Have you ever had a great app/product idea but had to give up on it because you didn't know how to code it? Have you ever been put off on pursuing a solution to a problem because every developer you reach out to was charging way too much than you could afford? Or better still are you a developer who wishes they could develop their idea in days instead of months?
If you answered yes to any of these, then NoCode Development is probably the answer you have been looking for.
No Code Development, or NoCode for short, is the development of software without having to code out the solution. It is the use of graphical (GUI) tools to create digital products like websites, apps and chatbots using drag and drop tools. The No-Code/Low Code movement is centred on the idea that technology should be an enabler for creation instead of being a barrier to entry. Simplified, it means technology should help people create solutions & No Code achieves just that.
Popular examples of this include Wix which allows non-technical people to develop a website and Shopify which allows one to set up a fully functioning e-commerce store without any developer knowledge. It doesn't end there though, No Code is allowing creators to dream up & build wildly creative and innovative ideas. By removing the barrier of needing to know how to code, entrepreneurs can create quick functioning prototypes and get market validation faster. No need to hire a huge engineering department before your product gets traction, this is greatly reducing time to market & increasing innovations in the space.
Advantages of NoCode
1) Quicker Validation
In the olden days of software, it used to take years to develop products. The consequence of this was that by the time engineers finished development, business requirements would've changed or a competitor would've acquired a significant portion of the market. To remedy this, the Software industry came up with methodologies like Agile and concepts like Minimum Viable Products(MVPs) to ensure quicker time to market and quicker validation.
Also to this end, apps like Figma and Adobe XD were developed to create High Fidelity prototypes to garner quicker feedback. NoCode takes this a step further. With NoCode, instead of a prototype, businesses can easily design and build fully functional products in less time. This allows for quick market validation and helps the customer realise value sooner. Quicker validation also means the company wastes less money on bad ideas.
2) No Barriers to Entry
NoCode development is a gamechanger because it empowers everyone to build. Anyone with an idea can bring it to life using NoCode.
Businesses can forgo hiring an (expensive) engineering department for the initial phase of the project. With NoCode, the ideators get to build out the solutions without worrying that requirements might be misunderstood or the wrong product might be built. Ideators get to see their idea to market, and developers can then be brought in later on, to scale the product once it has been validated.
Does this seem strange, it shouldn't it's actually how the most successful companies get built. Facebook and Google were able to achieve success because the founders were initially able to grow their products by creating them themselves and then bringing on more talented people as they scaled. The only difference is back then, you needed to know how to code in order to create, that barrier has been removed.
3) FAST AND CHEAP (RELATIVELY)
When compared to hiring a developer(s) for your MVP, using NoCode is significantly cheaper and faster. Makers of NoCode tools are developers themselves who have managed to streamline and simplify the software development process.
They have made it easier to create standard functionalities and interfaces. You can now easily enable registration and login, allow creating and updating data, create common UI widgets like menus, carousels, etc, all without breaking a sweat. Most of this functionality is available as drag and drop simplifying the creation process and greatly reducing time spent.
NoCode development also makes it easier to join and integrate different services and functionalities. A good example of this is Zapier, which allows you to integrate over 4000+ apps, connecting them to automate manual processes, something which normally required coding knowledge to do.
4) SIMPLIFIES EXTREMELY TECHNICAL DOMAINS
A great benefit of No Code is that it tends to simplify complex domains and make them accessible to everyone. For example, Google's AutoML abstracts the artificial intelligence domain away from complex algorithms. Using its features one can easily create AI models without writing a piece of code!
Graphics is another complex domain that normally requires a lot of math to code, but platforms like Canva and Adobe Photoshop simply this process. One can simply click on an image and make it transparent, a process that normally takes a lot of mathematical functions to do.
While NoCode is a gamechanger, no solution is without some downsides. Here are some shortcomings of NoCode development that might make it not suitable for your product:
1)Hard to scale
NoCode development tools are normally built with specific use cases in mind. As your product scales, it will probably require new custom features which might not be covered by these use cases. Using NoCode in this case makes it harder to keep developing your product to suit customer needs as you're limited by your tools. Once you reach this level it might be best to start developing this custom functionality using code.
2)Expensive as you grow
While NoCode tools are initially inexpensive, they become very costly as your userbase grows. Most of these tools, have a generous free tier but starts to become expensive as your app scales. Take for example MailChimp, an email marketing tool, it's free for up to 2,000 contacts, but that cost goes up to $800/month for 100,000 contacts.
3)Lack of Control
Another drawback of NoCode tools is that you have limited control of how the software is built. Your product might be exposed to security vulnerabilities without you knowing. WordPress, a popular Content management system, is under constant scrutiny for constant bugs and vulnerabilities in the software.
With NoCode tools you also don't have full ownership of your data. Your data and that of your users is owned and held by the platform you used to build your product. This is opposed to coded solutions where you have full access and control of your data.
4)Not ideal for all products
No Code development as mentioned above is limited to use cases envisioned by the tool creators. This means that they are some use cases not covered by these tools. NoCode tools are normally not ideal for products with a lot of complex logic or products where the technology is the first of its kind. No Code tools normally thrive for creating products that are improvements or variations of existing ones.
NoCode is a great innovation that can greatly reduce the time to market for product development and spur innovation especially among non (less) technical people. NoCode is great for MVP and proof of concepts as it increases agility. It however isn't ideal for complex systems, for example, you can't use NoCode to build a core banking system. It also isn't ideal for full-formed products, because as your product grows you need to add more customizations to differentiate yourself from your competition as well as to cater for new customer needs. NoCode might limit you & custom development might be best.
My recommendation is to build your MVP with NoCode, get market validation and when you're are now scaling your product you can switch to hiring developers. At this point, you have significant traction (hopefully paying customers too) and can afford or at least justify hiring software engineers. Take the example of Comet, a marketplace for tech freelancers, they managed to grow to over 800k users and managed to raise 12.8 million in funding all off a NoCode stack build on Bubble. They can afford to hire engineers now going.
There you go folks, NoCode development. Are you currently developing NoCode applications? Feel free to share these in the comments. Also, check out my list of great NoCode tools to get you started here.
With that said, go out, go out and build, build beautiful, amazing products that have an impact on the world.