Low-Code Has Taken Development by Storm. Why Not the Web?


For more than a decade, development tools increasingly have made their way into the hands of less-technical people. On the web in particular, we’ve eliminated the webmaster as the middleman with content management systems and moved progressively toward a model where non-technical users could assemble their own sites with little to no coding experience of their own.
Fast forward and today, the terms “no-code” and “low-code” are used to describe this idea. Furthermore, no-code and low-code tools have been on a decade-long rise, with an increasing impact on the web. Examples include:
WYSIWYG site-builders, such as Wix and Squarespace
WordPress Gutenberg
Drupal’s new Layout Builder
While this has been a strong, decade-long market trend, we’re only at the beginning. This trend won’t stop until new website experiences are automatically generated and optimized by machine learning.
Trends Driving the Low-Code and No-Code Movements
According to Wave, “In our survey of global developers, 23% reported using low-code platforms in 2018, and another 22% planned to do so within a year.”
Major market forces driving this trend include a talent shortage among developers, with an estimated 1 million computer programming jobs expected to remain unfilled by 2020 in the U.S. alone. What’s more, the developers who are employed are often overloaded with work and struggle with how to prioritize it all. Some of this burden could be removed by low-code and no-code tools, allowing marketers and other non-technical professionals to do some of the development work themselves. In addition, the fact that technology has permeated every aspect of our lives, from our smartphones to our smart homes, has driven the need for more people to become creators.
“As creating things on the internet becomes more accessible, more people will become makers. It’s no longer limited to the <1% of engineers that can code, resulting in an explosion of ideas from all kinds of people,” said Ryan Hoover, founder of Product Hunt, in a blog post.
In other words, the supply of web creators must keep up with the demand for more digital experiences across more channels.
But this does not only apply to individuals. Consider this: The typical large organization has to build and maintain hundreds of sites. These organizations need to build, launch and customize sites in days or weeks, not months. Today and in the future, marketers and other non-technical stakeholders can embrace no-code and low-code tools to develop websites rapidly.
Abstraction Drives Innovation
As predicted in my middleman blog post, developers won’t go away. Just as the role of the original webmaster has evolved with the advent of the CMS, the role of web developers is changing with the rise of low-code and no-code tools.
Today, developers tend to focus on creating next-generation digital experiences that require new and emerging technologies not yet available in no-code solutions. In the process, they help invent and build new technologies such as React, Vue.js, etc.
Successful no-code approaches abstract away complexity for web development. This enables less-technical people to do things that previously only could be done by developers. When those abstractions happen, developers can move on to the next area of innovation.
Such abstractions are a good thing for both developers and non-technical website creators. When everyone is a builder, more good things will happen on the web. I was excited about this trend more than 12 years ago and remain excited today. I’m eager to see the progress no-code and low-code solutions will bring to the digital world in the next decade.
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