If you're confused about no-code vs. low-code application development and wonder which one is right for your business... join the club.
The line between these two methods is blurring as no-code development tools become more robust and low-code platforms get more user-friendly.
Each option has its pros and cons and different use cases. Here’s what you need to know to choose the right tool for your business.
What Is No-Code?
A no-code development platform allows business users (i.e., citizen developers) to create applications without any manual coding experience. You can drag and drop various elements into logical sequences to create mobile or web applications with visual development tools.
What Is Low-Code?
A low-code platform combines manual coding and no-code tools to help software developers and business users with some coding knowledge increase the development speed. Like no-code development, low-code uses visual modeling via a drag-and-drop interface to streamline the development process.
No-Code vs. Low-Code: Similarities, Differences, Pros and Cons
Both no-code and low-code speed up software development cycles, shorten time to market, and increase agility by leveraging visual integrated development environments (IDEs) to build applications.
Unlike traditional development processes, builders can use pre-written modules as building blocks, so they don’t have to write each line of code from scratch. No-code and low-code help increase productivity, streamline app development, and minimize coding errors.
While low-code still requires some programming skills, no-code doesn’t. Citizen developers can create business applications without writing a single line code or knowing any programming language to solve a specific business problem.
Professional developers are still involved in no-code development to oversee deployment, security, and governance. But they spend much less time on the process than low-code development because they don't have to write any code.
Here are the pros and cons of no-code vs. low-code:
The Pros and Cons of No-Code
No-code allows business users to develop apps to solve well-defined problems in a matter of hours. They don’t have to submit a ticket and wait days, if not weeks, for the IT department to respond (and even longer to deliver.)
Since these citizen developers are familiar with the business challenges, they have the insights to devise solutions that align with the company’s strategic requirements and objectives. It gives business users the ability to address immediate needs without straining IT resources.
However, no-code development without proper oversight and governance can cause shadow IT. The results can lead to security challenges, integration problems, compliance concerns, and performance issues.
You can’t conduct automated testing with no-code solutions (i.e., testing thousands of permutations in minutes by writing a simple script.) Most business users simply test the “happy path” manually, which often prevents them from catching issues with edge cases.
The Pros and Cons of Low-Code
Low-code application platforms allow developers to build more customized and sophisticated applications with a more flexible and scalable architecture and comprehensive component libraries to support a broader range of complex use cases.
These platforms also have more capabilities to control security processes, data integration, and deployment. While automated testing for low-code solutions is still maturing, there are more options to run tests efficiently and address edge cases more effectively.
However, low-code tools still require coding skills and DevOps experience, so you’d need to hire coders or use internal IT resources to build the applications. It may take time for developers to understand the business problem before starting development.
Low-code platforms may not meet the scalability, quality, and performance requirements of enterprise apps, which are often best approached with a traditional development process. Some companies have experienced vendor lock-in when using low-code development platforms.
No-Code vs. Low-Code: Which One Is Right For My Business?
Both no-code and low-code platforms offer many benefits, so there’s no right or wrong answer to what’s the best option. Your choice will depend on the use cases and your business needs.
No-code is a good option if you have a sizable IT backlog and employees are eager to roll up their sleeves to solve business process management problems. It drives organizational innovation by giving every employee the opportunity to put their creative ideas into action or streamline workflows with process automation.
Meanwhile, low-code may be a better choice if you already have a team of developers and want to help them build faster. It offers the tools to facilitate digital transformation initiatives by building business- and consumer-grade apps.
Here are some use cases to illustrate when to choose no-code vs. low-code app development:
No-Code Use Cases
- Accounting and billing: Automate repetitive and error-prone manual business processes to reduce costs, improve performance, and deliver a better customer experience.
- Data management and business intelligence (BI) reporting: Visualize raw data and transform them into actionable insights to support real-time decision-making.
- Customer relationship management (CRM) systems: Connect customers’ interaction with your company via different channels to support sales, marketing, and service.
- Minimum viable product (MVP): Experiment with product ideas and features to understand customer needs and identify issues.
Low-Code Use Cases
- Prototyping: Integrate innovative third-party technologies, such as AI, machine learning, cryptocurrency, and facial recognition, to experiment with new functionalities.
- Streamlined development: Use pre-built front-end design to create applications quickly without compromising user experience, adoption rates, or brand integrity.
- Legacy system modernization: Update current architectures with microservices, containers, component-based development, etc., for mission-critical applications.
Empower Your Business Users With No-Code Development
Robust no-code platforms, such as Glide, make the technology an increasingly viable option for many use cases to create apps faster and cheaper with fewer constraints.
When choosing a no-code development platform, look for a vendor that offers straightforward and transparent pricing. For example, some providers let you build the software for free but charge you a high hosting fee when you want to publish the app.
Also, consider security features, such as data access control using pre-approved email addresses or role-based access. Meanwhile, the platform should allow you to scale up to accommodate many users quickly, and the vendor should be responsible for fixing any issues if the application crashes.
Read the small print about legal authority or ownership over the source code of the apps created by your users to avoid vendor lock-in. For example, when you build an app on Glide, you own the app—you don't have to worry about any “source code.”
Glide also has an extensive template library to help you create great-looking applications without wrangling with tricky visual editors. Meanwhile, you can rest assured that data is synced perfectly in real-time, so changes to your information are reflected in the app and vice versa.
With Glide, you can pick a spreadsheet or template, customize your app, and publish it instantly to the web with just a few clicks.
Ready to experience the power of no-code technology? Get started for free on Glide.