Website, mobile app, or software development? "Ah, no! "I'm not a techie."
But what if I tell you that you don't have to know coding to be able to develop complex websites, beautiful landing pages, stunning mobile applications, automate workflows, and do a lot more 'techie' stuff? That too with very very limited resources!
Say hello to the world of no-code.
In an era where the demand for software greatly outnumbers the supply of coders, no-code development tools are assisting a number of brands and individuals in overcoming this shortage.
No-code allows folks who would not otherwise be empowered to be creators themselves to see their product vision become a reality. It allows people to accomplish more in less time and less money, regardless of their degree of skill.
Sounds exciting? Want to know more? Have many questions?
We've painstakingly created this super comprehensive guide on what is no code - to give you the right perspective, tell you everything important to get you started, answer all your questions, and help you jumpstart your own no-code journey.
So, let's dive right in.
What Is No-Code?
The process of creating websites, apps, workflow automations, and software programs in general without using conventional coding is known as "no-code development." Users of no-code platforms can build and ship stuff without learning and writing a single line of code. Webflow, Bubble, Glide, Adalo, and Zapier are a few very well-known no-code platforms.
These no-code platforms allow non-programmers to build a complex CMS-based website or a full-fledged mobile app, automate mundane repetitive tasks, etc., that previously only specialists could. Therefore these platforms are a huge enabler democratising software development, besides being time and money savers.
So, no-code is nothing but a way of both building stuff on the internet and automating processes, without writing lines of code.
Why Is No-Code Important and Why Should You Care?
No-code is all about empowerment and liberation. It is about making things possible for those who have ideas and want to make their dreams a reality.
With no-code tools, they don't need to depend on developers or IT teams. Creators, makers, Indie-hackers, entrepreneurs, and just about everyone can build applications, websites and a lot more.
Therefore, assisting a group of non-technical people in achieving their technical dreams is essentially the focus of no-code. The accessibility of building things is what makes it so wonderful.
Who Should Care About No-Code the Most?
No-code is particularly helpful to people with little to no technical expertise who want to build something big on their own, without hiring developers.
This enables individual creators, independent hackers, bootstrappers, one-person businesses, side hustlers like freelancers and consultants, marketers, etc. to develop software applications, such as forms, apps or websites, or to add functionality to an existing site or app, even when they lack the essential programming skills but have the necessary institutional knowledge.
Below are some of the ideal scenarios where no-code tools can offer great help:
Startups With Little to No Funding
No-code platforms put the power of innovation in the hands of your entire organisation. If you are a small firm without the funding to hire a software developer or outsource to a software development house, no-code tools are bliss! No-code tools provide you with a framework so you may execute your idea while utilizing your resources to the fullest.
Quick Time to Market Applications
No-code tools provide you the head start you need if you spot a market gap as an individual and want to leverage it before your competitors. If additional development strategies are required once you gain market traction, you can implement them later.
Consultants and Freelancers
The no-code development of apps can also be advantageous for independent professionals like freelancers and consultants. Typically, they wouldn't consider developing a website for their portfolio or bookings because the financial commitment wouldn't be justified.
However, when the initial investment is minor, consultants and freelancers can use no-code apps to build and grow their businesses in several ways.
Individuals with Limited Developer Resources
Custom applications shouldn't just be for enterprises. But, if you are an independent hacker, content creator, one-person business or a bootstrapped startup, you might not have a dedicated developer team. With no-code app development, you can build tools that are specifically tailored to your audience’s needs and specifications. In fact, you can use templates for faster development.
Those Who Seek Agility
It can be frustrating to be on a development feature request backlog for users that want to be more independent. Users can become more independent when they have access to no-code tools which empower them to build software on their own.
What Is No-Code Movement?
The no-code movement, simply put, is the increasing acceptance, adoption and evangelism of tools that allow both programmers and non-programmers to create, alter, upgrade, or integrate software like websites, applications and databases without writing lines of code.
The underlying tenet of the no-code movement is that technology should encourage invention and software production, rather than serving as a barrier. It is the technology that enables an individual to create technology, and so is the case with no-code tools.
This movement is a revolution in itself to make software development more accessible to a broader audience while enhancing workflow productivity and efficiency.
It has also given us a new tribe of creators - citizen developers.
