Best No-code Tools for 2021 vs Custom Web Application Development
With a powerful promise of enabling anyone to create a website in minutes, no-code tools are gaining huge popularity. Will they leave custom web application development in the past, and what should you choose?
No-code is actually not a trend – solutions for citizen development have been around for years. It started back in the 80s, with the introduction of Excel – a powerful tool for performing complex tasks like data analysis without coding.
But in 2003, everything changed even more. WordPress and Shopify kickstarted the opportunity for anybody to build websites. The newer generation like Bubble, Airtable, and Webflow has once again taken it to the next level.
Today, you can build all sorts of apps: from personal websites, landings, CMS, and e-commerce to business apps (CRM, databases, process management, various tools) and advanced no-code websites. Let’s review the top no-code services for 2021 and their capabilities.
No-code tools for personal websites
- Wix (Best templates and overall features)
- Jimdo (Fastest setup, automatic SEO)
- Webnode (Cheapest website builder)
- Duda (Best for Integrating SaaS Platforms)
- Strikingly, Carrd (for landings)
Media websites (CMS) no-code services
WordPress. 63.5% of all CMS users choose WordPress for websites, making it by far the most popular solution in the market. It boasts 7,707+ official free themes, 11,000+ premium themes at Themeforest, and 56,884+ official free plugins, not to mention a possibility of a custom WordPress theme development. Building a WordPress website is also the most beginner-friendly among other CMS. However, security threats are also the biggest – other CMS are safer.
Joomla! Joomla has the least templates and extensions, but it shouldn’t stop you if you want to manage a more complex website. It is considered better for more flexible websites that have more content than WordPress. It is also a great choice for social networking sites or such due to a more advanced user management scheme, easier multilingual options, etc. However, it does have a bigger learning curve.
Drupal. This CMS is more geared toward developers than beginners. It may take a lot of coding done to achieve the desired result. You can go for it if you want the highest level of customization along with first-class security. Many government agencies and top businesses like Tesla trust Drupal due to its security standards.
No-code solutions for e-commerce website development
Shopify. Is Shopify the best e-commerce platform? Well, it is definitely one of the most popular and used by over a million businesses. Shopify’s e-commerce service has a plethora of features like customer re-engagement tools and 70+ templates.
WooCommerce. This is actually a WordPress plugin, but it has as many options as a separate platform: themes suited to your brand and industry, customization with modular product blocks, a showcase of physical and digital goods, affiliate items, bookings, memberships, subscriptions, dynamic pricing, simplified taxes, configured payment & shipping options, etc.
Squarespace. Famous for beautiful templates with responsive web design, has many handy features like CRM, sync between online and offline shop, subscription-model compatibility, flexible payments, checkout, taxes, gift cards, mobile store management options, etc.
BigCommerce. Open SaaS platform with SEO tools, adaptive site themes, and customizable storefront builder.
Gumroad. A platform for building no-code payment solutions.
No-code business apps (CRM, databases, tools)
- Salesforce (a CRM with no-code app builder and multiple possibilities for business)
- Airtable (a popular service for business apps with powerful integrations)
- Ninox Database (move from spreadsheets to automated business processes)
- Quick Base (low-code SaaS product for project and workflow management apps)
- Outgrow (quizzes, calculators, recommendations, polls, chatbots, giveaways, surveys)
- Voiceflow (voice apps)
- MemberSpace (no-code membership options)
Services for advanced no-code websites
- Bubble (a popular no-code platform for websites, as well as SaaS platforms, marketplaces, and CRMs)
- Pega (low-code platform with CRM, AI-powered solutions, DevOps, testing, workforce intelligence and more; received the highest score by Gartner in Enterprise IT Composite Applications)
- WEM (no-code for everything from a custom ERP, CRM, loyalty software, planning or event management system to leveraging the Internet of Things)
Tools for RAD (rapid application development)
- BlueFinity’s Evoke (fast development and deployment of mobile, desktop, and web business apps, an extension of enterprise applications for customers, employees, and partners)
- Zoho Creator (a low-code, drag-and-drop development platform for the digital workplace, workflow automation, BPM and ERP software, etc.)
