Everything You Need To Know About the No-Code Movement

Creative Solution to An Ongoing Problem

As the ongoing tech boom fuels the need for high-skill software developers, businesses are looking for creative ways around the problem. The rise of no-code development platforms in recent years has opened up the world of coding to people of all demographics and enabled the creation of advanced apps all without needing to know how to actually write a single line of code

What Are No-Code Development Platforms?

How is it possible to create programs with advanced features without actually knowing how to code anything? Put simply, no-code platforms are graphical user interfaces (GUIs) that allow the user to drag and drop various elements into place to create functioning experiences. From a complete  user interface to data management and business logic, virtually any aspect of a website or app can be pieced together with no-code. Need a submission form for your website so visitors can send in their contact information? Simply browse the list of available pre-built submission forms, select the style, format, and theme that best fits your site, drag and drop it to the spot you need it, and click ‘publish’. It’s that easy. 

While no-code platforms have exploded in popularity in recent years, they aren’t exactly something new. Take, for example, the classic Microsoft Excel, first released back in 1985. Mastery of Excel is an extremely common skill requirement for job listings in the tech industry. Writing cell-based formulas, utilizing the Visual Basic Application, and building models are relatively common skills which allow users to essentially create without actually requiring any programming knowledge. Despite being one of the earliest and most rudimentary forms of no-code development, the overlap between Excel and modern no-code platforms is clear. 

More modern examples of no-code platforms include process management (PM) and customer relationship management (CRM) tools such as Creatio or Zoho, retail and point-of-sale platforms such as Shopify, or website development platforms such as Wix or Webflow. There are also platforms such as Adalo and Bubble which allow users to create complete apps from scratch. Learning curves, features and optimization vary from platform to platform, but at the very least users are able to create functional prototypes, proof-of-concept apps, or moderately complex websites.

What Are the Benefits of No-Code Development?

While a product created with no-code development may not be as polished and professional as one written from scratch by a seasoned industry veteran, the no-code development process has numerous benefits:

  • It’s fast. Creating an app using a no-code development platform can take a matter of hours or days, in comparison to the traditional coding methods which take weeks or months. Even complex customer enterprise applications can be created with no-code in a matter of a couple weeks.

  • It’s Easy. This is perhaps the biggest benefit to utilizing a no-code development platform. They are intuitive and generally have approachable learning curves. Because they are all-visual and feature drag and drop interfaces that work in real time, users can actually see their app come together as they build it.

  • No-code development is agile. If you decide you need to market your app for a different audience, no-code’s ease of use allows you to make the switch without significant investments in labor and time.

  • No-code apps are easy to keep up-to-date and maintenance is quick and simple. Using traditional coding methods, maintenance can be both tricky and time consuming. The drag and drop nature of no-code combined with seeing the effects of your actions in real-time as you work means maintaining your app is smooth and easy.

  • No-code development can save a lot of money. And who doesn’t like saving money? Creating and maintaining no-code apps can be handled by a single person, whereas hiring and paying the salaries for a traditional team of developers can be extremely expensive.

Drawbacks of No-Code Development?

It’s clear that no-code has several upsides, particularly for people with zero experience in coding. However, that’s not to say that no-code does not have a number of downsides as well:

  • No-code platforms tend to be rigid and restrictive in terms of available features and options. Some platforms may altogether be missing features that are critical to the functionality of your app. Customization options may be limited as well. For example, if your app needs a button but none of the available pre-made buttons fit the theme or style of your app, tough luck. This means that unlike traditional development methods that tailor-make everything to the client’s specifications, building on a no-code platform may mean that you have to change the vision of your app to fit the available options.

  • It’s Easy.This is perhaps the biggest benefit to utilizing a no-code development platform. They are intuitive and generally have approachable learning curves. Because they are all-visual and feature drag and drop interfaces that work in real time, users can actually see their app come together as they build it.

  • Lack of control.When creating an app from scratch, developers know their product inside and out. They can depend on its consistency because they are the ones who compiled it. That sense of control does not exist when using no-code platforms, which can introduce risks since they are built leveraging a templated approach.

  • No-code apps are easy to keep up-to-date and maintenance is quick and simple. Using traditional coding methods, maintenance can be both tricky and time consuming. The drag and drop nature of no-code combined with seeing the effects of your actions in real-time as you work means maintaining your app is smooth and easy.

  • Security flaws.If the platform hosting your app is targeted and breached by hackers, both your app in its entirety and the sensitive user data collected by your app become potentially vulnerable.

Would A No-Code App Suit Your Business?

While no-code apps can be practical in certain circumstances, they are most useful in specific scenarios. Businesses that favor simplicity and agility with a rapid development period would likely get the most use out of no-code. Usually these would be small businesses, but that’s not to say there aren’t major companies employing no-code technology. DoorDash, Spotify, and Liberty Mutual are just a few of the bigger businesses utilizing no-code internally. As the technology matures and no-code platforms continue to expand their options and features, no-code development is certainly something to keep an eye on in the coming years.

Jonathan Baker Image

At Lithios we value outside opinions. This blog was written by one of our guest bloggers, Jonathan Baker, with feedback from the Lithios team.

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