Over the past few years, there has been a surge of interest in low-code and no-code development platforms. According to a 2022 Gartner report, over 65% of application development activity will be done using low-code or no-code by 2024, up from under 25% in 2020. This trend has disrupted the traditional app development marketplace.
However, there are still valid questions around how useful these tools are in practice. Here at Bitcot, we are always learning about new technologies to provide our clients with effective solutions. Many of our customers have asked whether low-code no-code is suitable for their projects.
In this article, we will explore:
- What low-code and no-code platforms are
- Examples of tools available
- Key capabilities and limitations
- When they make sense versus traditional development
- Best practices for selecting the right approach
By understanding the options available, we aim to determine if low-code no-code truly provides value or is just hype. The right tool should solve business problems – so let’s examine if these platforms fit the bill
What are Low-Code and No-Code?
In the increasingly tech-centered world, we are continuing to come up with great ideas for apps and technologies. We’ve worked with enough tech entrepreneurs to know that a good idea with a great team of developers can grow into something world-changing.
But ideas aren’t the end-all, be-all. In order to turn an idea into a business, you need to develop the tech that is the backbone of your product or service. The problem is, developing that tech requires developers. As a tech entrepreneur you have two choices:
- Develop the software yourself
- Hire Full Stack developers to develop the software
Developing the software yourself requires the ability to write high-quality software and the time to do so. Unless you have a large team of talented developers with decades of experience, doing this yourself can lead to years of development, without a single dime of cash flow.
You can spend money hiring a dev team to create your product or service. That’s what we do here at BitCot — develop high-quality custom-built software.
This is how all of the big tech companies work. Often started by a coding prodigy and then developed by a world-class team. But, as humans, we love to try and find the easy way…
And that’s where Low-Code No-Code comes in.
Why Use Low-Code No-Code Development?
The idea of developing high-quality software without coding abilities and without the need for an expensive dev team is the dream that all businesses have — that’s what Low-Code No-Code promises.
Low-Code No-Code platforms allow non-developers to develop software. While “traditional” software development requires developers to write code in order to create the logic, interface, and other parts of the app, Low-Code No-Code uses a GUI — a paint by numbers if you will.
According to the marketing from these Low-Code No-Code businesses, anyone with access to a computer and minimum computer skills can build the app of their dreams and become the next Mark Zuckerberg.
That’s the idea behind Low-Code No-Code, but what does this look like in action?
What are Low-Code & No-Code Development Platforms?
In 2009, Apple released the “there’s an app for that” marketing campaign. The idea was that whatever your needs were, there was an app for that. That was over ten years ago and the paradigm of apps being ubiquitous has just become more and more prevalent in our lives. Low-Code No-Code is no exception.
Here are just some of the current Low-Code No-Code platforms and how they’re being used.
#1 Low-Code No-Code Analytics & Predictions Platforms
Many of our clients use big data to make business decisions. Some Low-Code No-Code platforms currently on the market are:
#2 Low-Code No-Code Forms, Rules, and Workflow
For businesses that want to scale, automation is a must. Here are Low-Code No-Code platforms that promise to do just that:
#3 Low-Code No-Code Admin Tools
Administration duties can also be taken care of with Low-Code No-Code:
#4 Low-Code No-Code Application Development
This group of Low-Code No-Code platforms is probably one you have heard of before. I’m sure you’ve heard “create an app without knowing how to code” many, many times by now. Here are some of those platforms:
#5 Low-Code No-Code Deployment Automation
Deploying your software can be a headache if you’re not too familiar with the process. Luckily, some Low-Code No-Code platforms can take care of that for you.
#6 Low-Code No-Code Data, Connectors and API Automation
Many of the tools you use can be even more powerful if they are connected and work together. These platforms can help you with that:
#7 Low-Code No-Code Visual Development Tools
While the mantra of most Low-Code No-Code tools are “creating without coding,” these specific platforms take it one step further and focus on making development as easy as possible:
#8 Low-Code No-Code Website Development
Long ago, those that wanted to create websites without coding only had options like Adobe Dreamweaver. Luckily, there are more options on the market:
These are just some of the Low-Code No-Code platforms on the market right now. But all of them have similar benefits for businesses.
The Benefits of Low Code No-Code Platforms
The big idea that Low-code No-code platforms is selling is that anyone or any business can make an enterprise-level app with little or no coding — hence the term “Low-Code No-Code.”
Companies like DWkit, Appian, and KiSSFLOW boast that with tools like their drag-and-drop builders help you develop world-class applications. In fact, building new software is no more difficult than arranging Lego blocks.
Advertising by many of these Low-Code No-Code platforms shows that you can have a complete tech business without need of Hiring a Single Software Developer.
No more developers to manage, meetings to attend, or milestones to hit. With just a few clicks, your software writes itself.
By now, it probably sounds like Low-Code No-Code platforms could be a great option for your business. But are they really? Let’s cut through the marketing talk and take a critical look at Low-code No-code platforms.