- Kissflow (low/no-code service for designing workflows, managing business processes, procurement and project management, etc.)
- Codebots (a bot service created to speed up development with fully customizable code for both server-side and client-side).
The future of No-code vs custom web application development
There are so many no-code solutions for web development, that you might wonder: is it the beginning of the end for custom web application development.
This is not the case. Yes, no-code is going to revolutionize IT in many ways. First and foremost, it will bring the democratization of technology. Anyone will be able to digitize or develop products much faster, easier, and for the least cost, than ever. For many businesses and individuals, it will be a huge opportunity. As for professional developers, they will free a lot of their time for innovation, more challenging tasks, and overviewing of low/no-code projects.
It is likely, that in the future we will see the merge of the concepts in what some experts call a flex-code. It means oscillating between high-code and low-code versions depending on the needs of the team. For example, designers and marketers will use a no-code version to change the interface as needed, and then pass it on to developers, who will maintain or scale the high-code version, more suitable for their workflow and free of limitations.
But bespoke design and development will remain preferable, and sometimes the only option for many. Here are some reasons why.
7 Reasons why custom web application development is still better
- You will save your time. No-code solutions might advertise themselves as a way to create a website in minutes, even for a beginner, but it’s not completely true. Many of the services will require learning to use them and at least a basic understanding of development (for example, making the site responsive). If you have ever tried WordPress website development, you might know how much time it actually takes. All advanced integrations usually require coding.
- You will only pay for real value and cut unnecessary costs. If the price of a custom web page development is a discouraging factor, you should check the pricing of no-code platforms. act like monopolists. The fee is generally usage-based, so the time can come when it no longer will seem profitable. Vendors often increase prices and ask more for additional integrations. Moreover, a professional approach can reduce risks of failure due to agile software development, user journey maps, design sprints, application testing, etc., and therefore, save your money.
- You will get a highly-customized solution without compromises. With no-code platforms, you risk getting a website looking almost the same as hundreds and thousands of similar businesses. Moreover, any platform has limitations, and you will hit them sooner or later (lacking functionality, integration issues, etc.) It might mean losing a competitive advantage.
- You will be able to introduce complex solutions. It all depends on your business objectives. For example, you are building an e-commerce store. What if you decide that you need some sophisticated calculation algorithm or AR feature to stand out? You will have to look for a workaround or move to a custom e-commerce development.
- Scaling and maintenance will be easy. There is a reason why finding professional developers to maintain a No-Code website is hard. It’s no secret they find it cumbersome and breaking their workflows. (So there will always be a risk of creating a Shadow IT within the business). Meanwhile, you need to make sure your website is future-proof. For example, what about adapting to JAMstack or evolving content architectures? Technologies or your business needs can evolve faster than the platform you’ve chosen. Also, unlike no-code tools, professional web development services provide instant support and maintenance 24/7.
- You will have full control. Vendor lock-in is a frequently underestimated problem. Yes, the stories about successful apps shutting down along with the platform are true, there is not much you can do about it. Think of App Maker – even Google is not immune.
- You will secure your data. Data governance might be a challenge since you have little to no control over the backend data and process. Also, many platforms have open data by default, and no relevant certificates (for example, for the healthcare industry).
All in all, you need to find that point of balance. No-code can be a fitting choice if you are:
- a startup with very limited funds
- looking for simple modifications and easy solutions, with no long-term plans for scaling
- with little to no need for data transfer and third-party integration
- ready to accept all the limitations that come with no-code vendors
- willing to spend some time to learn the platform’s documentation and code the app by yourself.
But if you have doubts about any of this, we recommend considering custom web application development. We are proud of lifting many businesses due to our special attention to the discovery phase. You can check our case studies here.