There once was a time in the not-so-distant past where the construction of web applications was limited to experienced programmers. However, nowadays, with the rise of “no-code” software, website creation, workflow automation, app building, and so many more virtual opportunities are available to everyone regardless of their technological background.
So, what exactly does “no-code” mean?
Essentially, no-code tools are alternatives to traditional programming languages. These tools allow anyone to build a web app, website, database, etc. without having to write actual code.
In fact, a recent study by McKinsey found that organizations that empower citizen developers (AKA organizers that democratize programming but opting for no-code methods of developments) score 33% higher on measures of innovation as opposed to those who do not.
No-code tools typically rely on a GUI (graphic user interface) to interact with users. The GUI purpose is to replace actual written code with features like clicking or drag and drop. Basically, instead of typing out lines of characters and functions, the user only has to select and arrange from a set of predetermined options or buttons. Not only are these features far more intuitive and visually appealing, but they also open the realm of web development up to non-software programmers (i.e. no machine/programming language knowledge required!).
While the simplicity of no-code tools might imply a lower degree of functionality, no-code tools are often easier to use and maintain than traditional code. Even large companies with access to software developers are still opting for no-code tools as they provide the easiest design experience without sacrificing efficiency or capability.
Where did “no-code” start (and where is it going)?
The introduction of “no-code” tools can be traced back to 1985 with the release of Microsoft Excel. However, the term itself was not coined until 2004, when Forrester defined it no-code tools as platforms that “enable rapid delivery of business applications with a minimum of hand-coding and minimal upfront investment in setup, training, and deployment.”
The present and future of “no-code” tools is focused on online accessibility and the cloud (explaining how Google Sheets has surpassed its Excel competition in terms of popularity).
More and more developers are prioritizing accessibility and collaboratoration in their no-code tools, explaining the focus on cloud-based software. This trend has only been accelerated given the COVID-19 pandemic.
In general, no-code tools are not a quick fad or trending subject, but a long-running shift in the tech industry that is only expected to grow and expand. For example, Gartner forecasts that low-code application platforms will account for 65 percent of all app development by 2024, a strong majority. For clarification, low-code tools are very similar to no-code tools except they typically require at least somewhat of a prior introduction to coding.
It may sound like a paradox, but the future of programming is really a lack thereof, as no-code tools are making anything possible.
Who are the main players?
Whether or not you realized it, you probably have heard of or worked with a variety of no-code applications already.
When it comes to no-code website development, WordPress dominates. Originally launched in 2003, WordPress now powers over one third of all websites.
Other key no-code website construction tools:
Another key product to be aware of is Shopify, the leaders in online “no-code” ecommerce tools.
Other ecommerce players:
- Checkout Page
- Big Commerce
For nearly any product you can dream up, there is a leader in the “no-code” development space designed to help you get started. For a comprehension directory of “no-code” companies, check out NoCode or Makerpad.
What can no-code do for you?
Short answer: nearly anything!
Long answer: no-code tools make software that previously required years of education and practice to master available to nearly anyone. No-code tools are perfect for individual projects and startups who are not looking to take on huge development endeavors, but even large scale organizations can greatly benefit from their utility. For example, depending on your company’s size and needs, no-code tools can also offset the need for a dedicated IT department, whose hires are often expensive and difficult to find. Creating an application using a no-code platform is nearly always quicker than building a traditional application from scratch, meaning no-code tools provide means of significant cost and time savings.
Take Dividend Finance, a multi-billion dollar financing and loans company whose web application is hosted entirely on Bubble’s platform. Or check out the numerous well-known brands that use Shopify for their online marketplace – such as Kylie Cosmetics and Tesla.
Of course, one does not need to host their entire organization on a no-code platform in order to take advantage of the tools. For example, MGH, a Toronto based hospital faced numerous redeployment problems with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Staff were being assigned and reassigned to various new positions as needed and all of such organization was taking place by hand using whiteboards and paperwork. To automate this process, they took this project to Workmap.ai and were able to create custom workflows and matching tools using the platform’s automation and database capabilities. Now, they operate with a greater level of efficiency than they were before the pandemic.
And so, even without programming experience, fancy hardware, or a team of engineers, no-code tools make nearly any project possible, the only thing required of the “developer” is a fresh idea and a little patience.