No-Code vs Full Code: Key Differences and Choosing the Best Strategy for 2024

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No-Code vs Full Code: Key Differences and Choosing the Best Strategy for 2024

No-Code vs Full Code: Key Differences and Choosing the Best Strategy for 2024

Nicolas Jacobeus
March 4, 2024

Development has stepped into the next phase of its evolution: no-code and low-code. In the past, development always implied coding, as companies were required to choose a platform, decide on a language, establish a team, write the code, and go through a lengthy and costly process to establish a presence on the Internet. This is known as full code.

With no code, on the other hand, businesses can bypass coding altogether and quickly create custom apps, using functions that include drag & drop, imports, selections, and other visual tools. Yet what makes no-code different, how does it compare to full code, and which would work best for you in 2024? We aim to answer that by outlining the elements of no-code vs full-code development and the importance of choosing the development approach that aligns with your vision and business goals.

Table Of Contents

  1. No-Code vs Full Code: Key Differences
  2. Benefits of No-Code/Low-Code
  3. Drawbacks of No-Code/Low-Code
  4. Benefits of Traditional Code (Full-Code)
  5. Drawbacks of Traditional Code (Full-Code)
  6. Should You Choose No-Code or Full Code?
  7. What Does the Future Look Like?
  8. Frequently Asked Questions

No-Code vs Full Code: Key Differences

What is No-Code Development?

No code development is a software development approach that focuses on simplifying the development process to make it approachable to people without a technical background or the skills needed to develop apps the traditional way.

Building an app or any asset with no-code involves simple functions like dragging and dropping elements, using templates to design interfaces, defining business logic and workflows, using configuration options and visual tools, connecting apps to external data sources or APIs for added integration and functionality, and so much more. 

No-code platforms can be used by businesses both big and small to create SaaS tools, CRMs, marketplaces, and other software without advanced traditional programming training.

What is Full Code (Traditional Coding)?

Full code has been the way to develop apps and other digital assets for the longest time. The process goes: you assess what you need, get the right developers to build it, go through planning, and write the code required to make it all work.

That last point is the most significant difference between full code and no code: how much coding do you have to do, and how does that complicate the development process from a technical standpoint?

Traditional coding involves building every functionality or aspect of your app, website, and other business tools using a variety of libraries, tools, and the code required to make everything work as a system.

No-Code vs. Traditional Development

For businesses and founders without a technical background, no-code platforms offer an accessible and cost-effective starting point. These platforms enable you to actively participate in designing essential business assets without the need for extensive technical knowledge or translation into complex code.

In the traditional setting, you would typically convey their requirements to a developer and then hope that the resulting product aligns with the company's vision. This process often lacks the immediacy and personal involvement that comes with being able to construct it swiftly.

The table below outlines the differences of each aspect when it comes to no-code vs full-code (traditional development):

Methodology Visual development using drag-and-drop, importing, simple functions, etc. Coding is manual, using programming languages (e.g., Python, Java).
Flexibility and Customization Limited to a platform’s capabilities, including extensions like plugins and APIs. Everything can be customized and built to specifications as needed.
Learning Curve Easy to learn and can be used by non-developers. Requires qualified experts with years of learning and experience.
Speed of Development Prototyping and MVP development are fast. Developing prototypes may take longer, given that custom development requires significantly more coding than using no-code platforms.
Scalability Best deployed in small to medium-sized development projects. Scalable to fit projects of any size.
Cost In the initial stages, no-code is highly cost-efficient. Initial investment is higher but could be more worthwhile in the long term.
Maintenance Maintenance is easy as it uses visual interfaces. Skilled developers are required to keep systems running efficiently.
Ideal for Non-technical users, MVP development, prototyping, and other simple projects. Complex projects requiring bespoke solutions and other resilient, highly visible, and controllable systems.
Use Cases Anyone, including founders working on internal ideas, small business owners, hobbyists, learners, etc. Large enterprises, new and complex businesses, specific technical requirements, etc.

Benefits of No-Code/Low-Code

No-code may seem ideal for any company looking to develop assets in-house while maintaining their industry’s standards and adding to customer satisfaction at a reasonable price. Yet there will always be benefits and drawbacks when it comes to concepts or methodologies that businesses are trying to implement into products. Starting with the benefits:

  1. Quick Development

Compared to full code development, no-code development is very fast. Building simple assets won’t take more than a few hours to weeks, depending on the complexity. In the traditional model, development timelines can take months and extend significantly, depending on the changes needed before launch. 

