For years, mobile phone app development has been the domain of talented technicians equipped with the skills to design and code products that meet the needs of clients, ranging from humble SMEs to multinational corporations.
To become an iPhone developer or Android developer, however, you effectively need to develop specialised development skills that have been honed over years both during tertiary study as well as through on-the-job industry experience. For many educated developers, however, the ability to gain real-world industry experience in a professional setting of their choosing is now largely under threat. The emergence of low-code and no-code software has effectively thrown the doors open for anyone with an idea, basic computer knowledge and an eye for design to create their own fully-functioning apps without the need for years of study.
You may then be surprised to hear that this threat may also be more of a positive than it initially appears to be. These low-code and no-code platforms may instead enable app developers to become more productive, more agile, and service more clients than ever before. Here’s how.
What Are No-code Development Tools?
The short answer is that these are software packages that enable users to create working software (including apps) without any technical experience or coding expertise required at all.
No-code software typically have user-friendly interfaces that allow you to drag and drop elements into place, including functions and design elements, to simplify the app development process. The promise is that anyone can develop fully functioning apps with no technical experience, but the truth is a different kettle of fish.
Whilst no-code platforms are fantastic tools for basic functions like building blogs on the company website, relying on them completely for app development is unlikely to achieve successful results.
Why No-code Will Not Replace App Developers
There are significant disadvantages for relying totally on no-code development tools and shunning the expertise of app developers. Firstly, while the tools are there to place elements where they should go, creating an app requires more skill than just slapping together an option that simply works.
The world of app development is extremely competitive and creating an app that is successful can naturally be extremely challenging. Around 80 per cent of all apps released on the market are abandoned by consumers after just one use, highlighting how much work, skill and innovation is required to create an app that will be engaging and widely adopted by a mass audience.
Secondly, no-code platforms do not offer a lot of room for customisation. You are restricted to the pre-built elements that are included in the platform and bespoke functions requested by clients are often not included.
That is part of the beauty of coding an app from scratch. The developer has complete control and ownership of the code, understands it totally and can adapt and change it so that customised elements and functions can be included.
App Development is a Team Sport
Every time new technology is released, there’s a certain amount of fear that it will eliminate manual processes. In some cases, like the death of the pager, typewriter and fax machine, this is true. But app development has never been about a single process, a single platform or even a single developer.
No-code software is simply a tool. Just because you hand a hammer to someone, it does not make them a carpenter. Handing an office worker with no technical experience or knowledge on developing apps a simple piece of software is not going to make them an app developer.
Even if they somehow fluke a successful app using no-code software, how will they be able to maintain it? Upgrade it? Ensure it is stable and free from cyberattacks that are firmly on the rise? The creation and ongoing maintenance of a successful app requires collaborative efforts, ideally a development team composed of professionals that all possess their own unique skill sets and capabilities to use a range of different tools, software platforms, and design elements.
This is not to say that no-code software is useless. In fact, it is a valuable tool that is likely to encourage more people to become app developers, provide programmers with a competitive edge, and deliver better quality outcomes to clients and developers that use no-code development tools as well.
How App Developers Can Learn To Embrace No-Code Tools
No-code development tools should not be viewed as the enemy, but rather as another tool that can be used in app development.
At the end of the day, no-code development tools will allow developers more time and scope to get to the heart of what their client and target users want from the app that’s being developed. By taking simple coding processes and expediting them with no-code, you will have more time to discuss the app with your client and develop a product that is going to meet their needs and be successful.
App developers will also be able to create apps in shorter periods of time as no-code software can reduce the development time by up to 80 per cent. This allows app developers to take on more clients and projects, deliver quality products while still providing the personal and customised features that your client may require.
Ultimately, no-code app development tools will provide budding app developers with a highly accessible gateway to the industry, effectively encouraging more people to consider programming as a career pathway and potentially even prompting more young people to learn coding and further their own independent study of this emerging discipline. No-code tools are also likely to continue empowering existing developers to deliver better outcomes for clients and their target audiences. It is by no means the death knell of the industry that some fear it to be.