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No-code vs. Custom Code: What is a Better Fit for User-centered Design?

No-code vs. Custom Code: What is a Better Fit for User-centered Design?

By ai, application development, digital transformation, innovation, Uncategorized, user experience, user interface, UX One Comment

Ever-evolving software technologies and no-code or low-code tools are transforming a traditional way of creating digital products. In the last few years, creating software can be done faster, simpler, and with a lower barrier of entry than ever before. One of the reasons is that user-centered design has come to the forefront of most software development processes. At the same time, the need for the software creator to code is being replaced with drag-and-drop interfaces, freeing up space for creativity, rapid prototyping, and continuous testing.

But does this trend mean that custom coding will completely vanish in the next few years? Or, can these two approaches exist in parallel, complementing each other?

This article will explain the concept of no-code and low-code development in the context of building user-centered design. Ideally, you’ll find out whether you’ll benefit more from a low-code development approach, or if custom coding is what you need for your projects.

What “low-code” and “no-code” actually mean

As the name suggests, low-code or no-code development is a practice of building digital products with little or no coding. It’s made possible by platforms allowing users to create software solutions by just dragging and dropping necessary elements, or features, into the relevant fields. The main goal of these platforms isn’t limited to visualizing product designers’ ideas like in Sketch or InVision. They let you build an actual interface with functioning features on it, as opposed to creating a UX/UI mockup.

The low-code/no-code approach reflects recent changes in the development process and business requirements. Today, the main focus is shifted from the product functionality to the product presentation.

development process
Image credit: zapier.com

Modern businesses understand that the strong orientation towards users has become a ‘gold standard’ in the digital world. Naturally, as technology develops, design decisions play a more critical role than it did before. These factors create a demand for quicker prototyping and frequent user feedback collection. The birth and rise of low-code/no-code development is a technology response to this global trend.

Benefits of no-code development

office people

The potential benefits of the low-code/no-code development approach goes far beyond speed and simplicity. This practice can significantly reduce the gap from the ideation and execution stages of app development – drastically changing the way businesses embrace innovation. Here are the key advantages of using low-code/no-code development platforms.

Rapid delivery for the supreme time-to-value

Rapid delivery is probably the most obvious benefit of the low/no-code approach. With low-code/no-code automation tools, you can build a web or mobile application really quickly, even if you can’t code. The accelerated development speed can help startups that plan to launch a product or service in a highly competitive market gain a considerable competitive advantage.

For mature enterprises, rapid delivery is also beneficial as it allows for improved flexibility and adjustability. Besides, the fast time to market enabled by low-code/no-code solutions can help businesses of any size iterate more often and create products with truly user-centered design.

Driving force behind digital transformation

Low-code and no-code tools facilitate a digital transformation process and lower the barrier of entry to innovation. In practice, it allows business professionals with no or minimum technical background to bring their ideas to life without the necessity to wait until developers will do the work. This practice is called civil development, and it helps enterprises resolve IT challenges faster and more effectively.

For example, an HR or marketing department may need quick internal transformations to improve its efficiency. In these scenarios, low-code can be a great solution as it doesn’t require a lot of time and money from an enterprise.

Additionally, low-code and no-code development create more favorable conditions for building user-centered design for business applications. It is because the people who need the software solutions are the ones who actually build them, as opposed to delegating the task to the IT department.

Simplified prototyping and usability testing

To create an outstanding UX design, a development team should test a product on its potential users before the release. The more iterations take place, the higher the chances are for a successful product launch. Basically, this is the foundation of most agile development methodologies.

With low-code/no-code tools, programmers can quickly and easily build a product and test its every core feature. As a result, they can generate enough knowledge to tailor a user experience to the needs and wants of a target audience. Besides, low-code/no-code development enables the implementation of the Lean UX approach. This Lean UX method prioritizes rapid iterations and puts an even greater focus on collecting user feedback.

Benefits of custom coding

coding

Low-code/no-code options cannot fully replace custom development. Writing code from scratch also has many advantages that are essential for solving certain business challenges. Let’s take a closer look at them.

Uniqueness and specialized interactivity

With low-code and no-code development, you can create a good design. However, this approach won’t allow you to build a unique solution. In other words, if you need an application with specialized interactivity, custom coding will be a better fit for you.

This slightly more traditional approach to product development usually requires more resources, but it also gives you a higher level of freedom and expertise. Basically, developers can implement any product idea you have. Whereas, if you select low-code/no-code development, your choice of features and UX design elements will be limited to options offered by a tool vendor.

Complex functionality and state-of-the-art technologies

Complex functionality and sophisticated data models can only be implemented with custom coding. It means that low-code/no-code solutions won’t be of help for businesses that need an enterprise-wide application. Similarly, when it comes to making use of innovative technologies such as AI, virtual and augmented reality, blockchain, etc, there is no alternative to custom code development.

