What Is No-Code? A Complete Guide on No-Code Software Development
You might find a lot of solutions that allow you to carry out complex tasks without coding.
Want to build a website? There’s a platform that allows you to do it without writing a single line of code. Want to track visitors on your website or app? There’s a tool for that as well.
Nearly every solution you need for your business is available as a no-code SaaS platform. This trend of pre-packaged no-code solutions is a boon for small businesses and professionals who otherwise have to look for technical expertise.
So how do these no-code tools work? What type of applications and software can you build without coding? What are the benefits of using no-code solutions for your business? This guide offers a complete overview of no-code development tools and technologies.
What is no-code development?
Put simply, no-code development is a typical development cycle with one clear difference: you’re not required to write a single line of code.
This small difference changes the entire dynamic of a typical development workflow. For instance, since there’s no coding involved, you don’t need a host of developers to build an application or software system for you.
You can simply sign up to a no-code solution that can automate the whole process for you. There are many examples of app builders, website builders, automation platforms, backend management tools, and more that allow you to develop without coding.
So what is no-code development? By definition, no-code development allows users to create software and applications using a graphical interface. You can probably think of many tools that you’ve heard of or already use for building software products, automation, and so on.
Are no-code and low-code platforms the same?
If you’ve heard of no-code, you’ve probably heard of low-code as well. While they both sound very similar, there are some key differences.
Low-code development allows users to build software and applications in a graphical interface. These platforms generally contain one or multiple modules that involve coding. WordPress for example is a low-code platform that is used for building websites. Most of the work on WordPress can be done without coding, but you can add code snippets to customize certain parts of your website.
In the following sections, you will find key points of difference between no-code and low-code platforms.
No-code platforms are easier
No-code platforms have a shorter learning curve when compared to low-code systems. They usually come loaded with simple point-and-click options that allow you to build applications with a few simple clicks.
The workflow is designed to automate every part of building a software product, application, or automation.
Low-code tools can be slightly more complicated to use. If you’re not familiar with coding, some modules may even be out of reach for you. This is why no-code tools are a better option if you’re starting new and don’t want to spend a lot of time learning how to master a new tool.
While not all low-code tools are complicated, you do have the guarantee of no coding with a typical no-code tool.
No-code is ideal for businesses
Low-code platforms are ideal for developers trying to automate the repetitive tasks of a typical development process. They’re built for developers looking to expedite their workflows.
This is not the case with no-code tools. These tools are designed for professionals and businesses that want to create applications without the hassle of coding. Many website builders, automation tools, and app builders are no-code now and are perfect for creating programs.
If you’re a small business owner trying to create a digital asset to grow your company, no-code tools are your best option. They have a low entry barrier for non-tech professionals and make it easy for you to manage your program once you’re done creating it.
No-code doesn’t require any technical prerequisite
If you’re a freelancer or a business professional trying to build a website, custom development is probably out of question. You need to learn how to write code to custom-build a website from scratch.
This is a brick wall. You can choose to go with a low-code open-source platform like WordPress or Joomla, but it may involve a learning curve. If you don’t have the time or the patience, you can always choose to go with a no-code tool.
Whether you’re creating a simple backend program or a mobile app, there’s a no-code tool out there that allows you to do it. There’s been a lot of growth in the no-code space and anyone can create a software application for their business without any form of coding.
These tools come with no technical prerequisites and are ideal for you to grow your business.
How does no-code work?
All no-code platforms are different. Yet, there are a few recurring similarities.
The basic graphical interface and working of no-code tools can boil down to the same principles. For example, every no-code tool by definition wouldn’t involve any form of coding. Most commonly, it would also have a visual environment that’s self-explanatory for any average user to understand and comprehend.
So how do no-code tools work? On a broad level, no-code tools hide the complexity of application development and only focus on getting critical inputs from you, the user. Most of the development process is automated to ensure you don’t have to worry about the finer details.
There are a few technical similarities that most no-code platforms share. In the following sections, we will discuss a few attributes of no-code tools that will enable you to see how these platforms work.
What’s a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor? As the name suggests, an editor like this allows you to build applications and software products and see them come to life in real-time.
Every choice you make while working on such an editor will instantly show you what the final program will look like. If you’ve worked with CMS platforms before, you’ve probably worked with a WYSIWYG editor already.
