No* Code

No* Code

A few weeks ago, I asked the Bullhorn team a question: if given the opportunity, and if expertise and ability were entirely out of the equation, what would you build or create? As Zack said, “this is a big question.” He’s right. And I got some big responses. Some wanted to build free and equitable housing. Others wanted to create free community groceries and perfect vegan analogs for food so “everyone would leave the animals alone.” A motivation detector, a vertically integrated hemp clothing manufacturing facility, a village for raising children, a utopia. These are big answers to a big question.

I think no code tools present a similar, if slightly smaller, question. What website would you build if you didn’t have to learn how to code? If the anxious barriers of selecting the proper framework, managing style libraries, and writing hundreds of lines of code were gone, what would you create? No code tools lower this barrier to entry, giving users the ability to create websites, apps, and workflows without writing code. And throwing the digital gates wide means other benefits follow closely behind: the democratization of work, brand agility, reduced costs.

No* Code
What is no code?

To understand no code, it may be helpful to first talk (very simply) about code. All websites are built with code. Generally speaking, websites use different “layers” of coding languages: HTML defines the elements and structure of a website, CSS styles those elements, and JavaScript makes them interactive. A web developer uses these tools and many more — in a text editor to make the websites we peruse every day. But if every website uses the same three coding languages, how can any website be “no code?”

The term no code is a bit deceiving. Even no code websites rely on code. But rather than requiring lines and lines of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript written in a text editor, no code platforms wrap those foundational languages in a user interface — a workspace with buttons and controls, like Photoshop or even Google Docs. Instead of writing code, saving, publishing, and viewing the website to make sure the code is doing what it’s supposed to do, you click a button and see the changes immediately. Not the right button? Click again. It’s precisely this approachability that makes both the idea and the practical applications of no code fascinating.

A common criticism of no code tools is that they cannot completely remove the need for code and the benefits of understanding it. It’s true. But no code isn’t trying to render traditional web development obsolete. Instead, it’s opening doors for more people to learn new skills. We’ve seen this firsthand by using Webflow, a no code visual development tool that accommodates modern development techniques and frameworks. Because Webflow is a visual wrapper for code itself, learning and understanding web development principles only makes you a more efficient and effective user. Webflow University, their educational site, is filled with tutorials and entertaining videos explaining code and the fundamentals of HTML and CSS. They want to empower users to learn web development and pursue their vision with as little friction as possible.

No* Code
Why no code?

Reduced barriers lead to more opportunity. At Bullhorn, no code has changed how we manage web development projects. We used to do as much work as possible before development, package it all, and send it to developers for completion. In other words, it took forever and put a lot of pressure on one or two team members. Since getting started with Webflow, many of us at Bullhorn — including writers and designers — have become visual developers in our own right. Communication between teams has become more tangible and immediate, removed from the time sink of back-and-forth revisions. We have learned new skills, gained a better understanding of web development, and created common ground for collaborating on web projects.

Another benefit of using no code tools is the democratization of work. Instead of the language and design teams owning only the up-front work of web design, website projects are now cross-functional collaborations in shared workspaces. Making revisions to language, tweaking designs, and testing interactions are no longer the purview of siloed teams but the responsibility of everyone on the project with shared expertise. And when we can share the work, bottlenecks are much less common. In their case studies, Webflow commonly discovers that marketing teams feel empowered to create landing pages independently, allowing development teams to focus on larger projects and long-term goals. Everybody wins.

Maintenance

It’s exciting to launch a new website. Well, for our clients, it is. I’m usually a nervous wreck on launch day. I think it’s because knowing all the gears in the machine means understanding all the different points where it can break down. Machines require maintenance to function well. Websites do too. Unfortunately, it’s easy to forget about regular upkeep in the rush of designing and launching a new site. Even enterprise-level companies like Shopify know that websites and systems are harder to maintain than to create.

Building a website, code or no code, automatically creates technical debt for an organization. Every new page, image, and feature adds complexity. And maintaining accessibility, search engine optimization, and user experience can quickly overwhelm any internal team. However, Webflow, with its all-in-one capabilities, replaces the code base’s management, dependencies, styling and interaction libraries, and server maintenance. Reducing the complexity of the website’s construction means reducing the capability required to maintain it. Another win.

Often, organizations are opinionated about what tools a website should use but give little consideration to their ability to maintain the website throughout its lifecycle. Choosing a development partner and no code tool to build your website means a more agile brand with less technical and maintenance debt. It means a brand that spends less time troubleshooting website issues and more time responding to business needs.

Cost

It shouldn’t be a surprise, then, with resources saved and refocused elsewhere, that selecting a no code tool saves money. But beyond the money saved and headaches avoided, no code tools can also improve work-life for in-house developers. And this isn’t an argument against developers. Instead, this is an argument for using no code tools to distribute development tasks, improve existing code, and save — if not make — your company money. While other teams complete tasks with no code tools, development teams have more time to solve complex problems instead of putting out the minor everyday fires called website maintenance.

What new revenue streams or innovations could your development team create if they weren’t mired in landing page updates?

No code is one of the most exciting trends, for me, in web development. All of its benefits — more people involved in the website process, good work by new visual developers, positive effects across many industries — have turned me into a no-code believer. And it’s led to some great conversations here at Bullhorn. Big answers to big questions.

Now, back to work on that utopia.