Low-code/no-code vs custom code: what to choose for your business

Both approaches can benefit most businesses —  each addressing different needs. However, in order to help you decide what type of development to select for a specific project here are some hints that will help.

Choose low-code/no-code development for:

  • simple tools for automating simple business operations
  • basic solutions for eliminating bottlenecks in specific work-flows
  • new digital products that require extensive and/or regular user feedback to be built properly
  • new digital products that have to be released quickly (e.g., to outrun the competition)
  • idea validation, if you’re not sure whether people need certain functionality (ideal for startups)

Choose custom code for:

  • complex feature-rich solutions
  • products based on AI, VR, AR, or any other innovative technology
  • long-term development projects with uncertain requirements
  • unique products that cannot be developed with low-code/no-code tools
  • larger digital products that will reach a large user-base to ensure solidity at scale

However, it is possible for you to use both approaches in one project. For example, you may be able to build a high-fidelity prototype with low-code/no-code tools to test key assumptions and then proceed with custom coding to create a full-fledged product.

Conclusion

In the no-code vs. custom code battle, there is no single winner. Low-code/no-code development can be a great solution for building simple applications, usability testing,  prototyping, and experimenting. The wide adoption of this practice can drive innovation across different industries and cultivate creativity in product development.

However, the low-code/no-code approach cannot compete when it comes to the scale and unique features possible through custom development. Writing code remains vital when it comes to the development of unique and complex software solutions.

Want to develop a software product but not sure what approach to choose? Contact us!

Hottest IoT-based Solutions Transforming the World

By customer experience, design, IoT, omnichannel No Comments

With the emergence of smart home devices like Google Home, Amazon Alexa, and more, everybody is going nuts about connectivity. Wearables such as smartwatches and fitness bands are no longer something rare or unique – a lot of us have and use them on a daily basis. This is also the case with remote-controlled home appliances that are connected to the internet, industrial assets and transportation systems. It’s no wonder that the IoT market size is expected to grow to $457.29 billion by 2020.

The concept of connected devices, more commonly called the Internet of Things (IoT), is not brand new – it was introduced in the early 80s. However, tech experts and ordinary people alike are still excited to see where this is all going.

As professional designers and developers, we also keep track of the current IoT trends. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the new IoT services and solutions which have the potential to become an integral part of our everyday lives in the near future.

Even more smart stores

It’s only been a year since Amazon opened its first no-checkout Amazon Go store to the public in Seattle. This automation solution has been made possible by the leaps in machine learning and IoT data processing. However, rumor has it that the company already plans its international expansion. As of today, the chain consists of nine smart stores located in the US but we can expect to have the first cashier-less store in the U.K in the nearest future. And, according to Bloomberg, Amazon will open about 3,000 other smart supermarkets by 2021.

Shopping in Amazon Go gif
Image source: giphy.com

The idea of doing shopping by just entering the store, grabbing the groceries and leaving without being checked out still sounds futuristic to a lot of people. Yet, Amazon is not the only company trying to take advantage of advanced shopping technology. Microsoft is already treading on its heels.

Recently, the company announced its partnership with Kroger, a large chain of US supermarkets. And many of the innovative solutions they created are based on IoT technology. Digital shelves, personalized ads and automatic alerts notifying store staff of low inventories are already redefining the way we think about supermarkets.

Reportedly, other retailers around the world will also have an opportunity to buy this solution. In other words, it’s just a matter of time before the smart store like Amazon Go will become an industry standard.

Smart fridges and the smart way of shopping for groceries

Smart grocery management is another category of IoT solutions which are going to take customer shopping experience to the next level. The main idea behind it is simple, yet genius. It is to make smart home products help us do grocery shopping in an easy and time-effective way.

The most famous smart device of this kind that already exists is Samsung Family Hub. Simply put, it’s a smart fridge that, among other things, can take photos of products stored in it. Users then can view such photos via their smartphones as they shop. On top of that, the fridge can mirror a TV, synchronize with calendars, share notes and messages. It can even help its owners control smart lighting, oven, front door video doorbells or security cameras etc. remotely.

Samsung Family Hub gif
Image source: Samsung.com

The smart home hub

Speaking about front door cameras, they’ll become smart too. At CES 2019, an IoT product called Door View Cam was announced by Ring company. The camera can be used as a regular glass peephole. But besides that, it can stream video to your smartphone and let you talk to anyone standing at your front door.

doors with Door View Cam
Image source: USA TODAY

As a side note, the smart home niche is expected to grow significantly in the near future (see the chart below). In short, the smart home niche can potentially become a gold mine for businesses that are ready to invest in IoT and new technologies. Among the many new products, you’ll find: the smart thermostat, smart speaker, smart plug, smart locks, and more.

