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Low-code vs. no-code app development

Learn about low-code development and the differences between low-code and no-code platforms.

What is low-code development?

Low-code development is a popular alternative to traditional software development. Professional developers as well as “citizen” or non-professional developers can use a low-code approach to create apps of varying complexity quickly and easily. Low-code solutions can also reduce the cost and time typically required for software development, making low-code development a desirable option for businesses that are looking to meet modern demands with automation and accelerate digital transformation.

Low-code definition: Low-code software development offers a simple, more accessible way for nontechnical users to build applications without requiring extensive coding.

For instance, low-code software can be created with simple interfaces and drag-and-drop features, though some coding knowledge may be necessary. These intuitive, low-code tools allow developers with minimal knowledge of software design or programming languages to build a wide variety of web and mobile applications. Low-code solutions make software development easy, even if you aren't an expert programmer. Professional developers also benefit from low-code platforms. Low-code apps are faster and easier to build and have a lower maintenance burden than traditionally coded apps.

What is a low-code platform?

Low-code platforms are a great way for individuals with some coding knowledge to create custom applications. Experience in programming or technical writing is useful for customising low-code apps. Yet, even without that experience, the graphical user interfaces used by low-code development platforms make it easy for professional developers and citizen developers alike to build custom applications since low-code platforms eliminate the need to write code from scratch.

With low-code development platforms, IT and business professionals can create applications using visual building tools instead of only code-first programming. The user interface of a low-code platform is often made up of components that users can drag-and-drop to design the app they want. Using a low-code development platform means that frontend and backend code can be delivered more quickly. This approach to development allows citizen developers who don't have deep developer expertise to contribute their work towards app creation.

While low-code platforms are a valuable alternative to building apps with code-first approach, some of these platforms do require basic coding skills. Still, since low-code development doesn’t require extensive coding, anyone in an organisation can build web and mobile applications provided they have the time, interest, and at least some technical aptitude. Additionally, even though maintenance for low-code apps is less demanding than for traditionally coded apps, developers still need to have time for some ongoing maintenance support. Finally, developers—professional or citizen—should also have a thorough understanding of how the app will be used to further the organisation’s mission, support its business priorities, and integrate into current workflows.

The good news is that low-code platforms often include tutorials, educational materials, and other user support via a built-in resource library, making them a solid option for organisations that don't have access to professional developers or that need to reduce app development time and costs.

Benefits of low-code development platforms

There’s no doubt that low-code development is quickly becoming an integral part of the business world. Now that we’ve explored what a low-code development platform is and what’s required to use one, let’s look at some of its primary benefits.

Low-code platforms can help your organisation:

  • Save time. Since essentially anyone in your organisation can play a role in low-code development, you can accelerate the process rather than waiting for those with coding expertise to have time to dedicate to the app.
  • Boost developer productivity. Low-code platforms streamline app development, ultimately making teams more productive. Developers might trade off a little bit of programming flexibility for increased efficiency, but low-code platforms free up their time so they can focus on projects that require more extensive coding.
  • Reduce costs. Using low-code platforms to create apps is a great way for businesses to reduce costs by working with existing staff and citizen developers rather than hiring new developers or outsourcing development work.
  • Become more flexible. Maintenance, updates, and enhancements come with the app development territory. The good news is that low-code platforms make changes easy since the need to write code is lower. If professional developers aren’t available when changes need to be made, others on your team can easily step in and help.
  • Fill talent gaps. Low-code platforms play a key role in the evolving business landscape as they allow non-technical employees to build apps. This means that low-code development can help organisations fill talent gaps by allowing those without coding or programming experience to take part in developing web and mobile applications.
  • Accelerate digital transformation. Businesses must keep pace with consumer and user demands—that includes providing convenient, functional web and mobile apps. Low-code development reduces the traditional app development burden, helping your organisation accelerate digital transformation.

Low-code platforms are great for empowering employees that don't have technical app-building skills, but they also make an excellent choice if you have professional developers on staff. Plus, low-code app development is designed for internal teams, so you could save money by keeping the process in-house instead of hiring external developers or working with a third-party solution.

Ultimately, low-code app development can help your business boost profitability. Maintaining control over what's happening with software creation helps ensure that all requirements and deadlines are met, which leads to increased efficiency—and therefore cost reduction—across every aspect of development.

What is no-code?

There are many ways to get your application from idea to launch, but one that's often overlooked is using a no-code approach. No-code solutions allow even non-developers to take an existing concept to production quickly, with minimal time and resources. No-code development means you can get your web or mobile app in front of customers faster.

In other words, no-code development means that practically anyone at your organisation can build apps that work with an organisation’s current infrastructure and fit into existing workflows—no matter their technical skillset or level of expertise. Zero coding knowledge is required to take on no-code app development, making it a great solution for businesses that need to utilise non-technical, in-house talent for simple web and mobile application projects.

What is a no-code platform?

How is it possible that anyone on your team can create apps? By using a no-code platform, organisations can build and launch apps using visual building blocks and simple, intuitive user interfaces rather than coding languages. A no-code app builder often uses drag-and-drop functionality and other graphical building tools to streamline development and make it accessible for a wide variety of users.

Benefits of no-code development

No-code platforms are gaining popularity among organisations of all sizes and across industries. Is no–code development the right approach for your business? The key advantages of using no-code development to launch an app are:

  • You can take your idea from start to finish in less time and with fewer resources than would be required if built with code or outsourced to professional developers.
  • Using no-code platforms can increase employee productivity and reduce costs.
  • Functionality and design are more changeable with less effort than code-first approach.
  • No-code solutions also make developing software much more accessible for small businesses who are looking for ways to gain a competitive edge in the market.

