With rapidly-changing economic conditions, businesses are being forced to innovate more quickly than ever. Much of this innovation is tied to the development of digital experiences that help consumers interact with brands, optimize business to business engagements, or improve employee experiences.
In all cases, the changing environment has prompted an increased demand for application development. Strapped internal development teams, substantial development backlogs, and difficulty attracting and retaining skilled developers all contribute to protracted digital product timelines. Sometimes, by the time a solution can finally be deployed, the need for the product is no longer relevant or the solution is already outdated. Yet businesses must still find a way to develop sound technology solutions at a rapid pace.
In recent years, low-code/no-code platforms and tools have matured to a point that much more demanding functional and business requirements can be met with these architectures than ever before. And team members without custom code development skills, but a strong understanding of user needs and the business logic behind solving them have these tools at hand to build and maintain entire feature-rich applications via a graphical user interface, no coding required. With an anticipated two-thirds of all applications being developed with low-code/no-code platforms by 2024, businesses from startup to large-scale enterprise should consider whether these platforms can be beneficial for some of their digital product architecture.
Template-driven platforms like Squarespace, Wix, WordPress, and Shopify dominate the market for “drag-and-drop” page builders for websites, web based apps, and eCommerce. Each platform offers themes, templates, and pre-built “blocks” of layout to build beautiful, responsive web pages. Each also has a library of plugins and integrations to enhance the capabilities of the platform without writing code. Emerging tools like Glide and Adalo bring this drag-and-drop convenience to building mobile apps as well. Platforms like Webflow and Bubble take these capabilities even further, offering truly custom visual development. You can start from scratch and construct production-ready front-end (and even some back-end) code, without writing a single line yourself. This can be an excellent way to quickly craft your customer-facing experiences or your initial proof of concept and beyond, and to test your ideas without breaking the bank.
Your decision to “build or buy” features and functionality is made much easier now that a vast array of services are adopting an integration-friendly approach. Gone are the days of your various software providers being “walled gardens” where you can access your data and the software’s features only from inside the service provider’s proprietary apps. Service providers are increasingly offering APIs and direct integrations to interoperate with other tools and platforms openly. A vast library of direct integrations, extensions, or plugins exist from thousands of services within platforms like Webflow, Shopify, WordPress, Bubble, and others. Still more services can be integrated via connectivity and automation platforms like Zapier, Airtable, Integromat, and Parabola. This opens up an incredible breadth of possibilities to create deeply functional solutions, all via graphic user interfaces and without writing custom code. The heavy lifting of creating the features and integrating them is handled by the third-party platforms and services themselves. An entire unique product can be enabled by a clever combination of existing services like never before.
Even if the solution for a product can’t be accomplished exclusively with low-code/no-code tools, these tools can still be a viable component of the overall solution for front-end acceleration. Even knowledgeable front-end developers stand to gain from building interfaces visually on a platform like Webflow, where they can visually develop responsive, pixel perfect interfaces, and spend more time on business logic and integrating custom back-ends and APIs to enable functionality.
Another benefit of most low-code/no-code web and application architectures is that they are comprised of managed solutions, which abstract away the need to configure development and production servers and environments, and to worry as much about uptime, scalability, and security. This is not to say that every product can be built with low-code/no-code tools and platforms. When dealing with complex roles and permissions or highly sensitive or regulated data like personal health information, great care must be taken to architect the solution and the transmission and storage of protected information to maintain regulatory compliance. Consult with a team of professionals like Camber to see what kind of solution is best for your needs.
Developing a website or mobile application using a no-code/low-code platform is a great way to visually build a functional interface with little to no custom code, accelerate the development of the front-end of your digital product, and leverage pre-built integrations to interoperate with compatible tools. Working with our team of low-code experts at Camber Creative, we can help you to identify whether existing tools and interoperability solutions with no-code/low-code can help you to build out the optimal digital product in the most efficient way possible.
Thanks to @bricegramm for contributing to this article.