Should I consider a no code tool?

12/08/2022 Posted by Maria

No code is a relatively new take on software development that business analysts, operations workers, and other semi-technical problem solvers build applications without the need to write code. It’s a form of rapid application development, or RAD, that makes the development of apps easier and more approachable for those with little to no coding experience. This is great for those with experience creating pivot tables and manipulating data in spreadsheets, but want to make the data more secure, more accessible to teammates, and easier to take action on through an approval or forms based data collection process. Through no-code software like Knack, the power of an online database becomes much more accessible to all interests and skill sets. 

Of course, nothing would be possible without actual code going into the design – but the front end experience that you need for your end users is easy to configure and assemble with components that are available out of the box. Without the coding behind it, no code technology simply wouldn’t be possible.

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Is no code worth using?

No system is perfect, and while no code does a lot to put people in control of their own business management projects, they are naturally going to be limited when compared to apps made by individuals or teams with full coding and customizing experience.

If you’ve never had development  experience before and are looking for something that allows you to create your own robust application quickly and easily, then no code is great. It’s all drag and drop, and it doesn’t require you to have any formal coding or computer science background. But those that do also leverage the power of more advanced capabilities like scripting, building automations and integrations to other systems, or connecting to advanced BI software for custom trend analysis and analytics.

The advantages of no code

So, let’s take a closer look at all of the benefits that come with using no code, and why you should consider giving it a try for yourself. 

More cost-effective

Having an engineering team handle the development of your app can be great, but for small business owners – that’s not always achievable or affordable. Using no-code software saves you a lot of time and money during development, which is perfect for business owners who have just started. You save money on design and development and get the app you wanted.

Greater productivity

When it comes to developing an app, you would usually need a team of experienced and trained programmers – and that’s not realistic for every business. You would need to hire freelancers or outsource that kind of task to others. No code, however, gives more of your workforce a chance to contribute their ideas, and create something innovative to solve your exact process, workflow or data visualization challenge.

Fast action and iteration

Developing an app from the ground up takes a lot of time, especially when working out all of the small details. When you need something done fast, no code gives you a lot more control over these changes, so if there’s ever a problem that you notice later on – adjust it quickly and easily. In fact, making these small iterations to your app as your customer or business requirements change over time is one of the biggest benefits.

The disadvantages of no code

Limitations on designs

As no code is made in a way that lets you drag and drop, you’re limited to what’s been made available to the user. While this might be perfectly fine for most projects, there’s no real guarantee that you’re going to be able to achieve everything you want. Hand coding something from the ground up gives you a lot more flexibility over how your design is going to turn out.

Your capabilities might depend on the software itself, but having such limitations could push you to be more creative with the options that are available to you. Consider that you might find yourself having to do more with less.

Alternatives

Low code

Unlike no code, low code does involve some level of coding and programming – which takes time for learning and training. However, it’s still a much more approachable development system than creating your app from scratch. It doubles as a beginner-friendly approach to app development, and a great way to save time on coding.

Oftentimes these low-code development platforms will allow users to put together their apps using drag and drop – but you will also put your code on top of it. Using this system, a large amount of the source code is taken care of for you – you just need to add in and make the changes afterwards.

Who is low code for?

Unlike no-code technology, low code isn’t completely beginner-friendly – so it’s not completely useful for those without any experience whatsoever. However, it’s a better fit for use cases that require leveraging complex scripting and front end frameworks for very rich customized user interface designs. Those without experience work with the drag-and-drop interface, and more experienced programmers work on the more complex side of things during the project. It’s great for teams of varying skills and saves time on large programming projects.

So while it may appear to be beginner-friendly at first glance, it’s more tailored for teams with professional developers who work with the code and use it to save time in writing all of the source code themselves.

The advantages of low code

Faster development times

Just like when using no-code platforms, low code allows users to rapidly speed up their development times due to less source code writing. While there’s still coding that needs to be done – a lot of the heavy lifting is handled by the drag-and-drop interface. 

On top of that, there are some parts of the software that are used by employees of lower skill levels when it comes to programming, so getting the team on board with the project is much easier.

Improved UX

A lot of these development platforms will allow users to make use of various templates that improve user experience. If you’re not an expert, this is very helpful when trying to develop an application that’s not tedious for the user to browse. These templates also make for a much quicker job, as they’ll often just consist of different building blocks that can be changed as much as you need them to. 

Less coding

Even if you had a team of professional programmers, it would still take a lot of time to write all of that code. Not all of that needs to be done, especially when you lay the foundations quickly and easily with low-code platforms beforehand. 

Disadvantages of low code

Limited design choices

Similar to no code, when working with drag-and-drop interfaces, you’re limited to being only able to do so much. Of course, you can add your own coding on top to make it more to your liking – but ultimately the foundations of the design will be limited. It may depend on the foundation you use, as well as the expertise of your professional programming employees.

Locked-in designs

Sometimes when making use of these platforms to develop your application, you’ll find that you don’t have nearly as much control over it as you thought you had. You could be taking a large risk with the idea that your application won’t be able to be edited once you’re no longer using the services of the low-code platform anymore. Being locked out of changing your application may cause a lot of trouble for your business.

Choosing what’s right for you

So if you’re planning to develop your own business app, how do you decide which is the right choice for you? Well, there are a number of factors that could influence your decision, and it’s important to consider them all.

Employee Experience

If your employees have no experience in programming, you have to decide whether training is something you would want to consider, or if you would rather just go with the no-code solution.

Timeframe

If you’re looking to have something up and running right this moment, then low code isn’t going to be your best bet. While the drag-and-drop interfaces save a lot of time in development, there’s still a lot that needs to go on behind the scenes.

Purpose

Due to no code’s limitations on design, you’re not going to be able to make the flashiest application out there. It’s often best for internal usage and applications that are going to be used behind the scenes or in industries and use cases where a good enough usable front experience is perfectly fine.. Low code offers a bit more in terms of flexibility, so it has a wider range of applications.

Overall, both can be good for their own purposes, but it ultimately comes down to the experience of your team and what you’re looking to achieve by using them.