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7 min read

The Rise of No-Code / Low-Code Development

Key takeaways

  • No-code and low-code web development platforms allow users to create websites and apps without the need for technical coding knowledge.
  • This democratisation of web development means marketers can create and launch their products quickly and cheaply.
  • Tools offer pre-built templates and customisation options, which allow users to create personalised and high-quality customer experiences despite not using a professional developer.

No-code and low-code web devel­op­ment plat­forms have rev­o­lu­tionised the way web­sites and appli­ca­tions are devel­oped, as they have made it much eas­i­er for peo­ple with­out tra­di­tion­al cod­ing skills to get cre­at­ing. Let’s dive into what these plat­forms are, how they work, and why they are so ben­e­fi­cial for marketers:

No-code development

No-code plat­forms allow users to cre­ate soft­ware using graph­i­cal user inter­faces and con­fig­u­ra­tions instead of tra­di­tion­al com­put­er pro­gram­ming. Users can drag and drop com­po­nents to design their app or site, con­fig­ure set­tings, and cre­ate work­flows with­out writ­ing a sin­gle line of code.

This approach democ­ra­tis­es soft­ware devel­op­ment, enabling non-tech­ni­cal users to build appli­ca­tions quick­ly and with less depen­den­cy on IT depart­ments or soft­ware developers.

Low-code development

Low-code plat­forms are a step above no-code in terms of com­plex­i­ty and flex­i­bil­i­ty. They pro­vide a devel­op­ment envi­ron­ment where users can cre­ate appli­ca­tions through graph­i­cal user inter­faces com­bined with min­i­mal hand-cod­ing. This approach is designed to speed up the devel­op­ment process but still allows devel­op­ers to write code for more com­plex func­tion­al­i­ties and integrations.

A short history of no-code and low-code web development

The con­cepts of no-code and low-code web devel­op­ment have been around in var­i­ous forms for decades, but they began gain­ing sig­nif­i­cant pop­u­lar­i­ty and main­stream accep­tance in the 2010s.

The seeds of no-code and low-code devel­op­ment were plant­ed in the 1980s-1990s with the advent of rapid appli­ca­tion devel­op­ment (RAD) tools. Visu­al pro­gram­ming envi­ron­ments and

data­base man­age­ment sys­tems also had a part to play since they offered graph­i­cal inter­faces for cre­at­ing soft­ware applications.

Users were cre­at­ing appli­ca­tions with tools like Microsoft Access and Visu­al Basic, which required less cod­ing than usu­al. How­ev­er, the foun­da­tions for mod­ern no-code and low-code plat­forms were not set until the ear­ly 2000s. It was in this peri­od that plat­forms sim­pli­fied web devel­op­ment, how­ev­er, they were aimed at pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ers want­i­ng to accel­er­ate devel­op­ment (rather than non-devel­op­ers want­i­ng to start from scratch).

The sig­nif­i­cant rise in pop­u­lar­i­ty hap­pened in the 2010s. This decade was a huge turn­ing point due to sev­er­al factors:

  • The rise of cloud com­put­ing pro­vid­ed the nec­es­sary infra­struc­ture for these plat­forms to oper­ate effi­cient­ly, offer­ing scal­able solu­tions that could be accessed from anywhere.
  • The glob­al short­age of soft­ware devel­op­ers made it imper­a­tive for busi­ness­es to find alternatives.
  • Improve­ments in graph­i­cal user inter­faces (GUIs), arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence (AI), and the stan­dard­i­s­a­tion of web tech­nolo­gies enabled the devel­op­ment of more pow­er­ful and user-friend­ly no-code and low-code platforms.
  • Many plat­forms began offer­ing pre-built tem­plates, inte­gra­tions, and plu­g­ins, mak­ing it eas­i­er for novices to use these applications.

Today, no-code and low-code plat­forms are super com­mon. Busi­ness­es of all sizes lever­age these tools for a wide range of uses, from inter­nal tools and busi­ness process­es to cus­tomer-fac­ing apps and web­sites. The COVID-19 pan­dem­ic fur­ther accel­er­at­ed this trend, as organ­i­sa­tions sought to adapt to new ways of work­ing and dig­i­tal cus­tomer interactions.

