Is There a No-Code App Development Learning Curve?

By
Christopher Pinski
Published
February 1, 2024
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Is There a No-Code App Development Learning Curve?

How simple are no-code development platforms? Do you have to be tech-savvy to use them? Is there a steep learning curve for no-code application development?

Today, let’s explore the no-code movement, from defining no-code tools to understanding their benefits and limitations. You’ll learn what to expect and whether it’s realistic for your team to build DIY solutions without knowing code.

What Is No-Code Application Development?

With no-code development, you don’t use or need to understand programming languages to build apps. 

Instead, no-code platforms use simpler methods, such as intuitive visual interfaces, to let users design tailored applications. Basically, no-code application development means anyone can be a developer — no coding knowledge required. 

Homepage of Glide no-code app development platform
Glide is one of many great no-code tools for easier app development.

But even experienced developers love no-code platforms. They save development teams time, resources, and money. 

You may have also heard of low-code development. Intuitively, low-code development involves a low amount of code — but “low” doesn’t mean “no.” More about that later.

Does No-Code Development Have a Steep Learning Curve?

Well, it depends.

Most no-code platforms let you create simple apps with basic functionality. There may be little or no learning curve here.

But as your use cases and workflows grow increasingly complex, it’s more difficult to develop a solution that truly solves your problem. 

Complex Business Needs Require Complex Solutions — Which Are Tough To Learn

No-code development platforms aren’t built without code. They let business users build basic apps without needing to code, but behind the beautiful UI wrappers are complex code bases, which are difficult for the average user to navigate.

So, as your problems scale and become more complex, a lack of software engineering knowledge becomes a limiting factor. With a team of mostly citizen developers, a DIY approach to no-code tools may leave you unable to solve new challenges.

What are citizen developers? 

They’re employees outside of the IT department who may have no formal coding knowledge but use low-code or no-code platforms to create simple apps. 

They’re a great solution for simple issues! But for bigger challenges, you may need to design proper data models at the base layer (the application or database you’re building with) or leverage APIs, which serve up data from many sources and require more staff and equipment to harness.

And that’s why, without an experienced development team, your organization may have trouble solving complex problems at scale.

3 white office workers, 1 woman and 2 men, working on their computers in an open office setting with floor-to-ceiling windows and greenery in the distance
They may not be IT professionals or experienced developers, but citizen developers can build simple apps using no-code technology.

No-Code Platforms Are Responding With Educational Solutions for Citizen Developers

While citizen developers can research and upskill, this takes time — and inevitably, some problems will just be too complex to tackle with on-the-job learning. 

Thankfully, many no-code platforms are building advanced training solutions to help with this. For example, Webflow University is a self-paced training curriculum arming students with computer science and software engineering fundamentals. With this education, they can use Webflow’s website builder more masterfully.

We expect to see more application-specific training in the future because the economic benefits of no-code solutions are no longer a secret. There’s intense pressure for orgs to build software and apps more efficiently and at lower cost. So, when users understand tools better, teams can solve complex problems more simply.

Low-Code Development vs. No-Code Comparison

In the software development landscape, how do low-code platforms compare with no-code tools? 

Their purposes are similar — both make custom application development more accessible to a wider range of people, reduce strain on IT departments, and streamline workflows for experienced developers.

There’s really just one major difference between low-code platforms and no-code solutions:

Low-Code Development Requires Some Coding Expertise — No-Code Doesn’t

While you don’t need extensive coding knowledge, low-code tools may require some experience with traditional coding. You may need to use a little code to maximize a tool’s features.

But no-code tools don’t require any coding expertise at all — at least, not for essential functions. 

Low-code tools are best for development teams or others who understand advanced features, while no-code tools are built for non-technical business users.

What Can You Build with No-Code Platforms?

Today, no-code tools allow organizations to build scalable solutions for a variety of use cases. But did you know that no-code development can be used for more than just building applications?

Cross-Platform No-Code Solutions

Web apps and mobile apps are common uses for no-code applications — but that’s not all they can do.

