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What is No-Code Development? Pros and Cons of No-Code Development

Programming is one of the most necessary hard-skills out there.

This is because almost every modern business runs on technology. From our day-to-day commute to a workplace solution, everything gets done through apps.

Far from being an easy-to-learn skill, it requires a lot of specialized knowledge to build something that does not break on its first run.

For aspiring entrepreneurs, this generally acts as a barrier for entry. 

They understand that in order to truly compete in the market, their offering would need to be technically competent.

A lack of technical skills makes them to either drop their dreams or postpone it until they have enough capital to hire developers.

But it is 2020 and we are being ushered into the era of self-serviceability.

This means that there is a solution that can help non-technical founders and entrepreneurs to realize their dreams despite lacking programming skills.

What is it? 

No-code development.

A platform that allows anyone with enough imagination to build an app using declarative programming.

Gone are the days when entrepreneurs would have to put their product-vision on pause for a technical hitch. 

Let’s jump into this.

What is no-code development?

No-code development refers to the ability to create and deploy apps without writing a single line of actual code. 

A rising alternative to traditional software development, it allows non-technical aspirants to build full-fledged applications without programming.

Using the visual development environment of no-code development platforms, layman users can build apps by dragging and dropping application components.

Prior programming knowledge becomes highly unessential.

As an aspiring entrepreneur or a small business owner, you’d not need to:

  • Worry about learning to code
  • Gather and spend a huge budget on hiring and training developers

Instead, all you’d need to do is flick a few buttons and shift the elements of the no-code platform until your app looks just like how you want it.

How does no-code work?

While you, the entrepreneur, rearrange components on the outside to build your app, internally, pre-existing blocks of code get shifted and manipulated to provide your output.

The back-end development processes are prewritten with a flexible scope for deployment which ensures that the logic that you declare, or the element that you drag and drop, works no matter how you place it.

Beyond the looks, you can also add extensive functionality to your product through the no-code platform’s integrations.

This means that you can practically have a simple SaaS product in no time.

Again, the platform automatically takes care of any complexity that you add. 

Under the hood of no-code

Every app that is in the market shares a lot of similar functionality. While the nuances of their code might differ, features and options such as ‘signing up’, ‘feed’, and ‘profile’ work using the same underlying concepts.

Meaning, the code between modules of the same ‘feature’ can be swapped and with just a few tweaks, they would work just as fine in another application.

These graphical and technical similarities are used by no-code platforms: by writing a set of blocks that represent one feature, it lets the end-user to add it wherever they want in their creation.

Every product/service does not rely on too many proprietary parts to provide a user experience.

Needing an entrepreneur to have technical expertise is a completely unnecessary shackle, considering most functionality is common between apps.

The potential of no-code development is just that: breaking these illogical shackles and enabling everyone to build a product with ease.

Pros of No-code development

Faster development

No-code allows an entrepreneur to build their product-idea without engaging with any of the complex programming requirements. 

This, along with the fact that everything is virtually put together using pre-built modules, speeds up development by a significant factor.

But wait, there is more: Not just development, but testing becomes a lot less involving as well. Most no-code platforms automate testing right into the runtime, meaning that you can resolve most errors the moment you finish a build.

Reduced development overhead

Running a business is no cheap undertaking. There are a lot of departments and hands that make up an organization, facilitating its day-to-day operations.

Now, consider the investment in development as well. An added expense, yes, but depending on the type of product/service that you build, you’d need to fund this investment with no immediate end in sight.

No-code eliminates this problem. You just pay for the platform which is generally way cheaper than hiring and running a development team in-house.

Increase in productivity

Since the whole burden of building an app gets eased out by the no-code platform, you and your team get to focus on other essential requirements to take your business to the next level.

Be it marketing or user-research, you get to tick off tasks with this infusion of time that would have otherwise gone into building an app from scratch.

Easier fixes and changes

Since most no-code development relies on visual representation of the code, it becomes very easy to make any cosmetic change to your product. 

In traditional programming, this would require manual editing and re-coding of the component to make it look how you want it to.

But here, all you’d need to do is move some stuff around, and your redo would be ready to go.

Cons of No-code development

Strict templates

No-code platforms allow flexibility in development, sure, but not all the way through. This is partly because the pre-written blocks of code can be bent only to a certain degree.

There is no actual developer behind that accommodates the actual flexibility for your unique product.

The code blocks in the platforms are written on the basis of the commonest use cases and thus do not have any scope for innovation.

For example, if you’d want your ‘feed’ to work horizontally instead of the typical vertical layout, it would work.

But it would not be highly functional or intuitive. 

The logic behind a vertical feed does not translate well into the landscape mode, and you’d get only basic workarounds that would not look good on your product at all.

This means that no-code development stifles your creativity.

Instead of building the app with endless possibility, you’d have to constantly consider the limitations of the no-code platform.

You’d have to bend and trim your product-idea to the platform’s level of competency.

Lack of proprietary rights

As a non-technical user, whatever you build on the no-code platform is through the aid of their code. 

