How to Decide if No Code is Right for Your Project
No-code technologies have made it possible to build an ever-increasing variety of apps without writing a single line of code. But, is no-code always the right choice for your app development needs?
Congratulations! You’ve come a long way since your epiphany moment when your idea first came to mind. You’ve played around with the idea, tinkering with it and modifying it and looking at it from all angles. Perhaps you’ve even discussed it with a few friends to see just how viable it is. Now, you’re ready to bring it to life.
The market you’re about to enter is a hugely dynamic and intensely competitive market. As you probably know already, the rapid advancements of modern tech tools mean you can now develop your app idea without writing any lines of code. You've thought about this novel way of building apps and wondered if you can take advantage of it. But is this the best route for your project?
The no-code route is undoubtedly a hugely appealing one. In general, it is faster thanks to the lack of need for multiple coders; it also costs less without any loss in performance levels. But there’s a lot more to consider before deciding on whether no-code is right for you.
In this article, we’d discuss the differences between traditional app development and no-code development, and highlight where each of these excel.
No-code development platforms work with one core premise – anyone can be a citizen developer, even without knowledge of coding/programming. These platforms provide users with visual-based systems for building functional apps by simply dragging and dropping components, plugins and other extensions.
These tools come pre-fitted with already designed templates from which you can select to fit your needs. They’re also very customizable, allowing users to upload their own pictures, message/text, and/or switch around the colors for a more unique look and feel.
Platforms like Bubble expose you to a ton of features, logic flow, and customization options that make development a fast, seamless process.
No-Code Development: Key Features
No-code platforms replace coding with a drag-and-drop visual modeling interface. This means instant access to out-of-the-box features. As you add these features to your app, you immediately see them transform your app’s look, feel, and function.
Pre-configured modules and functions are provided by no-code platforms, and can be reused across a variety of apps. This includes everything from widgets to plugins, templates, and even simple app screens.
Many no-code platforms can be used on any operating system to build apps that are able to run on any of the major operating systems. This out-of-the-box cross-platform support saves a lot of money and man-hours that would have otherwise been spent for the same result.
Traditional App Development
Traditional app development involves building an app from the ground up. Besides planning your app features and layout, you’d have to write every line of code that runs the application from scratch. This requires a lot of project hours as you contemplate code syntax and logic for every feature.
Clearly, this process is a more tasking and technical approach. Your developers must get their hands dirty with code. You’d also need to decide on – and implement – every module, tech stack, or feature needed for your application.
Traditional App Development: Key Features
Have millions of dollars and want to build the next Facebook for a specific community? You'll want traditional code to do that! Your developers can write custom code to serve virtually any purpose they can imagine. Developers can also select the most appropriate technology stack for their desired feature.
Traditional developers are in full control of their source code and tech stacks. Thus, they enjoy total control of the app’s security, architecture, etc. This is especially important when building/managing government websites or large enterprise corporation websites.
Develop complex algorithms:
Custom coding allows developers to implement complex recursive or looping algorithms to match the unique needs of their application.
No-Code Vs Traditional App Development
With the overview of each approach to development above, you probably already have an idea which would be better for your situation. Now, let’s dig in further and consider some of the differences between both approaches below.
Note that even when one approach excels over another in a particular category, that doesn’t necessarily count as a negative. Each platform has its strengths, and that’s what we’re here to explore.
1. Skill-set and Learning Curve
The learning curve for traditional development is a historically long and slow one to scale. This development approach requires expert programmers with a deep knowledge of the required programming language.
Built for citizen developers, no-code tools eliminate the need for coding in development. With many of the required components pre-built, developers using this approach only need to identify the right components for their task and put them together.
The learning curve for no-code is understandably shorter than the traditional approach. This makes it easier for product owners looking to either bootstrap their project or leverage an agency that builds using no-code to achieve the same result on a faster timeline at a fraction of the cost.
2. Time to Deployment
The traditional development process is a slow and tedious one. Extensive man-hours are spent developing and revising prototypes, identifying the right tech stacks, coding out the requirements for the application, and fixing whatever bugs arise along the line.
In contrast, no-code development is an accelerated form of development. Thanks to its ready-made templates, intuitive drag-and-drop interface, and elimination of hands-on coding, it's no stretch to say that the time taken to develop and deploy an app using no-code can be as much as 10 times shorter.
3. Development Costs
No-code development platforms are a pocket-friendly option for startups. Most of these platforms require affordable monthly subscription plans that can be as little as $25/month, or as much as $1,500 per month.