Custom Application Development: Mobile Apps and Web Apps

We’ve mentioned apps often in this article because developing applications is common for businesses. Teams can build internal apps for communication, external-facing apps for customer data, and more. 

Desktop Apple computer with UX mobile app sketches on the table, a laptop, a mug, and a book
Using solid UX/UI design principles, you can build beautiful mobile apps without code.

And while no-code tools have some limitations for the average user, you can hire experts to help identify, build, and implement the perfect solution for your business. When you hire an expert, your custom app development experience can be as limitless as your imagination.

Learn more about custom app development with Crispy.

Workflow Automation

Automating manual processes saves time and reduces errors. According to a Salesforce survey:

  • 85% of surveyed workers said automation increased cross-team collaboration
  • Nearly 90% trusted automation tools to improve productivity without errors and increase the speed of decision-making

With no-code development tools, you can build personalized workflow automation solutions to save time and money while improving collaboration, accuracy, and efficiency.

Make.com formerly Integromat homepage for no-code workflow automation design
Make is a dynamic no-code workflow automation platform in the Crispy tech stack.

At Crispy, we love helping businesses find opportunities to add automation with business-boosting results. See how a custom automation solution can help

AI/ML Solutions

Did you know that you can build AI (artificial intelligence) and ML (machine learning) tools with no-code platforms? 

For example, in 2023, ChatGPT released builders called GPTs; now anyone can build a customized version of ChatGPT with no coding expertise required.

Opening screen for ChatGPT AI/ML chat solution
There’s more than just ChatGPT! Custom machine learning solutions can transform your business.

But as with other no-code development platforms, you may not have the expertise to explore everything these tools have to offer. For the most powerful, highly personalized, and scalable AI/ML solutions, a no-code development expert can help.

Here’s how the Crispy team can help with your AI/ML dreams.

Incredible No-Code Use Cases for Business

Ok — so you can build apps, automations, and AI/ML tools with no-code. But what specific types of tools warrant a custom solution built with no-code technologies?

Operations and Customer Data

  • Systems integration 
  • Custom ERP and CRM systems (enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management)
  • Or, custom solutions for specific functions within these systems: accounting, document processing, supply chain management, sales pipelines, reporting, etc.
  • Digital asset management

Human Resources and Employee Data

  • Intranet
  • Recruitment platforms
  • Job boards
  • HRIS (human resources information systems)

Customer-Facing Tools

  • Customer portals
  • Customer support
  • Marketing platforms
  • E-commerce solutions 

No-Code App Ideas by Industry

Need inspiration for your industry? Here are some great app ideas tailored to the work you do.

Legal Firms

  • CRM with highly customizable access controls
  • Case tracking application allowing clients to follow the status of court rulings, milestones,  document filings, and more
  • Searchable FAQ & resource center pulling content from a CMS

Financial Services

  • Customer portal that works seamlessly with your backend CRM solution
  • Tax management platform allowing clients to upload tax documents, see historical tax filings, and communicate with their tax professional
  • Insurance management platform for clients to file claims, view policy details, and even get instant quotes for new policies

Home Services

  • ERP with ample customization options for supply chain and inventory management
  • Customer-facing application for easy referrals to friends and family, featuring referral reward tracking
  • Service management app that allows clients to view scheduled appointments, pay invoices, and leave notes for service providers
A white woman with long brown hair smiles and laughs at a bald older man sitting perpendicular to her at a large conference table. They both wear blazers and have to-go coffee cups, and she has a laptop in front of her
The right software can turn a good firm into a great one.

Top 4 Advantages of No-Code Application Development

  1. No Coding Knowledge Required: Ideal for non-technical users, simple interfaces with drag-and-drop features let nearly anyone on your team build simple apps. You just need the right no-code development tool. 
  2. Faster Application Development and Reduced Prototyping Time: Coding with programming languages is a lengthy development process. Not so with no-code!
  3. Reduced Development Costs: While you’ll pay a subscription fee for many no-code tools, it’s much cheaper than hiring a fully custom development provider — where you’re paying for large teams, server management, and other additional costs you won’t incur with no-code development. 
  4. Basic Scaling is Simple: When you build the right no-code solution, scaling may be as simple as upgrading your platform subscription.