This means that any design component that you reframe or modify remains with them in terms of ownership.

But a bigger issue is vendor lock-in. 

The whole existence of your product/service relies on their platform, which essentially does not allow you to have an inner look at how exactly your product works.

Or what your back-end components look like.

Should you want to migrate your product to another no-code platform, you cannot.

Every platform has its unique set of pre-written blocks, so even if you are given access to the lines of code, you cannot resolve migration by mere copy-pasting.

As long as you work on a platform, you are stuck with it.

Other issues

  • Security concerns: Since you do not control the technology stack or the implementation, neither do you know how securely built it is nor can you modify it with your tools. Further, the no-code platform is not required to tell you if your product works within a sandbox, so, your data might be vulnerable as well.
  • Limited product vision: Technological innovation is currently unthinkable with no-code, considering how the platforms are limited with the quality of code that they build and maintain. As an entrepreneur, you cannot create a faster algorithm or a better design component using their existing tools.

Examples of no-code platforms

Bubble

Bubble exemplifies the drag-and-drop experience, claiming to provide full functionality for anything that you build without any code.

Focused on enabling development of web apps for mobile and desktop, it allows you to have plug-ins while powering your content to be dynamic.

They also have a ton of in-built collaboration tools that lets you build your app as a team.

Budibase

One of the best no-code platforms for building SaaS products, Budibase lets you essentially automate your back-end.

With abilities such as web app creation and UI building, it offers users a plethora of of customizing features.

The best part is that it is completely open-source and free to use and deploy.

Zapier

A household name in no-code development, Zapier allows you to build custom integrations for your products.

Be it Google Sheets, Mailchimp, or Hubspot, all you’d need to is a few clicks, and your service would gain the ability to host and transfer content across integrations and third-party apps.

IFTTT

An exemplar of declarative programming, IFTTT solves several integration and task automation needs.

The latter is the highlight: to enable a web app with an IoT object, all you’d need is a few lines of declaration, and you can switch on appliances.

And, it is free to use as well.

Shopify

One among the best no-code platforms for e-commerce, Shopify enables business owners to have an online presence and increase the reach of their products.

No coding knowledge required: a simple sign-up, and you can have your website with banners, content, and payment methods to let your online customers buy from you.

WordPress

Powering more than 30% of the web, WordPress is the go-to solution for website deployment for more beginner-entrepreneurs.

An essential predecessor and the best no-code platform for web development, WordPress allows you to have a website without needing you to build a CRM.

Furthermore, its wide range of plugins and customizations allow you to add a variety of features and give you the power to make your website look modern.

No-code development versus a Digital Product Agency

No-code platforms allow you to build apps without any technical knowledge.

But, there is a catch.

Your idea can scale only as much as the no-code platform itself can accommodate.

Meaning, your product is restricted to whatever cloud resources and tech stacks that they employ.

If you have an idea that has the potential to outshine, opting for no-code would be a blunder.

Sure, the back-end maintenance is taken care of and your product gets developed faster, but these things matter only if your product-idea is more tech-enabled.

If your product is tech-driven, then you cannot rely on a no-code platform.

You’d need real development prowess. 

You need a digital product agency or an in-house team.

In-house teams are much better than no-code to bring out a well-developed product.

But, there is a catch.

With your aspirations let loose, you’d want to get into the market as soon as possible.

And cultivating an in-house team requires a lot of effort and resources.

It is not just about the money. Hiring the right talent, making sure that they align with your cultural paradigm… there is a lot to be accomplished.

Instead, how would it be if there were a team out there that already is set up just the way you want it?

They know what it means to build a product from scratch and also know the value of true, market-changing ideas.

Bringing some exclusive insights and muscles into the game, a digital product agency can help you transform your idea into a product much better than any no-code platform can.

When a real collective works for you to build a custom solution, the sky’s the limit. 

You are not weighed down by any of the restraints of no-code: no templates, no security issues. 

Instead, you get to work with a skillset that lets you develop creative solutions (this time, a proper horizontal feed that is user-friendly).

What’s more, you own your code and all of your proprietary software rights.

Migration becomes a breeze, and all this while, you get to build a product without any technical expertise at all.

There is a lot more that digital product agencies let you accomplish.

Bottom-line

Entrepreneurs wanting to bring a new product or service in the market should not be deterred by barriers like technical expertise or programming skills.

No-code development platforms try to remove that particular roadblock by extending pre-written blocks of code that can be moved around and reused in a new product.

But the thesis of no-code is similar, generic functionality that does not leave much room for creativity, technological innovation, or scalability.

To build an enterprise that succeeds and a product that wins in a market, you cannot let yourself get weighed down by these limitations.

Instead, by hiring a digital product agency like Crayon’d, you can realize your product idea with not just an extended scope but also with specialized product insights.

Good products define their own technological limits, so don’t let no-code dictate what your product can or cannot do.

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Amrit Manthan

I love metaphors and similes. I feel at home with them, just as how the claws of a bird easily cling to a branch.

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