What is no-code?
No-code is a movement in software development (web, app development, etc.), which allows ordinary people, who don’t have any computer programming knowledge, to create software via a graphical interface, without the need to write code.
In a wider context, no-code is a movement (arguable even an ideology), whose main credo is that technologies (including programming) should aim to help people, instead of being barriers they need to overcome. Not that long ago, software development was available to only a small circle of people (programmers with a solid experience or entrepreneurs with financial backing). No-code technologies open the door of software solutions to all people who have good ideas, experience, and want to share them with the world.
The term „no-code” is a misnomer because both behind the no-code platforms, and behind the actual products developed through them, there are tens of thousands of lines of code! The difference with traditional programming is that no-code development does not require “writing code”. Visual instruments are used instead, and the code is automatically generated by the development platform. The aim of the term “no-code” is to avoid all the unpleasantness which most people associate with traditional programming: expensive, slow, and cumbersome.
No-code gives freedom. Using this technology for example, you can develop a large and complex corporate web site with a dynamic CMS and business logic, without needing to write any lines of code. You would still need a rudimentary understanding of how the internet and web technologies work, however, an average computer user would be able to creatе a fully functional website or app.
Why no-code is the future of web development?
Many people are reluctant to make predictions of this scale. Yet, no-code technologies have many advantages over existing web solutions, as well as an immense potential for development. Therefore, we firmly believe that they are without a doubt the future of web development. The main advantages of no-code are:
- Speed of development
- Easy support – even by people without any technical knowledge
- Gives designers superpowers
- Allows developing projects, without the need of software developers
- Significantly shorter Time-To-Market
Let’s take a closer look at each of these advantages.
1. Speed of development
No-code технологиите дават безпрецедентна скорост в разработката на уеб сайтове, без това да налага компромиси с крайния продукт. Даже напротив - систематизирането и преизползването на елементи позволява на разработчиците да отделят достатъчно време на всеки един сегмент от разработката на уеб сайта. Като се започне от очевидните неща - дизайн, потребителско преживяване и употреба, и се стигне до On-Site SEO и оптимизация за скорост. Така, чрез безкодовата разработка могат да се създават комплексни сайтове с най-високо качество много по-бързо, отколкото с конвенционалните технологии.
No-code technologies allow for an unprecedented speed in web site development, without any compromise with the quality of the final product. On the contrary, systematizing and reusing elements allows no-code developers to allocate enough time for each stage of the website development process, starting with the obvious: design, use and user experience, all the way to on-site SEO and speed optimization. Thus, no-code makes it possible to create high quality complex sites much faster than conventional web development.
2. Easy support – even by people without any technical knowledge
One of the big drawbacks of old web development systems, no matter if we’re talking about custom CMS or WordPress, is that not only does long-term support of the site require a lot of time, but often it is hard to be done by the company’s employees. This is especially true for more complex websites, where admin panels can often be as confusing as a labyrinth. And if after a while it becomes necessary to make some changes to the website or update some old information, it may turn out that employees need an inordinate amount of time to remember how exactly that can be achieved.
When it comes to no-code web sites, these problems don’t really exist. All texts can be edited in-line. In addition to that, every element of the website can be edited – whether it was designed to be editable within the CMS or not.
Regular technical support almost unnecessary, due to the structure of the software. Market leaders operate as SaaS, which means that all projects use the same well developed and extensively tested core, before it is rolled out and made available to everyone. No-code technologies don’t use plugins in the way that WordPress does, and they don’t allow editing of the source code, which makes the system very stable and sustainable in the long-term. This, combined with the ongoing technical support and security monitoring, make your website very secure, fast, and stable over time.
3. Gives designers superpowers
Based on my 18 years of experience as a designer, I am thoroughly convinced that one of the most painful stages of any website’s development is the front-end programing, and specifically the possibility to develop the public part of the website exactly as it was envisioned by the project designer. Now, thanks to no-code technologies, the designer can single-handedly develop and refine even the smallest detail of their design: from the line spacing, through kerning, to the horizontal rhythm, without writing a single line of code!
4. Allows developing web projects, without the need of software developers
The benefits are many and varied. On the one hand no-code tech allows entrepreneurs to develop web apps by themselves, which can significantly lower costs. This means that creative people can quickly test their ideas directly on the market, with significantly diminished financial risk. On the other hand, even if entrepreneurs choose to task professionals with the creation of their software product, no-code makes the development stage significantly faster, and subsequent maintenance easy and affordable.
At the same time, no-code technology has benefits even for professional developers. By saving their time and effort, new technology allows these professionals to concentrate on the truly complex cases, instead of wasting their talent and concentration on simple but unavoidable routine tasks.
5. Significantly shorter time-to-market
With the help of new software solutions, TTM for creating a website for a product, marketing landing page or another type of business website can be 6-8 TIMES shorter. Not only that: once built, the project can be maintained and/or managed without the need for a large and expensive technical team, which significantly reduces the cost of monthly maintenance.
