What is No Code? The Beginner’s Guide

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What is no code? Lately, it seems like everyone is talking about the emerging impact of “no code” solutions, designed to assist with the development of apps and websites. At a time of rapid digital transformation, when demand for software is rapidly accelerating, there simply aren’t enough coding experts available to support every company.

According to studies, around 40 million technical jobs are currently going unfilled due to an absence of skilled talent. By 2030, the global shortage of software engineers could more than double, to around 85.2 million. While strategies are underway to nurture coding talent across the globe, alternative solutions are also beginning to emerge.

No code technologies help organizations around the world to build apps, websites, and other technical solutions, without any need for coding expertise. As a result, demand for no code innovations is skyrocketing. Today, we’re going to explore everything you need to know about the no code revolution, and why it’s so important.

What is No Code Development? An Introduction

Let’s start with the basics: what is no code?

No code is a software development solution designed to eliminate the need for complex coding knowledge when building applications and technical tools. Currently, the market for this offering is growing at an accelerated pace, and is expected to reach a value of $159 billion by 2030.

No code platforms aim to provide business leaders with an alternative way to access critical technical solutions, such as apps, websites, and online pages, without hiring a software developer. Usually, no code platforms prioritize simplicity and ease of use, ensuring anyone in an organization can build apps and tools with a couple of clicks.

Indeed, no code solutions are also paving the way for the rise of the “citizen developer”. This is a term for any individual in a company not exclusively hired for development tasks, who takes the initiative to create software tools and apps using no-code and low-code platforms.

Using no code solutions, companies can empower everyone in the organization to step up and get involved with digital transformation. For instance, an accounting expert could make an automation app using no code tools to eliminate the need to manually upload documents to a bookkeeping system. The same app could even determine which customers are high priority to a business, by assessing a number of pre-established factors.

Because no code gives companies more freedom to create apps and tools quickly, without waiting for developer input, it allows for rapid and powerful digital transformation throughout the workforce. This technology can also help to make companies more agile, and capable of adapting to the sudden changes in industry or marketplace trends.

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No Code vs Low Code: What’s the Difference?

The rapid transformation of the coding landscape has led to the development of other new solutions for empowering creators throughout a workforce, outside of the “no code” space. An alternative offering has emerged in the form of “low code”, a solution similar to no code, with a few distinctive differences. In many circles, the terms “no code” and “low code” have begun to be used almost interchangeably. However, they’re not the same thing.

With a no code platform, companies enable their users to create apps and technical tools with absolutely zero coding or programming knowledge. This is because no code solutions use declarative programming, which allows users to tell a system what they want, rather than having to build processes from scratch. Rather than defining how the application does something, no code developers simply tell their platform what they want it to do.

Alternatively, with low code, there’s still a small demand for technical insight. Low code platforms require only a very basic knowledge of coding to get started, but they’re not intended for absolute beginners. Low code platforms have pre-built functions which allow users to build applications to a certain point without any prior experience. However, at some point, it’s necessary to connect the dots of the technology with basic technical know-how.

No code solutions have the benefit of requiring zero technical knowledge, but they also offer limited flexibility and customization as a result. Low code solutions, on the other hand, allow users to be a little more creative with their code, but there is a greater demand for programming knowledge.

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How Does No Code Programming Work?

Ever since the beginning of the technical revolution, we’ve always associated the creation of apps, websites, and similar solutions with a need for code. In the programming world, code is what tells an application how to perform certain tasks. It’s essentially the instructions for your solution. So, how can you build an app without code?

The simple answer is that “no code” is a bit of misnomer. When users access no code tools, they’re not actually eliminating code from the process entirely. Rather, you’re simply changing how you use the code. Rather than having to create the code yourself, you use snippets of code pre-designed to perform certain tasks, and drag-and-drop them into the correct places.

Some people refer to no code development platforms as types of “user interface” designers. They’re made up of modules or snippets of information which lock together when situated in the right place. You can rapidly add components like checkout pages and widgets into an app because they’ve already been designed for you. You may have seen an example of this if you’ve ever used a drag-and-drop website builder to create a site.

Leveraging visual, drag-and-drop components replaces the need for complex coding, and ensures data can be managed easily within an ecosystem. To deliver the right functionality, no-code platforms use declarative UI describing what the user should see, instead of how it might appear. This can even make it easier to render the same app functionality across various devices.

While a lot of people assume no code applications are intended specifically for the simplest of apps, this isn’t always the case. As technology continues to evolve, no-code app builders have grown m ore sophisticated. There are now no-code solutions which have the power to perform a range of advanced tasks, with minimal input from human experts.

