Mobile applications are the new magnets for businesses to attract more customers. According to Statista, an average consumer in the US spent more than $10 per smartphone in 2021. Such high demand has businesses speed up the process of app development. In addition, the low-code approach has helped them improve the time to market. 

Low-code development allows businesses to create apps with minimal coding. In addition, mobile app development based on the no-code/low-code platforms makes development a little easier. It enables developers to design, build and deploy apps without worrying about the underlying OS or architecture. However, for security purposes, developers generally use code signing certificates for better code integrity and legitimacy of an app.

Faster development means fewer efforts and optimized costs. According to GoodFirms, an application can cost between $40,000 and $100,000. Therefore, cost optimization and a timesaving approach are critical to mobile app development.

Here, we will discuss low-code features and benefits. Moreover, how it redefines mobile app development.

What is Low-code?

Low-code is a software development method that makes processes faster and requires minimal coding. It is a set of tools and practices which allow developers to minimize hand-coding efforts and have rapid app development. Most platforms provide developers with a visual interface to create apps requiring minimum coding. 

A low-code platform visually enables applications’ delivery through a drag-and-drop interface. As a result, developers can write fewer code lines to build apps. The best part is the speed of development that allows developers to build complete apps with user interface, service integrations, data, and business logic execution.

So, how does it work? A low-code platform provides app development features and various reusable components.

What is Low-Code development?

Low-code development is like a machine coffee! You do not need to boil the water; the right amount of water, sugar, and milk for that fantastic taste. Instead, developers need to write many code lines in the conventional approach, which takes more time and effort. 

It enables developers to build apps through a visual interface. It offers building blocks of applications and components for app development. Therefore, developers can focus on higher functions and features while cutting down efforts on coding. 

The development of applications needs a proper testing process to ensure a seamless user experience. Deployment is delayed if the development team takes more time to code an app and needs to integrate changes post-testing.

It improves time to market, making the entire process efficient. Now developers can spend more time on complex business logic and integrations. 

Let us discuss some of the critical features of low-code development.

Low-code features and benefits

Organizations can benefit from many low-code development features like visual interfaces, declarative tools, reusable components, etc. 

Visual flow

Whether you have experienced developers or newcomers, process flows are essential for them to understand before developing the application. A process flow helps development teams plan, execute and improve productivity. In addition, it helps organizations with a structured development process.

Low-code development enables organizations with a visual flow, making it easy for development teams to understand the entire process. As a result, organizations can visualize the whole development process for teams and enhance production. 

Drag-and-drop design

Businesses can benefit from the drag-and-drop design of the low-code development platforms. It allows organizations to close the gap of unskilled developers. You do not need highly experienced developers, as most of the building blocks of the application are drag-and-drop elements. Therefore, developers can use these components with a highly intuitive interface and create a seamless user experience.

Deploy anywhere capability

Having mobile-ready solutions is key to success in business. According to HuffPost, 87% of the customers purchase mobile, and 68% use smartphones for pre-purchase research. So, it has become crucial for businesses to go mobile and target users across devices.

Low-code development ensures that businesses can deploy applications across devices. Reusable components come pre-built in such platforms that help developers deploy apps in multiple environments with minor tweaks. In addition, cloud-based platforms offer flexibility, scalability, and continuous delivery.

Declarative features

Low-code development platforms have declarative tools that allow organizations to create flexible code structures. Therefore, they can make quick changes per business needs and market demands.

The agility of quickly adapting to market needs is easy with the declarative tools such platforms provide. Further, low-code platforms execute visual models and business-specific rules for enhanced development.

Security and scalability of apps

Application security is critical to your business, as users need a secure experience. According to a study, 63% of mobile applications with open source software components had at least one vulnerability. Therefore, you need to ensure that the app development platform is secure.

Cloud-based low-code platforms have security features like identification and access management (IAM). It allows organizations to verify data access and protect sensitive information from hackers.

When it comes to scalability, low-code development platforms provide enhanced capabilities. Cloud-based platforms offer scalable architecture for your applications, which can handle peak loads without affecting performance. 

Benefits of low-code development

Low-code development provides many benefits, which include higher productivity, optimized costs, better scalability, and efficiency.

Higher productivity

Low-code development reduces the hand-coding burden on developers, enabling higher productivity. Such platforms have evolved with advanced innovation and feature integration to address enterprise app requirements. 

A typical business app has four key aspects to consider,

  • What functionalities app will provide to solve customer problems?
  • What processes will require automation?
  • Design decisions include strategies to ensure a better user experience
  • Architectural decisions and choice of different programming. 

