The no-code movement is not a new player on the web scene. So why is it now that we reached the conclusion, that it is the future for web and app development? Although it has over 2 decades of history, it is only in the past few years that no-code technology achieved a state, where it can answer a wide variety of needs: both of entrepreneurs and developers. You can now create dynamic websites, apps, e-mail campaigns, complex web-based databases (and even custom CRM systems), you can automate business processes – and all that without writing a single line of code. Now that is truly inspirational! That is truly the future.
In this article I will tell you why I think no-code is the future of web development in the following areas: Design and frontend, backend and CMS, marketing, automatization and SEO, entrepreneurship.
Design and frontend
Before I begin, I want to make an important clarification: Web builders have been around since the dawn of the Internet, but in most cases, they are based on editing the content of pre-built themes and/or components. When I talk about no-code builders, I'm only referring to those that allow FULL control over the frontend.
100% custom design and full control over the frontend through a visual editor. No code.
No-code technologies allow you to implement your design down to the smallest detail, line and icon, giving you full control over the front-end without the need to be familiar with CSS, HTML and Java Script syntax. You can control absolutely everything with the help of a visual editor.
The approach you need to adopt, in order to implement the front-end of your site, will largely depend on the no-code product you choose. In some products, such as Webflow, the visual code editor is designed to generate clean CSS code. In this case, however, it is assumed that you know CSS structure and how the web works in general. In other products, such as like Editor X, the learning curve is much less steep, and they allow creating the public part of your website using drag-and-drop. This is why the most important consideration while choosing a development platform is your level of technical knowledge. If you are advanced, then Webflow is the tool for you, if you are just starting out, you should test Editor X first.
Here are some additional no-code development platforms I recently found and am currently testing: https://www.framer.com/ , https://www.vev.design/ , https://readymag.com/ ... In the past few weeks, several more have been launched, which I plan to test and review very soon.
Full design control across all resolutions and devices
Another huge plus of these technologies is that they give you the ability to view design adjustments for each major resolution in real-time. This means you can easily make adjustments and fine-tune down to the smallest detail. Every frontend developer knows how annoying it is when a designer starts sending them tasks that require small adjustments like "Letter spacing should be reduced by 0.25px". With no-code technologies, this problem simply doesn't exist, because the designer can also participate in the development and spend as much time as needed to polish the design to perfection.
(Full) control over animations, transitions and other goodies
I put full in parentheses because the level of control depends a lot on the tool you've chosen to build your site. Some tools give you 100% control over animations, the conditions for starting them, the conditions for ending them, right down to easing in milliseconds. Others rely on pre-made animations that are much easier to use but do not allow for full customization. In this case also it is a matter of taste and choice. In any case, the important thing is that all this happens in a visual environment, without the need to understand Java Script, install libraries or and write CODE.
If you're a web designer like me, I'm sure I've already caught your attention. Imagine a world where your design is implemented exactly as you created it, for all resolutions, without having to return dozens and dozens of tasks to your colleagues for correcting omissions, without having to hold weekly time-wasting meetings to discuss minutiae… Well, that dream is now a reality!
Skeptics will say it's too good to be true but stay with me - it gets even better!
Good, pixel-perfect design is a great thing, but it wouldn't have much value unless the content is also dynamic, managed by a good (content management) system. So, we come to the next point…
Backend and CMS
This is the part that we've (unknowingly) been waiting for so many years. The technology is now developed enough to confidently assume it is the future of web development.
(Almost) full control over backend creation. No code. No bugs!!!
It is currently possible to develop a complex custom CMS-driven website for almost any need using no-code technology. There are limitations – of course. There is no "one-size-fits-all" product yet, but despite this, no-code solutions can cover over 80% of a site's needs.
What is the difference between these technologies and existing site builders, such as WordPress for example? Undoubtedly huge! In the WordPress world you either make do with what is available or find a way to bypass the pre-built systems. With no-code platforms you build everything according to the needs of your project.
Using a visual editor, individual dynamic modules are built to suit the exact task on hand. Want to make a blog? No problem – just select the components you need. Need a corporate catalog? You only add what is necessary, without anything redundant to slow down the site. Is your business growing and requiring adjustments to be made to the existing modules? Done! And, let me emphasize this again: everything is built without code! This significantly shortens the time needed to deploy corrections.
This freedom of creating a CMS system to fit your specific needs with great ease has been a dream of mine for years. Everything happens with the help of a well-built visual editor that allows extreme freedom of configuration.
Currently, I can build a highly complex site by myself. Imagine the horizons this new technology reveals for me - not only as a designer, but also as an entrepreneur!