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What are the Benefits of No Code Platforms?

On the surface, no code platforms and solutions seem like the perfect solution to the talent shortage in the digital and technical worlds. However, like any development system, no code offerings do have their pros and cons. Perhaps the biggest benefit of no code offerings is they’re extremely easy to access and use. Non-programmers can create powerful apps and workflows quickly, and companies can save money on hiring technical talent.

No code solutions also assist companies in overcoming the backlogs they might have when it comes to digital transformation. Many modern businesses are keen to implement new tools and technologies into their ecosystems as the world continues to evolve. However, this places significant stress on developers when organizations are using traditional programming methods.

Here are some of the major benefits of no-code offerings:

  • Increased organizational agility: Speed is crucial in today’s landscape. At a time when innovations are emerging constantly, business leaders need to be able to adapt and keep up to date with the competition. With no-code solutions, development is done via a drag-and-drop interface, using pre-built snippets of information. This means it’s possible to create a huge variety of apps and solutions in a small amount of time. It’s also possible to test how apps work automatically, which cuts development time even further.
  • Cost savings: As mentioned above, no code applications also reduce the costs incurred by today’s transforming businesses. The high demand for development expertise has increased the costs charged by many technical specialists. No-code solutions give businesses a way to avoid contracting or hiring technical specialists. It’s easier to build applications without spending a fortune on new programming expertise. In many cases, no-code applications also don’t require the same amount of maintenance as standard apps.
  • Enhanced efficiency: Running a business effectively requires a focus on boosting productivity and efficiency in a workforce. When the demand on IT departments is too high, this leads to backlogs and disrupted progress. Because apps in a no code environment can be created at a far more rapid pace, IT staff don’t have to put tasks on the back burner, leaving certain employees unable to do their work. Processes can be updated in a matter of hours, rather than waiting days, weeks, or months.
  • Innovation: No code solutions allow everyone to get involved in the innovation and transformation of the business, rather than just technically-minded developers. This means everyone can suggest and build applications capable of transforming business operations. The result is a far more innovative business environment, where the entire community can contribute to growth and evolution.
  • Easy adaptability: One major problem with traditional forms of coding, is it isn’t simple to go back and change aspects of an application whenever necessary. If an app needs to be updated, then the company might have to hire another professional to help out. On the other hand, with no code, it’s possible to simply drag and drop new features into place. This means companies can continue to evolve at a rapid pace.
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What are the Problems with No Code?

As demand for app development opportunities continues to skyrocket, no-code solutions have a lot of value to offer. However, it’s important to note that this option isn’t ideal for everyone. There are some potential problems with relying exclusively on no-code platforms.

First and foremost, before embracing no code tools for application development, companies will need to ensure they have a clear understanding of their intended use cases. While most no code services can be quite flexible, they’re still reliant on specific templates and pre-built modules. This means there will be restrictions and limitations on what you can reasonably build.

In some situations, the apps built with no-code tools will also need to be updated and enhanced over time. When this happens, it’s worth making sure the programming languages used to build the app are accessible by traditional developers. Common downsides of no-code tools include:

  • Building restrictions: Using a no code tool for app development is like purchasing a Lego kit for a specific design or project. You’ll have all the blocks you need to build the exact solution you’re looking for, but you won’t be able to experiment and create new blocks from scratch. This could mean you can’t be truly innovative with your web applications.
  • Security issues: Low-code development platforms are designed to be as secure as possible for business users. However, because you don’t have full control over each line of code, there’s always going to be risk involved. If the company providing your no code platform suffers a security breach, your web applications could also be at risk.
  • Lack of ownership: Coders who build applications from scratch have full ownership over everything they design. Alternatively, when you use a low code solution for the development process, the code elements belong to another company. This means if the low code system disappears, or the company chooses to restrict your access to something you build, you won’t be able to use it anymore.
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When is No Code Development a Good Idea?

There will always be a need for coding skills and expertise in the technology landscape. Building truly innovative web and mobile apps with creative new features requires a deep understanding of code elements. However, it’s hard to overlook the importance of no code platforms too.

No-code software solutions are an extremely efficient and cost-effective way to build and optimize simple apps with limited resources. The key to success is knowing when to use the best no code platforms, and when to explore alternatives like low-code and traditional coding.

Low code app development is usually a good idea when your business needs are relatively basic. If you’re hoping to design relatively simple and straightforward cloud-based apps for your business, and you don’t need any custom code, no code could be the perfect option.

