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What is no code? All you need to know about this web development trend

by Anais
June 1st 2023
6 minutes
With the ever-increasing demand for solutions to optimize our time and budget, let's take a look at no code and its groundbreaking entrance online.

With the ever-increasing demand for web solutions and tools that can save us time and money, no-code is looking like a much-needed solution. With no-code platforms such as Webflow, Bubble and Zapier, you don't need to be a developer to handle your digital projects! Here's a look at no code, what it is and what it offers.

 

So what does no code actually mean?

Defining no code

To put it simply, no code is a development method that enables users with no programming skills to create websites, applications and digital tools. This is made possible by the use of user-friendly graphical tools and interfaces, which then translate the user's actions into code.

This makes no code fundamentally different from traditional programming, which requires advanced skills in a variety of languages. Using visual tools and graphical interfaces, no code allows users to customize their site or application by dragging and dropping elements onto an interface, or choosing from a wide range of options. In helping people who don't originally have any technical background to enter the fabulous world of digital creation, no code is truly revolutionary.

The roots of no code

Like everything else on the Internet, no code didn't magically appear at a given moment, and purely by chance. The need for an alternative to traditional development can be traced back to the 2000s, with the arrival of content management systems and WYSIWYG ("What You See Is What You Get") editors, WordPress being a perfect example. These tools made it easy for beginners or complete strangers to website development to create and customize their own websites.

However, it wasn't until the 2010s that we began to really talk about no code, thanks to the emergence of tools such as Webflow, Bubble and Zapier. One of the reasons for the rise of no code was suggested by IT consultant James Martin in his 1982 book "Application Development without Programmers". Martin foresaw the need to find no-code solutions in order to overcome the shortage of staff that would arise as the number of developers per number of computers fell dramatically.

screenshot of webflow
Webflow is one of the most advanced no-code platforms available.

Should we all go no code?

The reasons behind the rise of the no code trend have been fueled by a number of factors, one of which is the lack of skilled developers mentioned above. In addition, the growing demand for websites and web applications has created pressure to develop faster, more efficient ways of creating them. The technological revolution allowed this transition, making no-code and low-code tools more user-friendly and flexible.

No code, with its pros and cons, has become mainstream. But does this mean that we should give up on traditional development methods for good? Certainly not! There will always be an acute need for programming skills in our increasingly digital society, if only to design these no-code tools. On the other hand, it's clear that no-code tools meet a growing need in terms of digital design, not only for novice users but also for web developers and agencies such as ourselves.


The advantages of no code

Making web tools accessible to all

If you're an entrepreneur looking to open a business, but have no budget to invest in a website despite a pressing need, no code might be a solution for you. And if you represent a company ready to invest time and resources in an in-house digital project, but with no dev team, there's a good chance that no code is the answer. In any case, you don't need any programming skills, but simply to get to know the tools and take the time to practice. You'll then be able to create a simple website that matches your brand image.

Greater efficiency = lower costs

The traditional development process, for all its benefits in terms of freedom, security and high level of customization, requires a certain amount of time for prototyping, designing and testing. At our agency, we do love working on projects that require a big investment in development, but these projects can easily drag on for months. And the longer a project lasts, and the more technically demanding it is, the more it will cost to you. For simple needs, no code is an excellent way of speeding up design and reducing project costs.

Easily customizable and adaptable

With traditional development, it can be time-consuming and difficult to make changes to the website, depending on how it has been designed and coded. You have to call on your dev team to intervene, and that means spending more time and money.  No code represents a ready-to-use solution that can be easily adapted even after it has been released online.

 

No code for professionals too

No code platforms aren't exclusively for non-developers. An agency or freelancer would be well advised to include them in their solutions, if only to offer their clients faster, cheaper alternatives, or to integrate them into their own projects. At our agency, since we love innovation and give ourselves the freedom to explore anything that catches our eye, we've decided to offer our clients no-code development as an alternative to traditional development. In fact, we've even created our own website using Webflow!

developers developing
No-code also provides a number of benefits for development teams.



The downsides of no code

Restricted freedom of customization

Even with a highly flexible and customizable no-code tool, you're still restricted by the tool's structure. This means that you must not expect to be able to achieve everything you have in mind, unlike traditional development, which can be very permissive as long as you put the necessary resources into it. You have to operate according to the rules of no-code tools, and this is often the reason why many developers shy away from them.

Let's take the example of a simple, showcase-type website created with a CMS like WordPress. This platform already allows you to add advanced functionalities via plugins, without needing any development knowledge. If in the future you wish to add an e-commerce section, a booking feature or customer accounts, you can achieve that through available modules or, if necessary, by adding custom code. On the other hand, with a no-code platform, the special features that you may need may not have been planned or optimized!


Little control over the applications you use

This ties in with the previous section: you're totally dependent on the no-code tool you use. This means that the minute security problems or major technical issues occur on the platform, your site or application will inevitably be impacted. Most outside assistance will be useless as you're completely tied to the tool. Fortunately, most of these platforms have dedicated technical teams who keep their software up to date and respond swiftly in case of trouble.

Nocode vs. low code

As its name suggests, no code requires no programming skills to operate. Low code, just as common, shares some similarities with no code, but is designed to be used by people who have some programming experience but still want to work more efficiently and quickly.

The choice between no code and low code will therefore depend on the specific needs of the company and the project in question. No code platforms and tools are best suited to simple projects that can be carried out without programming, while low code is reserved for more complex projects requiring advanced development skills, but which can be designed more quickly using pre-built components and reusable code templates.

Most common no-code platforms

Webflow

Webflow is an online platform that lets you design, create and publish websites via its hosting space, with no programming skills required. It is mainly used by companies, designers and even developers to create modern, dynamic websites.

Thanks to its intuitive interface and drag-and-drop concept, Webflow lets you build your website with predefined elements, before customizing them. It also helps developers push customization a step further by integrating custom code.

Bubble

Bubble is a tool designed to develop web and mobile applications with no need for programming skills, thanks to its drag-and-drop feature and its intuitive visual interface. To add extra features to your application, Bubble also lets you integrate third-party APIs.

Glide

Glide is a mobile application development platform that allows companies and users of all kinds to design interactive applications thanks to its easy-to-use graphical interface. Glide is characterized by its use of Google Sheets as a database for storing application information, and automatically creates user interfaces based on this data.

Zapier

Zapier is a powerful tool capable of simplifying the automation of repetitive tasks, thanks to its integration of over 5,000 applications. Zapier provides the ability to create what are known as "zaps", or automations between these different applications, using predefined templates or creating customized workflows.

Airtable

Airtable is a database management platform that lets you create customized tables to organize information in a collaborative and flexible way. The tool offers a complete, customizable solution to manage a wide variety of data and collaborate in real time.



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