The idea behind such editors is to make development more visual and comprehensible. If users can see how their choices can affect the working of the final software or application, they can easily understand the working of the tool.
These editors are ideal for no-code platforms as they allow non-tech professionals to customize their programs easily. From website builders to backend software, you can visually create applications that look exactly as you’d like them to.
End-to-end integrated environment
In a no-code solution, you’re not required to connect your software with a third-party software. Generally, a no-code platform would offer an integration without any hassle or have a built-in feature.
Let’s take a typical no-code website builder. From purchasing a domain to hosting to design and development, you can do everything on the website builder platform. This is a classic example of an end-to-end integrated environment where you can start from scratch and go live, all in one place.
End-to-end integration is necessary for simplifying the development and launch process. No-code tools are used by business owners with no background in programming. Any part of the process that’s outside the scope of a no-code platform can thus become a challenge.
This is why most no-code tools try to create a large tent that covers all the functionality required to build and launch a software or application product.
Not every no-code solution can offer a complete end-to-end environment. However, the goal of most no-code platforms is to offer all the features and functionality you need.
A drag-and-drop workflow is ideal for no-code tools as it allows you to customize your application. From designing your application to adding features, everything can be done with a simple point-and-click move.
A no-code tool essentially hides the complexity of development by adding a visual layer that allows users to input essential information. These inputs are generally done via drag-and-drop gestures.
Generally, drag-and-drop builders are associated with website and app builders. However, many automation tools also have drag-and-drop workflows that allow you to integrate different applications.
One of the ways you build the different screens of your application is with a drag-and-drop builder. Since there’s no coding involved, you can do everything with these simple gestures.
5 benefits of using no-code platforms
There are many reasons you should use a no-code solution for developing applications. In the following sections, we discuss some of the benefits of using no-code platforms for your business.
1. No training required
A no-code tool doesn’t require any kind of training as most of the steps are self-explanatory. You simply need to sign up for the platform and start building the application.
If you have a team that you need to hand over the management of your application, no-code solutions are again ideal. You don’t need to invest time training your staff on how to correctly manage your application.
This is ideal for businesses that need digital assets but don’t want the hassle of learning how to run or manage them. Since a no-code tool doesn’t involve coding and shows everything in a visual interface, the scope of making irreversible mistakes is fairly limited.
You can thus hand over a no-code software or application to your team members without spending weeks or months training them first.
2. Sustainable costs
Compared to custom development, no-code tools are reasonably priced and affordable for small businesses.
Let’s assume you’re about to launch a website. Paying an agency to build a website for you is an expensive affair. Not to mention the fact that you can never be sure if your website will instantly get traffic and do well.
You can say the same about launching any new application for your business. The only guarantee you have is that the cost of building the application via custom development would be very high. Additionally, if you don’t have experience working with a dev agency, you might find the whole process tedious and often incomprehensible.
There’s always a risk when you’re launching something new. One way to reduce the scale of the risk is using a sustainable development solution. No-code tools are cheaper than custom development with sustainable subscription plans that allow you to structure your development costs.
3. Easy integration with third-party tools
Building integrations with a custom-built application or software can be difficult. Let’s say you have an app and would like to integrate it with Google Analytics or Firebase.
Doing this manually can be tedious if you don’t have prior experience with coding or managing apps. Establishing third-party integrations is not a straightforward process, especially if you need to do it manually via APIs. For a non-technical professional, it’s borderline impossible without weeks or even months of training.
No-code solutions are a better alternative in this regard. In most cases, important features like analytics and design are built into the platform. Third-party integrations are also easier to develop using no-code tools. Everything you need to create an integration is already available within the platform.
A good example is integrating your website CMS with an email marketing platform. Most website CMS have in-built solutions or plugins that can be synced with the email platform of your choice.
No-code solutions offer easy integration with essential third-party platforms that make development much easier. Every application requires some kind of integration with a third-party platform as it’s impossible to build all features into one platform. No-code tools are ideal in this regard and make third-party integrations easy to create and manage.
4. Easy post-development maintenance
Creating an application or program is not the end of the road. You’ll have to maintain the application once it’s launched to your audience.
Even a simple blog requires some level of maintenance. A custom-built application is impossible to maintain and configure if you don’t have prior experience writing code.
A no-code solution is easier to maintain mainly because most of them are fully managed. A typical no-code website builder platform will take care of hosting, security, domain, and general performance for you. You don’t need to worry about these core maintenance tasks.