The majority of companies today tend to look towards no code when they’re creating simple internal tools for team members to automate elements of their work. Alternatively, no code options are less common for customer-facing tools required for things like e-commerce and sales.

If you might need to update, enhance, or alter parts of your code, a low-code option may be more flexible. For advanced tools, working with a traditional front-end or back-end web developer, or relying on your IT teams will still be essential.

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What is the Best No-Code Software?

Experts like Gartner and Forrester believe no-code software will become increasingly crucial in the years to come. These platforms will help to address the digital talent shortage when it comes to building web and mobile applications. Plus, they’re likely to grow increasingly effective thanks to the development of machine learning and AI systems.

As no-code popularity increases, more vendors are beginning to offer their own versions of convenient development platforms. Some of the top options include:

Shopify

Shopify is an example of a no-code development platform intended specifically for the creation of websites. Using high-quality templates and a drag-and-drop ecosystem, you can streamline the process of building your own portfolio or site. There are also thousands of apps available so you can upgrade your site’s functionality without a single line of code.

Like some of the other top no code options on the market, Shopify also comes with the option to add your own custom code into the mix when necessary. A developer platform gives users access to scripts, styles, APIs, and a local development server. This ensures small businesses can scale and enhance their site functionality according to their needs.

Appy Pie

Another great option for no-code functionality is Appy Pie. This company provides a variety of no-code solutions specifically intended for non-technical builders. It’s possible to use the ecosystem to design a mobile app, workflow automation strategy, chatbot, or something else entirely. The user interface of the platform is great for beginners, with convenient templates and custom options.

The flexibility of the builder ensures companies can create powerful apps with functionality which extends beyond the basics of most options out there. You’ll be able to create things like advanced push notifications based on criteria like user behavior, time of day, and geographic location.

Twilio Studio

Twilio is one of the better-known no-code solutions on the market today. The ecosystem allows businesses of all sizes to create convenient and flexible communication apps with drag-and-drop functionality. Whether you’re designing an IVR for your contact center, or a chatbot, there’s plenty of step-by-step guidance and documentation to guide you.

Twilio Studio has templates and modules for creating surveys, SMS autoresponders, lead routing tools, and countless other options. The if-this-then-that trigger system within the platform is very straightforward for It Teams to use for rapid application development. Additionally, professional developers can also add custom code to software applications for scalability.

Microsoft Power Apps

One of the top no code development solutions among Microsoft fans, Microsoft Power Apps is a comprehensive suite of apps, connectors, services, and modules for rapid app creation. The solution is specifically intended to help companies get the most of their existing investment in the Microsoft ecosystem. This means it integrates perfectly with things like Microsoft Teams and Microsoft BI.

Companies can link the apps they create with Microsoft to existing data in their ecosystem from various online and offline sources. There are also plenty of options for expanding the functionality of apps with enhanced automation and customization.

Salesforce

No code development tools aren’t restricted entirely to the website or app building environment. They can also be a great way to bring automation elements into critical company workflows. For instance, the Salesforce CRM platform is one of the top tools in the world for creating and managing customer relationships. This solution has its own dedicated no-code innovations.

With Salesforce, non-technical users can easily create workflows for submitting and managing customer data within a business environment. You can set conditions for sending and storing data automatically, and build dashboards for displaying data.

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No-Code Development FAQ

Q: What does no-code actually mean?

No code refers to a development or app creation process startup companies and business leaders can use to create powerful workflows within a business. With no-code solutions, organizations can leverage process automation capabilities, and design mobile apps without technical knowledge.

Q: Does no-code replace the need for developers?

No-code solutions are intended to offer an alternative to hiring a developer for simple and straightforward app development. However, some advanced business processes will always need the input of a technical expert. It’s unlikely no code offerings will ever eliminate the demand for developers entirely. However, it could help to create a new era of “citizen developers” capable of creating simple tools for business growth.

Q: Why do companies use no code development?

No code automation tools and development processes can be an excellent way to boost efficiency and productivity in the workplace, without requiring companies to hire specialist technical experts. The right tools can assist companies in their digital transformation strategy, and allow for more agile work processes.

Q: When should companies avoid no code development?

Generally, it’s best to avoid no code solutions when the tools and apps required by a business are more advanced or complex. If an organization has specialist requirements, unique needs, or a demand for customization, then low-code or traditional development is often a better option.

Q: What is a no code platform?

A no-code platform is a software environment which gives businesses access to drag-and-drop builders, automation tools, and similar no-code solutions. It essentially offers the front-end landscape non-technical professionals can use in their app development efforts.

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