No-code development value trap
Tue May 11, 2021
No-code has become the huge thing right now. But there is just one caveat: there is always a price one pays for comfort. Looking at numerous projects from a business point of view, it seems that no-code development, being easy at first, can create a value trap situation down the road or at least some major bottlenecks in the scaling stage.
Glue for the Internet
For me, it started with Integromat, and it’s pricing. For personal use, it’s a great product, but when a startup uses it for product development, founders have to pay for every action of their daily increasing user base. It’s great if the users drive revenue and allow for scaling of the operations, but for some business models that would not be the case and the revenue does not come in until the user base hitting a significant height.
The ease of use of these tools and free trials give a false sense of security to founders, who yet are unaware what could monthly subscription fees total become when their project scales tenfold.
No no-code then? Founders go to no-code solutions like Airtable and Bubble because it gives them flexibility or because the team lacks coding skills.
In 2021, it’s hard to imagine a founder having to set up nginx on a server the old way: you have Serverless, Vercel, and others who make life easier for the contemporary developer. We believe that every project should have a roadmap for the scaling and preventing future bottlenecks. Just like with the bike’s safety wheels, one day one grows out of them and does not need them anymore, no-code instruments functions should be integrated into the project to avoid increasing costs and potential vendor lock-in.
Vendor lock may be a critical for the wellbeing of a startup because of a simple reason: every project dies. As of the moment of the writing, Google has retired 244 services.1 Imagine, a hosting provider suddenly shuts down their operations. You naturally move your apps to a competitor. But what if there are no competitors? Or you do not own the code? Or you will have to recreate the app from the ground up?
Recreating your app would not be the end of the world (in the end, additional iteration will most certainly help increase it’s quality). However, the implications of a sudden technical problem pose a substantial security risk for the team. We would advise to always have a plan B given the rising incidents of service outages even for big players like AWS or Facebook.
Estimating total financial and security risks in future scaling is key in enjoying the ease of use of no-code instruments for founders and teams who lack coding skills at the start of their journey.