NO BUGS! Building a CMS using no-code is an intuitive process. The best part is that there is no need of a lengthy debugging stage after deployment. Anyone who has launched more than 2 web sites knows that after the build stage there is always a QA follow-up, during which the system is tested and debugged. When using no-code platforms, the QA consists mostly of clearing typos and ensuring link consistency 😊.
No plugins, no constant backend updates, no security issues.
The radically new approach taken by the major market players has another huge plus: the system is "closed source" and does not rely on plugins. Any additional services or functionalities supplied by third parties do not interact with the code of the system core in any way, which solves the two fundamental problems of open-source systems:
1. The constant need of updates. Whether it is the core or the plugins, something always demands to be updated. And all the while you cross your fingers, hoping that the end result will not be disastrous, and the new versions will be compatible with the rest of your website. Not to mention the plugins which stop being supported, the slow response of developers as regards known security issues or the loading speed of the site. With no-code these problems don’t exist, simply because there are no plugins to create them! Which leads us to the second fundamental problem…
2. The Security Issues – Closed source and lack of plugins greatly increases the security of your website for years to come.
There are also several smaller advantages to no-code systems, which include the automatic kernel updates you get, as well as speed and security optimizations that are constantly being worked on.
All annoying repetitive processes happen at the click of a button
Configuring a server, redirecting DNS, configuring FTP users, installing the site, testing, debugging, testing again, and launching the project. For a backend programmer, doing these tasks is almost a reflex, and yet it's annoying to do it every time for every project. And if you're a beginner, it's even more tedious, involving endless research or writing to the support of the chosen hosting company… Regardless of your technical skills or experience, it is never an exciting aspect of your job!
With no-code technology, this entire process is reduced to the pressing of a button (publish). And if you need to use your own domain, you'll just need to copy and paste 2 additional lines of code into your DNS settings. That’s it!
Here are some additional small BUT very cool extras:
- you don't have to worry about setting up and maintaining a staging server,
- you don’t have to worry about source control
- you don't have to worry about version control
All these things are just there, out of the box. If you mess something up, which occasionally happens to everyone, you can always go back to old versions of your project with one click.
These seemingly small things make maintenance, development, and project management a real pleasure!
With the help of modern no-code technology, we can build complex, dynamic CMS systems that power beautiful and websites refined to the smallest detail. So far, so good. But a website is not just a design powered by a CMS, it is mainly CONTENT... So, let's talk about that.
Marketing, Content and SEO
These components of a site always go hand in hand, this is the reason why I have also decided to comment on these aspects together. For a marketer, the most important thing in a site is to combine the right content with the right structure, so that it can tell a great story and convince the visitor of the benefits of the presented product or service. With no-code this is achieved smoothly, as I have already described, with full control over the public part of the site. BUT both content and needs change. Quickly. Sometimes so quickly that correcting certain texts, photos, illustrations - sometimes even just one word - is critical for the success of an advertising campaign. Here no-code technologies are, once again, a step ahead of all others.
In-line editing of the entire website content
In conventional CMS systems, the administrator (or content manager) has access only to the content that is predetermined as dynamic (editable). To change it, the administrator needs to log in the system and enter the admin panel, then go to the required module and apply the change. Then, after reloading the corrected page, he/she needs to make sure everything is OK after the changes.
However, if information that is not previously set as editable needs to be corrected, then the administrator must contact the project developer and ask him/her to make the necessary change. This is not only expensive but also slow and cumbersome. It often takes several cycles of approval.
And this is how you would do the same task for a site made in Webflow: the content editor logs in directly on the page they want to edit, applies the correction in-line i.e., directly into the design. After making sure everything is in order, he/she presses the publish button. That’s it! The system allows the editing of absolutely everything (yes, you read that correctly: absolutely everything), regardless of whether it is pre-determined as editable in the CMS system or not... The first time my colleagues from Marketing had the opportunity to work with this system, they were mind-blown! They were amazed at the ease with which everything can get done.
Imagine how much more detailed and creative your work could become if you had all this additional time (and mental bandwidth)!
Full control of the website, marketing tools integration
When it comes to marketing and content, it’s imperative to discuss the subject of SEO optimization: it is fundamentally important, just like everything described so far. I doubt there is anyone in this day and age who has not heard the truism “CONTENT IS KING”. It is doubly important in the context of SEO. Here as well no-code technology comes ahead of its competitors, giving full control – both over the meta data of each page, and over additional parameters for which we do not need pricy external plugins. Some of these include automatic creation and update of a sitemap, easy and fast 301 redirects, canonical URL setup, structured content integration (Schema.org), etc.
This gives you the power to do a technical optimization of your site without being a programmer.
