As soon as Google became a verb, having a website became a basic necessity. If your company didn’t have one, it was almost as if you didn’t exist. That’s even more true today.
Still, twenty years ago, building a static website was not a cheap or easy task—unless you had a friend that happened to be a code developer. A site with dynamic or manageable content was even harder to accomplish. That all started to change in 2003, when WordPress came on the scene. Though setting up a WordPress website did require some technical expertise, the platform certainly made website building more accessible.
Soon after came Squarespace and Wix, great examples of low-code (or, some would argue, no-code) website development platforms—those that help you build a site with little to no coding knowledge.
Some people worried that these platforms would put web developers out of work, but it didn’t happen. Why? Because companies can’t succeed without differentiating themselves from their competitors and innovating. Custom needs need custom solutions and, by extension, custom code development.
Low-code app development platforms follow the trend
A similar shift is now occurring with mobile and web applications as low-code application development platforms (LCAPs) are on the rise. The low-code technology market is expected to reach $13.8 billion in 2021, a 22.6% increase in just one year according to Gartner. Google Trends also demonstrates increased global interest.
Platforms such as OutSystems, Appian and Mendix are making app building much more accessible, helping accelerate digital transformation and adaptation by companies with lesser needs and resources. Again, as the LCAP market grows, so does concern for our fellow developers’ employment prospects. However, just as we still have web developers, I am 100% sure we’ll still need app developers.
LCAPs are not ideal for every business or every business stage. If your goal is to put something out there as fast as possible to level the playfield, low-code might be a good option. However, if you are setting aggressive growth targets or need to continuously differentiate to stay ahead of your competitors, an LCAP might not give you the flexibility or ability to innovate to get you where you need to be, and may end up costing a lot more than opting for custom code from the outset.
“These platforms aren’t necessarily out-of-the-box solutions…you’ll still need to invest some time into training your team to use them, which means you might not want to say goodbye to your development team just yet. Plus, they often have limitations when it comes to customizations. The drag-and-drop approach uses templates and boilerplate code to help users develop apps quickly. Those who need a more customized solution might still need to use traditional high-code platforms.”
At FATFREE, we’ve seen firsthand how low-code can become an issue down the line, as we’re frequently faced with the challenge of scaling up or completely rebuilding WordPress, Wix and Squarespace websites due to unforeseen limitations. We’re now encountering the same with mobile and web applications. Clients regularly need to scale or shift to a custom solution as a program is successful, especially if the app is tied to their innovation initiatives.
There’s no wrong choice, as long as it’s made strategically, with all the pros and cons in mind. No-code and low-code certainly have their place, and can often be integrated with high-code features to build in greater customization. And we’re happy to help you figure out what’s best for where your business stands and where it’s going, then build the best, most sustainable solution to achieve your goals.