The rise of no-code, and what it means for the future of web design

What is no-code?

No-code, in the context of this article, refers to visual development tools that enable you to create, for example, an app or website, without needing to know how to write code. It is also referred to as "visual development" due to the fact that instead of typing in strings of code you use a graphical user interface to select and place elements into the design space.

No-Code in Development

Software development is a highly technical, financially demanding, and high-stakes process. Software developers are highly paid, highly skilled workers with extensive training who often come from exclusive universities. This is not the world most people are familiar with.

This is why until recently, software development hasn't been easily accessible to everyone, but with the rapid adoption of no-code software development tools, these barriers are being broken down. No-code is enabling small to medium-sized businesses everywhere to bring in less technical, or even non-technical people, to be able to create software (such as smartphone apps or websites) in an intuitive, "drag-and-drop" environment.

Inside the Webflow designer

There are many tools available that teach people how to create software without any coding skills, but it is important to note the full scope of the term "no-code." While traditional programming languages are not required when developing software in this manner, it is important to remember that even though a no-code tool enables one to build software without knowing how to code, there is still coding happening "under the hood".

Let's break it down this way. The main building blocks of any website are HTML and CSS. By using a platform like Webflow you can accelerate the process tenfold and use their proprietary system to add and style various components that make up a website. The HTML and CSS are still happening, only now, Webflow is generating it for you in the background as you move elements around on the design canvas.

Having a strong foundation in HTML & CSS (in the case of building websites) is great, and I can personally attest to the fact that it is very helpful to be able to fall back on when troubleshooting an issue, but it is no longer a must in order to be able to create impressive, high-functioning websites that any individual or business would be proud of.

Made In Webflow Gallery by Cory Moen
Made In Webflow Gallery by Cory Moen

How no-code is changing the world

In today's modern world, more and more people are finding technology to be a constant in their lives. Technology is everywhere from the smartphone in your pocket to the computer in your car. In 2021, no-code is more than a trend, it is a way of life. With the exponential growth of technology in general, and the increase of no-code platforms, the lifecycle of a product from a concept, to a working prototype, to a launched product, has been drastically shortened.

The old world of software coding is being replaced by a new generation of developers who use various visual development tools to complete often complex and demanding projects.

Benefits of no-code

Two of the biggest benefits of no-code that are immediately obvious are; a decrease in cost and time spent building a product like an app or website. A recent tweet from Andrew Wilkinson, co-founder of Tiny Capital, explains his experience in detail:

Tweet by Andrew Wilkinson

The future of no-code

No-code has been around for a long time now but in the last few years, no-code software has become increasingly popular, with no-code platforms accessible for businesses, kids, and non-technical professionals alike, seeing significant year-over-year growth. The no-code movement is democratizing the tech industry by giving everyone a seat at the table. If you have an idea you can build and launch it without the need for a large amount of capital, or to hire expensive developers.

If the future involves more and more people being able to build technical products, where does that leave programmers?

Co-founder and CEO of Webflow, Vlad Magdalin says:

Tweet by Vlad Magdalin

As the industry continues to open up and more and more no-code developers enter the space, what will happen is engineers will be freed up from working on static webpages, maintaining blogs, and making updates to the company website and instead will be able to focus on more complicated projects which will make a significant difference for small to medium sized businesses with limited resources.

In this article by Laura Bosco on she mentions some key takeaways from the no-code movement:

  • No-code is most revolutionary for a non-technical audience. Low-code is best suited for a technical audience.
  • No-code does not make developers, or a need for them, obsolete.
  • No-code is an approachable, fast, and low-risk way to test your initial idea.
  • Current limitations make no-code best suited for rapid prototyping or building robust websites. This is especially true if you’re non-technical.
  • Particularly on the app side of no-code, the main group of people making money seem to be tool providers.
  • When you’re pushing the limits of no-code, you have three options: hire a freelancer, hire an employee, work with an agency.
  • For most early startups, the freelancer or agency route is the best fit.

At the end of the day no-code tools are just that: tools. They require a combination of knowledge and experience. If you have experience beyond a certain tool then no-code is just a piece of the puzzle. No-code tools provide us with smarter, faster and easier ways to create code.

Some of the most popular no-code tools in use today: