Coding represents one of the most significant challenges to small businesses, whether it’s a minor task within a program or building the back end of a website. Unlike larger companies, they typically don’t have the capacity to hire IT specialists who can handle these tasks, but as a result many have amateurish websites or have to constantly outsource projects to contractors and specialist companies. But what if there was a way that small organizations could tackle coding tasks without worrying about the technical challenges?
In recent years, many companies, including website design brands like Squarespace and the storage and workflow company Box, have made a critical shift in how their tools work – they’ve embraced low- or no-code technology. Low-code and no-code programs use alternative frameworks, like drag-and-drop modules, to enable individuals without coding skills to program more complex processes than they could successfully craft otherwise. Popular with both businesses and individual users, such programs are what’s next in programming.
Low-Code In Web Design
While many millennials grew up learning basic HTML and CSS so that they could redesign their MySpace pages, building an entire website from scratch is a much taller order. That’s why, when small businesses need to build websites, they now turn to platforms – like the aforementioned Squarespace site – that allows them to assemble a complete site without using much code at all.
It’s even easier than using WordPress templates, the prior platform of preference, because it takes some coding knowledge to modify these templates. Suddenly anyone can be a designer, and can do so with some degree of professionalism.
Outside of companies like Squarespace, there are many other platforms offering low- or no-code site design. These include Wix, Weebly, Moonfruit, and several other lesser-known brands. On sites like WordPress, certain plug-ins also allow for a more drag-and-drop style approach to design.
Low-Code In Technical Applications
Prior to the rise of low- and no-code programs, many inexperienced designers tried their hands at web design, even if the results left much to be desired. However, when it came to more complicated tasks, there was no cheating the coding challenges and few visible results to confirm whether those strings of code were yielding the desired results. In those areas, low- and no-code programs were much more of a necessity, and companies have stepped up to fill the void.
SQL queries represent an ideal example of a code-heavy task regularly used by businesses, but which are hard to execute without appropriate expertise. These queries are used to pull information from databases, as well as combine and process large amount of data, erase lines, make new data tables, and much more. However, MySQL from datapine.com offers a drag and drop alternative.
Much like low- or no-code web design, datapine’s MySQL gives small businesses easy access to SQL-based operations, supporting data processing and analysis in conjunction with reporting tools and other supports. It’s also designed to minimize the need for IT support, a particularly critical concern for small businesses.
Convenience Versus Quality
As evidenced by the above array of programs, low- and no-code systems are clearly major players in today’s tech world, but many with more extensive backgrounds in the industry have questions about how effective this approach can be.
Do low- and no-code programs really yield the sort of results that experienced developers can achieve? It’s a reasonable question, given that until recently, such programs were only suitable for building rudimentary programs or operations. In today’s digital ecosystems, however, low- and no-code programs are developed by such skilled programmers that end-users can do much more with them.
According to IT professionals, low- and no-code programs help businesses strike a balance between staffing needs and available skills, allowing them to break through task backlogs while providing the current team with skill-appropriate tools. It’s a scaled approach to development, automation, and other tasks and it’s redefining what it means to be a software developer.
IT pros also observe that these programs are designed to ensure that, when necessary, whatever amateur developers craft is run through appropriate security protocols, resolving another major challenge for small businesses.
In addition to all of the above functions, another way that small businesses are using low- and no-code programs is to advance automation. This is part of dealing with task backlogs and supporting companies’ project management needs, and the approach is particularly powerful (though limiting) when using all-in-one platforms – in other words, getting all key applications from one vendor. Vendor lock-in is limiting, but is one of the many ways that small businesses make no- and low-code solutions work for them, and vendors are increasingly diversifying their services in order to encourage this commitment.
Why Not Outsource?
Low- and no-code programs often fill in for outsourcing work, but businesses need to consider whether keeping these tasks in-house is in their best interest. In thinking through this trade-off, one major factor small-business CIOs need to consider is the fact that there is a developer shortage right now.
That means that, even if businesses chose to outsource key programming tasks, it could significantly delay internal project progress. Low- and no-code programs, on the other hand, keep things moving forward for businesses, even when skilled support isn’t available.
Everyone’s On Board
While there are still some questions about the many ways low- and no-code programs can be used for small businesses, the reality is that even the biggest companies are getting on board with the trend. Microsoft, SAP, and Salesforce are all developing low- and no-code systems and a better understanding of the nuances underlying these programs will go a long way towards their fuller embrace.
While low-code programs speed development within contexts where plenty of staff have basic coding skills, no-code programs offer new opportunities for small businesses where those skills don’t exist. It’s a powerful combination.
To many users, no-code platforms don’t seem like anything special, and in a lot of ways they aren’t. They are basic tools that have seamlessly integrated themselves into all of our lives, in business settings and beyond.
It’s part of how developers think about creating software today: with such ease of use in mind. And because many of these developers are already working with low-code programs, they can craft these accessible programs more quickly than ever, opening doors and possibilities to those without coding skills.