Smart Home technology expected growth

Fairytales can come true with smart mirrors

Remember that episode from the fairytale about Snow White when she asks the magic mirror:  ‘Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?’ ? Well, it no longer sounds like a fairytale because a ‘magic’ mirror can actually answer that question. A smart mirror by Capstone Connected Home was introduced at CES 2019 and it’s expected to be released later this year.

a girl in front of a smart mirror
Image source: Capstone Connected Home

At first glance, this smart mirror looks like a regular mirror and can be used as such. But that is far from all it can do. Besides working as a mirror, this gadget also has Google Assistant built-in, so it can practically do all the things the latter does. For instance, you can check the emails while brushing your teeth, access social media, stream YouTube videos or even play games.

Another cool thing about Capstone Smart Mirror is that you’ll still be able to see yourself through the content shown on the mirror ‘screen’, so it’s not just a huge tablet. We believe that the idea behind this device is very promising and that smart mirrors will make our mornings more pleasant and productive very soon.

IoT provides the future of healthcare

Unlike the previous two types of IoT solutions which aim to make our lives easier, the Internet of Healthcare Things (or IoHT) also helps people feel better and be healthier. It even has the potential to save lives.

The list of ways you can implement this technology in practice is virtually endless. For instance, there are solutions that gather information about the patient’s health and send a notification to a doctor if something is wrong. Other apps help monitor user’s medication schedules, activities and sleep cycles. Some IoT devices can also automatically identify any glitches in medical hardware so they can be fixed in a timely manner.

E-Alert by Philips is a great example of the latter type of IoHT solution. This tool measures key parameters of magnetic resonance imaging and alerts if something in the system doesn’t work properly.

e-Alert by Philips chart
Image source: philips.com.au

Moreover, there are also IoT devices that help doctors train without the risk of doing any harm to bodies or patients. For instance, Osso VR is a training gadget for surgeons that combines IoT and VR technologies and allows doctors to perform realistic operations in a risk-free virtual reality space. The product was released a few years ago but is still actively discussed on different professional platforms, such as this year’s CES conference.

a surgeon using OSSO VR
Image source: Osso VR

Although some smart medical devices already exist, we expect even more are in development already. And the IoT technology is versatile and flexible enough to satisfy the needs of any medical organization or hospital.

Pets will live better too

Human beings are not the only creatures who can benefit from the innovative solutions you can create with IoT. With the help of IoT technology, the life of our four-legged friends can be more pleasant and safer as well.

Different pet trackers that utilize GPS technology appeared a few years ago and have already won the hearts of animal owners. You can attach a small sensor to a pets’ collars or embed the sensor into them. This makes it possible to easily find the location of your cat or dog via a smartphone.

People often treat their cats, dogs, hamsters, parrots etc. as family members. That’s why they seek out pet care products that will make their pets happier. One of the most innovative solutions in this regard is a smart bed such as Petrics Smart Pet Bed introduced at CES 2018. Besides controlling the key health parameters (weight, sleep time etc.), it allows for the remote thermostatic control to maintain the temperature that is optimal for a specific breed.

Dog on Petrics Smart Pet Bed

Another popular IoT product that has the potential to become a must-have for any pet parent is a smart feeder. This type of device remotely controls food supply for cats and dogs (portion sizes, feeding schedule etc.). Some also have a camera, allowing the pet owner to check in on the pet remotely.

Cat eating from smart feeder
Image source: HomeCrux

It’s worth mentioning that quite a few smart feeders have already been created. Yet, the niche is ever-growing so there’s plenty of room for new pet-caring products with more advanced features.

Hyperconnected businesses and IoT manufacturing

One can hardly find a business that will not benefit from IoT-fueled solutions. No matter what your company produces and sells there are always processes that can be automated and done faster and more efficiently.

As of today, a lot of businesses, especially in the manufacturing industry, are successfully harnessing the power of IoT technology. For instance, at the Siemens plants in Germany, 75 percent of the production process is automated. The figure is quite significant, however, Siemens is planning on taking it further by creating a smart plant that is entirely automated.

And Siemens is not alone with its intentions. According to Juniper Research, the number of industrial IoT connections is going to grow to 46 billion in the next four years. This means that all businesses must consider investing in IoT solutions to stay competitive.

IoT is revolutionizing our personal and professional lives

Many IoT solutions may seem revolutionary or even unbelievable to us. However, we have to come to terms with the thought that most aspects of our lives will include IoT devices in the very near future. At the same time, the Internet of Things provides fantastic potential for innovation for businesses. So if you have a brilliant idea for an IoT-based product that will either allow people to handle their routine tasks more easily or help you optimize your business activity, it’s the perfect time to turn it into reality.

Looking for a development team for your next IoT project? Just contact us!