Category: Blog, Business, Development

The Low-Code Guide That Every Business Owner Should Read

Exploring low-code: the future of app development? Understand what low-code is, its significant benefits, and why so many Product Owners are choosing it for their app development projects. Get the details inside!

what is low-code? a complete guide to low-code development

Low-code and no-code development are emerging trends in web and mobile application development that could potentially replace traditional, more complex coding practices. These approaches streamline the development process and let you create apps without extensive resources and deep technical knowledge. No-code platforms are designed for non-technical users to easily build applications. Low-code, on the other hand, bridges the gap between the simplicity of no-code and traditional coding, catering to users with at least basic programming skills. In this discussion, we will focus primarily on low-code development.

The global low-code platform market is forecast to amount to approximately 65 billion U.S. dollars by 2027.

What is low-code?

Low-code is a simpler way to create software, the main idea of which is to automate and democratize the development process. 

Generally, low-code tools require little coding knowledge to build an app or a website. Imagine that you only need a drag-and-drop block builder to create a whole application. Each block is a part of the app, like a button or a form. Instead of coding, you can develop applications from ready-to-use components. All technical details happen behind the scenes – you have a working product just after you design the app.

Gartner defines low-code application platforms (LCAPs) as “application platforms that are used to rapidly develop and run custom applications by abstracting and minimizing the use of programming languages.” To supplement this definition, low-code applications practically always use graphic interfaces to build applications or websites.

Who can develop apps with low-code?

You don’t have to be a programming expert! Even if you’re new to it, you can use low-code because these tools also have a lot of no-code functionality. However, you will need at least some programming skills (or someone with those skills to help you) to get the most out of low-code tools.

Let’s take a look at the use cases for who can benefit from using low-code development:

  • Professional developers: You can partly automate the development process and build apps faster for specific use cases.
  • Beginners: With no coding knowledge, you can prototype and build apps independently. 
  • Experts in a job or topic: You can automate and optimize your work by creating low-code apps relevant to your business. 
  • Start-up founders: You can get innovative solutions to market quickly and help to attract users and investors, even with limited coding skills. 
  • Small business owners: You can improve customer service and efficiency without a large investment in technology development.

As you can see, just about anyone with basic programming skills can try and benefit from low-code app development. Let’s look at some use cases for business owners.

Low-code use cases for business owners

As a business owner, you can benefit from low-code in several scenarios:

  • Business software development: LCAPs are advanced enough to support business operations and process digitalization. It is also an excellent point to start, and thanks to low-code benefits, organizations can quickly and cheaply try new approaches.
  • Business process automation: LCAPs play a significant role in making internal workflows more efficient through hyper-automation. Instead of building a system from scratch, low-code provides low entry barriers with exceptional effects.
  • Rapid prototyping: Due to drag-and-drop builders, low-code significantly decreases prototyping costs. This helps in gaining faster feedback from users, in turn making quicker data-driven decisions. It saves start-ups from losing money as a result of building unwanted features, which is a critical factor to success.
  • Customer engagement apps: Develop interactive applications to improve customer service and engagement. These apps could support businesses as new sales or marketing channels, aligned with the overall business strategy.
  • Internal tool development: Build custom tools for the team’s specific needs, improving productivity.
  • Low-code MVP development: Development can often be a never-ending money pit. So cost optimization is a crucial factor in start-up success. Low-code tools could be a game-changer here. Businesses could find their product-market fit before money burnout by quickly creating and testing new application ideas and validating concepts. Low-code tools also offer outstanding integrations, enabling the creation of advanced features in days, rather than weeks.
low-code use cases

Key low-code features and benefits

Based on the use cases described, let’s look at what you can get out of the low-code app approach.

Visual modeling

Visual modeling in LCAPs is a feature that enables users to build applications via a drag-and-drop graphic interface. The idea is to simplify the UI creation process and replace coding by moving pre-build widgets and components to the right place. Additionally, visual blocks can be used to build navigation and app logic, offering a simpler and faster approach to designing an application’s architecture.

You can see how your app looks and works as you build it. Plus, you can quickly start using your app with just one click.

How can you profit from it?