Citizen developers are empowered generalists and business users who create new or change existing websites, apps, and business tools without the need to involve tech folks or IT teams. The term was first coined by the industry analyst firm, Gartner.
Although the idea of end-users developing their solutions may not be new, the technology is truly getting democratised only recently.
Organisations have been increasingly recognising the importance of citizen development. 61 percent of firms already have or intend to have active citizen development programs, according to a recent Gartner report.
How Does No-Code Work?
Now that you know what no-code movement is, you might wonder how it all works.
In some ways, the term "no-code" is misleading: there is coding involved, but it is done in the background and is unseen to business users. All the heavy-lifting is done by no-code tool providers, who utilise data abstraction and encapsulation to hide the complexity of what users do by dragging and dropping components to build an application.
A no-code platform is basically a UI (user interface) builder, allowing you to work on a visual development interface and simultaneously see how it will look on mobile, desktop and tablet. The use of visual models eliminates the complexity of coding, letting you manage your data with ease.
No code platforms employ declarative UI, which describes what the user will see rather than how it should be put out. Platform users can now render the same app across different devices.
The idea that no-code applications are only appropriate for simple apps is not an absolute truth.
To meet your objectives in a time when technology is quickly advancing, no-code application builders have become incredibly sophisticated to offer comprehensive functionality in all apps. A no-code platform can now be used to create numerous apps, websites, databases and other tools which individual creators, startups or even large enterprises can make the most bang for their buck.
Here's a short tutorial on how to build a SaaS app without coding:
How Is No-Code Different From Low-Code?
Both no-code and low-code are often used interchangeably. However, the two are different in the way they function and are used.
Some no-code platforms call for zero coding experience or familiarity with the structure and operation of applications. Many others, however, permit so-called non-programmers or citizen developers to contribute some custom code to websites to carry out comparatively easy discrete tasks, such as adding scrollbars, navigation buttons, or custom colours. You can frequently find these lines of code in easily accessible, readymade code snippets that may be immediately used.
Low-code can be used in those scenarios as well, but it can also be used to construct apps that operate processes vital to a business's fundamental systems, such as particular integrations and digital transformation initiatives.
These platforms necessitate technical knowledge but allow good coders to work more quickly. The more effective the tools for accelerating technical development, the better it is suited for coders.
Hence, no-code is used to empower non-technical folks, and low-code is used primarily by developers.
The main differences between low-code and no-code can be understood in 3 different aspects.
No-code platforms don't require technical expertise. Thus, any end-user in a firm can utilize them. To help and speed up the development process, low-code demands professionals with coding expertise who can operate within a platform.
Users using no-code platforms select the design of an app using the drag-and-drop features or engage in visual coding. Low-code technologies offer a similar development model but rely more on coding to control an app's fundamental structure.
No-code relies on a pre-built UI layer to expedite the design of applications. In exchange for more coding needs, low-code systems offer greater UI customization.
The following table makes the low-code vs no-code comparison clearer:
This video further talks about low-code vs no-code in detail:
Benefits of No-Code Development
No-code development tools are becoming popular (particularly among the creator community) for the following reasons:
No Barriers to Entry (Anyone Can Build)
The platforms offer visual interfaces with simple drag-and-drop functionality, making them very user-friendly and accessible to professionals with diverse skillset. Because of this, the need for training is limited to a basic understanding of how these platforms work without having to code. For example, any professional from a non-technical background can leverage these tools and create a website, application or any other tool for their work.
Very Low Startup Costs
It goes without saying that developing custom applications the traditional coding way is super expensive. All the way up the stack, you must hire scarce specialized resources. To build your app, you may need to hire front-end and back-end developers, business analysts, security consultants, infrastructure, and/or cloud experts.
Since no-code platforms are easy and affordable to use, as a bootstrapper, you can need only to cover the nominal tool subscription costs.
Lots of Autonomy
No-code tools offer no barrier to entry. They benefit the non-developer audience by giving them more autonomy to contribute to development within limited resources. Individuals and businesses no longer need to wait for specialists or wait in the queue for their developing projects to get started.
Unmatched Levels of Flexibility
Traditional coding has the drawback that you can't change a feature at any time, and with ease - it's akin to moving the sky-scrapper after it's fully built. But with no-code, it's like playing with the Lego blocks. If something needs to be changed, you can modify a matter of hours, if not minutes.
