The Uses and Limitations of Low-code Development

September 19, 2022
Development

The most regularly cited reasons for startups failing relates to a business or founder running out of money, and failing to secure investment to continue or sustain the growth of the company. 

We’ve seen many founders spend a lot of money on formal development contracts only to find out that their business idea isn't fireproof enough to attract users, investors, or generate a viable income. 

A simple way around this is making use of low-code development tools to validate a concept quickly, before investing time and money into a formal development project. 

In this blog, we delve a bit deeper into the concept of low-code development and how different tools can help new businesses to validate their ideas effectively, before investing in the build of a scalable system and committing to a formal development contract. 

The rise of low-code Development

Around five years ago, tools like Wix, Shopify, and WebFlow (to name a few) became the new industry standard for quickly building a website that could conceivably become a profitable business. By making this process so accessible and easy to use (for example through drag and drop functionality), the need for a business owner to have any technical understanding of development frameworks traditionally used to build websites, has effectively been removed. 

Low-code vs. No-code

Today, new tools like Bubble.io and Adalo are coming to light that allows creators far more powerful functionality (e.g. building functional native or progressive web apps) with the same accessibility and ease of use we have become accustomed to having available on platforms like Wix. 

Some of these tools require absolutely no coding (no-code tools), while others require (or allow for) manipulation of and writing of customized code (low-code). 

No-code tools typically allow for less creative freedom, as the developer only has pre-designed elements to choose from when dragging and dropping items onto their system (this limits the look and functionality of a system). In contrast, low-code platforms offer more freedom to manipulate elements and build unique systems. 

When we recently asked a seasoned developer for his take on the uses and limitations of low-code platforms, he noted: “...low- or no-code tools make building the easy stuff (features) easier, and the hard things impossible…”.

This response does encapsulate the fundamental fact that these tools will never be able to replace traditional development completely, and are often only a good option to build simple projects or to validate a concept, in order to gain initial user feedback or raise investment for the full system development project. This is the true value that these tools offer.

What to use and why…

At Specno, we largely work with Bubble.io and Adalo when it comes to no- or low-code tools. 

When it comes to choosing a provider, it is often worth considering more than how important it is for your business to be able to look under the hood, and build some functionality yourself, rather than leveraging existing technology in a unique way in order to enable your solution. 

Bubble.io

Bubble.io is an incredibly no-code powerful tool, with a very wide range of elements that can extend to great functionality. It “can do more things” without any coding requirements (at least in comparison to a platform like Adalo). 

Bubble.io is also a very large and well-supported business, with an active community who are continually creating plug-ins to extend the functionality of the core feature set offered by the main provider. 

This means that (depending on your business idea) it might be faster and cheaper to build a minimum viable product (MVP) using Bubble, because of how much has already been created for a developer to play with. For projects that don’t require the build of completely new technology or heavy calculations on the backend of the solution, this tool will be a good choice.

Adalo

Adalo, in contrast to Bubble.io, does allow for easier manipulation of elements as it is a low-code tool. 

This platform will allow a creator more freedom when it comes to the design of an application and will facilitate the creation of more intricate features better than Bubble would be able to. 

This is particularly important if a business owner wants to validate the core functionality of their business idea, which another platform like Bubble does not support (i.e. when creating, iterating on, and validating new technology). 

Low-code development can open many doors for a product before it is even properly built. It allows founders to validate and iterate on their ideas before investing in formal development contracts to build scalable systems. 

If you have an idea or concept that needs validation, your best bet is to work with a technical co-founder who has extensive knowledge of low-code development and how it can be utilized to build MVPs. 

Of course, if you're still not sure if your idea needs to go through concept validation or if you should make use of low-code development before committing to a formal development contract, our team would be more than happy to go through your options with you. Just fill in our contact form, and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.