What is no-code development?

No-code development is a codeless approach to building software, allowing non-technical business users to create their own working applications.

The terms low-code and no-code are sometimes used interchangeably in business. But the reality is that they represent two different approaches to application development.

What is low-code?

Although similar in purpose to the more widely-used low-code approach, no-code development actually takes things a step further. Low-code development is designed to provide easy-to-use coding solutions, allowing less-technically trained users to work within a platform, using pre-built templates and drag-and-drop elements to rapidly develop custom applications. It allows them to get a head start on projects by configuring settings and leveraging pre-built components, instead of needing to build everything from scratch using code. Junior-level developers and business analysts are also able to take advantage by contributing more tp projects then they would otherwise be able to.

However, at some point it does require some limited knowledge of coding to ensure full functionality. Low-code still provides a number of advantages over hand coding, such as shortcuts that take developers past the framework and testing phases, and directly into building the app. But at the end of the day, someone with at least a basic understanding of coding will need to polish up and finalize the project.

No-code

No-code is exactly what it claims to be: a development approach for people with absolutely no coding experience. It goes beyond simply providing shortcuts, and instead uses declarative programming to build applications based on user inputs. In other words, no-code development allows you to skip coding entirely, telling the system what you need, and then allowing the system to build the application itself.

Like low-code, a no-code platform will likely also include pre-built functionality in the form of drag-and-drop tools and a highly-visual, user-friendly interface, but the major difference is that it allows users to build apps from start to finish, without ever having to implement a single line of code. No-code is all about the citizen developer being able to create simple but effective apps on their own to automate more of the business. No-code is about configuration over code.

Essentially, low-code targets developers, while no-code targets business users.

No-code development in businesses offers a number of advantages over hand-coding.

Increased business understanding

No code allows stakeholders that know the business, the business processes, and the business-user experience requirements better than anyone, to be in a position to create apps that best address those requirements. This results in better app functionality and improved user experience.

Graphic displaying some of the benefits of no-code development

Automate business processes

Traditional coding depends on a large number of manual tasks. No-code development streamlines these essential, yet time-consuming responsibilities. This not only promotes faster development and increased productivity, but it also allows for improved visibility and tracking of the processes themselves.

Accelerate your application development

No-code significantly cuts down on the time investment in creating new applications. By automating key processes and providing complete, modular functionality, no-code development makes it possible to create even complicated, enterprise-level apps in a matter of weeks or days—and simpler apps may only take hours. No code developers are also able to self-service their own apps instead of waiting on traditional IT app dev teams. This means increased productivity and better agility to respond to emergent needs.

Do more with less

Professional developers can focus their skills and time on high value tasks. No-coders can get projects started and the pro coders can selectively step in to do the 'finish' work. At the same time, rather than fielding entire development teams, businesses can provide individual citizen developers with tools and resources when necessary to create professional applications. This also allows in-house experts to focus their energies on other vital responsibilities.

Simplify changes

Changing key aspects of an application by hand is complex and time consuming. No-code makes it simple, allowing users to easily implement new logic using intuitive controls. Rather than having to write a hundred lines of code to implement a simple change, a no-code solution might use a simple pull-down menu. In no time, you can update or alter your apps to better service your business and your customers, impacting accessibility, testing, risk, and more.

Connect the enterprise

By making app development available to everyone in the organization, you can connect different departments and levels like never before. Those with the clearest understanding of the business need can build the app on their terms, rather than trying to explain their vision to a separate development team. And when it comes time to integrate other capabilities associated with other areas of the organization, responsibilities can be delegated to relevant stakeholders.

Modernize the user experience

Effective no-code platforms incorporate the most up-to-date frameworks, designed to provide exceptional experiences for end users. Working within these frameworks, you can focus on meeting specific requirements, secure in the knowledge that your users will enjoy a fully modern experience.

