NoCode is increasing the choices available in the market. Data-driven application creations are no longer require multifaceted teams anymore.
The current NoCode movement is not new to the information technology. Instead, It's an evolution, and the field of focus is changing from one period to another.
The basic premise of the NoCode is building technology solutions that enable consumers to satisfy digital needs without expending effort to assemble the team and write codes. In that context, such technology and services are in existence for decades now, even before this so-called NoCode.
Looking back into history, we are in the third-generation of evolution. And this innovation is around the delivery mechanism of this technology to end consumers.
Phase I - Packaged solutions
In the early days, enterprise information technology was in focus, and companies like SAP and Oracle started offering packaged software products to run the business operations.
These products are designed and developed with universal best practices and business rules adopted in any given industry. Hence, the user of this application can configure to differentiate their business needs within the limited flexibility allowed as out of the box solutions.
And, this type of products and delivery mechanism exist today in the enterprise side of the business world.
Phase II - Cloud computing and SAAS
Then, the next revolution and evolution came in the form of cloud computing. And the product introduced was software as a solution (SaaS).
With the advancement in technology and the reach of mobile computing, this time, both businesses and consumers were targetted. These solutions tailored to solve a variety of business problems and personal needs. And this new era was let by some new entrants to the field likes of Salesforce, Adobe, Intuit, to name a few.
However, the only commonality among two-phases is that to use applications; you need configuration with data according to individual needs. In most cases, without writing a single line of codes, you can put these applications to use to run the business or address personal life digital technology needs.
Phase III - Visual development
This current abstraction of digital product development has been associated with the term NoCode and pushed by the evangelist as a NoCode movement.
On the back of the previous ones, this new phase of evolution has taken digital product development out of software companies and hand it over to the consumers, for both business and individual uses.
To support this abstraction and uncompromising web app creation, these new waves of modern technology companies have developed some sophisticated visual technology tools to manage all aspects of digital app development.
With the NoCode tools available in the market today, you can create front-end and back-end applications with any level of requirement complexity. And some companies offering dedicated services which have the mechanism to connect internal and external third-party applications through pure configurations.
Unlike the previous phases, this new breed of companies targeting specific use-cases in the marketplace. And, in some cases, offering compelling alternatives.
- For small and medium businesses, Digital identity app development.
- Addressing the dynamic needs of business functions, like Marketing and sales, and satisfy their customer-facing needs in the digital world.
- Internal workflow tools and repetitive task automation.
- Finally, personal websites and blogs - with the ability to monetize the contents.
How to approach this NoCode Movement?
Although NoCode removed the technology barrier, for any business or individuals, it should not be the method of digital development by default.
Merely, during product selection, NoCode is increasing the choices available in the market. Still, just like before, any individual needs have to be assessed for product fit analysis. Before deciding one method versus another, various parameters evaluated for cost benefits and project scope suitability.
Before we look at the parameters level comparison, let's see the choices available in the market. This analysis will help us compare and contrast options against individual benchmarks.
Today, NoCode solutions are available in two different forms.
- First, fully developed and Ready To Use applications.
- Second, design and Build Your Own with the visual interface technology tools.
Ready To Use
These fully developed applications come as ready to buy and use either as a subscription or on-premise installation. Out of the box and ready to use applications follows the delivery mechanism similar to cloud apps, also known as software as a service model.
When such an application is available as open-source, and choose to install on your own, then the cost of the initial investment is minimum. And ongoing cost commitment is multiple times cheaper than going along with the subscription model.
Some of the popular products.
Content Management - WordPress, Ghost
eCommerce - Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCoomerce
Community - Discuss, BuddyPress
Build Your Own
This NoCode is making available all the tools and knowledge to get familiar with the user interface and get the best of NoCode products.
And, each one of them is having a passionate group of people creating a community around the products and making it easier to adopt for the newcomers. For businesses, this community allows them to onboard the tools with little initial investment. And, in return, it gains the ability to design and create digital apps according to their specifications.
Front-end UI - Webflow, Squarespace
Membership - Memberstack, MemberSpace
Back-end apps - Bubble, AirTable, Coda
API Integration - Zapier, NoCode API
Workflow Tools - ParaBola, ReTool
Email - MailerLite
Native Apps - Glide
Headless CMS - Strapi
How to do comparative analysis among NoCode alternatives?
