When Webflow and No-Code is not enough
With the No-Code movement gaining strength, there is a lot of buzz around the tools and what can and should be built with them. The community is excited and they see No-Code as the next revolution where the power to code is given to the common folk.
In all honesty, I love all of this! I think this is an exciting time to be in tech and I’m all for more people being able to solve difficult problems. Developers forgive me but higher level programming languages exist for the same reason No-Code does: Allow more complex problems to be solved easily.
So while i’m a firm believer in No-Code, I also know that specific problems require specific tools and expecting No-Code to be the end-all solution is not only a bad Idea but hurts the movement. I’m writing this post to help the reader understand when and when not to use no-code tools in their business.
Websites were the first ‘problem’ no-code platforms started to tackle and by the time of me writing this post there are awesome solutions out there. Webflow is our tool of choice, for reasons we don’t need to discuss on this post, but options like Wix, SquareSpace, ReadyMag and Framer have come a long way, each having different use cases, pros and cons. It is safe to say you can build award winning websites with No-Code tools.
Tools like Zapier, Integromat and Make are awesome to send information from one App to another. As an example we use Zapier extensively on a lot of our processes here at Colored Byte and it saves us hundreds of hours weekly of manual labor.
Airtable, google sheets (almost a database?) and Xano are good examples of no-code databases that enable users to create without the code. You still need to understand the relationships between data to create something somewhat scalable but not needing code makes learning that a lot simpler.
You can build fully functional web applications by combining a lot of those tools. You could use Webflow, Wized and Xano to create an app without adding a single line of code. Bubble is another tool aimed to tackle building web apps. Those are awesome, but they have to be used for the right types of projects
Why not use no-code for everything?
As I’m writing this no code works really well at a small scale. If you have 1-3 people working together to build an app then you can get away with a no code tool and build something pretty solid. I know of no-code apps built for B2B companies that work really well given they have a limited amount of users and it is the perfect solution for them.
The problem begins when you need the software to work at scale. The lack of control can cause technical problems that are impossible for your team to solve without the platform’s help. If you are running a SAAS company this could mean the death of you. If you imagine a scenario where you are building a platform like Airbnb, you will need to have very granular control of your systems in order to problem solve and to create more features in order to compete, so having your business on a no-code platform is a no go. On top of this you won’t be able to solve complex problems, imagine trying to build Figma or a UI UX tool with it, it is simply not possible.
Here is when not to use No-Code:
- You need 3+ people on the engineering team
- Your problem requires a complex solution not available on no-code platforms
- Your software needs to work at scale with tens or hundreds of thousands of users
- You need the freedom to create new features without limitations to be competitive
- You need to optimize for speed and efficiency as you scale
- You need to hire engineers fast
Here is when we suggest using it:
- You need to add extra functionality like memberships, point systems on a site
- You are trying to validate an idea and want to build fast
- You are creating a solution that solves a specific problem that won’t scale
Think about it this way, if you are building a job board with a few thousand users you can get away with no-code. If you are building Slack it would be impossible.
While we have come a long way already, complex problems require us to use a lower level of abstraction to solve them and no-code is not enough (yet) to be the best solution. I believe the tools are getting better and better and are amazing to build MVPs, but if you are trying to disrupt an industry you will most likely need more firepower that what a no-code tool can give you.