Similarly, other no-code development platforms don’t require a lot of maintenance. You can change anything you want to with a few simple clicks, while other tasks like security or performance are managed for you.
This is why it’s always better to go with no-code tools if you’re worried about post-development maintenance. Additionally, most changes you make to an application via a no-code platform can be instantly pushed live. You can thus correct any mistake you’ve made very quickly without following an otherwise tedious process of pushing a product update to a live environment.
5. Fast turnaround time
When you hire an agency to build a software product or application, they would probably quote a timeline well over eight to ten weeks. This timeline is normal and common. Custom development takes time. Imagine the process of prototyping, design, development, testing, and feedback. Every step is crucial and takes time.
No-code tools don’t follow the same archaic workflow. You can design, develop, and test the application with just a few clicks. Since the entire process is no-code and visual, it takes little-to-no time to get the final application up and running.
For a small business, waiting months to build and launch a website or app is not always feasible. Online sales contribute a great deal to the general functioning of a business and it’s not possible for businesses to stay offline and focus solely on development for months on end.
Another advantage of no-code tools is that you can push any update live in a matter of minutes. On a custom-built software or application, pushing any change to a live environment generally involves an incremental process. Any change is first made to a test or stage environment and moved to the live environment when it’s been checked for bugs.
No-code tools don’t have the same issue. You can make changes on the fly and revert them if something goes wrong. This further incentivizes businesses to launch quickly as they know they can make changes any time they want.
How much is the no-code space growing?
In the last few years, we’ve seen many no-code solutions grow exponentially. According to a study, 84% of businesses have started adopting no-code/low-code solutions to reduce the burden on their IT resources and enhance overall time-to-market.
With regards to no-code, the future presents a much greater scale and usability than the present. No-code statistics show that by 2030, the space will reach $187 billion in revenue.
Let’s keep the numbers aside for a moment. Every task that otherwise required knowledge of coding or the use of a technical interface has been simplified.
Let’s take the example of self-managed website hosting. Five or ten years back, you had to be a cloud engineer to learn how to manage a website’s server. That’s not the case anymore. Even a blogger with little-to-no experience in building websites can install a CMS on a website server with built-in options and get started.
The change is noticeable and the industry is moving towards making every crucial workflow no-code. Even low-code platforms are now striving to make most of their essential modules no-code. For increased accessibility, most platforms are moving towards no-code development.
What can you build with no-code platforms?
The ultimate question is what can you build with no-code tools? Are they powerful enough to help you create programs and applications that contribute value to your business?
There’s a platform out there for practically any type of application you want to build. Let’s discuss all the types of applications and programs you can build with no-code tools:
- Websites: You probably know about no-code solutions from website builders. It is very easy to design, build, and launch a website with no-code solutions without worrying about factors like domain, hosting, speed, security, performance, maintenance, and so on. These tools allow you to create any type of website.
- Mobile apps: Like websites, you can also build mobile apps without coding using no code app builders. Several tools allow you to create apps that can be published to the Google Play and Apple App Store.
- Automation programs: You can create automation programs that are triggered when certain conditions are met. For example, if you’d like to generate a PDF invoice every time a new order is placed on your website, you can create an automation program that does this for you without coding.
- Backend software: You can build interactive software products that fully integrate with your front-end application. You can use drag-and-drop editors that allow you to create interactive backend interfaces.
- Web applications: Web apps are programs designed to work on web browsers. You can use no-code tools to design and create web apps that are interactive and responsive. Progressive web apps (PWAs) are a type of web application that is specifically designed for mobile devices.
- IoT integration: IoT is a futuristic technology with plenty of applications. With no-code tools, you can build integrations to ensure physical devices can connect with legacy software.
Is no-code the best solution for your business?
Any business that wants to build an application quickly and sustainably should be able to leverage no-code tools. Firstly, these tools don’t require any knowledge of coding which makes them accessible to practically all businesses.
Secondly, the share of platforms built with low-code/no-code tools is growing. For example, the overall CMS market share has grown again when compared to non-CMS websites in the last ten years as businesses move away from custom development.
So can your business benefit from no-code tools? The growing scope of no-code platforms would suggest that your business can benefit from the right no-code tool. Whether it’s automating a repetitive task or building a software product or application, no-code tools can help.
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