The no-code platforms may enable functional teams and users to build and ship stuff on the internet super fast - hours to days to only a few weeks, which earlier used to take several months to even years.
No-Code is Going Mainstream
There is no denying that more and more no-code solutions will be launched, and no-code app development will become mainstream as bootstrappers like freelancers and consultants see the value and convenience of no-code .
As per a recent Gartner study, 75% of large enterprises will be using at least four low-code no-code development tools for both IT application development and citizen development initiatives by 2024.
Drawbacks of No-Code Development
Like any other technology, no-code also comes with certain limitations. Here are the ones you should know about:
A Little Less Than 100% Customization
No-code development platforms offer a variety of templates and components that may be customized to match several use cases to build up the various elements of an application. However, due to fixed, pre-made templates, your mindset shifts from" What do I want to build?" to "What can I build?" as one has to develop it within platform customization options.
These issues are being addressed by the most no-code platforms by offering custom-code and low-code features. But, obviously, using these require some bit of coding knowledge.
A Little Less Than 100% Control
Contrary to traditional development, choosing the no-code option will always mean giving up some control over your application. Being powerless over your technological stack is one thing, but not fully understanding your app can provide a lot of security and dependability problems in themselves.
Many no-code tools have enterprise-grade security and can build business apps because they have all the necessary security certifications.
What happens if the business that offers your no-code platform is bought out or goes out of business? What if they experience a security breach within their own organization, exposing you and your mission-critical system?
To be on the safer side, it is best to vet these platforms before making a choice.
No-code platforms are excellent for getting a head start on product development. However, once the product has been developed, you may encounter vendor lock-in issues. Vendor lock-in occurs when you are forced to choose a single vendor regardless of the quality of their services.
Although most of the tools allow exporting the code and you can always shift to another platform, your reliance on this no-code platform will grow. Thus, you’ll have to be flexible enough if you wish to switch.
Scalability In Software Development
Every successful firm eventually needs scalability in its application. Most of these "quick" or "low-cost" no-code software development platforms are not exponentially scalable. However, not everyone needs such levels of scalability - only a few outliers do.
Growth is a good problem to have though :)
Also, you also have an option convert to low-code or custom software development after reaching a certain scale. But always remember that no-code offers the path of least resistance to get to this growth stage.
You can learn more about managing these no-code limitations here.
A Quick Primer On No-Code Platforms
The most popular definition of no-code platforms is:
It is a programming platform that uses a visual development interface to enable non-technical users to build applications by dragging and dropping software applications to create a full app. Users don't need any previous coding experience to build applications using no-code.
These platforms have grown in popularity because they are doing to software development what Amazon Kindle did to book publishing, Canva to designing, or Wordpress to digital publishing - they are all truly democratising. No-code platforms are enabling masses to build and ship stuff on the internet which was the realm of a few specialists in the past.
These have grown in popularity also because businesses are struggling with the concurrent trends of an increasingly mobile workforce and a limited supply of skilled software developers.
Key Features of No-Code Platforms
Below are some of the most common features of no-code platforms:
Visual Development Interface
Using most no-code tools, you can create an entire web page with just one feature — drag and drop. It only takes a few minutes to put everything together, including the form, tables, and photos. As a consequence, your website will be just as you envisioned it. Same goes with app development or workflow automation.
Some advanced tools like Webflow and Bubble offer front-end development and make it visual. The visual coding interface is a little more complex but it also offers an edge in terms of functionality and customization.
Using pre-configured modules and functionality for apps is a significant part of no-code development. These modules often contain all the essential core functionality required by many programs, and they may be quickly reused for numerous distinct solutions.
Reporting and Monitoring
Apps developed using low-code tools are prepared to track workflows and processes to determine their efficacy. Additionally, they can track the performance of other apps and are particularly helpful for analytical purposes.
Accessibility Across Platforms
One of the most sought-after characteristics of no-code platforms is multi-device accessibility. The cross-platform compatibility of the low-code platform allows users to create apps that can run on all essential platforms and devices, in addition to enabling the use of the platform on any device running major operating systems.
App Lifecycle Management
Numerous phases of the software development lifecycle, including testing, debugging, and deployment, are streamlined by no-code. In addition to these advantages, users can get data regarding the creation and development of apps. Users can even go back to earlier versions to manage the program lifecycle more effectively.