Learn more about the advantages of no-code technology in the article “Why no-code is the future of web design and development”.
A brief history of no-code
The philosophy of no-code has existed for a long time. As early as 1982, in his book “Developing applications without programmers”, James Martin predicted that the rapid decrease of the programmers to computers ratio would lead to the need of “democratizing” IT and making it possible for computers to operate partially or entirely without the need for developers. But even though the vision was there, and even though the first no-code tool already existed (spreadsheets), the technological transition from the binary code of machines to man’s abstract way of thinking turned out to be so difficult that it would take decades to advance.
Most of the no-code tools popular nowadays appeared in the first decade of the 21st century. About 5 or 6 years ago the development of no-code platforms gained momentum and they became more popular by the day. At the beginning, these tools were rather rudimentary and offered very limited functionality. In the past 2 years however, their technical capabilities have expanded so much, that nowadays they are able meet the needs of over 80% of the web development assignments.
And that is precisely why we are on the brink of a revolution: though for decades no-code remained just a visionary idea, it is now a reality. The future is already here!
Are you interested in the origins and history of the no-code movement? Learn more in our (Relatively) Brief history of no-code.
Who is no-code technology for?
The technical aspect of no-code is currently flourishing. Thanks to all the available platforms and the eco system around them, it is now possible to create not only no-code corporate websites, but also entire successful business models, such as selling content via subscriptions, creating notice boards or job portals, developing small to mid-sized e-shops, etc.
So far, we have said many good things about no-code technology. Is this the solution to all problems in web, you may ask? No. No, of course not! Business has always tried to create a “unified” web solution – a one-size-fits-all – but currently no such software exists. In my opinion it never will.
Then who are no-code solutions suitable for? Here are the professionals who should follow closely advancements in this technology as a future standard in their line of business during the next few years.
- Marketing agencies – Everyone involved in advertising, marketing funnels, ad campaigns, etc. Everyone who needs beautiful and fast sites, which can be developed within days and can be easily maintained by ordinary people.
- Content creators – Everyone, who creates quality online content and would like to turn this into an income-generating activity. For example – design courses, fitness programs, recipes, healthy diets, DIY courses, etc.
- Design agencies – All freelancers and studios who either don’t have a big enough development team, or don’t have one altogether and depend on contractors. Everyone, for whom meticulously crafted design and an optimized working process are important.
No-code technology covers the needs both of people who are just starting in the field, and of professionals with a lot of experience. The former have the opportunity to create many things without the need to dedicate an extensive amount of time on learning coding, and the latter – to optimize their processes and significantly increase productivity, which in the world of business means greater profits.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of no-code?
So, what are the advantages of no-code over existing popular technologies in this segment? At the moment, the absolute leader in CMS / low-code systems, is WordPress. It dominates with a market share of over 40%, and a mega ecosystem of themes, plugins, additional services, etc.
Then why aren’t we writing that WordPress is the future of the Internet? Because this system brings with it so many problems that it is currently at a point where if you want to create a halfway decent WordPress site, you need many years of experience and a serious technical team that has created its own eco system on top of the existing one. Yes, there are many plugins that can solve your problems and needs in the short-term, until you face the constant updates, bugs, and lack of support/development. There is also a large number of themes that are designed to satisfy the widest possible range of customers. This brings thousands, even tens of thousands of lines of redundant code, which overloads the site, making it slow and hard to navigate.
No-code platforms solve practically all these problems by taking a new and fundamentally different approach to web development. They make frontend visual, giving the developer the power to edit everything (absolutely everything!). They allow a visual development of databases and CMS, according to your specific needs. They solve the annoying need to maintain staging servers, FTP, CDN, to audit the security of the server and the code, etc.
And what are the drawbacks? The panacea does not exist, and every platform has both advantages and limits. That is why choosing the right development platform is of paramount importance. If this aspect of a project is not well thought out, it may turn out that due to the fast development or expansion of a business, it very soon reaches the maximum of what the selected software offers. This would mean that in order to answer the business’s emerging needs, a new website would have to be developed from scratch on another platform.
However, this is not a problem that only concerns no-code platforms. It exists in every development system. In fact, long-term planning is a very important milestone in the development of any business and requires considerable foresight.
Another disadvantage, at this point, is that no matter how great everything we’ve mentioned so far is, no-code can’t cover all needs and requirements. I can safely say, however, that it does solve more than 80% of them. And this ratio is growing every day.
What is the difference between no-code and low-code?
The terms no-code and low-code can often be seen used in the same context and are even sometimes used interchangeably. This use is, however, incorrect, since there is a significant difference between the two concepts.
No-code development platforms allow you to build software applications without writing a single line of code. Hence the name no-code. They usually use a visual interface that guides the user step by step through the development process. Often these tools are drag-and-drop or have a complex visual editor.
