How much does no-code development cost?
Money talks, and often pretty loudly. Here's what to know when it comes to pricing.
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So how much is this actually going to cost? As much as we’d love to answer that with a definitive figure, there are a few things to think about here. Read on for the lowdown.
No matter how clear the benefits of no-code to you and your business might seem, ultimately cost is always likely to be the critical factor – whether you’re the decision-maker, or you need to make the argument to other people in your organisation. Fundamentally: is committing to developing your software in no-code going to make economic sense compared to the other options? And how do you make sure that you don’t end up with a huge bill that costs you more than it’s worth?
The cost compared to other options
• Building software
Aside from learning to code and building the software yourself (something that would take a minimum of 4-6 months realistically), the most logical route here would be to hire a team of developers and engineers to build the software for you. As you’re no doubt aware, those professions are pretty in demand at the moment – hard to get hold of and consequently pretty expensive. And if you’re looking to build something sizeable from scratch, you’ll likely need to enlist the help of a team of developers too. No-code platforms, on the other hand, are designed to be used by one or two people who are working closely together. That means a significantly reduced cost for people.
But let’s say you do find a team of developers to take on the job. Because you have a lot less insight into what they’re doing, it’s very common for projects to overrun and for a business to go way over budget. It’s a bit like having your car repaired – costs can quickly spiral because you don’t know what you do and don’t need. Anyone who’s worked at an enterprise level will know it’s very easy to spend $50-100k on development just to get things moving. Using no-code, you can build multiple different apps for that kind of cash.
• Running your software
The challenges, of course, don’t quite stop once you’ve worked out how you’re going to build your software. There are other decisions to take too. What server are you going to host the app on? What database are you going to use for your data? How will you set that up? Then there’s the actual running of the software itself: maintenance, building new features, security audits and testing for bugs. There’s going to be an ongoing cost for a developer to essentially keep the app running smoothly.
A lot of those costs and problems are taken care of by no-code platforms. Not because they don’t exist, but because if you’re running your software with a no-code platform, there are people at that company whose job it is to look after that. These tools have dedicated expertise devoted to aspects like security, databases and servers. The only concern you have is building out the actual functionality of your app and making it work. That cuts out a huge percentage of the costs of the average development project.
The cost of no-code tools
So what about the actual cost of no-code tools themselves? Well… it’s complicated.
Compared to most SaaS platforms (like Zoom, Mailchimp and Slack), no-code tools are more expensive. That’s because they tend to be more complex, harder to maintain and require more support. They also tend to make (or save) you or your business money, which justifies that higher price point.
At a small business level, you can expect to pay anywhere between $50-200 a month. That can be a significant cost for a small business or individual if you’re using numerous tools.
At an enterprise level, plans for most no-code tools tend to start at around $60k a year – and can run up to north of a million depending on the capabilities you need or how many users (aka “seats”) you need within your organisation. It’s worth noting that negotiation is pretty common at the enterprise level. The key thing is to make sure that the platform you’re talking with is aligned with how you want to use their tool.
What to look out for
1. How the tool is priced
No-code tools are typically priced in two different ways: price per user or price per app. Price per user is the most common type of pricing and basically means there’s a cost for each additional team member who has access to using the platform. That’s normally relatively affordable for a large organisation.
The other pricing plan though, price per app, is something you need to look out for. It basically means if you end up creating 5 different apps on that one platform, you would have to pay for each person on each app. That can obviously get costly pretty quickly but may be economical when you have a handful of important apps, each with many users. With either route, the question you’ll have to be asking is: is this going to be cost-effective for the business to actually make sense?
2. Different pricing tiers
Most no-code tools have a free tier for you to mess around with. The no-code tool wants you to successfully build an app on their platform so you’re able to see enough value that you’ll actually pay for it. It’s pretty rare for a no-code tool to charge you money before you’ve had an opportunity to see what they can offer.
At the enterprise level, more common is something called a paid POC. That stands for ‘proof of concept’ which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. You’ll pay the no-code platform a nominal amount of cash, like $5-10k, and they’ll help you build an app, train up a few people in your team, and show you how to get value out of the platform. Sometimes they’ll even do this for free.
3. The small print
Those hidden details matter because extra charges are quite common with no-code tools. With Adalo, for example, there’s a storage charge that you can easily run into as you grow. Or with the automation tool Zapier, there’s a maximum number of ‘zaps’ you can create with specific plans. It’s common to think you can just wait for more users before you have to upgrade your plan, but often the key functionalities you need are unlocked by upgrading to different plans. So always dig into the details.
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