Louis Nicholls

Thoughts on startups, web dev and other stuff

How will ‘no-code’ change your life?

The results are in…

The no-code movement is going mainstream. And – like it or not – you’ll be affected too.

But how will no-code change your life?

Well, according to Twitter, no-code will…

  • … make it easier for you to start a business
  • … make it easier for you to do your job
  • … put you out of a job completely

Those are big claims – worth diving into.

In this article, I’ll walk you through…

  • … how no-code will affect your career
  • … the future of no-code (and how to get a headstart)
  • … the drawbacks and challenges for no-code

But first, let’s take a quick look at what no-code actually means…


What is no-code?

Good question.

You can basically think of no-code as tools which allow you to achieve things you would otherwise need code to achieve.

For example, if you wanted to set up an ecommerce store in the 90s, you would have needed to code up a website to handle orders, and write some code to take payments.

Today, you can use no-code tools like Shopify to set up your ecommerce store and Stripe to handle your payments. All without writing a single line of code.

You might be thinking “hang on – these tools aren’t new!”

And you’d be right. We’ve been making it easier to do code-stuff without having to code pretty much ever since the computer was invented.

But these no-code tools are getting ever more powerful.

Today, you can build things without a line of code that would have taken months of dev time just a few years ago:

Some of the things you can build without code, courtesy of Makerpad.co

It’s undeniable that no-code makes it easier to build stuff without needing to code.

But what does that mean for you and me?

Let’s have a look at some of the main claims:


1. No-code will create more entrepreneurs

On the face of it, this claim seems obvious.

No-code lowers the barrier of entry to founding a business.

You can create an MVP faster and cheaper. Even if you’ve never been near tech before.

No more needing to learn to code or hiring/partnering with a developer.

And this is undeniably true.

As Ryan Hoover, founder of Product Hunt, said:

You no longer need to become a programmer to build things on the internet, empowering a new wave of makers from different backgrounds and perspectives.

Recently, I helped a friend set up an ecommerce store with Shopify for her vegan cake business.

It took less than a day and zero lines of code.

A few months later, she’s selling enough to employee a small team.

6 hours on Shopify = 6 figures in yearly revenue?

MVP != Successful product…

I’ve heard many similar stories to my friend’s. And they all end the same way…

The no-code MVP does 99% of what’s required to make the product a success.

But that last 1% needs code.

In my friend’s case, the plugin she used to schedule deliveries wouldn’t play nicely with her theme. It took me longer to sort that out (with code) than it did for us to create the store in the first place.

I think that – as no-code tools get closer and closer to covering 100% functionality – there will be more and more edge cases which need code to solve.

But it’s still a major step forward to allow pretty much anyone to get the first version of their business up and running quickly and cheaply.

Which brings me to my second thought…

Tech isn’t really the problem.

I spend a lot of time helping founders on Indie Hackers and with my newsletter.

Hardly any founders fail because they find a good product idea and can’t build it.

Instead, they normally build something nobody wants (to buy).

In other words, they fail at the business side – sales and marketing.

A recent Twitter poll by Indie Hackers bears this out…

My worry is that no-code tools are making it easier to build products nobody wants.

“Build it and they will come” isn’t a viable strategy.

At least with no-code, people will fail faster. And quickly learn that building products isn’t the hard part – finding product/market fit and making sales is.


2. Non-technical employees will be more effective

I predict businesses are going to wake up to one of the real benefits of no-code soon. And in a big way.

In so many companies, coding-capacity has been the bottleneck.

The marketing team needs some information or wants to try a landing page experiment?

You’ll need a developer.

Now, marketing teams can use tools like Zapier, Airtable and Webflow to collect, manipulate and display data however they want. And without code.

Can (much of) this be used in production?

No.

But prototyping and internal tooling just became much cheaper and quicker.

There are obviously still hurdles here.

Non-technical employees still need to learn how to use these tools.

And compliance departments still need to approve their usage.

But, all things considered, the new generation of no-code tools will boost employee productivity dramatically and free up dev teams to work on other challenges.


3. Developers will be more productive

This is a continuation of a trend that’s been happening for a while now.

Tools like WordPress, Bootstrap and ReactJS have made it easier for developers to be more productive.

We spend less time today writing code and more time solving business problems than ever before.

As no-code tools continue to become more widespread and powerful, this trend will only continue.

The developer role will become even more polarised.

The ‘heavy technical’ jobs will still be there – optimising performance, security etc.

And the ‘business logic’ jobs will become even more important – UX, design and conversion rate optimisation.

But the bulk of today’s work for many developers – building infrastructure and integrations, turning designs into html and css – that’s going away. And fast.


Predictions for the future

It’s pretty clear that no-code will affect all of us in the future. But what do we need to watch out for?

And how can you use it to your advantage?

Here are the main things I’m thinking about:

1. Consolidation

Right now, there are loads of no-code tools out there that basically do the same job.

Over the next few years, this will consolidate rapidly.

That’s partly because some tools will add functionality and be better at marketing.

And partly because companies (and employees) will gravitate to one tool so they can have transferrable skills to collaborate.

While this is great for productivity, I hope it doesn’t stifle creativity – resulting in even more products that look, work and feel the same.

Twitter Bootstrap made it easy for non-designers to prototype and build serviceable sites fast – but also made every website look the same.

2. Experts will make 💰💰💰

As companies realise the value of no-code tools, they’ll be eager to teach their employees how to use them.

This will create a whole industry of consultants and ‘no-code experts’ who will provide very lucrative training and consulting to companies and individuals on how to become a no-code expert.

So far, this field is wide open. The only person I know of making serious strides in this direction is Ben Tossell at Makerpad.co

Ben is great at what he does – but there’ll be room for a lot more experts in various niches.


3. Developers will adapt or die

I touched on this earlier, but as a developer you’ll need to adapt in the future.

There will always be hard technical problems to solve.

But – just like the webmaster of yore – the bulk of ‘normal’ web-dev work today is disappearing rapidly.

If you aren’t interested in moving into a more technical role, there will be ever more opportunities to be a ‘business-first’ developer.

As a technical marketer/CRO-expert myself, I can promise you that the value I add to a company isn’t really technical – it’s understanding and solving their business challenges in the first place.

Demand for this will only grow.


Where to find out more

If you’re interested in learning more about no-code, I strongly recommend you check out Makerpad.co.

Also, Ryan Hoover (of Product Hunt) has a lot of insightful thoughts on the space. He talks about them in a blogpost, here.

For inspiration, check out this list of products built by people who can’t code, or take a look through the possibilities on offer with Zapier.


If you have questions or feedback for this article, I’d love to hear them!

For more articles and advice on building a profitable business, you can join 3’000+ founders who grow with my newsletter, here:

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