Low-code platforms require minimal amounts coding, which is why users without special technical knowledge often must work in a team with a programmer at certain stages of the project, or even through the entire process. Low-code tools are typically used in cases where a higher level of customization is required and often offer more advanced features than no-code.
What is code meets no-code?
This concept is rather new, coming to our attention only this year (2022) and we touched on it in the previous point. It represents low-code used in the ecosystem of no-code technology. In other words, this is the extension to no-code software.
Through this practice, experienced programmers can upgrade and expand software, which was created through no-code technology. More information can be found here: https://www.codemeetsnocode.com/
Тази концепция е доста нова, може би за пръв път се споменава тази година (2022) и я засегнахме в предходната точка. На практика това представлява low-code, използван в екосистемата на no-code технологиите. С други думи, това е софтуерното разширение на no-code.
Чрез тази практика добрите програмисти могат да надграждат и разширяват вече създадените чрез no-code технологии неща. Повече информация можете да откриете тук: https://www.codemeetsnocode.com/
Кратък обзор на съществуващите no-code инструменти
Както често ни се случва да обясняваме, в момента no-code екосистемата се развива с такава скорост, че почти всяка седмица се появяват нови инструменти за разработка. Всеки от тях има своите предимства, недостатъци и ограничения. Огромното разнообразие обаче би могло значително да затрудни начинаещите no-code разработчици в откриването на най-подходящия инструмент за техния проект. Нека разгледаме някои от най-популярните инструменти към момента. В допълнителна статия ще направим задълбочено сравнение помежду им: както вече споменах, няма едно решение, което да отговори на всички нужди и всеки един от тези играчи има собствените си предимства (и недостатъци).
Every industry has its leaders. They are always at the forefront, progressively gaining market share and changing the boundaries of what is possible. Therefore, anyone who wants to keep up with modern technologies should monitor their development.
This is the absolute leader in no-code web development. It allows you to build websites from scratch with absolutely no coding necessary. Webflow offers 100% control over every element of the site.
This is the most popular platform for creating web applications without code. It allows no-code developers to create interactive mobile or desktop applications for multiple users.
This is a platform, developed by the company Wix for the professional audience: designers, web devs, marketing managers, etc. It stands out, because along with industry-standard features – visual drag-and-drop, adding custom code, integrated e-commerce business solutions, professional marketing and SEO tools – EditorX also offers revolutionary collaboration tools that allow multiple members of a team to work on a product simultaneously.
This is a database-building software, which can be used to drive visualizations, business processes and integrations.
MemberStack is a software which enables you to add memberships to your website. It can be paired with Webflow, Wix, Squarespace and other instruments, in order to create complex websites which meet the needs of content creators.
Zapier is a tool, which connects different types of software in order to automate workflows.
This is Zapier’s main competitor. The two companies are in a constant struggle to outmaneuver each other, which gives a great impetus to the advancement of no-code automation. The company is currently in the process of rebranding and is now called Make.
The new players
Several new tools were released recently, which seem to hold great potential. We will certainly follow their development closely in the future. Will they manage to catch up with the leaders and join their ranks?
The idea of this platform is to integrate design software (such as Figma and Xd), and development software (such as Webflow and EditorX). The aim is to unite the entire workflow and bring it together in one place: from building the information architecture to clearing the final design and finally publishing the website online without the need to develop on a separate platform: the design will be automatically converted by the system into a fully functional website.
This platform emphasizes on the ease, with which it can be used and is positioned as “The professional alternative to Wix”. It offers quite a bit of freedom in creating the design, simultaneous editing by several people, exporting the final code, as well as a no-code meets code option.
The main advantage of this platform is that it is very easy to use. Of course, with this comes the industry’s standard drawback: limited customization. However, Readymag would be a suitable option for people who need a light, unpretentious website.
Tools for beginners
No-code is for everyone! And if the market leaders offer amazing functionality and unprecedented quality, but require more time and effort to master, then there are of course no-code platforms that are very far from perfect but make up for it with their extreme ease of use. They are suitable for a number of businesses, who don’t have high requirements for their website, but want to test an idea quickly and easily.
Very easy to use. It has many templates readily available, as well as an artificial design intelligence option, which can make a website for you based on a questionnaire. This template can later be tweaked and customized. Wix is suitable for small websites and people who want a fast and easy solution, without having a clear idea what they are looking for, nor any special requirements for the results.
Not as intuitive as Wix, but is a good solution for larger sites, which don’t require much personalization, nor any special technical performance. It is suitable for blogs, portfolios, and small online stores. In theory it can support up to 1000 pages, but in practice 400 is the maximum, in order for your website to function smoothly.
In conclusion we can honestly state that no-code is not just a technology, which allows ordinary people to create software, but is also a movement, a way of thinking, and a culture which aims to make web and software development available to a maximum number of people.