Top 4 Disadvantages of No-Code Application Development

  1. Limited Customization Options: No-code platforms are great for simple apps. But for more complex problems, you’ll face limitations — unless your team can dive into advanced customization with APIs.
  2. Complexity of Data Migration and Integration: Some tools make it easy to move data from existing systems and integrate your new tool with current systems. This may be a smooth process with certain software, but not necessarily for all your tools. 
  3. Finite Scalability: Yes, we said that scaling is simple — and it is! However, no-code applications can only scale up to their designed capacity. Understand those limitations before committing to a no-code platform, or your company’s growth may mean another systems overhaul.
  4. Third-Party Ownership: When you use no-code tools, you need to understand who owns what. Platform terms and conditions, licensing agreements, and other fine print will detail this, but the info may be hard to find.

10 Incredible No-Code Tools for App and Automation Design

We picked these app-building and automation software development tools for their versatility, ease of use, and success with Crispy customers.

  1. Airtable: A Relational Database to Manage Data Integration

Airtable can be used out of the box for data storage, integration, and reporting. But it can also be the data storage layer of a custom application — and you can use Airtable’s visual interface designer to create a custom web app. Learn more about Airtable

  1. Make: A Robust Visual Automation Platform

Make is a versatile tool offering incredible solutions for complex problems. Build custom apps, workflow automations, and AI/ML solutions.

Crispy Software Solutions is a Make Certified Partner.

  1. Zapier: Leading Workflow Automation and Systems Integration Solution

Masterful at integrating all types of platforms, Zapier is reliable and simple for both personal and business users. 

  1. Bubble: One of the Best No-Code Tools for Web Apps

Bubble is popular with developers for a reason. From web apps to native mobile apps, you can use Bubble for just about anything. 

  1. Glide: Create Applications Using AI Capabilities

This no-code app builder lets you build functional applications and other custom business software solutions. With integrated AI functionality, Glide is easy to use and effective.

  1. Adalo: A Simple No-Code Tool for Mobile Applications

Adalo’s intuitive interface and drag-and-drop functionality stand out for its simplicity in building mobile applications with a faster development process.  

Adalo no-code mobile app builder
Visual interfaces like Adalo’s are one of the best benefits of no-code technologies.
  1. Softr: No-Code Automation and Internal Tools

Build and integrate internal tools and apps, including client portals. Plus, introduce smart automations to streamline processes.

  1. WeWeb: Popular Front-End No-Code Platform

Integrating with any back-end solution, WeWeb is an efficient and effective no-code development tool for creating apps.

  1. Xano: Back-End Tool for Custom Development

Create apps quickly with this excellent back-end platform for custom web, mobile, and IoT apps.

  1. Webflow: Responsive, Visually Appealing Design & Custom Web Apps

Traditionally a web development tool, Webflow may seem out of place in this list. But you can use Webflow for more than a basic website. With custom web app capabilities including e-commerce options and CMS, this dynamic tool deserves a deeper look.

How to Decide Which No-Code Tool Is Right For Your Project

Marketing and high-level tool overviews may make it seem easy to identify the right no-code tool for you — but it’s not that simple.

Even if a tool seems to offer the functionality you want, that doesn’t mean it’ll be a simple fix to your problem. You may have an edge case that the software just doesn’t support — or need to access advanced functionality to solve it.

Here are the 2 foolproof strategies to decide if a no-code tool is right for you:

1. Experiment with Different No-Code Platforms

Whether on a free trial or a monthly subscription, you can usually try out a tool at low or no cost.

No-code tools are made to play around with. After awhile, you’ll either find and implement the solution to your problem or understand why this tool won’t work for your issues. Then, you cut the subscription and move on.

2. Consult with a No-Code Expert

Experts can understand your issue and identify the right tool much faster than you can.

