Make is a relatively new automation platform that requires little to no coding knowledge or experience, much like Zapier or IFTTT. In some ways it’s a better, more powerful option than these two old warhorses, though it falls a little short in some other ways.
Overall, though, if you’re shopping for a good no-code solution, Make definitely deserves a whirl. In this article, we’ll go over the strengths and weaknesses of Make by showing you how to use it.
We’ll start off with some explanation about what Make is and the ideas behind it, before jumping into a step-by-step tutorial where we automate the process of opening a new document and making a calendar entry when a new Trello card is created.
- Make is a very easy-to-use automation tool with a strong graphical component to it. If you like to see complicated processes laid out visually, it’s the tool for you.
- If you’re looking to make long, complicated automations, then Make is a great option, thanks to its layout and the way it handles conditional formatting.
- Getting used to the terminology Make uses can take some time, as it can be a little counterintuitive.
- Integromat changed its name to Make in early 2022.
If you’d like to know more about how Make’s pricing works, as well as how its plans break down, click the linked article for more information.
Updated the article to reflect that Integromat changed its name to Make.
Make is an automation tool that can help you set up integrations between programs without knowing any code. It’s easy to use and has a solid free plan.
In some ways Make is better, in some ways Zapier is — it really depends on what you’re going to use them for. Make is good at setting up complicated chains of actions, while Zapier is a bit more straightforward and simple.
Google Sheets works very well with Make, and offers all kinds of modifiers.
What Is Make (Formerly Integromat)?
Integromat was founded in 2012 in the Czech Republic, so a year after Zapier and two years after IFTTT (read our IFTTT guide for more on its origins).
It went in a slightly different direction than these two, though, using a much more visual style in creating its automations — named “scenarios” — as opposed to Zapier’s Zaps and IFTTT’s applets. Then in early 2022, Integromat changed its name to Make.
This presentation makes it a little easier to make automations with multiple steps. Zapier and IFTTT do a fine job, of course, but following Integromat’s dotted line is easier than just going down a list.
Also, we like how Make lets you take triggers from any preceding step and use them in a current one, making for actions that only fire in very specific circumstances.
Make’s visual approach also makes it easier to add more complicated steps to scenarios. For instance, if you need to “filter” an action — set criteria for an action — one of the easiest ways to do so is by just clicking on the dotted line between “modules” — the steps in a scenario.
Another great addition is the toolbar at the bottom of the screen, which gives you access to all kinds of secondary tools, including the ability to add notes (handy for tricky steps) and even a feature to explain the flow of the scenario.
Overall, we are very impressed by Make and recommend it to anybody looking to streamline workflow automation. However, there are some minor annoyances, one of which is the sometimes obscure terminology it uses.
Understanding Scenarios and Modules: Common Make Terms
Make uses a lot of specific jargon, only some of which it explains. Below is a small overview.
- Scenario: an automation, or automated process, where two or more apps are linked
- Module: a step in a scenario
- Operation: the type of task a module performs — the most often used operations are “triggers” and “actions”
- Trigger: a module that kicks off a scenario
- Action: a task performed once a trigger fires
- Connection: the link between a module and the app it represents
- Filter: an extra substep between two modules
How to Use Make Effectively for Workflow Automation
There are two types of scenarios you can use in Make: you can make them yourself or use a template. Below we’ll give you an idea of how to make one yourself, but there’s a solid chance you might never need to: Make’s templates are really good.
We like how inventive they are, and the wide array of options you have to choose from. Much like with Zapier (read our Zapier guide for more information), the templates are ways for you to set up automations you never knew you needed, or even thought possible. Before you do anything else, look through the templates of your favorite apps to see what’s there.
Another huge advantage of Make is its built-in data store, which lets you take specific types of data produced by a linked app — like certain types of social media posts or number of entries in a spreadsheet — and keep them in a store managed by Make.
Data stores mean you can bypass third-party apps or CSV files for storing a single type of data; better yet, the data store can be put into a scenario like any other module. If your workflow is very data-heavy, Make is a great pick.
Best Apps & Integrations for Make
Make supports 250 apps, though it’s open to suggestions if you’re missing anything vital. The apps range from the utilitarian, like Google Drive apps and many project management tools, to smart home functions and social media apps like Facebook.
That said, 250 apps pales in comparison to the 600 of IFTTT and the thousands of options Zapier offers, so if you’re using particularly exotic programs, Make may not be the app for you (read our Make vs Zapier piece to see how the two really compare).
How to Get Started With Make
- Sign Up to Make (Formerly Integromat)
Before we start creating scenarios with Make, we first need to sign up to the service. To do so, just go to the website and click on the white button in the top right that says “sign up.”