  • Engage non-IT departments to help you build apps.
  • Create different solutions without spending a lot of money.
  • Collaborate better and make decisions more easily with teams from different areas.
  • Give expert developers more time to work on large and complex projects.

Reusable components

Reusable components in low-code are like building blocks that you can use over and over again to create different parts of an application. These blocks include things like pre-built sections, common actions, designs, and ways to connect to other services. 

They make it faster to build apps because you don’t have to start from scratch every time. Skilled developers can also modify these components to meet specific needs or add new features.

How can you profit from it?

  • Build applications faster and more efficiently.
  • Use pre-built parts that have already been tested for performance and security.
  • Build apps that are consistent and can grow as needed.
  • Quickly add new features to your applications when you need them.

Collaboration tools

Collaboration tools in low-code platforms help teams work together easily. They include tools for sharing feedback, keeping track of changes, planning work with user stories, and chatting with each other. Because everything is visual in low-code, it’s easier for everyone to understand what’s being developed, no matter their technical background. This means teams can work more effectively together on building apps.

How can you profit from it?

  • Help business and IT teams work better together.
  • Improve communication across the organization.
  • Smooth development and reduce the need to redo work.

Data integration

Low-code platforms let you safely use data and logic from any source, such as your main systems. You can build apps using ready-to-use APIs and connectors. You can think of these like bridges that connect your app to different systems and services. If you need something special, skilled developers can create custom connections. This makes it easier to bring together all the different parts you need for your app.

How can you profit from it?

  • Save over 30% of developers’ time.
  • Build and handle bigger systems.
  • Easily share data among different projects and teams.
  • Quickly make reusable parts and small services with easy access to company data.

Application lifecycle management

Low-code covers all steps of app development. It has tools for planning, setting goals, keeping track of versions, testing, and launching apps. It makes these tasks easier. Low-code combines Agile (a flexible approach to software development) and DevOps (tools for better teamwork), both of which help make the whole app-making process work better.

How can you profit from it?

  • Easily move apps through stages: idea, making, testing, launching, and running.
  • Speed up every phase with automation and simplification.
  • Help your teams work step-by-step and on their own.

Low-code is a smart choice for business owners looking to innovate and grow. It’s like having a magic tool for making apps – handy and effective. With low-code development, you do more than just build apps; you keep up with changes, connect with customers, and stay ahead in business. This tool will help you match technology with your business plans. And it lets you turn your ideas into reality quickly. Thus, we can safely say that low-code is about helping your business thrive in a fast-moving digital world.

Low-code vs. no-code vs. high-code

We’ve talked about low-code and its features. And as the name low-code implies, there are also no-code and high-code approaches to building software. Each has its own set of needs and offers different possibilities. How do they compare to one another? Let’s dive into a side-by-side look to understand the differences and what each approach brings to the table.

low-code vs. no-code vs. high-code comparison table
User Skill LevelSome technical knowledge is needed. Good for developers who want to speed up the process.No technical skills required. Ideal for business users and non-developers.Advanced technical skills are required. Suitable for experienced developers.
CustomizationMedium flexibility with options for custom coding.Highly limited customization, mostly confined to what the platform offers.Complete freedom in coding and customization.
Development SpeedFaster than high-code due to pre-built elements, but slower than no-code.Fastest development, utilizing drag-and-drop interfaces without coding.Slowest, as it involves writing and testing lines of code.
Complexity of ProjectsSuitable for moderately complex to complex projects.Best for simple to moderately complex projects.Ideal for highly complex projects with specific requirements.
Control & FlexibilityBalance between ease of use and control over the application.High ease of use but limited control over technical aspects.Full control over every aspect of the application.
Target UsersServes both professional and part-time developers.Aimed at business users for custom app creation with no coding skills.For professional developers needing precise control over functionality.
Project ScaleGood for a variety of scales, including enterprise solutions.Mainly for smaller scale projects without complex requirements.Best for large-scale, intricate projects.
CollaborationEncourages collaboration between non-technical users and developers.Enables business users to develop independently of IT.Requires specialized developer resources, often less collaborative.
IntegrationCan integrate with legacy systems and external data sources.Limited in terms of integration and handling complex legacy systems.Full integration capabilities with complete custom solutions.
Security and ComplianceOffers a balance, with some need for IT oversight.Can lead to shadow IT if not managed properly.Typically has strong IT involvement ensuring security and compliance.

