It's easy to get excited about no-code software tools, especially when you're trying to find ways to streamline business processes and workflows. No-code software tools promise a faster, more efficient way to build custom business applications and automate repetitive tasks without the need for coding. They’re the cheat code to getting custom software without investing serious money into custom software development (and its maintenance). However, evaluating these tools can be challenging, especially if you're new to exploring no-code tools for your business.
Here are eight traps people fall into when evaluating no-code platforms that undermine their search for the perfect tool:
1. Not fully understanding the difference between out-of-the-box (OOTB) software vs no-code software
One of the biggest misconceptions about no-code software is that it always comes with pre-built solutions to work off of. While many no-code platforms do offer templates, the majority don’t come with pre-built applications–which is a good thing! No-code tools are designed to tap into the unique needs of the user, and templates can often box a user into a format that sort of works. Because even the best templates are made for maximum applicability–meaning they don’t have that level of personalization no-code tools offer.
But if you need a template to work from, there’s good news: you can use your existing process as a framework for what you want to make. Look at your current process and build into a no-code platform the things that work well for you now.
In summary, OOTB software may offer the security of an existing template to use, but no-code software sacrifices that for the possibility of creating truly unique and custom business applications that fit your unique business needs. Knowing the difference between these two types of software can help you decide which one is right for your needs.
2. Underestimating the time it takes to design or build a new business application
A report by global technology research form 451 Research, found that "No-code and low-code platforms help reduce app development time by 90%." No-code tools are designed to be accessible to non-coders. However, even the most intuitive tools can come with a learning curve if you're not familiar with drag-and-drop interfaces. It's important to plan some time to watch tutorials or talk to a product expert to get a feel for what that creation process can look like. It can also be helpful to attend webinars or look up other resources such as blog articles, guides, or more. Set time aside to get familiar with a product so you don't find yourself lost.
The key to avoiding this pitfall is to set realistic expectations about how long it will take to design and build your new business application. Don't rush the process, and take the time to learn the tool properly. This will save you time and frustration in the long run.
3. Not clarifying your requirements ahead of time
One of the biggest traps you can fall into on your no-code learning journey is not knowing what you want to build at the start of playing in a free trial or with a freemium model of a platform. Otherwise you run the risk of blank page syndrome–that overwhelming fear of needing to start but not knowing where or how to begin.
Not knowing what you want can also lead to another problem when you begin to build: not knowing where to stop. Working from a blank canvas can lead to scope creep, where you keep adding more fields, more features, and more workflows. This kind of unlimited thinking leads to never finishing an app and putting it to use.
To avoid this pitfall you’ll want to lay out a list of requirements early on. Start with a small project, for example the main 15 fields you want to add to a customer relationship management (CRM) app. To find out what you want to start with you can look at your existing process if you have to. Once you've got an idea of the overarching process (from creation to launch to use), then you can go back and begin to build out your app even more.
4. Not having the end user in mind as you build
It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of building something new, but you need to consider who will be using the application you're building. Consider not just who needs to see the data and take action but also who will need to input that information. Is the application set up in a way that's usable for both parties?
For example, if you're creating an app to manage office supply requests, you might want to consider what data an office employee needs to submit so that the admin who gets the request can fulfill it.
One way to avoid this pitfall is to include the end user into your building or scoping process. If you’re building an application for someone other than yourself, ask that person (or department) what they’d like to see in a business application. Ask them what works or doesn’t work in their current process, their requirements, etc.
Most no-code platforms are also easy to modify after launch, so it’s possible to create an initial draft of an app and then have the end users test and provide feedback.
5. Keep an eye out for communication and how the no-code software platform accounts for it.
No-code software platforms are designed to improve efficiency and streamline processes in a business setting. However, it's important to keep in mind that people don't just consume data–they review, analyze, and discuss it. As a result, it's crucial to look for a no-code platform that accounts for communication with built-in conversation features.
Incorporating communication features into your no-code platform can save time and reduce the risk of misunderstandings. For example, let's say you're managing a project and you need to discuss an issue with your team. Instead of sending separate emails or Slack messages, you can use the built-in communication features to discuss the issue right alongside the relevant data. This ensures that everyone is on the same page and can refer back to the conversation if necessary.
6. Not considering how no-code platforms will integrate with the rest of your business.
When evaluating no-code software tools, it's valuable to consider how they will integrate with the rest of your business. Ideally, you want a tool that can either replace other existing software tools or successfully integrate with the other tools you have.
To that end, it's useful to look for no-code platforms that have integration capabilities. You should also map out how the data collected and stored in your new no-code applications will interface or interact with other parts of your work processes. The goal is to streamline your processes, not make them more convoluted.
For example, let's say you're implementing a no-code platform to manage your CRM system. You want to make sure that the data collected in your no-code platform can easily be shared with other tools and systems, such as your accounting software or email marketing platform. This will help you avoid the hassle of having to manually transfer data between different systems, which can be time-consuming and error-prone.
7. Think on how the platform will scale as your business grows.
Not considering scalability is another mistake it’s easy to make, especially if you are only evaluating for a tool that can fix the problem you have today. You want a tool that won’t just fix the issues of today, but also the issues of tomorrow and the future.
Scaling may not be in your job scope, but if you’re picking or evaluating a new software for your business, it’s imperative not to dismiss it. You’ll want to consider things like how many users the platform might need (and the costs that come with that), how many data records or databases the platform can hold, how information or processes can be laid out so that they can grow or adapt with time (such as a new step in shipping due to a pandemic or global supply chain issues), etc.
It's important to evaluate a platform's scalability by looking at its performance, reliability, and flexibility to ensure that it can meet your business needs both now and in the future.
8. Not giving enough attention to security and compliance needs
As with any business software, security and compliance should be a top priority when evaluating no-code platforms. It's crucial to assess the platform's security features and protocols to ensure that your data is protected and that the platform complies with any relevant industry regulations. Look for features like encryption, access controls, and data backups to ensure that your data remains secure.
9. Focusing too much on the no-code aspect
While the no-code aspect of these platforms is undoubtedly a significant selling point, it's important not to get too caught up in it. Remember that the end goal is to create effective business software, and the fact that a platform doesn't require coding is only one aspect of that. Look beyond the no-code feature to evaluate the platform's overall functionality, ease of use, and ability to meet your business needs. It's also important to consider how the platform can integrate with your existing software stack, as this can have a significant impact on your overall productivity and efficiency.
Evaluating no-code software tools for your business can be a daunting task. There are a lot of factors to consider, and it's easy to fall into common pitfalls that can hinder your success. By keeping the following pitfalls in mind and taking steps to avoid them, you can ensure that you select the right no-code platform for your needs:
- Understand the difference between out-of-the-box (OOTB) software vs no-code software
- Allow for enough time to learn how to design or build with no-code software tools
- Clarify your requirements ahead of time
- Have the end user in mind as you build
- Keep an eye out for communication and how the no-code software platform accounts for it
- Consider how no-code platforms will integrate with the rest of your business
- Think on how the platform will scale with you as your business grows
- Give attention to security and compliance requirements
- Don’t get too hung up on a new technology: make sure it fits your needs first
In conclusion, evaluating no-code software tools can be challenging, but it's important to go in with an idea of what you want if you really want to be successful in your search. By understanding the common pitfalls outlined in this article, you can avoid making costly mistakes and ensure that you're getting the most out of the tools that you select.
About the Author
Michelle is the Content Marketing Specialist at Kintone. She is a content marketing expert with several years in content marketing. She moved to San Francisco in 2015 and has experience working in small businesses, non-profits, and video production firms. She graduated in 2012 with a dual degree in Film and English.