You can integrate your no-code app with everything from Twitter to Slack (and everything in between) to completely automate operations - either natively out-of-the-box or with the help of other no-code tools like Zapier, Make (Integromat), Apiway, etc.
Top No-Code Platforms & Tools
There are already 100s of no-code tools that are widely known and actively used, and new ones are constantly joining the market. Below are some of the most highly regarded no-code platforms:
Bubble is the best way to build web apps without code, and the most powerful no-code platform for creating digital products. It is a web app development platform that allows anyone to create interactive, multi-user apps for desktop and mobile browsers. It's a cloud service that will enable you to develop and deploy multi-user applications (like Facebook, Airbnb or Uber), real-time data apps (like Google Analytics or Salesforce), virtual reality apps and more. Use Bubble to create potent web and mobile sites without worrying about creating infrastructure or scaling your app. With Bubble, you can open an account instantly and start building your social network - just like Facebook - in less than 10 minutes.
Webflow is a full-featured website builder. In their own words, they empower designers, creative professionals, and entrepreneurs to create for the web. Webflow offers numerous products designed to help you to get your startup or business running with a stunning, completely customizable website. It also ensures that you don’t lose your functionality because of pre-designed, static template moulds. On its own, Webflow’s Designer is flexible. However, what takes Webflow to the next level is when you integrate CMS and e-commerce with the designer. Now, you can go live on a fast, reliable, and hassle-free hosting network that scales with your business with just a click.
Carrd makes it simple and quick to create simple, one-page websites. Carrd offers free themes for your website or allows you to build one from scratch. All sites are responsive, which means they will look great on a phone, tablet, or any other device.
Carrd is an excellent choice for creating landing pages, personal profiles, and other websites.
Airtable is a cloud collaboration service that is a spreadsheet-database hybrid, having database functionalities integrated into a spreadsheet. It is a platform that has all your basic utilities like databases, team collaboration platforms, designing and running an application and the list goes on. The eye-catching feature is to integrate Airtable with your favourite and most used applications (more than 1000 applications) like Gmail, Instagram, Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, etc. It has the least intimidating database management tool you probably will ever use. It is most suited for people who like to perform their tasks more efficiently and not focus on abstract ideas and numbers. Now you actually have a marketplace where you can analyze, enrich and take action on your data.
Glide lets you turn any Google Sheets spreadsheet into a real mobile app with absolutely no coding and shockingly little effort. Saying you don’t need any programming knowledge is almost an understatement. This thing is deliberately designed for anyone to use. Although there are some limitations in flexibility of customization beyond pure color/text/layout tweaks and some scaling issues that are inherent when using Google Sheets as a backend, Glide is a great way to build out basic MVPs as well as simple internal tools to improve workflow.
Adalo offers more sophisticated functionality and customization beyond just the data you enter in a spreadsheet, in contrast to Glide, which solely relies on Google Sheets to develop your app. You may design your app by adding, removing, or swapping components using drag-and-drop. To accept payments, your app can interact with numerous additional tools and programs, such as Stripe.
Adalo's user interface (UI) is excellent; it's a simple tool to master, especially since it gives a slide deck format that most of us are accustomed to. It is the best no-code solution if you want to create proper native software the way a developer would, but without the coding!
Gumroad may be the right no-code tool for you whether you produce graphics, podcasts, beats, or even wish to start your online course. This program provides an eCommerce solution to help you market your creativity, enabling artists to start their businesses.
Do you want to connect your various applications (all producing crucial data) into an automated process? Zapier enables you to automate and speed up your process by connecting several software platforms.
It is a workflow automation solution that handles time-consuming and monotonous tasks, freeing you and your team to concentrate on the work that requires more of your attention. Zapier connects with your web applications to launch various tasks.
For instance, Zapier can transfer the attachment into your Dropbox folder and notify you in Slack when you receive a new email in Gmail.
Chargebee is a secure SaaS option for B2B businesses. It has features that simplify taxes and invoicing and even allow you to provide free product trials. It develops ad-free methods for accepting and making payments. It is a solid option for business owners that lack technological expertise. It interacts with your PayPal and Stripe payment processors, and all processes are automated.