Given this speed, no-code platforms can help you design and create custom business solutions that align with a process-driven approach, even when you may be pressed for time.

  1. Speed to Market for MVP Development

Getting your project from the ideation stages and into the market is much faster with no-code, allowing you to capitalize on customer interest and keep up with industry trends for increased user satisfaction. It is also a crucial tool at the beginning of minimum viable product development.

Enterprises with no choice but to resort to full code or hybrid development can use no-code platforms in MVP development for faster presentation and approval. 

  1. Suitability for Startups

Startups must be mindful of their budgets and how much money is spent on development. In cases where no-code is identified as an ideal solution for development, it can be leveraged to cut costs and have concepts developed and ready for testing in record time.

It allows a business to eliminate the need to build a full-featured product before testing its viability with the intended users.

  1. Flexibility

With no-code, you don’t just get a platform that accelerates development but one that allows just about anyone to learn to use it. The business can integrate new ideas and change tact without worrying that it will throw a wrench into other processes that must be kept running or incur unforeseen time and funding crunches.

  1. Internal Expertise

It is no secret that the people working within a business know it best and know the most effective ways to serve their customers. Leveraging internal expertise is much easier as anyone with a good idea can build a concept and show its utility quickly and without strain.

With a hands-on approach, business owners can create apps and deploy what works best for their market.

  1. Cost Efficient

Given that it is low-effort, easy to use, and accelerates development schedules significantly, no-code development incurs less costs for businesses who utilize it. The platforms are subscription-based, with an additional cost being saved in not having to hire a developer to code every line for you.

Limitations of No-Code/Low-Code

No-code platforms offer numerous advantages, including rapid development, reduced costs, swift MVP creation, expedited product launches, and more. However, no-code also presents potential drawbacks that one needs to take into consideration:

  1. Limited Customization

For all the flexibility it affords, no-code development is not highly customizable in complex situations. Think of no-code as a library of templates of solutions or tools you are likely to create as a business. Should you have anything that can’t be built using templates or pre-made ‘parts,’ you may need to adopt a full-code or a hybrid structure (where you use no-code where valid and fill in the gaps with bespoke code). No-code won’t always be able to create the exact logic, design, or integration you might want or need.

  1. Restricted Data Visibility

There are potential security and privacy risks, as the users may not have full control or visibility over the data and processes behind the scenes. You might not have to interact with code directly, but that doesn’t mean the no-code platform doesn’t rely on it. It’s just abstracted.

While the pre-provided functionality is easy and fun, it could be insecure. One way of addressing this issue is to ask the vendor for security reports on the code used within the platform. Given that these platforms provide their services via SaaS and PaaS, you can ask them for industry certifications like FedRAMP, SOC2, and ISO to ensure they protect you. 

  1. Shadow IT

The fact that just about anyone can grasp the visual approach of a no-code platform means there is potential for shadow IT to run rampant within an organization as staff and units develop apps and expose them internally and externally. 

The applications could be connected to sensitive data that could be breached if those apps get compromised.

  1. Skills Requirement

For many users, no-code may require additional IT involvement to complete the process or clean up the results to achieve the desired outcomes. This hybrid approach is recommended for most users, as a citizen developer culture may not always lead to reliable or ready-to-use assets.

Benefits of Traditional Code (Full-Code)

Traditional code is not obsolete just yet. It is still widely used, especially for enterprise purposes or where complex development is required. To illuminate the indispensable side of traditional code, here are some of its benefits:

  1. Full Customization

If you can ideate your product and there are tools and technologies to make it possible, it can be developed from the ground up. There is room for imagination and complex development, specifically for business needs. You can fully control functionality, performance, and interfaces to suit your ends.

Boundless customization also means you can create more complex and sophisticated applications capable of handling higher levels of computation, logic, and data, as you can use the full extent of features and languages.

  1. Scalability

With a custom-built business system, you can adapt and change to fit the market without compromising your performance or quality. A business can integrate development and operations with agile development and DevOps to empower continuous integration and deployment. 