For business owners, picking the right app development tool is key. Low-code is flexible and good for many projects, letting your team be part of the process. No-code is the easiest and quickest for simple apps, but it’s limited in what you can change. High-code offers total control for big, complex projects but needs more tech skills and time. Knowing these options helps you choose the best tool for your business’s needs.

Read also: Low-Code vs. No-Code Development – Comparison for Business Owners

Low-code challenges

While low-code platforms offer many advantages, they’re not perfect for every situation. Here’s when they might not be the best choice:

  • Customization limits: Low-code may not have enough options for very unique applications.
  • Vendor lock-in: Using one platform can be a problem if you need to change later.
  • Complexity and performance: Some low-code platforms struggle with very large or complex apps.
  • Reliance on third-party tools: Low-code platforms often depend on external tools for specific functionalities, which can introduce challenges in integration and consistency across your app.
  • Security and compliance: Ensuring security and compliance can be difficult, especially when dealing with sensitive data.

That being said, low-code is great for many projects, but think twice if you need highly customized apps, don’t want to depend on one platform, or are working on a very large or complex project. In these cases, low-code might not be the best solution.

Top low-code platforms

Exploring the landscape of low-code platforms reveals a variety of tools designed to streamline app development across several domains. Here’s a snapshot of leading platforms, categorized by their primary applications in business software development, business process automation, and rapid prototyping for MVPs.

top low-code platforms

Business Software Development

  • Mendix: Offers a comprehensive development environment for building complex and scalable enterprise applications. It supports collaboration across the entire development lifecycle, making it ideal for large teams.
  • OutSystems: Known for its ability to develop, deploy, and manage enterprise-grade applications quickly. It combines the speed of low-code development with advanced capabilities for mobile and web applications.
  • Microsoft PowerApps: A part of the Microsoft Power Platform, PowerApps enables users to build custom business apps with minimal coding. It integrates well with other Microsoft products, enhancing productivity and business processes.
  • Glide: Enables users to create mobile apps directly from Google Sheets without any coding. It’s particularly useful for simple projects and prototyping, offering a quick way to turn spreadsheets into functional apps.

Automate Business Processes

  • Zoho Creator: A powerful tool for automating business workflows and managing data. It enables businesses to develop custom apps that streamline operations, with a focus on ease of use and integration with the Zoho ecosystem.
  • Appian: Delivers a platform for building enterprise BPM (Business Process Management) applications. Its low-code approach enables the rapid development of apps to automate and optimize business processes.
  • Quickbase: A versatile platform for creating custom solutions that automate workflows and improve collaboration. It’s designed for any skill level, enabling both technical and non-technical users to build applications that address specific business needs.
  • Retool: Provides a fast way to build internal tools that automate business processes. It offers a range of pre-built components and integrations, making it easier to assemble custom apps for various operational needs.

Low-Code MVP/ Rapid Prototyping

  • Bubble: A visual programming platform that lets non-technical users build web and mobile applications without code. It’s great for entrepreneurs looking to quickly bring their app ideas to life with full control over the design and functionality.
  • FlutterFlow: A low-code builder for Flutter apps, allowing developers and non-developers to create beautiful and functional mobile apps. It leverages the power of Flutter for cross-platform development, facilitating rapid prototyping and MVP creation.
  • Adalo: Makes app creation as easy as putting together a slide deck. Users can design, build, and launch apps with a drag-and-drop interface, focusing on the rapid development and deployment of MVPs.
  • AppGyver: Offers a comprehensive no-code platform for building sophisticated apps for web and mobile. It caters to developers and business users alike, supporting the creation of apps with complex logic and integrations.
  • Draftbit: A low-code mobile app builder that gives users the power to create and iterate on their apps in real-time. It provides a bridge between no-code and full code, offering more flexibility and control over the app development process.

Picking the right low-code platform from over 300 choices? 

Start by looking for one that keeps up with the growing needs for apps. Each low-code platform has its unique features. Consider the following tips to help guide your decision-making process.

