Founder, Imua Studio
Low-code/no-code is here to stay. Is it right for your business? How can it be used? We explore here.
My name is Eric Johnson and I'm the founder of Imua Studio. We are a design and development studio based in San Francisco, and we specialize in building apps in low and no code.And I'm here just to give a very high level introduction to that. If you're considering it as an alternative to traditional software development, it can be a great way to accelerate your building process or reduce the cost of getting a first version in the hands of your users.And in general, just a great way to get something built so they can start getting feedback faster, which will help you get on a path towards building the right product sooner.It's not always a straight line to get where you're going when you're building. And so sometimes just getting something done and in the hands of your stakeholders or users, so they can give you that critical feedback from their experience is really the best way to develop software.And so here in this quick kind of introduction, we'll give a high level summary of we'll we'll code, no code space, and talk about some of the main concepts as well as the primary tools that we use in our process.So if you just give a low-code or no-code a quick Google search, you'll come across a lot of a conversation, especially in the last five years.And there's a lot of new platforms being built taken advantage the of all the capability of the browser and what you can do with it in terms of abstracting away some of the kind of more low level functions code that needs to be written.And instead gives you the ability to get any more drag and drop away construct building blocks that you can then assemble into something that's custom and fits your needs and does something unique.And that at its core is what a low-code or no-code is here to do. And I would say is what is the easiest way to explain the value of it.It just extracts away the code so that you could focus on building user experience. Now, breaking it down a little bit more we have kind of a few fundamental aspects to the building process and seeing here in this visual behind the most obvious one is the front end.So the user interface, and this typically had to be done by writing either HTML for the browser or custom Android or iOS code for native applications on devices.And what no code platforms are doing at the start is making it easier to construct these interfaces. And so just jumping to one example that I think a lot of people are familiar with Wix as well as Squares pace started to do this, I would say very early on, a lot of people need a marketing site and they made it easier for people to build something that's customed to their business.But doesn't require a software engineer or web designer designed every single aspect of how it works. And so they let you control kind of some of those fundamental pieces in terms of the visuals adding logos changed colors and that was a huge win for the average consumer building a website over time they started to support other things.E-commerce adding the ability to create a shopping cart. Shopify, I would say really kind of opened up a lot of functionality and build a platform where you could define the behaviors and look and feel of the store and the kind of ability to, to create a marketing sites and e-commerce sites.Let's say in my opinion is where the first significant steps were made in the no-code space, even if they're maybe not traditionally labeled lower, no code then in terms of functionality there was, I would say another barrier that was crossed in terms of connecting apps to each other, in terms of letting one application or website send data or receive data and kind of exchange information, and then apply of logics statements and conditionals to do different things with that information, as well as transform that data.And so early on, I'd say maybe 20 11, 20 12 the first one that I was really familiar with was Zapier, or if this, then that, and this was a really powerful opportunity to start to create an easier interface for constructing logic that happens behind the scenes.So not necessarily in the browser in terms of the visuals and the buttons where people were with interact with on a website, but behind the scenes.So if someone fills out a form on a website, what do you do after that? And so Zapier created that have more accessible infrastructure especially for consumers and people that are kind of just working on a side project so that they could create logic to automate certain tasks then you could build actually businesses around those automations.And this is evolved a lot in the last 10 years. But I, I personally associate companies like Zapier for doing this kind of API low code simplification and really bringing it more mainstream.And then the kind of third kind of facet or aspect of no code that I think about is the database.And to an extent the kind of the other two, I mentioned the kind of more build a front end no code type experience.They, they started to do this as well as with with Zapier people, maybe storing records in a, a Google sheet but air table.Really, I would say, like came at this problem from a like a database first type of mindset, and they created a very easy to construct a database where you could create a nest of data types and relationships.And it was very flexible very easy and kind of understandable for someone to get a glimpse into a place for storing data.And this has evolved a lot since it's been launched and continues to be a very powerful tool that people started building even more automation and complexity around.But when I think of no code kind of looking at all three of these aspects, the front end, the back end, and API APIs or triggers to kind of connect actions in your app or between apps for us, everything changed when we discovered bubble and bubble, I would say is our preferred tool for building a web applications, because it finds, it's found this nice balance between all of those features, the front end, the back end, and doing complex things with a, an API connector.And so we're building out our apps. Typically we can do all those other things in terms of functionality in those different domains just within bubble, which makes it even more powerful as a rapid development tool.And I would say they've also built something really powerful in terms of their plugin ecosystem the ability to connect your app to another app via an API connection really enables your app or bubble apps that you build to get very sophisticated and powerful in terms of what, what can be done as far as integrating with a Plymouth payments platform like Stripe, or a email delivery platform like sand grid there's really a lot of power in being able to define those connections yourself, or use plugins that someone else has already built to accomplish those things.And so that's why I wouldn't building out what app a bubble is, our go-to choice. Now that's not to say that it's always the best choice.There are certain instances where it might make sense to use another platform. If you're maybe building something very mobile specific there are other tools that have kind of positioned itself as being more mobile focused.You could still accomplish that with bubble, and we do but there are different trade-offs here. The one, I would say like notable exception for us is whenever we're building a marketing site we found Webflow to be a really easy to use, but also powerful tool for creating very high Polish marketing sites and blogs.And it's got baked into it a CMS that can also connects to an API. It is extensible in similar ways to bubble but maybe less a web app focused, more marketing site focused but it's still can do a lot.And it's very rich as a tool. So between bubble and what flow we've, we've found that to be a really powerful one to combo in terms of our development processes.We, as an agency, I'd say, has built out a lot of very complex, high Polish, what apps and that's something when we're talking to potential clients or people that were teaching how to use bubble.I like to emphasize that, is that a low-code and no-code can be great for kind of early stage rapid iteration but in the kind of journey of building something out, you can, you can graduate past low fidelity into a high fidelity stage.And it takes some effort to do I, no doubt, but when building out a, a web app it's maybe a different mindset.If you're building for something that you'd want to kind of performing kind of an environment, that's not just a early stage test with a handful of users, if you're going to treat it like a production app you should kind of have that mindset from the beginning.And so we bring that perspective in terms of best practices and the design process that needs to be applied early on into I love that every app that we built and we're excited to see both bubble and the rest of the no-code ecosystem make it even easier to deliver high Polish complex web apps because in my opinion there will be a time, I would say we're maybe already at that point where the distinction between code apps, traditional software development, and no code is going to get very blurry and there will always be a place for traditional software development.I would say that if you've got a very mature business and technology is at its core likely your, your products should be built in traditional software, but that is a kind of level that you graduate to a specific, especially if you're a non-technical founder or you're enabling people on a team to to build, and they don't have technical resources, low code is a great way to start, and you can gradually move it off of no code if that's the right approach.So I'm excited for any questions that this might inspire. We are huge fans of the well, no code community, and I want to help advance it and really show the power of what these platforms can do.So I'm happy to see any conversation and address any questions don't hesitate to reach out. If you're interested in learning more about what no code can do.Thanks have a good day.