The pop­u­lar­i­ty of these tools con­tin­ues to grow as the plat­forms become more sophis­ti­cat­ed, offer­ing solu­tions that are increas­ing­ly pow­er­ful, flex­i­ble, and capa­ble of address­ing com­plex devel­op­ment challenges.

Advantages and disadvantages of no-code/low-code web development

No-code and low-code devel­op­ment are recog­nised as key enablers of dig­i­tal inno­va­tion, allow­ing organ­i­sa­tions to respond quick­ly to mar­ket changes and oppor­tu­ni­ties with­out the tra­di­tion­al con­straints of soft­ware development.

How­ev­er, all inno­va­tions come with pros and cons. To get the most from their cre­ations, busi­ness own­ers and mar­keters should be aware of both the ben­e­fits and chal­lenges inevitable to these forms of development.

No-code and low-code web devel­op­ment aren’t the same thing, so their respec­tive advan­tages and dis­ad­van­tages should be con­sid­ered separately:

  Advan­tages Dis­ad­van­tages
No-code devel­op­ment Acces­si­bil­i­ty – enables non-devel­op­ers to cre­ate applications.
Speed – reduces devel­op­ment time significantly.
Cost-effi­cien­cy – can low­er costs by reduc­ing the need for expe­ri­enced soft­ware devel­op­ers for cer­tain projects.
Lim­it­ed cus­tomi­sa­tion – while high­ly flex­i­ble, there might be lim­i­ta­tions in cus­tomi­sa­tion and functionality.
Scal­a­bil­i­ty issues – some no-code plat­forms may not han­dle scal­ing to a large num­ber of users or data size well.
Low-code devel­op­ment Faster devel­op­ment – allows devel­op­ers to pro­duce appli­ca­tions quick­ly with pre-built tem­plates and drag-and-drop interfaces.
Flex­i­bil­i­ty – users can inte­grate cus­tom code, offer­ing more flex­i­bil­i­ty than no-code solutions.
Increased pro­duc­tiv­i­ty – devel­op­ers can focus on more com­plex aspects of the devel­op­ment process, automat­ing the more straight­for­ward parts.
Learn­ing curve – while eas­i­er than tra­di­tion­al devel­op­ment, there’s still a learn­ing curve to effec­tive­ly use the platform.
Poten­tial for code com­plex­i­ty – mix­ing low-code solu­tions with cus­tom code can lead to com­plex, hard-to-main­tain codebases.

How marketing professionals can benefit

Evi­dent­ly, these plat­forms have a lot to offer. But how can their advan­tages be applied?

Here, we’re look­ing at how mar­ket­ing pro­fes­sion­als specif­i­cal­ly can lever­age these tools to enhance their cam­paigns, oper­a­tions, and cus­tomer engagement:

