The software development landscape has changed significantly in the last couple of years, especially after Covid-19. The pandemic has brought tectonic shifts in user experience and consumer behavior. But it also has had an impact on how software solutions are now developed and processed, meaning we observe changes in the entire application development product life cycle – from design, through user and usability testing, to development operations and coding. At this intersection is the increasing adoption of low-code software tools by an ever-growing number of IT companies and product development teams.
The main goal of the low-code adoption?
- Democratization of programming
- Automate repetitive and mundane tasks
- Provide a single source of truth
- Address customer needs better
- Scale projects faster
- Build more efficient digital transformation strategy
Let’s look at these key pillars one by one to understand how exactly IT enterprises use low-code tools to simultaneously revamp processes and transform their business.
Coding – Democratized
According to Gartner: “By 2025, spending on low-code development technologies is expected to grow to almost $30 billion, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20.9% from 2020 through 2025”. This comes as no surprise, considering the gaps that IT vendors and enterprises ought to fill. One of them is the lack of technically skilled developers. Which leads to democratization of software development, making it a lot easier for more people to work on a single project, aided by a low-code tool.
Low-Code Tools Automate & Speed Up Critical Development Processes
With all the evidence of developer shortage, IT companies and teams undergo a shift in mindset. This allows them to see low-code platforms not as a threat to developers, but rather as instruments that maximize the efficiency of programmers. By automating mundane and repetitive tasks, low-code tools in fact enable teams to prioritize and systematize their work strictly on the business need, avoiding endless backlogs and time constraints.
Skilled developers can focus on tasks at a high level and can spend more time on innovation. While less experienced programmers or citizen designers and developers can quickly turn ideas into prototypes. Usually, comprehensive low-code tools like App Builder™ integrate a design system. Coupled with code-generation functionality, it becomes a true process booster.
To explain this, let’s say, you want to create an Angular, Web Components, or a Blazor app. With low-code-tools and the features mentioned above, you can start either from scratch or use a complete design file that can be turned into production-ready HTML, CSS, data binding code. All in a branded experience, built with a WYSIWYG drag & drop tool, and generated in a single click.
Low-Code Tools Help IT Enterprises Provide a Single Source of Truth
Another way in which low-code platforms augment the development workflow is by providing a single source of truth. As a result, this streamlines and fosters better collaboration between people who are usually involved in different phases in the product design and development life cycle – designers, stakeholders, developers, project managers, users and so forth.
What is achieved here?
- No chaotic, clumsy, and time-consuming processes – like handing in designer-developer handoffs.
- No need to use multiple tools for different purposes – like carrying out usability and user testing, gathering, and analyzing data, etc.
- Ensuring one place for designers and developers to reference.
- Get developers involved as early as the ideation and design phase.
The best examples on the market have a comprehensive UI library, reusable components, and core features for design, prototyping, user and usability testing, app development automation features, iteration, and pixel-perfect code generation. Packing all of this, code generation tools can work as a single source of truth, bringing together fusion teams, stakeholders, and anyone else that is involved in the application design and development process.
Addressing Customer Needs Better
Low-code platforms play a central role in how teams meet user demands and respond to user behavior. And one of the best ways to be sure your designs, prototypes, and applications resonate with your target audience is to test them. Now, how can low-code tools help you out here? They support user and usability testing with real users, allowing you to gather insights so you can optimize usability before writing any code. This ensures that your apps deliver the optimal UX and are what customers need.
Low-code tools Are Capable of Scaling Projects
There are cycles and iterative processes that every app initially goes through such as:
- Ideation and design
- Prototyping and POCs (Prove on Concepts)
- User and usability testing
- Then possibly redesign based on feedback
But IT enterprises have started using low-code tools to simplify and speed up these processes. They take advantage of their ability to scale projects faster, slashing delivery times from months to weeks.
Delivering reusable UI components that communicate through APIs across a network, developers (both experienced and citizen programmers) can quickly assemble a working app, test it, review the code, redesign it, and make it fit to all app requirements. And just in case something needs to be changed or more components need to be added later, app builders make it happen. This is achieved through:
- A developer-focused platform or a software suite – IDE.
- Robust configuration/property editor panels for easy configuring components and setting data binding properties.
- A toolbox full of UI components which map to UI components and patterns in the design system and in UI kits.
- Hierarchical views of master-pages and sub-pages.
- Data sources options to connect to any REST data source or other common data sources.
- Built-in themes and a custom theme builder to match any customer or brand experience.
- Great collaboration story – In-platform communication on every step of the process; app sharing capabilities and external collaboration.
- GitHub and Azure Deploy integrations.
Achieving Digital Transformation
The final reason why businesses and companies use low-code tools as part of their processes is because they emerge as the core technology for digital transformation. These platforms align with digital transformation strategies because one of the key pillars involves modernizing software development projects. Low-code platforms can accommodate and accelerate it all. Companies now are able to replace legacy systems with comprehensive low-code tools that revolutionize everything from design to code and deliver superior user experience at the same time.
Jason Beres, Sr. VP of developers’ tools at Infragistics, points out that:
‘’Low code app development platforms help digital product teams create apps with visual tools that require little to no up-front coding but will need a development team to ‘finish’ an application before deployment. This type of approach is helpful for the developers to eliminate the need for heavy hand-coding in areas like screen design, UX flows, theming and branding and can all but eliminate the need for manual HTML & CSS tweaking which, according to Gartner, can take up to 60% of the application development time.’’
And then he adds,
‘’A no-code platform is built on the promise of enabling anyone in an enterprise to build applications in a visual, WYSIWYG environment. Typical no-code development platforms include strict guidelines in the app dev process, with the guarantee that anything the platform can build will be runnable and usable without any professional development to ‘finish’ the application.’’
So, yes. Low-code tools are no longer the future but the present of software development. Using them, IT enterprises streamline both design and development processes, achieve digital transformation, and respond to the ever-growing demands of digital-savvy customers.