As app development gets more and more prolific new tools are emerging all the time, aimed at making the development of apps more straightforward and quicker. At first, these were limited, and as enthusiasts of great user experiences that solve new and exciting problems, we turned up our nose a bit.
But, times have changed. The tech has developed, and now these rapid development or NoCode tools provide some fantastic advantages in specific use cases.
I will give a quick lowdown on where we see great promise for these tools and where we see their sweet spot at the moment.
NoCode tools allow those of us without actual software development capability to build apps. Some focus on simple content presentation, while others are highly functional and complex.
The handy ones still require some very technical understanding and capability, but they are capable of some great functionality in the right hands.
Not for everyone
Before we sing their praises any further, let's take a look at their constraints:
Limited customisation - These tools, in effect, give you a menu of items to choose from. This makes it easy to configure it your way by choosing your own unique meal form the menu. It does mean, though, that it is not specific to all your needs and expectations. It is limited. Each one may be limited in different ways. The more functional NoCode tools tend to have less visually appealing features, while beautiful designs will be limited on functionality.
Extension - As you learn to use your app, you will want to make changes and add more features. This will become increasingly hard. The very flexibility that makes them easy to build also makes them hard to keep developing. Eventually, there will be a point that continuing to grow the app will become cost-prohibitive or impossible.
User Experience - Custom software allows you to have complete control of the user's experience as they engage with your app. NoCode tools, though, are not able to provide such flexibility. This means you will have to compromise some experience for the user.
Some big pros
At Oxogen, we focus on providing a fantastic user experience while also creating solutions that can grow and develop with our clients. So NoCode solutions seem to be a counter to our values. Yes and No. In many, perhaps most, situations, that is true, but there are some use cases( I will share later) that the user is better served by accepting these compromises. These are driven by NoCode's key advantages:
Speed - NoCode solutions are fast to build. Where custom software can take weeks and months to make, a NoCode solution can be ready in days. This speed gives great advantages in the right situation.
Cost - Partly a function of being quick, the cost of development, making changes and managing NoCode solutions can be very reasonable. This makes it very attractive.
Iteration - It is easy to make changes to your app. When we begin to use and see others using our app, we learn what works and what doesn't very quickly. We can then update or app for everyone straight away.
NoCode in the real world
I mentioned there are use cases that NoCode options are ideal for. Some situations need speed over polish, budget over flexibility.
Proof of concept - When testing ideas, the most straightforward methods are the best. Sketches, wireframes etc., all provide quick and cheap ways of testing ideas. Sometimes though, testing simulated experiences isn't enough. We need to go deeper and offer some real functionality. This can be expensive to code from scratch, and you risk building something that may get thrown away. Using NoCode tools gives a quick and cheap way to test something that actually functions — giving you a platform to learn from and make cheap mistakes before you commit to developing the software.
First release - Sometimes, we need to get your app out quickly. Testing user reaction, getting a foothold in the market quickly, bringing in revenue are all great reasons to accelerate development with NoCode tools. The speed and cost of development mean you can begin seeing revenue generation faster. Once you have proven your concept's commercial possibilities, then plans can be made for creating a custom app that is all yours and will stand you in good stead for the long term.
Internal tools - when the users are limited, as is the case for building apps to support your internal business operations, it can be cost-prohibitive to create these from scratch. No point spending more than you will save after all! NoCode solutions provide a way to quickly benefit your operation without the need for costly custom software.
There is something very pleasing about solving a solution efficiently, and applying these tools to the right projects at the right time, knowing that we have saved our client's money and time, is immensely satisfying.
NoCode tools are a great resource. They need to be applied for the right reasons; otherwise, they can handcuff you rather than push you on. Used with consideration and purpose, they are a very cost-effective way to make progress in your initiative.