Low-code vs no-code: What's the difference and what's all the hype?

Low-code vs no-code: What's the difference and what's all the hype? 

Once upon a time, the idea of building a digital product was an uphill battle for non-technical founders and entrepreneurs. 

It required taking care of developer interviews, creating tech specs, and, of course, having the funds to pay for it all. 

Back then, the idea of launching a website or SaaS platform as a solo founder meant one of three things: you had a lot of skill, a lot of time, or a lot of money. This high barrier to entry meant that some of the best ideas for digital products were never given a chance to shine. 

Today, that’s all changed.

With no-code and low-code development, practically anyone can build websites and SaaS platforms from scratch affordably and scalably. But what do these two terms actually mean, and what’s the difference? Beyond that, how do you get started?

Buckle up, because here’s everything you need to know. 

What is no-code?

When you think of building a desktop or mobile app from scratch, you probably imagine the need for writing endless lines of code, testing them, tweaking them, then testing again. 

For many years, that’s exactly what software development was. But no-code has changed everything.

Rather than being hand-coded, no-code development allows non-technical people to leverage visual editors with drag-and-drop tools to build applications in real-time. No-code development removes the layer of abstraction between the code underlying the app and the user interface. In this way, it allows founders to build their own software solutions visually and in an environment reminiscent of PhotoShop. 

Simply put: if you can imagine it visually, you can create it. 

Webflow, web design tool

What is low-code?

Low-code is similar to no-code, but with slightly less automation and slightly more freedom of design. 

A low-code development platform will generally include the same visual editor and drag-and-drop creation tools as its no-code counterpart, but will also include specific areas where hand-coding can be used to add or enhance functionality

Low-code is essentially a framework which streamlines some of the more repetitive areas of software development while retaining the customisability that hand-coding can bring. 

It’s a solid balance between both worlds, making it ideal for developers looking to speed up their development cycle. 

The difference between no-code and low-code

While similar in terms of output (a fully operational piece of software, ideally), no-code and low-code development tools do have several differences. 

Here are the biggest differences between no-code and low-code development:

  • No-code is generally targeted at non-technical users, meaning it’s often more user-friendly, at least at a high level.

  • Low-code is usually targeted towards users with more of a technical background, or even software developers who want to skip the more mundane aspects of the development process.

  • No-code platforms usually operate as a closed ecosystem, meaning any customisations a user makes will keep working no matter what. With low-code, the introduction of hand-coded elements means version-to-version compatibility isn’t always guaranteed.

  • No-code platforms are often targeted to specific business use cases, such as website or database building. Low-code, on the other hand, has a wider scope with the promise of custom tweaks for each customer. 

Should you choose no-code or low-code?

Whether you’re trying to take your side-hustle to the next level or you’re building a business from scratch, you’re probably wondering which is better: no-code or low-code. 

The truth is that only you will know the answer to this one. What we can say, however, is that you should carefully consider the scope and requirements of your project.

Review the available no-code options and align them with your business concept — is there a good fit? If so, you can probably daisy-chain a few of these to build your MVP. On the other hand, if you can see a piece of functionality which will need a more custom approach, low-code might be just your cup of tea. 

Why no-code and low-code matter so much

Want to know how to tell if something really matters to people? If it’s referred to as a “movement”. And that’s precisely what’s happened with the no-code movement

But why all the fuss? What is it that’s so great about this new approach to digital product development? In truth, it’s all about levelling the playing field. 

As mentioned in the intro, the requirements for developing a viable product from scratch even just 10 years ago were far higher. 

Today, it’s possible to build a working prototype using a single platform, like Bubble, or by using several different no-code / low-code tools together: Airtable for your customer database, Webflow for your website, Mailchimp for your email campaigns, and so on. 

No-Code tools

If that’s not convincing enough, here are 3 more reasons why no-code and low-code are transforming the world of online business:

  1. Agility and speed-to-market. The world is faster-paced than ever before, and entrepreneurs need to respond to that with fast launches and even faster changes. With no-code / low-code, they can deploy changes in minutes which would previously have taken days to complete.

  2. A level playing field. With no-code / low-code ideas which would previously have never seen the light of day can now be given a chance to find an audience. Even if founders only use these platforms for their MVPs, such platforms give them a jumping-off point to create a successful business — without the need to bring in a technical team.

  3. Lower deployment costs. Both no-code and low-code platforms offer transparent pricing, usually on a subscription basis, making them orders of magnitude more affordable than hiring an entire development team. 

Ready to build something new? Here’s what to do next

Not sure where to go next? We’re here to help.

Another big plus on the side of no-code / low-code is the sheer amount of support available out there for founders, entrepreneurs, and dreamers. With so much help and instruction on how best to leverage no-code / low-code platforms, what have you got to lose?

To take the next step in your journey today, we recommend starting with the “Learn” section of the Nocode.Tech website

From there, the sky’s the limit.


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