- Fill out Your Personal Details
Next, fill in your personal details, including your name, email address, password and country.
- Summarize How You’ll Use Make
Answer some questions on how you will be using Make. Don’t be shocked by either the short list of apps you’re given, or the use of the word “solopreneur.” Things are getting better from here.
- Check out the Dashboard
Once you’re done with this, you’re transported to the dashboard (also called “my lab”), which is where the action happens (in our case, we were taken on a small detour through the pricing page; clicking on the profile button in the top right of the screen took us to the dashboard).
- Go to the “Scenarios” Tab
There’s a lot to do and choose from, but as this tutorial serves mainly as a way to get to know Make a bit, we’ll just put together a basic scenario. To do so, go to the “scenarios” tab from the left-hand taskbar. Once there, choose “create a new scenario” from the top right of the screen.
- Select the Apps You Want to Automate
This takes you to a massive screen where you can pick the apps you want to automate. There are hundreds to choose from; to make things a little easier on ourselves, we’ll do something relatively simple, like creating a card in Trello that in turn opens a new Google Doc and a Google Calendar entry. We’ll select all three apps, then hit the “continue” button.
- Select Your Trigger App
The next screen is where the magic happens: it’s a white field where you can place your apps and then select their triggers and actions. It’s a little intimidating at first, but it flows kind of like a mind map — you’ll get used to it quickly. For now, we’ll just click the big question mark in the bubble and pick Trello, as that’s where we’ll put our scenario’s trigger module.
- Select the Trigger
You’ll get a massive list of available triggers (seriously, it’s huge). In this case, we just went with the “create a card” trigger.
- Allow Make Access to Trello
Once that’s selected, there are going to be several small steps in quick succession. First, you need to make a connection between Make and Trello (use the suggested name). Then, you’ll be redirected to a separate window where you need to allow Trello to access Make and vice versa. Just follow the steps as laid out on screen, and you’ll be fine.
- Set Trigger Criteria
Next, you need to set the criteria of your trigger: when it fires and why. Being specific here is good so you don’t fire the scenario unless necessary. Thankfully, Make gives you a lot of options. For this use case, we created a board called “Integromat example,” and we want the trigger to be the creation of a new card in our “to-do” list. As such, we left the labels and name blank.
- Create the Next Step
Once complete, a smaller bubble will pop up behind the one for Trello. This one lets you create a new module, so let’s do that.
- Allow Access to the New App
We’ll start by creating a document every time a new Trello card is made. Select Google Docs in the bubble, then select “create a document.” You’ll once again have to create a new connection, this time with your entire Google account (which includes Google Drive or Google Workspace), which will save you lots of time in the long run.
- Set Criteria for the Action
Next up, you need to specify a few things about your new docs. Some of the code-like options here look really complicated, but look again and you’ll see it’s not too bad. For instance, if you want your new doc to take the name of the Trello card, just pick “card ID” under “name” and “content.”
- Add a Third Step (Optional)
As we mentioned earlier, multi-step scenarios are Make’s specialty, so let’s add another step. We’re going to use Google Calendar to add an event for each document that’s created, with the due date we set in Trello. Create a new module, pick Google Calendar, then authorize the connection.
- Set Criteria for the Action Again
With that done, you can choose the options for the event you create. For “event name,” we want to use the name of the document (which is the same as the Trello card), and for the start date and end date we’ll use the due date from Trello. Note that the modifiers for each app are a different color, so it’s easy to find them — all you need to do is scroll through the list. Once you’re done, hit “OK” at the bottom of the pop-up.
- Test Your Scenario
Next, you need to test your scenario. In a multi-step automation, you should always test it. You can do so by hitting the “run once” button at the bottom of the screen.
- Check Any Errors
As you can see, we had an error — in our case, it was in the Calendar module. Just click on the little bubble with the exclamation mark for a more detailed explanation.
- Fix Errors and Run Again
Turns out we chose the wrong kind of due date and didn’t fill out the Trello module correctly. We fixed the issue, thanks to the help from Make, then ran the scenario again using the “run once” command.
And with that, we have a very nicely running automation. We recommend you mess around with it yourself a bit to get an idea of how it works; it’s pretty easy, and the visual aspect is a great help.
We hope this guide has set you on your way to using Make and answered any outstanding questions you may have had about this great automation tool. If you’d like to know more about how Make handles, we recommend you try it out. There’s a free plan that allows up to two scenarios and all you need to sign up is an email address.
What do you think of Make? Have you used it? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thank you for reading.