Focus on your use case

Low-code platforms often focus on building apps in domain-specific use cases. So, firstly, let’s clarify the app’s main goal and understand the users and sector in which it operates. It could be:

  • building a low-code MVP for a lifestyle brand
  • automatizing business operations in the logistics sector
  • making new sales or customer support channels for e-commerce

Knowing your domain and problem space well gives you good starting points for utilizing the low-code tool benefits.

Flexible or rigid?

The complexity of the app is the next crucial question.

Low-code tools offer different levels of adaptability and personalization. However, It’s a trade-off – faster and easier development often comes with compromises and workarounds. Or there may be high customization and freedom, but such tools need more specific knowledge to be proficient. Start by defining core app processes to go along with picking the best tool.

Understand your technology environment

When it comes to more technical aspects of your app, we need to ask ourselves about the following:

  • integrations with a backend or third-party tools
  • user and data usage 
  • connections with external devices 
  • usage of native app features

Yes – the best solution must depend on the specific case and domain. However, considering the technical environment surrounding your product is essential to choosing the most efficient solution.

Include team skills

You can use low-code tools that best match your team skills. This means existing platforms with similar features but based on different frameworks (Daftbit/ Flutterflow) for example. You can consider different tools if you rely on more developers or designers, rather than needing strictly business-friendly tools – it depends on whom you work with.

In summary, choosing the right low-code tool is a strategic decision that depends on the business, user, as well as the technology context. There’s also a need for broad knowledge of low-code tools.

The future of low-code

The future of low-code development looks promising, with its market expected to soar. This surge is driven by the need for quick, easy software solutions and digital transformation, with many companies planning to boost their low-code use. Low-code not only cuts development time by up to 90% but also opens doors to developing complex technologies like AI and IoT in a much simpler fashion, making advanced tech accessible to more people and industries. This trend towards low-code also generates faster, more innovative software development across various fields.

Another interesting fact is that citizen developers have become more valuable since the advent of low-code. Now they can quickly create new features and automations to meet needs, saving time and money, and making it easier to work with data. And this trend is likely to continue.

The global low-code platform market is forecast to amount to approximately 65 billion U.S. dollars by 2027. It is certainly a topic worth watching. And it’s equally worth considering how low-code can be used to improve business projects.

Low-code development at Droids On Roids

As Droids On Roids, we are exploring the effective use of low-code tools for creating low-code or no-code MVPs. The main benefits are reducing time-to-market and cost development. Such tools accelerate flexibility and adaptability, which are key factors in early start-up success. These tools also are part of our product validation and product discovery process. As experienced developers, we also know how to utilize low-code tools with traditional development, extending their usage.

Final thoughts: Low-code, brilliant innovation or a misguided approach?

When it comes to low-code development, which side wins depends on who is holding the scales.

There are situations where this approach will not work, such as:

  • projects requiring deep customization
  • handling highly complex systems
  • when you need full control over every aspect of the application’s performance and security
  • when your project demands specific technologies not supported by the low-code platform 

However, if none of that is your case, low-code is worth considering. 

For business owners – it can be a game changer, transforming how quickly they can turn concepts into operational tools without complex coding. Fantastic for creating prototypes, enhancing customer interactions, and streamlining operations, its advantages are clear:

  • Simplifying software development.
  • Intuitive drag-and-drop application creation.
  • Eliminating the need for deep programming knowledge.
  • Welcoming users of all levels.
  • Allowing for customization with additional coding by experts.
  • Providing a fast, budget-friendly development option.
  • Continuing to grow in popularity for its ease of use in app development.

About the authors

Aleksander Beck

Aleksander Beck

Product Manager & Scrum Master

Generalist Product Manager and Scrum Master with 5+ years of experience working with startups and scaleups. He helps build services and digital products from initial ideas to launch.

Inez Bartosińska

Inez Bartosińska

Content Marketing Specialist

A Content Marketing Specialist with a rich background of over four years in IT and tech-related topics. She has a knack for turning complex industry jargon into relatable stories. Collaborating with our team of developers, business analysts, scrum masters, and designers, she ensures our technical insights are understandable for everyone. Outside of the office, she's a globetrotter with a passion for discovering new cultures and experiences.