Limitations of no-code development

While no-code development is an attractive option for businesses big and small, it does have its limitations. For instance, you could find yourself frustrated by rigid templates. Some of the drawbacks of using a no-code approach include:

  • No-code platforms don’t have as much flexibility as traditional coding or low-code, meaning you may not be able to build an app that meets a very specific set of needs and expectations.
  • App builders without professional development experience might not have a clear understanding of what makes a great user experience, nor the time commitment required to maintain and update an app.
  • Security can be a concern with no-code platforms since you don’t maintain control of your code and are potentially subject to platform vulnerabilities.

No-code platforms enable non-technical people from across your organisation to create and launch apps—often in less time and with fewer costs. Still, you might run into development and security hurdles given the lack of control and flexibility.

What is the difference between low-code and no-code?

Now that you have more information about low-code and no-code platforms, how can you decide which option is best for you? There are a lot of similarities between the two, but some minor differences are important to consider.

Let’s look at a comparison of both methods.

Low-code vs. no-code: Benefits

Pros of low-code development

  • People with minimal coding experience can use a low-code approach to build and launch apps.
  • Increases productivity by streamlining app development.
  • Reduces costs since apps can be built in-house with minimal coding know-how.
  • Uses visual building tools that may require minimal backend code.
  • Organisations can maintain some flexibility with app customisation and updates.

Pros of no-code development

  • People with zero coding skills can use no-code development to build and launch apps.
  • Increases productivity by streamlining app development.
  • Reduces costs since apps can be built in-house with zero coding know-how.
  • Uses visual building tools that require zero backend code.
  • Build and launch apps quickly and easily to get in front of customers fast.

Low-code vs. no-code: Drawbacks

Cons of low-code development

  • Basic coding skills—or access to someone with coding skills—may be necessary to develop web and mobile apps.
  • Security can be a concern for less advanced platforms without comprehensive security and governance in place.
  • Costs could be greater than no-code development if coding talent is required to complete an app.

Cons of no-code development

  • Rigid templates mean app customisation and flexibility could be limited.
  • Security can be a concern if the no-code platform becomes vulnerable.
  • App builders without professional development experience could overlook important user experience considerations.

Low-code and no-code platforms can be useful for different purposes. A low-code platform is most often used by IT professionals with some coding skills to create custom applications, while no-code platforms typically allow business users without any knowledge of how coding works to address their own development needs.

Ultimately, whether you choose a low-code or no-code platform for your web and mobile apps depends on a variety of factors, including access to talent, budget considerations, how quickly you want to launch, and how much time your business can dedicate to app development.

As the popularity of low-code and no-code development grows, more low-code solutions are emerging to help organisations build their own applications in-house.

What can you build with low-code tools?

  1. Customer experience apps. Today, customers expect easy-to-use and well-functioning mobile apps that enable self-service and customer interaction.
  2. Productivity apps. These applications help reduce manual tasks, automate processes, and streamline workflows—enabling your organisation to boost operational efficiencies and lower costs.
  3. Employee management apps. Enable centralised schedule management, payroll and benefits administration, and workplace communications.
  4. Line of business apps. With a low-code platform, you can easily migrate outdated apps and simplify process automation.
  5. Employee engagement apps. Measure team engagement, track employee satisfaction, and gain insights that empower your organisation to improve workplace experience.

Low-code and no-code platforms allow businesses to modernise existing applications or create and launch new apps quickly. If you’re considering this approach, there are many companies that offer platforms for building web and mobile apps without extensive coding.

Additionally, many enterprise technology companies have low-code solutions with rich functionality that support low-code software and application development.

Get started with low-code app development

Explore solutions that can help you get started, such as Microsoft Power Apps. Power Apps makes it easy to rapidly build and share professional-grade low-code applications. With a drag-and-drop user interface and prebuilt user experience components, it’s fast and simple to create your apps and then easily deploy them across iOS, Android, Windows, and the web.

Frequently asked questions

What does low-code and no-code mean?

Low-code and no-code software development offers a simple, more accessible way for nontechnical users to build applications without requiring extensive coding. A popular alternative to traditional software development, professional developers, as well as non-professional developers, can use low-code and no-code platforms to create apps of varying complexity quickly and easily.

Is low-code and no-code the future?

Since low-code and no-code development make app creation more accessible to non-technical developers, it will play a significant role in the future of product development. A low-code or no-code approach can also reduce the cost and time typically required for software development, making low-code and no-code app development a desirable option for businesses that are looking to meet modern demands with automation and accelerate digital transformation. However, low-code and no-code platforms will not replace expert coders and traditional developers since they are typically limited to templates that lack flexibility and scalability. Plus, some low-code development platforms require professional coding to complete or customise the application.

What is the difference between low-code and no-code?

There are a lot of similarities between low-code and no-code development, but some minor differences are important to consider. The primary difference is that low-code development requires some custom coding, whereas no-code development doesn’t require any coding. Because of this distinction, low-code development necessitates access to technical talent and, potentially, a bigger budget. No-code development means quickly creating and launching applications without technical know-how, but this comes at the cost of customisation since no-code solutions often use rigid templates.

Is no-code better than low-code?

Whether a no-code approach is better than a low-code approach depends on your specific application development needs and requirements. No-code development typically allows business users without any knowledge of how coding works to address their own app development needs, while low-code development is most often used by IT professionals with some coding skills to create custom applications.