This way, instead of a potentially lengthy trial-and-error process, you’ve got a knowledgeable partner on your side. They may even be able to build your custom solution for you! 

With ample experience and access to advanced customization features, this is a great way to solve your problems most efficiently and effectively.

A woman with shoulder-length dark hair smiles at an image of a person on her laptop screen, as though she's on a video conference. She sits in a large open room with several live-edge conference tables, large bright windows, and a whiteboard
Hire a no-code service provider to save time and money while solving your business challenges.

How to Implement Apps Using a No-Code Development Platform

With a DIY approach, fitting a new app into your organization can be a challenge. 

Picking the right tool is trial and error. And if multiple employees start testing a wide variety of tools, it’s tough to keep track, make the right decision, and develop processes to use the new tool effectively.

This is another place where technical experience really comes in handy. Great service providers build implementation into all their offerings.

In fact, at Crispy, we don’t stop at delivery — we help with implementation, training, support, and maintenance for your app, too! That way, you’re never left scrambling on your own.

No-Code App Development Learning Curve: FAQs

Our answers to common questions.

Who are no-code developers?

Anyone and everyone — even you! No-code developers include citizen developers — a fancy way of saying “non-tech employees.” These team members work outside of the IT department to implement no-code solutions for their organization.

But even experienced developers can be no-code developers, too. No-code platforms save dev teams time, money, and resources for more efficient application development.

Will no-code replace professional developers?

We don’t expect no-code to completely replace professional developers anytime soon. 

A Black person with braids sits facing away from us, looking at Trello, a no-code technology, on their computer in a white office with white table
Developers love augmenting their work with no-code tools to save time and streamline processes.

For now, no-code and low-code development are useful supplements to traditional coding. In some cases, even teams with extensive coding knowledge use no-code solutions for basic challenges. This streamlines the development process, helps with building apps and delivering to customers more quickly, encourages experimentation, and lets them spend time on more complex problems. 

But no-code platforms could replace many application types that used to require custom code and development teams. 

As no-code platforms grow more sophisticated, and with many formerly code-based apps removed from their queues, developers may see lighter workloads in the future.

What is the difference between no-code development and custom development?

Here are the key differences.

Fully custom development requires:

  • Huge time investment, both to code and to handle server maintenance, unit tests, etc.
  • Significant equipment resources (computers, servers)
  • Large teams (several developers, project managers, etc.)
  • Hands-off production approach — most of the budget goes toward building the app, not engaging with the customer
  • Reactive and expensive scaling, requiring the purchase and configuration of new servers
Laptop sits on glossy white desktop, open to code with programming languages. A yellow cup and white planter with green grassy plant sit near the laptop.
Custom coding with programming languages comes with several disadvantages — including extra time and money.

But no-code development results in:

  • Less time invested — simpler app creation and no server maintenance (this is true for most low-code platforms, too)
  • Less equipment required (no on-site servers)
  • Smaller teams (quicker projects built by fewer people)
  • More time, resources, and energy to focus on the customer, thanks to all the efficiencies above
  • Simple scaling — just upgrade your subscription to your cloud service provider

Who can benefit from no-code development?

Everyone! No-code development frees up time and resources for critical work. When you’re able to solve your biggest business problems more quickly, you get time and money back! 

Just remember: while you can tackle no-code apps in-house, you won’t always find the best and most comprehensive solution using your citizen developers.

Instead, a no-code app development expert can quickly understand your challenges, identify a suitable and scalable solution, and build and implement that solution with ease. 

These experts can harness low-code development solutions, too.

Conclusion: No-Code Platforms Offer Simple Solutions To Simple Problems — But DIY Is Limiting

Non-technical users love that they can harness no-code tools for quick fixes! But the limitations of these tools can be tough to work around if you don’t know code.

By hiring a no-code expert, you get all the benefits of no-code tools with all the expertise of a custom service provider.

For more on this technology, check out our related blog post explaining why no-code development may be your secret weapon.

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