Low-code/no-code & the future of digital experience management

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Development Business Experience

In recent years we’ve witnessed a rise of numerous low-code/no-code tools which enable non-technical business users to create compelling digital experiences that are on par with those developed by seasoned engineers, using (little to) no code.

However, as with most ready-made solutions, low-code and no-code tools come with their own set of considerations in addition to the many benefits they offer. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the key things to consider when selecting and using low-code/no-code tools to help you ensure the best approach for achieving your business goals.


Finding the right fit

Some of the best known and most easily approachable no-code/low-code frameworks are the proprietary visual website builders the likes of Wix, Squarespace and Webflow. While powerful and a great fit for certain projects, i.e. smaller websites that require a quick setup, these tools have certain limitations when it comes to more advanced needs and use cases.

Some of the key considerations here include:

  • Composability: do you require a flexible composable platform which you can tailor to your distinct needs, or simply a monolithic platform with powerful but basic and uniform features? I.e. Will you need a headless/cloud CMS such as Storyblok for better user experience & multi/omnichannel content distribution?
  • Integrations: with the growing complexity of digital experiences, it’s pretty much inevitable that you’ll require your platform to integrate well with other tools and platforms, e.g. analytics tools, CRM platforms, etc. A composable framework such as Drupal will give you plenty of options in terms of integrations without limiting you.
  • Vendor lock-in: one of the most common concerns with proprietary platforms is vendor lock-in, where switching platforms is often too much of a hassle, which leads to the resignation of staying on the original platform despite limitations in functionality, essentially making users dependent on this platform.
  • Personalization: more and more, customers want experiences that are actually tailored to their habits rather than just generically personalized ones. Proprietary low-code/no-code platforms tend to offer very rich feature sets, but without the ability to add custom features on your own, having to wait for them to be realized within the platform’s roadmap. Open-source platforms, on the other hand, come with more limited initial functionality, but can be much more easily customized to fit particular business needs, either through custom code or through existing community-contributed solutions and features.

The intuitiveness and speed that proprietary low-code/no-code platforms offer will no doubt be attractive for smaller businesses with smaller websites and simpler business cases, and non-digital natives which won’t require more than a simple digital presence.

More digitally mature firms and those with more complex digital needs are likely to gravitate towards the more flexible and robust open-source platforms. Two of the most popular open-source low-code/no-code systems, WordPress and Drupal, are already being used heavily across higher education, nonprofits and NGOs, and government organizations.

The recent developments and prioritizations within WordPress and Drupal are making the two open-source CMS platforms more and more user-friendly in terms of low-code/no-code website building, with WordPress’ Block Editor and latest Drupal initiatives such as Automatic Updates and Project Browser, as well as the just announced new Experience Builder initiative.


Balancing tech & the human element

Another common theme in creating and managing digital experiences with low/no code is and will continue to be the usage of AI tools such as ChatGPT. So, with AI and other advanced, user-friendly site building tools becoming more and more prominent as both a promise and a threat, how will this impact the future of digital experience creation and management?

The key considerations here are as follows:

  • The need for a human in the loop: while very powerful, AI tools are not capable of producing an outstanding experience that aligns with its users’ needs without proper human oversight. AI yields optimal results when a skilled human is able to work with it rather than getting replaced by it.
  • The emergence of citizen developers: a new concept that has emerged with the rise of low-code & no-code is that of a “citizen developer”, i.e. someone who is able to create compelling digital experiences without an abundance of coding experience thanks to being a digital native.
  • The evolving role of software engineers: with the abundance of low-code/no-code website building tools, the rise of citizen developers and the innovation in helpful AI tools, it might seem like experienced software engineers will no longer be as essential to digital initiatives. However, the reality is that their roles will transform thanks to the improvements in developer experience, such that their work is less tedious, and more meaningful and creative.
  • The importance of learning & upskilling: in order to fully tap into the potential of the innovation going on within AI, new skills such as prompt engineering are becoming highly desirable and in some cases required for new roles. This places an even greater emphasis on continuous learning and upskilling which allows people to keep up with the rapid pace of innovation and favorably position themselves in the new job market.

Considering all of this, is it very likely that citizen developers armed with AI-powered technologies will do away with the need for classic engineering and site building?

Well, no, not at all; it’s true that the roles in these fields will get shaken up and evolve, requiring new skills in order to thrive, as stated. New roles will open up, with new avenues and opportunities for individuals as well as companies and agencies.

A concept close to that of a citizen developer, introduced by the founder of Drupal, Dries Buytaert, is an “ambitious site builder” – someone who makes effective use of low-code/no-code, AI and other site building tools, and is tech savvy enough to collaborate with engineering & IT teams.

So, the future is bright for those firms and individuals who are able (and willing) to embrace and adapt to all of these changes. Here are some quick tips for leaders to get the most out of them:

  • Embrace change, allow your culture to adapt and help employees do so too.
  • Provide learning & upskilling opportunities.
  • Encourage & enable collaboration.
  • Don’t adopt/invest into new tools haphazardly.
  • Make sure that any big changes bring benefits that are meaningful enough to justify the level of disruption they may cause to your employees and/or your operations.


In conclusion

Low-code and no-code tools no doubt present new opportunities and avenues, and all kinds of businesses are likely to make use of them for creating and managing their digital experiences in some capacity.

In order to make the most out of these technologies, businesses should make sure to choose the right tools for their particular needs, while making necessary adaptations to their cultures and helping their people thrive rather than struggle with the changes. We hope this article will give business leaders some guidance on what to consider for the optimal use of their low-code & no-code platforms.