No-code vs Custom Development: Which One is Better?
The "no code" industry has grown amazingly during the last 5 years. There currently are applications that allow you to build pretty much everything you want. However, is the no code way always the best path to follow? With this article, we aim to answer that.
"Anyone can dream up great ideas, but an idea is nothing until it's realized, be it as a website, a physical product, an app, or a user interface." - Jens Martin Skibsted (Danish Designer)
Anyone can come up with an out-of-the-box idea but what’s more important is to brainstorm how to give it a life. Is it better to exploit no-code development tools for building digital products just as we have done with Failory? Webflow allowed us to launch a functional website without any technical experience that got +10,000 visits over the first week! Just imagine.
Or, the right choice is going for custom developing your solution? Here, you can build tailored products specifically to suit your business needs. Definitely, the choice is daunting but we have come up with a comprehensive guide to help you in choosing the right development platform for your next project.
The intensely competitive and dynamic marketplace demands entrepreneurs to cope up with the latest industry trends to stay ahead of the curve. But advanced technology has become one of the most integral trends that brands have to embrace and work with.
The contemporary tech-savvy set up has made it essential for businesses to invest in building intuitive apps, websites, and software solutions. These tools enhance the digital presence of a business and help the professionals in streamlining the workflow and complex processes. Moreover, entrepreneurs use these as weapons to build awareness and grab more customers.
No-code app development platforms are one such set of modern tech tools that are evolving rapidly. These platforms are specialized versions of low-code systems that allow not-techies to build solutions quickly with minimum coding.
But no-code app builders have gone beyond that and provide users with the capacity of creating apps, software, or web portals without any coding. These platforms have simplified the entire development process and became a powerful alternative to the custom development approach.
Keeping in mind the amount of options available, entrepreneurs find it daunting to pick the best for their next development project. This is why, before building a dedicated solution you need to compare custom development vs app builders (low-code and no-code development tools) in order to gain an idea of which can be the best choice for your business.
This choice becomes even tougher in the case of startups because one wrong decision can ruin their future. It's true that startups struggle with limited time and budget but they have the potential to come up with fresh and modern ideas.
Are you one of those startup geeks with no-code and custom development as two major options in your bucket? Let's make your decision easy with looking at how these two are different from each other and which one you should pick for your startup and in what conditions?
Exploring No-code Development Platforms
No-code platforms specialize in letting users with no coding expertise create reliable apps and solutions easily. Even non-techies can leverage these visual-based systems to build functional apps from scratch with the help of drag-and-drop plug-ins and other extensions.
Moreover, these tools are blessed with templates from which you can pick one in accordance with your needs. You can upload high-end images to make your product visually appealing or use the stock pictures.
Webflow, Bubble, Glide, Zoho Creator, Airtable, and Adalo are a few of the most popular and reliable no-code app builders. You can easily use one of these platforms without worrying about tedious or time-consuming development tasks or coding practices for building a flexible product with precise screen size.
If you need help getting started with no-code tools, you can check Makerpad's huge growing list of tutorials to learn every no-code tool that's out there.
Let’s watch an informational video by Tara Reed a non-tech founder who built an app without any coding expertise.
Understanding The Tailored Approach To Development
If you want to build a sophisticated solution or app for expanding the reach of your newly formed startup then it's better to go for custom development and hire an experienced team of developers who can create complex yet unique apps and portals.
These teams are trained in building tailored digital solutions in accordance with your specific requirements. Also, they make sure to roadmap your product before developing so that you won't get stuck in an ambiguous and expensive path and regret later. Dedicated programmers create mock-ups in order to gain clarity and boost your confidence. Also, it's a cost-efficient way of trimming down unnecessary costs for overcoming inefficiencies in the final products.
For example, when it comes to web development you can hire professionals skilled in different programming languages and tools such as Ruby, Python, PHP, etc. to make your web portal scalable and efficient at the same time.
Professional programmers make sure to follow the agile development approach which help them in collaborating and iterating continuously to develop a functional end product quickly. Let’s understand what’s the agile model look like with the help of an interesting animated video.
But considering the benefits like short learning curve, huge demand in startups, versatility, and scalability most of the aspiring developers choose to learn Python. Most of them explore different tutorials to learn Python which are easily available online to master this popular language.
Similarly, AI experts can be hired to integrate advanced technologies like AI or ML into your site which will give it an edge over others.
After getting a basic idea of both approaches, now it's the time to have a look at a few major differences so that you can make a well-informed decision. Each of these two platforms has their own pros and cons. But don't consider demerits as deal breakers but take them in a positive spirit in order to select the right alternative.
1. Fundamental Difference In The Level Of Customization Offered & Learning Curve
No-code tools give the crown of the developer to the end user and allow them to create reliable apps and solutions with intuitive interface and drag and drop functionality. As the majority of components are pre-built this approach provide users with limited customization options for building tailored apps or portals. Also, these tools have a steep learning curve as being a non-techie you need to learn and invest enough time to use these solutions efficiently and getting familiar with their workflow.
But in customized development, coding is done manually by professional developers and they build tailored products based on specific needs of customers. Programmers can make modification easily and tweak solutions in accordance with changing needs and trends.
Here, the learning curve is usually short because product owners, users, and developers all are equally involved in the process of development and feedback given by each of these groups is given first priority.
2. Costs Involved In The Development Process
No-code development tools are pocket-friendly for startups and they can manage to build apps in limited budget. But these platforms can prove to be expensive in case your product require incorporation lots of integrations, features, and updates in the future.
