect potentially sensitive information, but it also automates workflow by reducing the number of hours required for information entry and upkeep. Using page rules also provides for a smoother user experience by automatically redirecting users to the appropriate information and minimizing the number of communications your business will receive from confused users seeking assistance navigating your app.

User roles are similar in that they allow you to define the information that different groups of logged-in users have access to. Once you have created a user role (staff, sales reps, and clients are examples of different user roles that companies use), you are able to connect each user role with the relevant data for that role. This allows clients to view records related specifically to them without compromising the privacy of any of your other clients, and also automates the process of allowing employees access to records they need (for instance, client contact information).

Not enabling modal pop-ups

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One tool that can help optimize the Knack app user experience is the strategic use of modal pop-ups. Before you have a knee-jerk response to the phrase “pop-up,” rest assured that modal pop-ups are not the same as the kind that claims you have won $100,000 by being the millionth visitor to a site.

Modal pop-ups are triggered by a user action, like clicking a button to access a form or view expanded details about a certain product, and allow the user to view this information without leaving the original page.

According to Hubspot, modals improve user experience by promoting simplicity and visibility. By enabling modals on pages that contain a significant amount of data (tables of clients, projects, products, etc.), you are allowing the user to get more specific information about a certain element of the source page in a smaller, more prominent window without forcing them to navigate away from that page and lose their place entirely.

Modal pop-ups are also useful in situations where you are collecting data through simple forms, enabling the user to submit all the required data with just a couple of clicks while still being able to reference the source page. This also makes it much easier to submit multiple forms related to the same record more quickly than if you were forced to navigate through multiple pages to get back to the original record. For employees who use Knack for data entry, this is a game changer.

Not securely backing up your data

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Let’s face it—technology isn’t always foolproof. There are few worse feelings than putting in long hours working on a project only to find yourself back at square one after a system error or glitch. That’s even not to mention the data-conversion issues that can occur down the road when your business decides to move from one platform to another.

From confidential client information to workplace data that is essential to your business’s daily functioning, you never want to gamble when it comes to the data that you collect and store with Knack. Perhaps the only thing scarier than losing data is the concept of it falling into the hands of hackers or other agents working to steal your business's (or your client’s) valuable information.

Fortunately, there are ways to ensure that Knack app data is backed up frequently and stored securely. Soluntech’s Backapps, for example, offer a solution that enables you to automatically conduct backup runs based on desired frequency, content, and format and securely store them in your desired location. Gone are the days of guessing where your data goes—or who is accessing it.

Not seeking support

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You don’t have to go it alone. One of the best ways to avoid mistakes frequently made by Knack app newbies is to rely on the support community available to you. The Knack Community, including the Help Center, is a free, forum-based space where Knack users can ask questions and exchange feedback about the platform and how to most effectively utilize its features. These forums are a great first stop if you aren’t sure about how to use a specific Knack feature, have a question about best practices, or need to troubleshoot an issue.

Because developing a new app is a large investment for any business, you should also consider consulting an expert to protect your assets by ensuring that you are designing an app that is addressing the specific needs of your business and your market.

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About the Creator

Aaron Smith

Aaron is a content strategist and consultant in support of STEM firms and medical practices. He covers industry developments and helps companies connect with clients. In his free time, he enjoys swimming, swing dancing, and sci-fi novels.

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