When it comes to building platforms that deliver digital customer experiences, organizations have historically had one of two options. They could (1) build a platform with their own developers or (2) buy a platform from a vendor. The first option could offer a custom platform tailored to their needs. But it was slow and expensive to build. The second option could be up and running quickly. But its one-size-fits-all nature often meant less customization.
Today there’s another option — low code/no code (LC/NC). Using LC/NC, organizations can quickly build, implement, and evolve custom websites, workflows, and apps and implemented quickly. Organizations are also using LC/NC to build out tools for a vast array of services, including:
- Human resource management
- Service management
- Automation capabilities
- Visual analytics
- Virtual assistants
- Content management systems
- Digital experience platforms
The reason LC/NC is becoming more prevalent is simple. With LC/NC, you unlock speed of delivery and customization at the same time. In short, you get the best of both worlds, which is why LC/NC is powering a creative revolution.
What is low-code/no-code development?
We’ll start with no code, where the name of the game is user friendly simplicity. If you’ve ever built (or seen) a flowchart or a wireframe for a website, you understand the development environment of no code. Simply scroll and click, drag and drop, and rearrange as needed. Ever used WYSIWYG (“what you see is what you get”) design tools to create web content and other marketing assets? Those are no code too. One especially nice benefit is that users can test as they build, rearrange as needed, test again, wash and repeat — until the app, website, or process works as needed.
With low code, users do need some coding chops, but less than with traditional development. Once much of the foundational coding – such as UI components like scrollbars, dialogs, and push buttons – is complete, users can deliver finished products quickly. This shifts their focus from commodity developing tasks to work that is unique to their organization — and thus offers bigger impact and more value. And users who know a little bit of code can expand the functionality of apps or websites and even develop simple ones themselves.
What are the benefits of low code/no code?
We’ve already answered this question in part as we’ve seen that LC/NC can reduce time to launch, increase the relevance of websites, workflows, and applications, and enable non-technical users to create digital experiences. LC/NC technology is based on the belief that technology should enable creation — not hinder it. Let’s consider the specific benefits for two key stakeholders: marketers and developers.
The biggest benefit for marketers is likely obvious: they have to learn very little, if any code. This means marketers can act quickly to deliver customer-centric experiences — often without any help from developers or IT. Take WYSIWYG applications: marketers can build and publish beautiful UX and UI elements on websites and mobile apps without developer support. But marketers aren’t the only ones who benefit from the freedom LC/NC gives them. Sales or customer success teams can leverage their intricate knowledge of customers to build or inform the development applications that speak directly to customers’ needs.
This dovetails nicely into why developers love it. With more people in the organization empowered to act on their own, developers are freed from mundane tasks to focus on strategy and innovation. By speeding up delivery, it’s also easier to rapidly test, tweak, and deploy. For teams already committed to agile, LC/NC is often a godsend.
But it’s important to not forget those who benefit the most: customers. They get more relevant experiences, faster. And because quicker delivery means easier testing, customers benefit from more optimized digital experiences.
What are the challenges of LC/NC?
For most organizations, LC/NC is a net win. But there are some potential challenges to consider.
As we saw above, LC/NC increases access to digital experience creation. With multiple teams, and even multiple people on multiple teams creating web pages or even sites and applications, oversite can be a challenge. If managed poorly, this can create more headaches for everyone — with off-brand or clunky experiences being rolled out.
IT teams need to maintain some control over system development to ensure coherence, logic, and flow. And marketing teams need to maintain ownership over brand, voice, and messaging.
This challenge can be a plus, depending on your work culture. If you’ve already embraced agile, this structure is likely already a part of your workflow, and it will not be an issue to continue it as you roll out user-friendly tools that empower more creators. Of course, workflows depend on visibility, and both often depend on tools.
How we designed our LC/NC tools to overcome
We saw these challenges as opportunities while designing and developing our LC/NC tools. The decision canvas in Sitecore Personalize, which offers both low-code and no-code options, is a great example.
We wanted to build a tool that enabled anyone to build and publish digital experiences, offers, or content that predicts the next-best-action and responds to customer behavior in real-time. We thus built the decision canvas so non-technical business users can create intricate personalization paths for customers that pull in omnichannel customer data, business context, AI decision models — all on a drag and drop interface that doesn’t require a line of code.
(Sitecore Decision Canvas – No Code Option)
(Sitecore Decision Canvas – Low Code Option)
But we also wanted to ensure accuracy. Thus, in the Sitecore decision canvas, you can silently test any component you build. This quality assurance check means teams can roll out decision canvas applications as fast as possible while ensuring that those applications are performing the way they should — well before customers ever experience them.
While we’ve been building low code/no code development environments for some time now — such as Content Hub, Sitecore XP, and Sitecore XM — we’re excited to see this trend continue to grow.
John Massie is a Sitecore Product Marketing Manager who focuses on Sitecore CDP and Sitecore Personalize. Follow him on LinkedIn