For example, if you choose to use a no-code platform for building an app for selling comfy chairs to old age people. Initially, you will be able to build the app in an economical manner. But in case you didn't perform extensive research and after a few days post launch you discovered that it's not helping you to increase sales conversions as the older generation may find it difficult to understand the complex font you have used.
In such a case, you need to redesign the app and integrate precise font to increase the readability. This will definitely push you to spend extra bucks which can cause financial crises.
On the other hand, custom solutions can be a bit expensive as you will need to hire an experienced skill-based development team. The cost can vary depending on the specific needs and scope of your project. As per soltech, most of the custom-fit software development projects cost between $40,000 and $250,000 for finishing the complete design and functionality of the apps.
3. Incorporation Of Complex Functionality
No-code platforms are the best choice for building simple apps and solutions. They can't be used to create more complex or sophisticated products and hence you can't rely on them for each of your projects.
The apps that have specific hosting needs or high-end interactivity and functionality can be developed by hiring a professional team of programmers and following the custom development approach which is believed to be the right choice for any sort of project.
4. Time To Market Your Apps
No-code tools promise to deliver fast products and there are people who have used these platforms to market their apps within a short time span. But there is a risk that you might get stuck with their complex functionality or invest excess time in integrations which will delay the launch of your solution.
But according to a survey by Goodfirms, the average time in which an experienced team can deliver a custom development is 4.5 months in which they cover all the stages such as recognition of needs, proper planning, designing, development, testing, and launch/deployment.
This is a long duration but programmers have embraced advanced technologies that can minimize this span to a great extent. They use different tools to minimize mundane coding tasks and pay attention to the usability of the product.
5. Integration & Migration Options
The majority of no-code platforms ensure that they support seamless integration and can make your app work in harmony with other existing systems. But these tools have pre-built components which make it difficult to integrate and migrate third-party systems with your app or portal.
Custom development, on the other hand, allows programmers to work with well-defined components with which it becomes easier for them to avoid every integration issue. You can't afford to skip custom integrations as every startup is unique and dependent on multiple systems that need to work in cohesion for accomplishing a project successfully.
6. Concerns With Security & Stability Of The Particular Platform
It's hard to trust no-code systems because there is a risk of you finding it difficult to comprehend and work with the pre-written code. After beginning with the development process you might feel that the tool isn't in sync with your specific business needs. Or, your no-code vendor decides to exit the market and this will make your app stuck in the midway.
But you feel much more relaxed in custom development as there is an efficient team working on your idea. Also, you know that they will use only standard development practices verifies that the end product will be functional and reliable.
7. Availability Of Instant Maintenance & Support
No-code platforms do not provide users with prompt maintenance and support services in case there is a glitch or a bug. Also, it's tough to upgrade and modify the products with these tools which can make them vulnerable to cope up with the latest trends and changing customer needs.
With custom-fit apps and solutions, it's extremely easy to get instant support and repairing services because there is a dedicated team of programmers available 24*7. They can also help you in managing the revisions and keeping your app updated always.
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No-code vs Custom Development: When To Pick One Of These Two & Why?
You can select no-code platforms in case your startup is going through the following conditions:
I. Limited funds or IT resources operating in a small set-up with a few employees.
II. Looking for simple modifications and easy solutions with limited need for data transfer and third-party integration.
III. With these tools, you will have to adapt in accordance with the platform and create something which suits its functionality. Also, you have to understand the workflow in detail when determining your specific product requirements and features.
IV. These platforms promise to deliver apps in a short time span but the phases like design and planning require the same amount of time which you will have to spend when custom developing the solution.
V. The apps built with these tools might have a few performance issues that you need to fix. Moreover, an app built with a no-code system can't easily switch platform as you will need to redesign it from scratch.
VI. No-code platform vendor charge money based on the storage space, number of users, interactive pages, server capacity, etc. Therefore, it's important to keep in mind the usage-based fee.
VII. The compulsion of deployment to the specific public cloud of that particular no-code platform with no focus on building the user experience (UX).
VIII. Data governance might be a challenge because of the stand-alone nature of solutions built with no-code tools.
You can go for custom development in case your startup is going through the following conditions:
a. Product requires a high level of customization and security, flexibility, and reliability are your major priorities.
b. Vast infrastructure and several employees working in multiple sections, departments, geographies, etc.
c. High demand for third-party integration and legacy migration.
d. Need for aligning business objectives with the digital product.
No-code vs Custom Development: Which Factors To Consider When Choosing One Of These Two?
In case you finalize to work with no-code tools then it's not a good idea to pick one randomly. But look for the following features and functionality so that you can build an intuitive and responsive app for your startup.
a. Intuitive and hassle-free drag and drop interface.
b. Availability of templates and plug-ins for enhancing the app or solution.
c. Prompt support and maintenance services.
d. Credibility and stability of the vendor.
e. Reviews from past users and their experience.
f. Kind of apps built on that particular platform in the past.
But if you decided to hire a dedicated team of programmers to tailor your idea and build a custom solution make sure to look for the following qualities in the outsourced company and its team:
a. Effective communication policy for maintaining transparency.
b. The wealth of experience and testimonials from past clients.
c. Type of apps they have developed in the past.
d. Focus on the size and work culture of the company.
e. Evaluate market reputation and technology stack they are having expertise in.
f. Familiarity with the latest tech tools and professional attitude.
g. Quality post-sale services and support with the best standards for maintaining security.
Both no-code platforms and custom development has their own perks and pitfalls but it's your responsibility to understand their significance individually and make a wise decision to cherry-pick the best for your startup.