The Swiss Army knife of no-code membership tools, Outseta is the only platform combining subscriptions, billing, email marketing, customer service, and reporting features.
It is the only platform combining subscriptions, billing, email marketing, customer service, and reporting features.
Outseta enables you to run your entire company with a single login from where you can manage your members, their payments, your client data and communications, customer service, and live chat.
Outseta and Stripe work effectively, making it simple to increase your revenue.
Debunked: Some Most Common No-Code Myths
Even though no-code app creation is becoming more popular, using a no-code platform to develop an app may still be viewed with skepticism.
There are some misconceptions about no-code platforms that keep people from adopting them. Below are the top 3 no-code myths and the truths behind them.
No-code tools will replace developers
Rather than replacing developers, no-code platforms will allow them to offer governance and emphasis on higher-level concerns like security and scalability. It implies that professional developers might move beyond simply keeping the lights on and accomplish the duties that best utilize their vast skill sets and knowledge.
And hey, we need coders to develop and maintain no-code tools, don't we?
No-code tools aren't best suited for real business use-cases
Together, citizen developers and IT professionals can create enterprise-level applications that provide significant business value to end-users. This is made possible by their close collaboration with IT and the provision that no-code platforms have a backdoor that allows for traditional coding too.
There is no coding involved in no-code
There is a perception that no-code platforms or no-code, in general, eliminates the necessity for coding. One can construct applications without writing any code – that's correct.
Still, the user can add some code to the no-code apps for customization or highly particular needs. Even for developing intricate ERP and CRM systems, no-code tools enable you to significantly reduce coding labor. That doesn't imply that no-code leaves no room for coding.
No-code comes with pre-built modules and other application components that can be graphically assembled into an application by dragging and dropping them into place. No-code platforms allow adequate room to implement bespoke codes in addition to the vendor's functionalities.
What Can You Build With No-Code?
The possibilities are endless. Quite literally.
There are 1000s of things you can build with no-code. We will try and break down the most common categories of use-cases that citizen developers are building with no-code tools:
Simple To Complex CMS-Based Websites
Whether you want to create a simple, static web-page or a complex, dynamic website, no-code tools like Wix, WordPress, Shopify, etc., can help you build it without a single line of code. Find more no-code website builders here.
Whether you are a freelancer, consultant, or influencer, you can create your own landing pages using pre-built templates without having to code. Unicorn Platform, Mobirise, Dorik, and Carrd are some of the most popular tools you can use to build landing pages.
Also known as Membership Management Software, membership site platforms are a one-stop solution that many different individuals and companies use to manage all of their membership activities online. Most of these platforms allow you to process electronic purchases, fees, and donations in real-time. Here are some of the most popular membership site builders.
Web and Mobile Applications
With no-code tools like Appy Pie, Bubble, Adalo, etc., you can even turn your app ideas into reality without hiring any developer or learning to code. You can check out more such app builders here.
If you want to automate your repetitive tasks, build workflow automation and connect your favorite apps, no-code tools like Zapier, FormStack, and HeyFlow are your savior. Find more no-code automation tools here.
Advanced Web Interactions
Other interactive tools for the web, like calculators, survey forms, dynamic charts & graphs, etc., can all be built using JotForm, Naker, etc. Also, tools like Outgrow, Landbot, Joonbot, and Formito help you create chatbots, improve your customer service and boost sales.
To offer value to your target audience, nurture them, convert them into your customers by sending newsletters. You can use tools like Upscribe and Tinyletter to run all your newsletter operations from one place. More newsletter tools examples here.
If you want to build, grow, and manage an online community, you can leverage tools like Forumbee, Glue Up, Plush Forums, etc., and go it within a couple of hours without using sophisticated codes. Check out more online community management tools here.
Consider web pages like Etsy. Ecommerce sites primarily allow suppliers to list their goods, after which clients can browse and purchase them. These are typical attributes and capabilities created with no-code technologies.
Apps in the marketplace connect users. Uber, DoorDash, and Airbnb are examples of popular marketplace apps. These apps are massive, but at their foundation, they are simple. Marketplace apps for your specialization can be accommodated by broad no-code platforms such as Bubble.io.
Internal Business Tools
- Scheduling Appointments: This includes scheduling tools like Calendly. These apps allow you to share calendars, schedule appointments and meetings, send notifications and reminders, and even integrate payment systems. You can build an app like this or integrate similar functionality features into another app using no-code platforms. In reality, building customized calendar features with no-code tools is extremely popular.