    1. Mar­keters can quick­ly design and launch land­ing pages or microsites for spe­cif­ic cam­paigns, prod­ucts, or events with­out wait­ing for web devel­op­ment resources.
    2. No-code plat­forms enable mar­keters to eas­i­ly cre­ate per­son­alised expe­ri­ences for dif­fer­ent seg­ments of their audi­ence by cus­tomis­ing con­tent, offers, and inter­ac­tions based on user data.
    3. By using no-code and low-code plat­forms, mar­ket­ing depart­ments can exe­cute many dig­i­tal projects in-house with­out the con­stant need for IT or exter­nal devel­op­er resources, lead­ing to sig­nif­i­cant cost savings.
    4. The sav­ings achieved by using these plat­forms can be real­lo­cat­ed to oth­er crit­i­cal areas, such as ad spend, con­tent cre­ation, or mar­ket research.
    5. Mar­keters can use no-code tools to quick­ly pro­to­type new ideas for apps, tools, or web func­tion­al­i­ties and test them in the mar­ket, allow­ing them to be more agile.
    6. Feed­back can be swift­ly incor­po­rat­ed into designs or func­tion­al­i­ties with­out going through lengthy devel­op­ment cycles, allow­ing for more agile and respon­sive mar­ket­ing tactics.
    7. Plat­forms like Airtable and Zapi­er facil­i­tate the col­lec­tion and inte­gra­tion of data from var­i­ous sources (web­site inter­ac­tions, CRM, social media, etc.), enabling mar­keters to analyse cus­tomer behav­iour and cam­paign per­for­mance more effec­tive­ly.
  1. Automat­ing repet­i­tive tasks (e.g., email cam­paigns, social media posts, lead qual­i­fi­ca­tion) frees up time for strate­gic plan­ning and cre­ative work.
  2. No-code plat­forms allow mar­keters to main­tain brand con­sis­ten­cy across mul­ti­ple chan­nels by using tem­plates and design tools that align with their brand­ing guidelines.
  3. Mar­keters can quick­ly update con­tent and pro­mo­tions across their web­sites, mobile apps, and oth­er dig­i­tal plat­forms to ensure time­ly and rel­e­vant cus­tomer communication.
  4. By democ­ra­tis­ing the abil­i­ty to cre­ate and man­age dig­i­tal assets, no-code and low-code plat­forms empow­er mar­keters to bring their cre­ative ideas to life with­out tech­ni­cal barriers.

In sum­ma­ry, no-code and low-code plat­forms offer mar­ket­ing pro­fes­sion­als the tools to be more autonomous, agile, and cre­ative. By enabling rapid devel­op­ment, cus­tomi­sa­tion, and deploy­ment of dig­i­tal projects, these plat­forms help mar­keters respond quick­ly to mar­ket trends, engage cus­tomers more effec­tive­ly, and achieve bet­ter results with few­er resources.

The most com­mon uses of no-code and low-code devel­op­ment include busi­ness process appli­ca­tions (e.g., CRM sys­tems and inven­to­ry man­age­ment), web­sites and e‑commerce plat­forms, and mobile apps.

How it works

Cre­at­ing a web­site or appli­ca­tion as a mar­keter with­out tech­ni­cal knowl­edge is entire­ly fea­si­ble today. These plat­forms are designed with sim­plic­i­ty and intu­itive­ness in mind, allow­ing you to bring your dig­i­tal projects to life with­out writ­ing code. But how do they real­ly work?

Cre­ative results are made pos­si­ble through the fea­tures offered by these plat­forms. These are what allow users to design web­sites, shop­ping plat­forms, and apps with­out tech­ni­cal knowledge:

1. Templates

These plat­forms offer a wide range of pre-designed tem­plates that serve as the foun­da­tion for your project. Tem­plates are tai­lored for var­i­ous pur­pos­es and indus­tries, such as blogs, online shops, port­fo­lios, and busi­ness sites.

Tem­plates come with pre-designed lay­outs and design ele­ments that you can customise.

2. Drag-and-drop interfaces

Drag-and-drop inter­faces are fun­da­men­tal to these devel­op­ment plat­forms, let­ting you visu­al­ly con­struct your web­site or app and sim­ply drag ele­ments onto your can­vas. This intu­itive design process could include text box­es, images, but­tons, and oth­er inter­ac­tive elements.

Most impor­tant­ly, this fea­ture elim­i­nates the need for cod­ing, because design choic­es are made on the front end.

3. Customisations

Cus­tomi­sa­tion options allow you to mod­i­fy the tem­plates to fit your brand­ing. This includes chang­ing colours, fonts, and lay­outs, and adding your logo and images to make the design unique to your brand.

Beyond visu­al ele­ments, many plat­forms also offer cus­tomi­sa­tion for func­tion­al­i­ties. This means you can add or remove fea­tures, inte­grate third-par­ty ser­vices, and adjust set­tings to meet your spe­cif­ic requirements.

