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Low-code vs no-code: the core differences and how to choose the right approach

Max Tsurbeliov
Max Tsurbeliov

Content Creator

September 15, 2022

Updated:

Low-code vs no-code: the core differences and how to choose the right approach

Low-code vs no-code: the core differences and how to choose the right approach

Max Tsurbeliov
Max Tsurbeliov

Content Creator

September 15, 2022

Updated:

Low-code vs no-code: the core differences and how to choose the right approach
table of contents

Some users and even developers find it hard to distinguish between the low-code and no-code platforms. This is, primarily, due to the similarity of their purposes and some of their functions. 

However, there are lots of differences that make low-code and no-code two connected but separate concepts. Both have their own ecosystems, users, and types of applications and tools. In this article, we will clarify the similarities and differences between low-code and no-code. Here you’ll find:

  • Short definitions of low-code and no-code, and their place in the software development world;
  • How to differentiate between low-code and no-code platforms;
  • Practical use cases of low-code and no-code solutions;
  • Low-code and no-code concepts comparison table.

What are the low-code and no-code? 

Before we dive into the differences between the two development paradigms, we need to be clear about what they are. Thus, let’s start with the actual definitions of low-code and no-code.

Low-code development

Low-code development paradigm refers to software development tools and methods that allow developers to build software much faster. Instead of writing long code lines, developers compile code abstractions. Using a low-code platform, you can build various applications: from multifunctional workflow tools to sophisticated systems that include dozens of integrations and multiple features. 

At the same time, to unleash the full potential of a low-code platform you’ll inevitably need professional low-code development services. However, low-code platforms bring more transparency to the development process as long as you are able to control every step and have access to an account. Finally, low-code apps are deployed with a single click.

No-code development

The no-code software development platforms stay for their name and require no actual coding from their users. No-code frameworks offer small business owners and individuals a fast and easy way to build their own apps or internal workflow tools. No-code is more suitable for front-end development rather than back. So, the no-code paradigm is not about customization and various integration.

The central advantage of the no-code method is a low entrance threshold for non-techies. Thus, you can start to create your own application once you’ve got your no-code platform subscription. But before that, you may need an advice of a CTO to pick up the right no-code platform for your business needs. 

What do low-code and no-code have in common?

The fast and simple answer to this question is that both types of platforms aim at facilitating software development processes and have some similar functions. Low-code and no-code platforms can have the same drag-and-drop interfaces that allow users to create apps without coding.

In rare cases, a single platform can combine the elements of no-code and low-code. For instance, good old WordPress, a no-code platform by definition, allows developers to intervene and write code for custom website elements or integrations. 

So, we can’t say that there is a strict line between low-code and no-code platforms in terms of what’s possible. The software development community isn’t static - there are millions of ingenious developers, who constantly invent solutions for unique integrations, functionalities, etc. Often, the catalyst for such inventions comes from the actual business demands that push the limits of low-code or no-code platforms. But again, the customization for no-code is rather the exception than a rule: to find new methods of working with a no-code/low-code platform requires the deepest expertise and talent from developers which are hard to find. 

Low-code vs no-code: features, purposes, and users

To compare the low-code and no-code effectively, we need to identify the dimensions or points of relevance from which to weigh up the two approaches. So, our comparison will be based on the following aspects:

Software complexity

Variety, and the extension capacity of the apps.

Low-code

Low-code stays closer to high-code in terms of the potential for unique and high-level apps. As long as you have expert and experienced low-code developers on your side, there is very much possible for your business. With low-code platforms, you can build anything from multi-featured mobile applications to enterprise-level internal tools for workflow optimization and routine task automation. 

No-code

Applications produced by no-code platforms won’t shine in the variety of features and integrations. Some of them offer quite an impressive set of features and a decent list of 3’d party services to employ. Still, no-code’s capacity for customization and complex features is nowhere near to the low-code’s.

Conclusion: Low-code allows for complex software development while no-code provides a quick way to create an app with basic features. 

Development speed

Apps’ time to market and software delivery pace.

Low-code

Low-code development project’s time frame highly depends on the complexity of an app and the development team. For example, you may need only two weeks to see a simple (yet branded) application, developed by a single developer. On the other hand, when you are looking for unique features, a custom set of integrations, the software development project can last a few months. Overall, the low-code app building process is significantly faster than traditional high-code development. 

No-code

A no-code platform is the fast track to single-feature or few-feature apps. You can build no-code apps even in a few hours. Of course, the such an app would be incomparable to a low-code produced software in terms of functionality and visual quality. But no-code platforms sacrifice complexity to offer development speed and ensure a seamless user experience for business owners and managers that have little to no coding skills. 

Conclusion: Low-code development: 2-3 weeks - several month. No-code development: few days - few weeks.

Users

Target audience. Those, who will benefit the most from using a certain type of platform.

Low-code

Low-code platforms serve SMEs as well as large enterprises. Firstly, because of the relative complexity of the development process that requires professional developers to execute and, therefore, a solid budget. 