In contrast, you might need to hire an entire team of engineers for the traditional approach, with hourly rates ranging from $15 to $175 depending on your location. Or, you could outsource the project, and spend between $50k - $250k in the US.
Of course, your final costs will have a lot to do with the size and complexity of your project, as well as your individual needs. However, no-code development typically presents a cheaper alternative to traditional development while not compromising on the quality of the end product.
No-code platforms have advanced greatly since they first surfaced. Thanks to improved implementation of graphical logic flow, no-code platforms now allow for higher levels of complexity than ever before. This means you can create highly complicated apps without coding. (*note for future link to a types-of-apps-you-can-build-on-bubble article)
That said, the traditional approach offers you more freedom when it comes to complexity. Because you’d be implementing every feature from scratch, you can make them as sophisticated as you need them to be without worries of running into a technology roadblock.
5. App Quality
App development involves stitching together a variety of functionalities and features into a single app. For traditional development, this translates into writing complex code to achieve every single detail, which may result in a more pixel-perfect experience.
With every feature/template on a no-code platform already developed, developers are tasked with applying them ‘as is’ to their app. In most cases, this is just enough for their needs and allows for quick development and launch of the first version of the app.
No-code apps are easy to update and extend. They also require less work for maintenance considering the no-code platform handles maintenance themselves.
Despite these advantages, the lack of access to code means apps may be vulnerable in the event of a bug created by a software developer creating the no-code tool. This is because app owners must report every incident to the platform developers before they can be addressed. While such bugs do occur, they are the rare exception.
Custom apps tackle the above challenge by granting you direct access to support. Your dedicated engineering team can visit your code at any time to fix any issues that may arise. Unfortunately, it also means every tech update or revision has to be handled by your team, which can be extremely slow and expensive.
7. Integration and Migrations
It is generally agreed that no-code platforms offer limited integrations when compared to traditional development. But this is hardly true today. Platforms like Bubble currently allow you to integrate with many services using an authenticated/unauthenticated API call.
Which Path Should You Choose?
Your chosen path would depend a lot on the kind of project you’re handling, as well as the scope, budget, and complexity of the project. There’s no hard and fast rule about which path to use for a specific purpose. But you can use the following rule of thumb when deciding which approach is best for you.
When No-Code is Ideal
A no-code platform is ideal for:
If you’re looking to quickly develop an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) to demonstrate your idea, no-code is usually ideal. It enables you to demonstrate your product works using a low-cost, low-risk system that’s faster than custom development.
If you’re looking to quickly test out ideas and innovate on top of them very fast, no-code is an ideal solution. It saves you many development hours, allowing you to test out your ideas within weeks rather than months.
Multi-departmental businesses often benefit from automating simple processes. These employee- or partner-facing applications integrate with core internal systems to improve workflow and simplify cross-departmental operations. No-code tools ensure these apps are ready for use in no time.
Why inundate your engineering team with the building of landing pages or simple static websites when a citizen developer can learn to do the same without coding? Within just a few hours, your static website can be up and running.
When Traditional Development is Ideal
You can adopt the custom development route for:
If your app idea has never been developed before, or your app requires features and functions not regularly available, you’d be best served building from scratch using the traditional approach. A great example of this would be a feature that connects and syncs speakers on various phones to play music louder. As can be imagined, such an app would involve complexities beyond simple food ordering, processing payments, or making API calls to various services.
Although no-code has come a long way, traditional development still works best when serving millions of users. Custom development also allows you to optimize each line of code for optimal performance, to ensure smooth running of the app.
If unsure what features your app will need in the future, stick to traditional development. This would prevent a case where the feature you desire is outside the scope of your no-code platform. Instead, your developers can easily code in any new features as-needed.
Conclusion and Final Takeaway
Although some developers may still scoff at the idea, no-code platforms are very beneficial. They’re certainly ideal for understaffed, low-budget or prototype environments. But that’s not all there is to no-code development.
As with every technology that starts small and scales upwards, the possibilities on offer with no-code platforms is stratospheric. Beyond saving time and money, these platforms increasingly abstract to a wider set of use cases that make them ideal for a lot of businesses.
It should be noted, though, that your application’s capabilities and limitations when developed with no-code can ONLY be as good as your chosen platform. If you choose to go the no-code route, therefore, knowing how to select the right no-code tool for your use case is important.
Clearly, no-code development will not be doing away with traditional development – which remains ideal in many scenarios. Traditional development will remain critical to the advancement of tech into novel areas, even as no-code simplifies the development of familiar features and meets many projects’ early market entry requirements.