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Low-Code Vs No-Code: What's the Difference?

Low-Code
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2021-02-26
Low-Code Vs No-Code: What's the Difference?

No-Code is the application development solution for people who have absolutely no knowledge of coding. It’s a platform that has pre-built tools and templates to allow apps to be developed without any formal development or coding training. Think websites like Wix and Squarespace that let you build and launch simple sites in minutes - No-Code is the app version of that. 

So, in comparison, what is Low-Code? We regularly see unsure IT teams confusing these two solutions and, while there are similarities, there are also undeniable differences. 

In this blog, we’ll cover those differences, plus the pros and cons of each system. 

What is Low-Code?

Low-Code is the application development system that allows for applications to be designed quickly and with minimum need for hand-coding. Applications are built by dropping visual blocks of pre-built code into workflows. 

It’s a popular choice for enterprise business development teams, who need quick delivery of projects, but with the ability to create unique coding add-ons to the pre-built code. Low-Code is a way of circumnavigating the time-consuming learning of coding languages and the long-winded testing processes. It’s a way of capturing value earlier in your project pipeline. 

Due to the similarities of No-Code and Low-Code, they’re regularly thought to be the same thing. In fact, in Gartner’s 2019 Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Low-Code Application Platforms, 2020 (LCAP) excluded No-Code applications from the report. 

However, what they failed to realise is that two inclusions, Honeycode and AppSheets, are actually No-Code capable, leaving a number of people confused about what fits the Low-Code criteria.

At the UI level, Low-Code and No-Code solutions might look pretty similar. They’re both built to be easily accessible and user-friendly, especially for those with little-to-no coding experience. Let us help you differentiate between the two. 

To explore more on what Low-Code is, visit our detailed blog on the subject here. 

Low-Code vs. No-Code: The Comparisons

One of the first differences you can immediately notice is the users of the two systems. Those with very little experience - or none at all - with coding will be using No-Code platforms. They work very well for startups or small businesses because they’re the organisations least likely to have a development team, but still have a use for coding in small projects. 

With Low-Code solutions, such as OutSystems, you’ll see experienced, skilled development teams using it. These teams will be part of enterprise businesses that operate big development projects meant to satisfy a number of different needs, from internal processes to customer demands. One of the biggest reasons Low-Code is utilised in departments like these is the time-to-completion - it’s fast. 

While developers are more than happy to hand-code applications, they usually don’t have the time. Low-Code is the space in which these developers can work smarter and much faster. They can build 90% of an application from pre-built blocks, then add in the last 10% that makes it unique and specific to the enterprise business’ needs. 

When is No-Code Used?

As we said, in startups and SMEs, No-Code is the perfect opportunity for application development. There’s no need for training or previous experience, all that’s needed is a little familiarising with the system.

No-Code is also used in medium-sized businesses with larger departments and coding needs. Sometimes it can be utilised to create internal applications that businesses are lacking in order to help productivity. With the pre-built applications, end-users can potentially empower themselves with the solutions that fit their needs.

However, this doesn’t mean that No-Code is the be-all and end-all of application development - far from it. While the solution has definite advantages in specific circumstances, those same advantages can cause problems. 

Low-Code vs. No-Code: The Pros and Cons

We’ve seen No-Code used in scenarios where simple apps are needed to complete business needs, but there isn’t really the time to wait for a solution to be hand-coded. Essentially, anyone in an organisation can use No-Code, without the need to involve IT or developers. But therein lies the problem.

No-Code has the potential of creating what is known as ‘shadow IT’, where solutions have been created that IT departments have no knowledge or supervision of, which can become security or productivity risks. 

Shadow IT represents a big problem. In the UK alone, 12% of companies found that almost 10,000 shadow IT-enabled devices are connecting to their systems every day. And these are the types of devices that are regularly targeted by cybercrime. 

Similarly, shadow IT results in compliance issues. When data is stored in shadow IT systems, it has the potential of breaking compliance with crucial data protection laws, such as GDPR, HIPAA, SOX or GLBA to name but a few. 

No-Code can and does directly lead to shadow IT, which ends up costing a lot of time and resources dealing with associated issues, resulting in an increase in technical debt

So while No-Code is a space in which app development is highly accessible, it’s also a platform that enterprise businesses with productivity and compliance considerations should avoid. 

But what about Low-Code?

What Are the Advantages of Low-Code?

For enterprise businesses who need to develop mobile and web apps and portals, that will most likely be integrated with other business systems, Low-Code is the go-to. In comparison with No-Code, which should really only be used for front-end cases, Low-Code can be utilised for a wide variety of development projects.

While some may believe No-Code is the better option because anyone can use it, Low-Code has a rebuttal. Even though Low-Code needs a small amount of coding experience to be used, development teams and business management can rest easier with the knowledge those applications are being made by people who know how to do it. 

On top of the ability to make user-friendly applications in a simple-to-use digital environment, there are other key benefits:

  • One-click deployment: When an application is developed, all it takes is one click to begin production, meaning the eventual launch day can run a lot smoother than traditional coding scenarios.
  • Resource savings: Because the vast majority of the back-end of an application can be fit together using pre-built code, it means developers with specialised talents no longer need to drop what they’re doing in order to help others. Projects can continue as planned, on schedule. 
  • Increased ROI: Upon onboarding, your development teams can unlock lost time and resources that originally went on developing projects of the same size, alongside the problems and technical debt that might have been accrued along the way.
  • Less risk: Low-Code application development platforms include pre-built data integration capabilities and, most importantly, robust security. Your apps can be developed without worrying about potential breaches. 
  • Time-to-market: Low-Code is fast and iterative. Applications can be built simultaneously and working versions can be shown to internal or external stakeholders within hours. 

Another advantage of Low-Code systems is the vast array of solutions on the market today, such as OutSystems, Appian and Mendix. Yet, with this large amount of possibility, you’re at a disadvantage - which is the right system for you? To help you get to grips with these solutions, we’ve developed a guide to help.

The Low-Code Comparison Guide for Enterprise Businesses

Outsystems. Appian. Mendix. Salesforce. Powerapps. Five of the top Low-Code application development platforms on the market today. So what differentiates them all? There are actually some large differences between them all, differences you can discover in our Low-Code comparison guide. 

To discover this information, plus our insight on the benefits of Low-Code development partners, organisations that exist to help you get the most out of Low-Code, click the button below for your free download. 

Download Our eBook