One popular school of thought is that no-code tools don’t really work at scale – that they’re great for creating basic versions of your app (MVPs), but struggle as your business and number of users grow. Let’s put that idea to bed.
TL;DR: No-code tools very rarely struggle with an increased number of users and the security and infrastructure you need. And by the time you’ve reached the limits of what you can do, you’ll naturally have reached the position to build something new anyway.
What exactly is meant by scale?
The term scale is a pretty vague one, so it’s helpful to first define it in this context. When implementing no-code tools, the key concerns people have in regard to scaling are:
Their app being able to withstand an increasing number of users (and those users taking more and more actions within the app).
The typical stuff that tends to go wrong as you get bigger: from needing more security to data requests to the strains on infrastructure.
The ability to build more features into your app and for your users to be able to do more things.
The ability of more people in your team to work on the app you’ve built and collaborate on it.
Let’s tackle them one by one.
Is the number of users a problem?
Though it differs from platform to platform, a general rule is that the apps you can create on most no-code tools are capable of dealing with far more users (doing far more actions) than you’d expect. No-code tools very rarely fail because of the number of users. As a way of example, there’s a bank that runs its mobile banking app on no-code tool Backendless.
How about the app’s infrastructure and security?
The benefit of using a no-code tool is that you’re using a platform that has a team of people that are completely dedicated to scaling your app (and everyone else’s) on the same infrastructure. The challenges of looking after that are not your problem or concern – they’re taken care of.
The same goes for security. There’s going to be an entire team dedicated to looking after the security of your app. They’re experts at what they do – it’s pretty rare for no-code platforms to be hacked. In many ways, it’s harder to have security problems using no-code tools.
One thing that is worth thinking about is where the platform you choose actually hosts your data (eg, is that in the US or EU?). This comes down to whether it matters for your specific business. For example, if you’re dealing with sensitive data, you’ll likely need to ensure that whatever tool you opt for is HIPAA compliant.
What if you want to build out loads of features?
Okay, this is where things do get complicated. Reaching a limit on what you can do with your app, and the features you can build is definitely possible.
For example, let’s take Twitter as an example. At its most basic level, someone creates a Tweet and posts it. A no-code tool can handle that just fine. But let’s say you want to add in advertising, videos, Twitter spaces, microphone functionality, note-taking… that adds complexities that a no-code tool is unlikely to be able to handle.
If you’re building a simple app with set features, it’s not going to be a problem no matter how large your business gets. But it may be that you reach a natural limit in terms of the design control you have. That’s where you’ll need to find a new solution – but if that’s the case, the situation of your business will have changed a lot anyway, and probably for the better.
How about the number of team members who can use it?
Another area where no-code tools do have their limitations is in terms of the number of people within your team who can work on building the app simultaneously.
Generally, no-code tools are not made with a huge amount of team features (a few tools like Webflow and Xano notwithstanding). The support for team and collaborative working on the apps is not quite there in the way it is with actually writing code, for example, with solutions like GitHub.com. Though that is likely to change in the future.
What’s the takeaway?
A lot of the problems or limitations around scaling with no-code tools will only become issues when the situation of your business changes significantly.
If you’re creating a consumer-facing app, it’ll probably be at least semi-successful, meaning you’re likely to have more resources to scale further or move to an actual codebase.
You’ll have far more expertise in building and using no-code apps.
You’ll likely be ready to do a redesign of your app anyway (otherwise you probably wouldn’t be moving off that no-code platform in the first place).
It’s a concern that’s so far down the line that, ultimately, it’s not worth worrying about. The app you’ve built using no-code tools will have driven enough value to the business, and a natural development will make sense anyway.