The Problem with Low-Code No-Code
As with many things in life, choosing the easy option is usually not the best. And the same rings true with Low-Code No-Code platforms. Here are the problems your business will have if you consider using a Low-Code No-Code platform.
Your business is held, hostage
When you use a Low-Code No-Code platform, your software, and essentially your entire business, relies on another company. That means if that company:
- goes out of business
- changes their pricing model
- has service that temporally goes out, or
- has literally any other major change
Your whole business could disappear overnight.
That means customers calling you wondering why software isn’t working.
That means your cash flow drops to zero.
That’s right, imagine all of the hard work you’ve done, the countless nights networking and marketing your app, and your family and the others depending on your business’s income… all in jeopardy because of something you have no control over.
Don’t believe me?
Tech businesses using Low-Code No-Code to build their software thought they were doing everything right until one day they woke up and saw the following message from Google in their inbox:
“The App Maker editor and user apps will be shut down on January 19, 2021. New application creation will be disabled starting April 15, 2020”. Learn more
What was supposed to be a normal day was turned into a complete nightmare when companies that relied on Google App Maker found out they had two years to completely change their business.
I want you to think about that for a second…
You can spend years developing your business, marketing it, and then finally when you start to become successful… the rug can be pulled out from under you forcing you to essentially start your business over at square one. This isn’t hypothetical — this happens with Low Code No Code.
Business owners have enough to worry about on a daily basis. Having their whole business shut down overnight because of something out of their hands is not something that business owners should have to worry about. The ease of mind by not having your business depends on another company is worth it alone to have a custom-built solution.
You are paying The Low-Code No-Code tax
Low-Code No-Code platforms are businesses, after all. And that means they need to get their share of your business’s profits. You might only have to pay annual licenses, or you may even have to pay a share of your business’s revenue to the Low-Code No-Code platform you are using.
That’s right, Low-Code No-Code might be cheaper initially, but the fees from them will quickly add up, maybe even becoming one of the biggest expenses for your business. Don’t even think about scaling.
You probably can’t do what you want
There are many Low-Code No-Code platforms out there. Why is that? It’s because Low-Code No-Code platforms have a very specific idea of what an app should look like. That means if your software isn’t exactly what that Low-Code No-Code platform wants it to be, you are not going to be able to make it. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to spend time and money developing an app, only to find out that the killer feature I want to add isn’t possible on the platform.
Back to square one….. again.
Even if you can add specific features to your app on a Low-Code No-Code platform, you might have to hire a specialist that knows that specific platform. When you develop a “traditional” app, you’ll have millions of devs all around the world that are able to help you expand and maintain your app. These developers have spent decades learning a specific programming language, using the same frameworks over and over again, and finding out the best way to develop software with their favorite tools.
But with an app on a Low-Code No-Code platform? Many Low-Code No-Code platforms have only been around for a little while. There hasn’t even been enough time to develop best-practices or for people to become experts. And if you can find an expert, you have to pick between the five guys in the world who have experience building out that feature on that specific Low-Code No-Code platform.
If there are only a handful of developers that can help you with your problem, do you think hiring those developers is going to be cheap? The promise of not having to pay a developer falls apart as soon as you want to create a non-cookie cutter app.
Are Low-Code No-Code Solutions Right for My Business?
Here at BitCot, we develop custom software for business use. That is, we don’t use Low-Code No-Code platforms, because they just don’t provide what our clients want or need.
But we’re also business-minded engineers, we understand that development costs are a real issue. We can see the value in Low-code No-code platforms if they are not used for serious businesses. If you want to make a simple app for a weekend hobby, hiring a team of expert software engineers may be a bit overkill. Here, a Low-Code No-Code solution might be a suitable choice for you.
But if you want to take your business seriously at all, you absolutely should not build your business on top of a Low-Code No-Code platform. We’ve heard from way too many tech entrepreneurs that, in the attempt to save money on the front-end, used a Low-Code No-Code solution only to find out later that they wasted their whole development budget and couldn’t afford to move on any further.
What is The Alternative to Low-Code No-Code?
Like building a house, developing software requires a strong foundation. Using Low-Code No-Code platforms is like building your house on sand – a ticking time bomb that will lead to the complete failure of your business. You are giving away the keys to kingdom in exchange for saving a few dollars up-front.
So, if Low-Code No-Code isn’t the solution, then what is? If you are serious about your business and the software that runs it, you need to work with a team of experts that have worked with some of the top brands around the world. We’ve developed software for clients of all shapes and sizes, but we do more than just write code — we make your business successful.
If you are serious about your business and you are looking for a tech solution, we encourage you to look at our previous successes with our clients. After that, contact us and let’s see how we can help you.
Let us know how you use this in your own apps. Read our blog and be sure to keep in touch on Twitter and Facebook for updates, including announcements when we release additional educational resources.