Code, Low-Code & No-Code: Best Approach For App Development
In their haste to compete with others in their market space or gain the first-to-market advantage, we often see start-ups and developing businesses turn to low-code and no-code solutions as low-cost alternatives for mobile app development. These code-light tools seem like a great option for business owners or design and marketing teams who don’t have experience building apps in code, but are the results worth it?
In this article, we’ll give you the rundown on low-code and no-code app development and explain which one is worth your time if you want to develop a mobile app (here’s a clue: it’s neither of them).
What are low-code and no-code solutions to mobile app development?
Low-code and no-code solutions refer to visual platforms that use drag-and-drop features to make app building possible for learners, beginning developers, and people without coding experience.
Low-code and no-code platforms function and present similarly to website page builders. Low-code mobile app development platforms require a level of coding knowledge because they allow users the opportunity to hand-code certain elements to applications.
If you’re a developer moving into mobile apps or interested in changing career direction, take a look at our articles Mobile App Development Trends to Look Out for in 2023 and What Is the Future of Mobile App Development?
What is low-code mobile app development?
Low-code development is, as the name suggests, an approach to app development that does not rely heavily on writing code. This means people with a limited or basic understanding of app development can create apps without needing to write any code from scratch.
Personas: Who May Use Low-Code Solutions?
- Marketing Specialist: A marketing specialist looking to create a custom mobile app to support a promotional campaign might utilise a low-code platform to quickly develop the app with the necessary features without needing extensive programming knowledge.
- UX/UI Designer: A UX/UI designer working on a mobile app project might turn to a low-code solution to transform their visual designs into a functional prototype, allowing them to iterate on the design and user experience more efficient.
- In-House IT Professional: An in-house IT professional tasked with creating an internal app for their company may use a low-code platform to streamline the development process, reducing the time and resources required for the project.
- Non-Profit Organization Leader: A non-profit organization leader seeking to develop a cost-effective app for their cause might choose a low-code solution to create a functional app with limited technical expertise and budget constraints.
- Educational Professional: An educator or school administrator looking to create a custom app for their school or classroom might leverage a low-code platform to develop an app that meets their specific needs without requiring a deep understanding of programming.
Popular Low-Code Tools in 2023
- OutSystems: OutSystems is a leading low-code platform that enables users to create enterprise-grade applications quickly and efficiently. It offers a visual development environment, pre-built templates, and integration capabilities to streamline the app development process.
- Appian: Appian is a prominent low-code tool that focuses on helping businesses build process automation and workflow management applications. With its intuitive interface, users can design, develop, and deploy powerful apps with minimal coding experience.
- Mendix: Mendix is a robust low-code platform that caters to a wide range of industries, including finance, healthcare, and manufacturing. Its visual development approach and built-in collaboration features make it easy for teams to create, test, and deploy high-quality applications.
- Microsoft Power Apps: Microsoft Power Apps is a versatile low-code platform that enables users to create custom business applications that integrate seamlessly with the Microsoft ecosystem. Its drag-and-drop interface and robust set of pre-built components empower users to build apps with minimal coding knowledge.
- Creatio (formerly bpm'online): Creatio is a popular low-code platform designed for building CRM and process automation applications. It offers an extensive library of pre-built templates and components, allowing users to create and deploy apps quickly while maintaining a high level of customization.
These low-code tools have gained widespread popularity in 2023 due to their ease of use, versatility, and efficiency, enabling businesses and individuals to develop functional applications with limited programming expertise.
If you’re a developer moving into mobile apps or interested in changing career direction, take a look at our articles.
What is no-code app development?
If you wanted to develop a mobile app without coding anything at all, you might turn your hand to a no-code mobile app solution; we’ll explain later on why you shouldn’t, though!
No-code app development refers to the use of drag-and-drop app builder tools that present you with app options and components via a GUI (graphical user interface) that is easy for laypersons to understand.
What does that mean? Any non-technical person who has used a page builder on WordPress or Craft CMS knows how easy it is to create the page they have in their imagination with easy-to-understand content blocks to choose from and put together. However, Craft CMS tends to require more custom development and is less well-suited to complete novices. A no-code app development platform is very similar.
Personas: Who May Use No-Code Solutions?
- Start-up Founder: A start-up founder looking to validate their business idea might use a low-code platform to create a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to test the market and gather user feedback.
- Product Manager: A product manager seeking to prototype a new feature for an existing app quickly might turn to a no-code solution to iterate on their concept and gather user insights rapidly.
- Small Business Owner: A small business owner looking to create a simple app for their brick-and-mortar store might utilize a no-code platform to save time and money during the development process.
Popular No-Code Tools in 2023
- Bubble: Bubble is a leading no-code platform that enables users to create web and mobile applications without writing any code. Its visual editor and vast library of pre-built elements and plugins make it easy to design and deploy feature-rich applications.
- Adalo: Adalo is a user-friendly no-code tool that allows users to build and launch mobile apps with ease. Its drag-and-drop interface, built-in templates, and extensive component library empower users to create visually appealing and functional apps without any coding knowledge.
- Glide: Glide is a popular no-code platform designed for creating mobile apps from Google Sheets data. It offers a simple interface and a variety of templates, making it easy for users to build data-driven apps without writing any code.
- Webflow: Webflow is a powerful no-code web design and development tool that allows users to create responsive websites and web applications without coding. Its visual editor, pre-built components, and CSS grid-based layout system enable users to create custom designs with ease.
- Wix App Builder: Wix App Builder is a no-code app development tool by the popular website builder Wix. It enables users to create mobile apps for iOS and Android devices using a drag-and-drop editor and a wide selection of pre-built templates and components.
These no-code tools are well-regarded in 2023 for their simplicity, user-friendly interfaces, and ability to empower non-developers to create functional applications without the need for coding expertise.
Pros and Cons of Low-code and no-code solutions
Low-Code and No-Code
What are coded apps?
Full-code apps offer the highest level of customisation, control, and scalability. They are the ideal choice for businesses seeking a tailored solution that can handle complex requirements and meet specific objectives. With full-code applications, developers have access to a broad array of programming languages and frameworks, enabling them to craft a unique mobile app that aligns perfectly with the client's brand and vision.
Our take on low-code and no-code mobile apps
You might be suspicious when a mobile app development agency finishes off an article about platforms that let people with no coding experience create apps of their own by saying they should be avoided at all costs.
It’s true. We can’t, in good faith, recommend low-code and no-code mobile app solutions if you want an app that works properly in a responsive, secure, and enjoyable way. While these DIY solutions might seem tempting, especially to start-ups and small businesses, they simply aren’t made to produce commercial-level quality apps.
With their limited security, out-of-the-box elements and functionality options, and dependency on the platforms they’re created on, low-code and no-code tools are best suited to validation projects. Certainly, anyone recommending them for banking, eCommerce, or data-collecting apps should be treated with hesitation.
We go as far as we need to produce the right solutions for our clients, and that involves bespoke mobile app coding to tailor-make experiences that do exactly what they need. But we do use low-code platforms in some cases.
Prototyping for early-stage start-ups that need to get an app off the ground or gain market feedback quickly and have a considerably tight budget.
Testing and market validation.
Training for start-ups and early-stage businesses (using and managing their apps).
We always recommend a professionally developed app as the final commercial product. If, however, you fall into one of the above categories and want to discuss how no-code solutions could benefit your project, book a discovery session to find out how we can help.
If you own a start-up or an early-stage business and you want an app but you’re worried about committing, take a look at some of our guides and resources. We try to explain all the important things business owners need to know about app development and answer the questions we hear the most.