Developing an app can be a significant undertaking. It typically requires specialist programming skills and a good understanding of how different systems and data sources can be integrated. For some technologies, hiring good people is expensive and they may be in short supply.
In an ideal world, business users would be able to build their own applications. Without needing an intermediary to translate their vision into computer code, they would be able to develop, refine, and launch apps much faster.
Now, low code and no code platforms are helping to make this vision a reality.
What is low code and no code?
No code development platforms enable applications to be built using visual interfaces, without software development skills. There are also low code platforms, which take a similar approach but still require some programming skills.
Both make it easier for business owners to articulate their vision for an app. Using no code, they may be able to develop it completely themselves. Using low code, they can create working prototypes that developers can more easily complete and launch.
No code platforms can help to solve the challenge of cross-platform compatibility, making it easier to ship apps to both iOS and Android platforms, and simplifying the development of responsive websites. Proven design patterns are built in, so there’s no need to solve problems others have already solved. Some security issues are mitigated, too. Users don’t touch real code, so they can’t introduce vulnerabilities, although the app can only be as secure as the platform provider’s cloud.
Talk to us about using no code or low code platforms to build digital products quickly.
Examples of no code and low code platforms
Many no code and low code platforms are available, targeting different types of applications. These include:
- Webflow for responsive websites. Webflow can be used to build online stores and sites with a content management system (CMS).
- Voiceflow for conversational platforms, including voice assistants, chatbots, and phone-based interactive voice response (IVR) services.
- Bubble for multi-user web apps with integrated database functionality. Bubble gives you a visual interface for the public-facing web app, and its built-in workflows include account management (such as log in, register, and password reset).
- Airtable for data-led applications. It brings the power of a database to a spreadsheet-like interface, with different ways to visualise your data.
- InVision to smooth the path from design mock-up to prototype, making it easier for designers and developers to collaborate.
- Adalo for visually creating mobile apps, with integrated capabilities including data changes, user authentication, and push notifications.
- Zapier, which provides workflows that bridge many cloud platforms. It can be used, for example, to automatically extract email attachments and store them in Dropbox, or to share content from Facebook or Instagram on Twitter.
For many companies, no code and low code platforms are cheaper and faster than traditional development. When Saga Healthcare needed to build a home care scheduling system, the Mendix low code platform was 95% cheaper than bespoke development, and enabled them to launch much faster.
Bubble has been used to launch a number of websites, including freelance invoicing platform Incomee, and home rental portal ResidentStreet. ResidentStreet was developed in six weeks.
What are the advantages of no code and low code tools?
While no code and low code platforms can cut costs, they also affect cultural change. They democratise app development, so business owners can create their own apps without needing the help of others.
The faster development cycle and ease of experimentation supports a creative culture where ideas can be tested, iterated, and abandoned quickly if they don’t work.
Are there any disadvantages?
No technology is perfect, and there are a number of drawbacks to no code and low code platforms, too. They may not scale well to support massive implementations, and it can sometimes be difficult to add features outside the templated workflows.
Whereas code can be updated by anyone, anywhere, using any development platform, no code tools have a degree of lock-in.
Although no code platforms are easier than coding for many people, there is still a significant learning curve if you want to achieve sophisticated workflows and good-looking apps. There is less of an ecosystem to support you, too, compared to traditional software development. It’s easier to hire Python programmers than Bubble experts.
IT departments may have concerns about business users being able to develop and launch apps without their oversight or support. Business owners may not know about best practice for data protection, for example.
Let us help you
Some applications will be a good fit for no code platforms, for both prototyping and production. For many other apps, traditional software development skills will continue to be essential.
At AND Digital, we can help you to quickly deliver new applications while upskilling your team so you can build and manage your own apps in the future.