The primary benchmark that can separate and present a sharp contrast among applications is the cost factor. Each tool you have added into the mix to realize your end product is going to increase the outlay cost and ongoing commitment inevitably.
Let's look at multiple scenarios and understand how they fared when we measure one technology option against another.
Scenario - Developing Business / Personal Website
Webflow and Theme customization or Custom development
Theme customization or Custom development
Cost - The initial investment for turnkey design and development or Theme cost and modification service cost.
Hosting - Max five-dollar with 1 Gb ram, 100 GB space, and 1000 GB transfer. This capacity is more than enough for small businesses with reasonable traffic to the website.
Ongoing Cost - This cost commitment is limited to server hosting in the cloud.
Modification - most of the businesses and their marketing needs demands a generous amount of frequent changes to their website. Such demand fulfillment comes at a cost; either company must have an in-house team with skillsets or having some agency on retainer to support this.
Creation flexibility - visual development has eliminated the code barrier. And, any individual with proficiency in the computer can learn this skill and start to create and customize the applications.
NoCode means customer-facing teams like marketing will be given access to this tool and empowered to support their campaign needs.
And the in-house business function team can modify the websites to experiment strategies and produce business results quickly without depending on technical team support.
Cost - When the business needs are not that much dynamic, and digital identity only serves the purpose of supplying static information about aspects of business and contact details.
NoCode is prohibitively expensive; compare to alternate, it will cost more than double.
Scenario - Developing Content Management System
WordPress, Ghost vs. Webflow, MemberStack
WordPress and Ghost
Plug and Play - These CMS applications are in development for more than decades. And, it comes with the unparallel maturity level to support all aspects of content publication.
It has in-built solutions that effectively address search engine optimization and workflow needs of content planning, writing, and scheduling.
Cost - both of them are available as open-source, and hosting these applications in the cloud will cost you five dollars per month.
Here, assuming that the resource available at the five-dollar level is sufficient enough to support your audience. However, when the demands come, you can quickly increase the resource needs with the click of a button.
Membership - With Ghost, this CMS designed to support publishers to monetize their content without depending on showing the intrusive Ads.
Using applications like Ghost means user account management and processing payment with your credit card processing company is available out of the box. And, to enable this, it's required simple configuration at the back-end without the need to write any code.
Presentation - without the technical knowledge, content presentation in the front-end UI is limited to the template available to purchase in the market.
Presentation - No limitation in presenting the content and visual composure allows you to experiment comfortably with variation without the technical knowledge.
Assembly - Here is the problem starts with NoCode, at least for now, that to realize the solution similar to Ghost requires you to access tools from multiple vendors. Each one of such requirement variation will jack up the overall cost to operate.
Ongoing cost - The more your requirement branch out beyond content presentation and monetization, the more tools you have to consider to bolt-on with an existing application, and it will cost more every month.
Cost inflation - Today, your outlay cost for maintaining the subscription may be within tolerance, but that will quickly get changed when the provider decides to increase the asking price. In that case, you have to put up with additional expenses or looking at the possibility of recreating those tools to avoid an increase in provider tax.
Scenario - Data-driven application
Strapi versus Bubble
Data-driven applications are not the same comparison as the previous ones. Maybe here, the NoCode option will appear as a better option than the alternative.
Because the Strapi - headless CMS is not the plug and play end to end. There is going to a considerable amount of effort and investment involved with front-end app development.
On the contrary, you can accomplish an end to end solution without writing code using tools like Bubble.
Plug and play back-end solutions with Rest API enabled to access data from any internet applications.
The need to design and develop front-end apps involves investment. And this development has to match with the design of objects and data structure configured in the Strapi back-end.
The Bubble has end to end solution and data-structure driven digital app development. Allow you to embrace the NoCode paradigm fully.
Faster to market - business can design and develop their ideas into real-world applications in days rather than months involving a team of employees.
Iterate frequently and incorporate user feedback into product development. And achieve product-market fit faster, if not, pivot if required.
Learning - It's not easy to approach initially with complex app editor interface. But, once you have got the level of familiarity, then you have a world of flexibility on your hand. You can create any kind of features with Bubble.
Cost - similar to other NoCode projects, the cost commitment is problematic. The Bubble is no different. However, when all things considered, developing such a data-driven application using alternate methods involve more cost and time than NoCode.
Maybe, in this case, your individual needs may have better business and financial evidence to decide on the NoCode approach than turnkey development.