How to carry out your no-code/low-code project

By now you’re prob­a­bly think­ing of all the excit­ing things you can make with these easy-to-use plat­forms. To give you a good idea of what’s involved, read our step-by-step guide:

Step 1: define your project goals and requirements

  • Deter­mine whether you’re build­ing a web­site, e‑commerce plat­form, mobile app, or a spe­cif­ic busi­ness tool.
  • List the fea­tures your project needs, such as forms, inte­gra­tion with email mar­ket­ing tools, pay­ment gate­ways, etc.
  • Have a basic idea of the design and user expe­ri­ence you want to cre­ate. Sketch­ing out a sim­ple wire­frame can be help­ful for this step.

Step 2: choose a platform

Depend­ing on your project type, dif­fer­ent plat­forms might suit your needs better:

For web­sites and e‑commerce:

  • Wix: Offers intu­itive drag-and-drop func­tion­al­i­ty, tem­plates, and exten­sive app inte­gra­tions. Wix is ide­al for build­ing pro­fes­sion­al web­sites with­out any coding.
  • Square­space: Known for its sleek tem­plates and all-in-one solu­tions for build­ing beau­ti­ful web­sites, port­fo­lios, or online stores.
  • Shopi­fy: The go-to plat­form for e‑commerce, pro­vid­ing every­thing you need to cre­ate an online store, man­age inven­to­ry, and process payments.

For mobile apps:

  • Ada­lo: Allows you to cre­ate mobile apps with a drag-and-drop inter­face. It’s great for build­ing both iOS and Android apps with­out coding.
  • Bub­ble: While it’s pri­mar­i­ly used for web appli­ca­tions, Bub­ble also offers the flex­i­bil­i­ty to cre­ate mobile-friend­ly lay­outs and func­tion­al­i­ties that can be wrapped into a mobile app.

For busi­ness tools and automation:

  • Zapi­er: Per­fect for automat­ing work­flows and con­nect­ing your app or web­site to oth­er ser­vices with­out coding.
  • Airtable: Acts as a data­base to man­age your pro­jec­t’s data but with a spread­sheet’s sim­plic­i­ty. It can inte­grate seam­less­ly with oth­er no-code tools to add back­end functionalities.

Step 3: design and build

Use the plat­for­m’s tem­plates as a start­ing point and cus­tomise them to match your brand’s iden­ti­ty. Pre­pare your con­tent, includ­ing text, images, and videos. Many plat­forms offer stock images and design ele­ments, but per­son­alised con­tent always stands out.

Build your prod­uct with the use of the fea­tures we men­tioned ear­li­er (tem­plates, cus­tomi­sa­tions, and drag-and-drop interfaces).

Step 4: test and optimise

Use the plat­for­m’s pre­view fea­ture to test your web­site or app on dif­fer­ent devices and browsers. It might be ben­e­fi­cial to gath­er feed­back from poten­tial users or stake­hold­ers and make adjust­ments as necessary.

Don’t for­get to utilise built-in SEO tools to opti­mise your site or app for search engines. This should include opti­mis­ing load­ing times and navigation.

Step 5: launch, promote, and monitor your product

Once every­thing is pol­ished and test­ed, it’s time to launch. Fol­low the plat­for­m’s guide­lines to pub­lish your site or dis­trib­ute your app. Pro­mote your new site or app through your usu­al mar­ket­ing chan­nels (e.g., social media and email mar­ket­ing) as you nor­mal­ly would.

Once your prod­uct has been oper­a­tional for a few weeks or months, you’ll want to use the plat­for­m’s ana­lyt­ics tools to mon­i­tor its per­for­mance. (You should be able to inte­grate your own ana­lyt­ics tools if you wish.)

If things come up and you want to update your pro­duc­t’s con­tent or func­tion­al­i­ties, the no-code or low-code devel­op­ment plat­form you’ve cho­sen is like­ly to allow for that very easily.

Final thoughts

No-code and low-code devel­op­ment plat­forms offer promis­ing solu­tions to reduce the com­plex­i­ty, time, and cost of soft­ware devel­op­ment. By choos­ing the right plat­form and lever­ag­ing its fea­tures to the fullest, you can cre­ate pro­fes­sion­al, func­tion­al, and engag­ing dig­i­tal prod­ucts as a mar­keter. These inno­v­a­tive devel­op­ment tools real­ly are a game-chang­er, so don’t be afraid to aim high with your new projects.

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