- Directory Listings: This includes employment board apps such as Indeed and real estate listing apps such as Zillow, which primarily require listing and search functionality. Listing directories for specific niches is a popular sort of no-code app.
- Messages: Private conversations, forums, group chats, and other features can be found in messaging programs. Consider Reddit. No-code platforms can assist you in developing a separate messaging app or messaging functionalities within a more extensive app.
- Social Elements: While most of the clients don't seek to build the next Facebook, some do include social elements in their apps. If your software requires social interactivity, you can indeed design one that allows users to connect or communicate with other users.
- Systems for Managing Customer Relationships (CRMs): Consider the company HubSpot. CRMs aid in the management of leads and customers. You may give a lot of functionality here, and versatile no-code platforms should be able to meet your CRM requirements.
- Dashboards: Dashboard apps are excellent for monitoring data and analytics. Consider Salesforce. No-code apps can assist you in creating dashboards that are tailored to precisely what you want to track for your industry or business.
- Project Administration: No-code platforms can be excellent resources for developing project and task management apps. Create a task management app that is particular to your industry or workflow, or integrate it as an extra function in just another app.
- File Administration: File management systems like DropBox, at their core, require only the functionality of saving and organizing files, and no-code platforms like Bubble are an excellent option for this.
Situations Where No-Code Is Best Suited
No-code tools are ideal for businesses seeking simple, out-of-the-box solutions with little customization. This is often suitable for internal systems instead of customer-facing software.
Below are some areas no-code would be best suited:
- Web applications, such as those for online shopping, bookings at cafes, and portfolio building;
- Mobile applications that allow employees to access back-office software while on the go;
- Workflow management, such as establishing internal service-level agreements to ensure that workers recognize when a task is finished;
- Functions of business process automation, such as numerous parties' acceptance of a document;
- Functions related to human resources, such as self-service features in HR management systems.
Predictions: The Future of No-Code Development
The future of coding is no coding at all – Chris Wanstrath, CEO at GitHub.
This is no surprise that no-code is a trend today. No-code platforms bridge the gap between experienced programmers and non-programmers, increase workplace productivity, and significantly reduce the time required to go from an idea to a fully functional application.
This also helps businesses accelerate operations. These considerations are essential for keeping organizational continuity in the "new normal" scenario. In fact, no-code development has a bright future since demand from line of business (LOB) professionals outstrips IT organizations' ability to develop and maintain apps.
As IT help desks struggle to accommodate remote workforces, the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened this gap. According to Gartner, low-code will account for 65 percent of application development by 2024, and citizen developers will exceed professional developers by at least 4X by 2023.
How Can You Get Started With No-Code?
Now that you have understood what is no-code and its use cases, no-code your journey has already started here.
Here’s what you need to do next:
- Ideate how you can use these tools based on your requirements
- Select the most reliable no-cool tool that fulfills your purpose
- Learn the ropes of these tools to build something big of your own
- Analyze full-fledged websites, apps and other software built using no-code to kick-start yours
- Join no-code communities, be a part of productive conversations, and upskill yourself in this niche to make the most out of these tools
To further enhance your knowledge, we have recommended some resources below that can give you more clarity.
Closing Thoughts and Recommendations for Further Understanding
No-code is a simple, quick, and low-risk way to test your earliest ideas and build them into reality without having to waste a lot of resources that can be instead invested in other core activities.
Alvin Cheung, an assistant professor of computer science at the University of California said, “There is still a lot of programming to be done out there that an automated system cannot replace right now—and even in the near future.”
Yet, specialists will continue to be in considerable demand for higher-level skills, empathy, and knowledge that goes beyond the limits of algorithms, even in the finest no-code products.
In conclusion, no-code development is a promising trend that will significantly impact future software development and digital transformation.
Still thinking about whether no-code can be profitable? Check out this case study to understand how businesses can save their precious time and money using no-code development.
Learn about more successful no-code projects generating over $1M revenue here:
We hope our guide helped you gain a good understanding of what is no-code. You may consider enrolling into any of these courses after carefully examining their contents, if you are convinced no-code is best suited for your situation and want to (somewhat formally) learn the ropes.