Low-code and no-code empowers your next startup

By Wout van Helvoirt on Jan 25, 2021

Laptop slowing opening its lid

Photo by Ales Nesetril on Unsplash

I remember a period during my childhood, when smartphones weren't a thing yet, and I got my first mobile phone: a Motorola RAZR flip phone. This thing was slick with its thin and stylish design in a full matte black color. It was certainly an eye catcher for its time. Sadly, it had hardly any memory and did not support external storage by means of an SD card. If I even wanted to put a single MP3 file on there, I would have to compress the file so much that the song wouldn't really sound the same anymore... Anyway, I'm getting slightly of topic here. The fact is that this product had lots of development going for it. With Motorola's cell phone division stagnating and losing money, it was an immensely popular phone.

If a product like this would have come out in 2020, it might also be successful. ...And it did, one with a cool foldable display. However, it wasn't very well received. With mediocre specifications and an insane price tag of 1500 dollar, it was just too complicated and out of reach for most people. So what can we learn from this? At least three basic things:

  1. You don't need a lot of money. A good idea and the will to make it something happen is a solid start. The sky is the limit.
  2. Don't overcomplicate your solution. Instead focus on the features that matter now and implement those. You can always improve later on. In the end, no one wants something that tries too much and achieves too little.
  3. Good research! There is nothing more important that knowing what you want to make and who you are making it for.

That last one is very important. With so many no-code services and automation solutions out there, you should not want to put all the effort in yourself. A lot of tasks we would previously have done manually, can now be automated with just a click of a few buttons. A good example of this is getting started with a new e-commerce website. You won't need any programming skills anymore. Just pick a pre-designed template, change some of the colors here and there, and with just a few extra clicks, your website is up and running under your own fancy domain name.

Timeout, someone had to put in some effort to make this work right? Correct, this someone would have the necessary background in software development. Don't be afraid when I say this, it's not like you really need a lot of expertise to get started with programming, it's just that you might not have the interest to do so. That said, it's not like software developers have to write as much code as they used to during the early days of computing. You might like it.

Programmers are problem solvers. If you like solving problems, you might have an inner programmer inside of you.

Another term you might be familiar with besides 'no-code', is 'low-code'. So what are the differences between the two? Where no-code focusses on letting everyday people (i.e., citizen developers) create basic applications without writing code, low-code is much more developer friendly. It requires basic programming skills, making it possible to create more complex applications with higher degrees of customization. Low-code in combination with other techniques like scaffolding (i.e., separation of the model, view and controller in the application) make no-code possible in the first place.

So how is low-code useful for you business? As I said, it's not about not having to write any code, it's about letting a larger audience have access to the tools they need to build software. Business users with ideas for a software solution no longer need to wait until the IT department has the time and resources. Startups will benefit with low-code and no-code by not having to hire expensive developers to realize their MVP's (i.e., minimum viable product). Changes are that the more customized your solution is, the more time you'll spend on defining the requirements and the less time on implementing these requirements. Low-code development tools can transforms your business and/or startup in at least three meaningful ways:

  1. Helping you to focus on solving your specific business problem by abstracting and automating the software development pipeline.
  2. Everyone (e.g., citizen developers and business users) can start developing applications, without having to translate their business requirements to an IT department, reducing the risk of information loss.
  3. Being able to respond to feedback from end users quickly, letting you adapt your solution accordingly.

Look, the first RAZR phone was so successful because it was simple. It didn't try to capture everyone in the audience, and instead focused on a select group of people. Yes, it lacked many features that other phones had already implemented, but it didn't seem to matter. The 2020 version just never managed to appeal to that original type of audience. It was too complicated and with a lack of focus, therefore it ended up as just another tech demo.

So, next time you come up with a great business idea, remember the following: Keep it simple, ...and use low-code/no-code!

I’m curious to know what my writing evokes in you. What’s your view on this subject, and what possibilities do you observe? Join the conversation and share your thoughts in the comment section below. I’d love to hear from you!

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