What is no-code?
As the name suggests, it’s a way of creating things without writing a single line of code.
No-code is not new. In his article “The Rise of No Code”, the founder of Product Hunt mentions the tool Dreamweaver, created in 1997. This website editor operated on the principle of WYSIWYG (“what you see is what you get”). It means that, when the user built his website, he was able to see the result immediately.
The 2000s saw the birth of content management systems (CMS): Wordpress (2001), Squarespace (2004), Shopify and Wix (2006). Almost twenty years later, these tools occupy an important place in the digital landscape. According to a study by W3Techs, proudly displayed by Wordpress on its home page, 36% of websites were created with Wordpress.
In the 2010s, the “no-code movement” really took off. Its flagship companies were born: Bubble, Zapier and Airtable (2012), Webflow (2013). And they now have the means to achieve their ambitions: in 2019, Bubble and Webflow raised 6.25 and 72 million dollars respectively.
What can we create with no-code tools?
It’s not uncommon for the terms “no-code” and “automation” to be associated. And for a good reason: it’s possible, thanks to tools like Zapier, to automate repetitive tasks and thus improve productivity. For example, if you connect Typeform, Zapier and Trello, you can automate the following process: when a user fills in your Typeform form, this immediately creates a new card in your Trello board.
The advantages of no-code tools
No-code tools are a giant step towards the democratization of the creation of web and mobile applications. It has never been easier to create.
As a developer, I am convinced that not all projects require my services.
You are a hairdresser and you want to create a website where your customers can book and pay for an appointment in advance? Why not connect Typeform, Calendly and PayPal? You would save time and money.
For larger projects, you will certainly need developers. However, no-code tools can get you started as they allow you to quickly test your idea at a lower cost. On this subject, we often cite the example of Comet, the French web platform which connects companies with freelancers. In season 1 episode 2 of Koudetat Talks, the CEO of Comet explains how his business went from 0 to 500,000 € of monthly business volume without writing a single line of code.
My use of no-code tools
Today, when I’m offered to create a web application for a client, my first reflex is to think about a no-code solution.
Can no-code tools meet the specific needs of my client?
If the answer is no, we start thinking about a “from scratch” solution.
If the answer is yes, we determine together the most suitable combination of no-code tools. If we choose a group of interconnected applications (such as Typeform, Calendly and PayPal), I will be able to help my client in the implementation of the solution. Same thing for Shopify and Glide, which I often use.
However, if we choose to build a web application with Bubble or Webflow, I will have to direct my client to a freelancer who is specialized in no-code (sometimes called “Fullstack No Code Engineer”), or else advise him to learn how to use the tool in order to build the solution himself.
However, no-code doesn’t mean no-work: Bubble and Webflow in particular require a learning period. You will not be able to create your platform in 1 hour as it’s the case with Glide. But, once you’re used to it, the possibilities of creation will be very wide. According to Emmanuel Straschnov, co-founder of Bubble, its users can create a complex website, like Airbnb, in just two days.
I’m not specialized in no-code tools but I regularly use them. Above all, I like the philosophy underlying the no-code movement: giving everyone the opportunity to create something. I believe that the lowering of technological barriers increases the creativity of individuals. Those who didn’t dare, for lack of budget or lack of technical skills, can now unleash their creativity.