The low-code app development team usually includes 

  • A CTO or a senior-class developer to choose the platform to suit your project requirements. Also, a tech lead will supervise the project to make sure that the development direction stays in line with your expectations.
  • A small team of developers (2-3) to deliver the custom code parts. 

Secondly, due to the width of features and integrations that allows for large-scale applications and internal tools. This means that other user categories are unlikely to prioritize such features for their business apps. 

No-code

Individuals and small businesses are most likely to leverage some kind of a no-code solution. Mainly, this is because of its low prices that come from the opportunity not to hire the development team. Also, these user groups have little demand for complexity and integrations. So, the simple yet functional no-code apps can perfectly match the needs of these groups without being a burden on their wallets. 

The simplicity of the apps does not mean that large businesses never turn to the no-code platforms. They rarely do, for the purposes of creating single-feature apps to cover some of the tasks. 

Conclusion: Low-code is for businesses that can afford to hire a small development team and aim at complex software. No-code platforms are accessible for small businesses and individuals with low budgets and demand for a simple app.  

Ease-of-use

Accessibility, the need for professional developers to step in.

Low-code

Unless you are not quite an experienced developer with a solid understanding of how software gets delivered, you’ll need professional assistance to make the low-code platform work for you. Low-code solutions provide a seamless user experience for professional developers while rookies will have difficulties writing and arranging specific code patterns. At the same time, it’s easy for the customers to control the low-code app development progress and the code quality. 

No-code

Simplicity of use is the core feature of no-code platforms. Building the no-code application is just the compilation of ready-made code clusters and components. There’s no need for professional developers for the no-code app development process is about dragging and dropping the elements on the so-called canvas. Often, the canvas of no-code solutions has a strict positioning, eliminating the possibility of the wrong code components arrangement. Just for the illustration, take a look at the gif below.  

No-code mobile app development process in Adolo. Source: Devtechnosys.com

Conclusion: Low code platforms are easy-to-use for the professionals. No-code development is accessible for anyone who wants to create a simple app or internal tool.

Software types you can create with low-code and no-code platforms.

The are tons of low-code and no-code development frameworks for various business purposes. Some of the platforms support the development of all kinds of applications and workflow tools. Let’s have a look at the types of applications you can create using low-code/no-code solutions in terms of their functional variety. 

Mobile development

Low-code 

Low-code mobile app development is designed for the creation of complex apps on relatively short notice. With such a platform, you can produce any type of mobile app for any purpose. It will include integration with banking services, APIs, and databases (both local and cloud). 

Also, low-code mobile development is a shortcut to a functional PoC or MVP that will allow you to test your business idea before putting your full efforts into development.

Examples: Mendix, Appian, Back4app.

No-code

No-code mobile development is an ideal way to create a marketplace or single-feature business app. If you need to get your business up and running fast and on minimum investments, one of the no-code mobile apps is for you.

Examples: Thunkable, Glide.

Web development

Low-code

With low-code website builders, you can create any type of web application and integrate it with the same set of integrations as mobile apps. Low-code is the better choice if you seek a fully customized website design, complex logic, and integrations with other services.

Examples: Appian, Retool, Pega Platform.

No-code

No-code platforms for web development have evolved to the point where you can create stylish and functional websites within hours. Of course, it won’t be as complex and unique as a low-code website. Nonetheless, you’ll be able to build a functional website with a decent number of business integrations. The choice of platforms is also quite extensive so you will be able to choose the perfect solutions for your business needs and budget.

Webflow drag-n-drop interface
Webflow drag-n-drop interface.

Examples: Webflow, Wix, Squarespace.

Internal tool builders

Low-code

Low-code internal tool builders serve as a highway to enterprise-level workflow accelerators and complex task automation apps. Such internal tools can serve both developers and businesses, offering a huge amount of databases, communication tools, and 3’d party services integrations.

Examples: Retool, UI Bakery, DronaHQ.

No-code

No-code internal tools usually focus on integrations with a single or few databases and services. As a representation, we can take the platforms that organize data from multiple sources (spreadsheets, applications, etc.) in a more aesthetic way and allows users to manipulate the data easily through the no-code app interface. They are also great for the customer and internal info portals. Speaking of the no-code automation tools, they can accomplish simple tasks like the auto-mail response or other one-way/two-way communication processes. 

Examples: Internal, Stacker, Processica, JetAdmin.

How to choose between low-code and no-code

To make the final decision on what type of platform matches your business case the most, check our small comparison table below.

Low-code vs. No-code: specs comparison table.
Low-code vs. No-code: specs comparison table.

Start your low-code development project today

Want to create a low-code application or tool? You can start here and book a free consultation with our CTO, Evgeny Lupanov. We’ll analyze your business needs and provide you with the information on the development timeframes and resources necessary to fulfill your demand. We work with Retool, Bidibase, DronHQ, UI Bakery, AppSmith, JetAdmin, and other low-code development services. 

How to choose between low-code and no-code development
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