These capabilities, combined with good analytical and marketing tools such as Google Analytics, Search Console and Google Tag Manager, turn an ordinary corporate website into a powerful marketing tool that can generate leads and drive sales.
Integration and automation of business processes
Reaching the next level in good marketing and customer relationship management requires integrating automated processes. This is where two of the automation leaders, Zapier and Integromat (Make) come to the rescue. Both companies offer similar services: to perform certain actions when certain conditions are met. Here are two examples to help you get an idea of the possibilities of these no-code automations.
1. Automatic entry of new contacts into your ERP system - You can create the following condition - "Every time someone contacts us, automatically transfer their e-mail to this spreadsheet". You can also spice this up: "If the e-mail is addressed to technical support, add a SUPPORT tag to it, if it is a request for an offer - inform the sales department." (And, if you have several sales representatives, according to the customer’s size, you can specify - inform the sales rep who handles the big customers or the one who handles small businesses). Then a note with the e-mail address or other information can be transferred directly to MailChimp and HubSpot, Slack, or another system of your choice.
2. Automatic updating of the site or from your personal CMS - For example, "If this information is added to this field on the spreadsheet, update a particular CMS record or create a new one". This is one way, in which you can keep your site up-to-date through Google Sheets or through Airtable.
The examples are endless, but the most important part is that you can create, manage and adjust such automations to work for you without any programming knowledge. So, people who are experts in marketing, can develop and execute their detailed marketing plans, without the need to looking for developers who can make their ideas work.
Now let's look at things through the lens of an entrepreneur who has a good idea for a business but doesn't have the resources to hire a good (and most likely very expensive) technical team to build, maintain and develop it. He/she also doesn't have the time to learn to program everything described so far. Until recently, such entrepreneurs inevitably ended up in a situation where their ideas remained in the realm of imagination, unless serious financial investments could be procured. Now, however, with the help of no-code technology, testing out a business idea is possible in a completely different way. Let's look at the two most likely scenarios:
1. You have a good idea but no technical knowledge. EVEN no-code technologies seem too complicated for you. – In this case you can easily hire no-code professionals to build your business structure, web site and all necessary automations. After that, however, you can maintain this entire system by yourself, even if your technical abilities are practically nonexistent.
2. You have a cool idea and basic technical knowledge, but you’re not a programmer. I find myself in this scenario: I know how things work in the backend, but I can't write them.
Thanks to no-code technology, I can test all my business ideas without investing money in software development.
To be completely thorough, however, I should mention that when it comes to more complex business ideas, there are limitations. As I said at the beginning of this article, there is no such thing as a "one-size-fits-all" product yet. Therefore, if you decide to start an entrepreneurial adventure in the no-code environment, it is a good idea to consult a specialist who can tell you what possible and what limitations may be pertinent to your specific idea.
For now, no-code is best suited for the following types of businesses: monetizing content (fitness classes, design courses, diets, etc.), selling subscription services of all kinds, bulletin board type of sites (for example for publishing ads, or notices).
In our next articles, we plan to present different successful business ideas that have been implemented entirely using no-code technologies. If we have managed to pique your interest – sign up for our newsletter!
It's not all smooth sailing
After so many hails and adulation, it is appropriate to touch on the minor 😊 disadvantages that go with all these pros.
First, no matter which no-code software you choose, there will be a learning curve that in some cases (especially with Webflow) is very steep. You need to have fundamental knowledge how the web works, because these platforms have the goal of creating quality and fast software, which requires you to adopt certain approaches and workflows.
Second, although no-code, both as a concept and as a technology, has been around for more than 30 years, (as you can read in A (Relatively) Brief History of No-Code Technology), its "ecosystem" is not very developed. It is currently growing at breakneck speed, yet it's still tiny compared to the one for WordPress, for example.
A third disadvantage is that no-code technology is still limited when it comes to e-commerce and gated content. In these situations, there are quite a few conventions, which I will tell you about in another article devoted entirely to the topic.
Finally, all no-code products are SaaS-based and closed-source, which excludes the possibility of installing them on your own server. This means that you should choose very carefully which company you pick, because if it goes down, your site will follow.
No-code technologies allow full control of the public and administrative part, they enable quick and high-quality support of the project after its launching. They are perfect when it comes to speed and security, SEO and content management and they make everything even better with automations and business logic implementation. They can eliminate all tedious tasks, such as the constant need to update, the need to maintain and renew the program code, the need to configure and maintain servers, etc.
Until recently, the creation of such complex sites required large teams of highly specialized professionals. Now this becomes a feat which can be achieved by a small team, a full stack designer or even a solopreneur, without the need for programmers to write and debug millions of lines of code.
The level of customization and opportunities to create beautiful and functional websites today are so great that I can confidently call this trend the future of web development.