Since the dawn of computing, automation and optimisation have always been the driving forces behind the innovation we see within the industry. As every part of the development cycle gets automated, have we finally reached the point where we can develop the solutions we need without needing to know how to code?
What is No-Code?
In the discussion of ‘No-Code’ software, the term ‘Low-Code’ gets mentioned alongside it at times. As the name suggests, this is where the majority of the solution is handled by the service provider without the need to code it all, but with specific parts of custom code which you have used to achieve something outside the scope of the service. As discussed above, WordPress can also be used as a ‘Low-Code’ if more complex functionalities are desired. For the most part, ‘No-Code’ solutions usually are able to be used as ‘Low-Code’ so for the rest of the article they will be discussed as ‘No-Code’ in general.
As we come to the end of 2021, the different types of services offering these types of solutions have expanded far beyond blog creation. Nearly every workflow can be broken down into neat little blocks and automated for your needs.
What is it useful for?
The main benefit from this type of technology is the accessibility to people without too much familiarity in the IT field. It can allow business owners and entrepreneurs to quickly design, test and build systems utilising some of these ‘No-Code’ solutions to deliver their products quickly.
In the examples of ‘No-Code’ services in Web Development, these allow businesses which aren’t in the IT sector to be able to get a professional web presence up and ready with relative ease. This can also be useful for startups who want to prototype new ideas and designs without needing to devout the resources to do it in the traditional method.
This technology is also being utilised by the developers and IT professionals who benefit from the it’s time-saving qualities. Many hours can be spent setting up the framework in which you will develop your own solutions. By adopting these ‘No-Code’ solutions you can take advantage of the prebuilt elements of the solution to save hours of time in the setup. This time save would allow a developer to spend more of their time and focus on novel and more complex parts of the project.
What are its drawbacks?
With the reliance on external services to operate all of these ‘No-Code’ solutions, the chance of downtime is a constant risk. With most online services, you don’t really encounter many issues whilst the service you are using is online, but any disconnection from the internet on your end on or on the end of the services you are using and the whole stack could fail. A drawback to a lot of these ‘No-Code’ solutions feeds into the idea of building solutions that are ‘Too big to fail’ and a conversation needs to be had if we have the global infrastructure to move towards these solutions as a standard.
With these kinds of issues, organisations and developers can build redundancy and safeguards to allow the system to keep operating in the possible eventuality of points of failure within the system.
Continuing from this drawback, the issues of compatibility and legacy systems come into effect when discussing these ‘No-Code’ solutions. As technologies go through constant improvements and updates, issues and conflicts might arise as future solutions might stop working together causing issues with the solution you are working with.
Examples of these solutions:
Stemming from the previously discussed example of WordPress, Visual Sit Building plugins for WordPress add a lot more customisable no/low-code. In its simplest form, these plugins allow users to utilise a ‘drag and drop’ user experience to build the look and some functionality of the website through a template and prebuilt blocks. This allows users to easily produce how their website looks and release it without much coding experience needed.
Most of these solutions however also allow for more experienced users to be able to change the code of specific elements, or even add in their own custom elements. This can allow for a finer tuning of the solution to be able to get it to deliver a project’s requirements better.
One of the drawbacks of these kinds of solutions can be the pricing. Whilst many of these types of solutions offer free versions, a lot of the more advanced features are usually behind a large paywall, making the technology the most sense for organisations who can budget for the cost. This raises the issue of being able to train in the best ways to fully use these solutions without needing to pay for it first which could turn off many new users.
In the past, database work was generally stereotyped as being complicated, mundane and boring. The introduction of no-code database solutions have broken out to dispel this assumption. With the ability to build and integrate database solutions into your websites or applications through a visual medium, more people are able to utilise and understand the concepts much better. This can allow more time on the project to be allocated to other areas with the easier method of building these databases.
Similarly, to the web building examples above, a lot of these solutions do have a cost barrier. However, with the difference in the costs of database solutions, these offerings can be more affordable, with the free versions being very similar in function to their paired version, with the majority of the increased costs coming with scale.
Being a relatively new area of development in the mainstream, it was surprising to see the number of solutions offering a no/low-code method of building these chatbots. The adoption of these chatbots to these no-code solutions has led to a reduction in the learning curve needed to be able to get hands-on with this type of technology and give it a go.
Most of these no/low-code solutions are focused on building chatbots for use in marketing, like on e-commerce websites, or as customer support to drive engagement. This allows developers of these apps or websites to be able to offer a trained chatbot to be able to offer basic assistance and recommendations to users of the website. With the much larger and paid solutions, the functionality is expanded to be able to offer much more complex offerings. For example, some solutions come with a neural network model which can learn which popular items are usually bought together and be able to signpost the user to those products to hopefully increase sales.
Another benefit to this type of no-code technology is how it can keep the user on the site for longer. With user retention being a large part of your visibility online, making sure you can answer what your users were looking for when they arrive on the website will increase the likelihood that they will stay on the site for longer.
Before writing this article, my thoughts were quite against the idea of these types of no-code solutions, feeling they were merely a self-creating market, trying to oversell convenience. However, with my research for this article, I have changed my opinion somewhat. I do believe that this space will be a fascinating area of growth, with potentially many developers and user-friendly solutions coming from it. I feel that in many specific situations the adoption of some of these technologies could help optimise your workflow and allow you to prioritise training and development time into other areas within the project.
Here at NetWorthPick we believe in the constant innovation going on in the technological world today. If you have any thoughts or ideas about any of the things raised in this article, drop us a comment below and join the conversation! Get in touch on our socials also on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube and TikTok
Nathaniel is a Web Design Executive who also writes content on technology and loves spending his days researching and building new projects, and generally complaining about new trends.