With the Anything as a Service (XaaS) model, small businesses can access all the services, resources, tools, and technologies provided via cloud computing and remote access. Under this model, businesses can access:

  • SaaS- Software as a service
  • PaaS- Platform as a service
  • IaaS- Infrastructure as a service
  • DRaaS- Disaster Recovery as a service
  • CaaS- Communications as a service
  • NaaS- Network as a service…and more.

The best part is you only have to pay for what you use. This flexibility allows scaling up or down as needed, which is highly cost-efficient.

  1. Cost

While no-code is cheaper to start, we have mentioned that it could raise costs when overhauls are needed, or compatibility and support issues arise. It is sometimes cheaper to use full code depending on your present business needs and into the future. It allows you to scale up as needed with integrations and added functionality, which may not always be possible with no-code assets.

  1. Requirements

Businesses are accountable for what they think will work best for their users and what the industry regulations mandate. Given the limited visibility and abilities of no-code tools, it may be impossible to use anything other than custom development in a project, given the higher standards of quality demanded.

Drawbacks of Traditional Code (Full-Code)

Full-code development may afford you all the flexibility you need and be better for your business in the long term, but it, too, is limited in some ways:

  1. The Expense of Full-Code

No-code solutions are particularly cost-effective for a variety of development projects, as opposed to full-code. They are ideally suited for creating applications, features, and functionalities that do not require extensive time or financial investment. This includes the development of marketplaces, internal tools, dashboards and analytics, social networks, interfaces for AI and Large Language Model integrations (such as chatbots and support systems), workflow automation, and more. 

  1. Lengthy Development Time

Developing everything from scratch, even with libraries and AI helpers, takes a significant amount of time. In some cases, it is valuable time that a business and its founders cannot afford to waste. In such cases, building proofs of concept or MVPs can be done with no-code and augmented with full or hybrid code.

  1. Expertise and Money Required

The learning curve for business owners looking to create their assets is a steep one. You need to understand many subjects, and it is often impossible to do it effectively over the long term. No-code development allows anyone, even non-technical individuals, to come up with and create ideas.

Should You Choose No-Code or Full Code?

As we have shown, it all depends on your business’s present and future outlook. Many companies still rely on outsourcing to an agency because it just works. While trying to do traditional development by yourself may be a challenge, agencies today can leverage many other tools, especially with the rise of AI and LLMs, to develop what you need quickly and on a reasonable budget.

Given the technical debt you may incur and the inflexibility over time that no-code may present, it should be reserved for building assets that will not impact the business in a debilitating way.

Choosing a reliable and trustworthy agency is the first step in developing a reliable and effective system for your business. When choosing, consider the following things:

  • Complexity
  • Scalability
  • Budget
  • Technical expertise
  • Business goals (long and short-term)

For entrepreneurs who prefer a hands-on approach, we recommend partnering with an agency like Belighted that specializes in a hybrid development methodology. Leveraging their extensive experience and coding skills, Belighted can help you craft comprehensive features, functionalities, and prototypes that accurately reflect your vision. This approach ensures that your ideas are seamlessly integrated into the product development process, providing a balance between personal involvement and professional execution.

What Does the Future Look Like?

No-code approaches are not new, but they came to the forefront during the COVID-19 pandemic, accelerating the digital transformation of almost every industry. Couple this with a recent finding that 82% of organizations struggle to attract and retain talent and the backlog of projects preventing growth, and you have a future that will rely more on low-code and no-code.

The no-code market will, according to Statista, grow to approximately $65 billion by 2027, from an estimated $3.47 billion in 2019. Encouraging no-code platform usage among employees can help accelerate development and innovation. As the platforms become more advanced, they could be used to build more complex projects and see your vision truly come to life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it worth learning no-code?

Yes, it is worth learning no-code if you want to create custom applications without necessarily having the traditional coding skills or the knowledge of a proficient programmer. You can create functional software solutions and deliver them quickly through simple selection and drag-and-drop features available on a graphical user interface.

What industries would get the most use from No-Code?

Industries that would benefit the most from No-code include manufacturing, insurance, retail, banking and finance, and the healthcare industry. Software development industries, especially those specializing in website development, would also greatly benefit from no-code.

Are no-code platforms secure?

No-code platforms are secure, provided they offer their users built-in authentication and authorization features. While the platforms themselves might be secure, the applications built on them are not guaranteed to be fully secure.

Ready to build your software product? Contact us!