Scale app delivery

As your enterprise grows, so does its need for applications. No-code empowers businesses to keep up with this need, inaugurating new citizen developers to create new app-solutions at scale. As long as you have people who understand the need and the function of a desired app, no-code development gives you the tools to make it happen.

Reduce expenses

Taking into account improved productivity, increased efficiency, and reduced development-team bloat, perhaps the biggest advantage of no-code development is cost. No-code simplifies and democratizes the entire app-building process, allowing for better applications delivered faster, at less cost than traditional development.

While no-code development has the capacity to change nearly every aspect of business, it most directly affects three specific groups:

Citizen developers

No-code provides citizen developers with a simple and intuitive environment in which to build applications. Using guided templates and pre-built assets, non-technical professionals can design the applications they need. They can also easily revisit applications to implement important changes, without having to involve busy IT or development teams.

IT operations

No-code may seem like an attempt to cut IT out of the app-development loop, but that’s simply not the case. In fact, no-code development empowers IT with the ability to easily conduct health checks and enforce guardrails on the development process. IT has to deploy and manage apps created across the enterprise. With less complexity, which is characteristic of a no code platform, IT can more easily gain end-to-end visibility into how apps are performing and any operational impacts or disruptions they may be contributing.

Pro developers

When citizen developers are able to build their own apps, what does that leave for professional developers to do? Experienced developers can turn their attention away from traditional app building, and instead dedicate more of their time towards building high-value components.

The advantages offered by no-code make it an ideal solution for a range of use cases:

Startups

New businesses without the resources or demand to establish a development department can remain competitive by creating viable products on limited funding.

Quick-to-market applications

Emergent market gaps require fast action. Organizations who want to take advantage of emergent situations can use no-code development to help establish themselves in the market quickly.

Proofs of concept

Not every application needs to be fully polished and ready for the public. When you need a prototype to help demonstrate a particular concept or test out a product-market fit, no-code development is a fast and reliable solution.

Knowledge management

In all likelihood, the people within your organization have demonstrated a range of talents, skills, and expertise. Share that knowledge across your company. No-code for knowledge management means that anyone can optimize workflows and business processes based on their own experiences.

The extent of what you can build with no-code depends heavily on your choice of platform. That said, some of the most-common and effective application-types to come out of no-code development include the following:

  • Back-office
    Gather, analyze, and apply data insights with customized back-office applications designed in compliance with your existing workflows.
  • Web applications
    Optimize your online presence with highly functional, exceptionally easy-to-build web applications. No-code development allows you to bridge the gap between back- and front-end systems, implementing custom branding, widgets, check-out functionality, and more.
  • Mobile applications
    Give users powerful applications, optimized for the mobile experience. No-code development platforms include mobile-specific tools and components, so you can create the apps that users will want to keep with them at all times.

Given the ease of low- and no-code solutions, some can’t help but wonder if professional developers are becoming obsolete. But while no-code may open up app development to nearly everyone, it still can’t take the place of professional experience.

Professional developers with an innate knowledge of coding will always be needed for developing complex components, implementing truly custom ideas, exploring new coding capabilities, and even building and maintaining low- and no-code platforms. In fact, professional developers benefit from no-code development, because it allows them to be more efficient in applying their knowledge towards the complex problems that only they can solve.

Huge demand for applications has inspired many organizations to grow capacity even further with citizen developer resources on no-code platforms. ServiceNow Creator Workflows offers a single, simple platform environment where citizen developers can quickly be empowered with pre-built templates and easy-to-use low code tools. This same single environment can optimize multi-skill collaborations among developers with varying levels of experience. No- and low- code builders can assemble, and reuse components built by professional developers to both accelerate delivery times and promote standardized experiences—regardless of the development source.

To avoid any negative impacts to the operational integrity of the business, Creator Workflows provides a safe development environment that removes complexity and risk. Novice users are only exposed to features and components that are battle-tested and well-governed, to ensure consistent standards for high quality and compliance across all necessary enterprise requirements.

ServiceNow empowers organizations with no- and low-code solutions. See what these solutions can do for you.

 

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