While functionalities can be similar in apps within a domain, other factors need customizations. Therefore, enterprises look to develop bespoke business apps to address customization requirements. Low-code platforms provide enterprise-grade app development without compromising on customization needs. It improves productivity for enterprises through. 

  • A library of components and design patterns that are reusable
  • Business-facing visual graphics and intuitive interface for app specification input
  • A mechanism to convert the specifications into code
  • Integrated development environment(IDE) for seamless user experience

Optimized costs

Organizations engaging developers per hour can reduce costs through lower development time. Low-code platforms improve time to market through the visual assembly of components that do not require extended coding. What makes it a worthy approach is the freedom experienced by developers get to focus on complex design problems. 

Another critical benefit that such platforms provide is the reduced cost of hiring. One of the most significant challenges for many companies is the skill gap. According to the US bureau of labor statistics, developer employment will grow by 22% between 2019 and 2029.

Therefore, finding, engaging, and hiring a skilled developer for your application development is a challenge for many companies. Further, such high demand with a massive skill gap leads to costly hiring. 

Improved business agility

Customer behavior changes make organizations adapt and create new business strategies. However, small businesses and startups need a solution to improve business agility.

Low-code platforms provide higher agility with faster development, enabling businesses to make quick changes per market demand. As most design modules are reusable and there is a graphical interface for adding new features to an app, the entire process becomes efficient. 

With faster development and ready-made components, you have the flexibility of rapid feature addition, testing, deployments, etc. Further, such platforms can enable organizations to provide seamless user experience across devices making it agile and flexible. 

Higher risk management 

Managing risks can be intimidating if you do not have the tools to adapt quickly. Low-code platforms allow companies to make changes according to the changing compliance and data protection regulations. 

For example, in 2021, there was a change in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a data regulation guideline for business operations in the European Union. Companies that store, analyze, share and use data of EU citizens need to comply with GDPR. 

The newest alteration in the GDPR guideline indicates that Website owners and publishers need to take explicit permissions before installing cookies on users’ devices. Earlier it was perceived that users that browser on the website provides consent by default for their data storage, recreation, and analysis. 

You can use low-code development to adapt web app logic and security policies to accommodate new norms of data regulations.  

Application scalability

Scalability is an important aspect that drives major development decisions for many organizations. There are two perspectives for application scalability.

●   Runtime scalability is the ability to increase deployed capacity for your application to provide an enhanced user experience. 

●   Developer time scalability is the ability to use minimal code across projects and environments to deliver long-term management of several apps in your portfolio.

Low-code platforms provide organizations with tools to create apps with better runtime scalability. It also offers higher developer time scalability through modules and codes that you can use across different app projects. Especially if you need a web of apps to support services, such platforms are ideal.

The future of low-code development 

Low-code platform features and benefits give organizations an edge over competitors with scalable applications. What makes this approach a promising one for the future is its ability to support Rapid Application Development (RAD). Organizations prefer RAD when they need prioritization of rapid prototyping and quicker feedback integration. 

Apart from the support for RAD, here are some data making a case for low-code app development

  • According to Gartner, 65% of the application development will be executed on low-code platforms.
  • The low-code development market is set to generate a revenue of more than $187 billion by 2030 with a CAGR of 31.1%.
  • Such platforms can help reduce the development time by 90%.
  • 72% of companies developed an application using low-code development within three months. 
  • 84% of enterprises use low-code or no-code development for digital asset development
  • 41% of developers want their organization to use low-code platforms and develop 50% of applications.

Types of Low-Code Development Platforms

Though the future looks bright for low-code development platforms, you need to know what type suits your requirements. 

General purpose platform

Such platforms provide low-code development capability to develop any application. It allows businesses to develop different apps and deploy them across environments. You can use general-purpose platforms to develop the backend and front end of the app. 

Process-based platforms

Businesses need applications for processes like forms, service integrations, and workflows. Low-code platforms provide tools to create reliable applications for business process management. Especially companies that need approvals for process workflows can leverage such platforms for quicker development.

Fixed-process platforms

Many organizations need apps that can handle specific user requests. These applications handle requests for fixed processes. Take an example of security access management inside an organization. You can develop applications for data access authentication through low-code platforms. 

Database low-code platforms

Database platforms are restricted to the function of pulling data from storage on access requests. These low-code applications are best for organizations with large data centers. 

Mobile Application Development Platform (MADP)

MADP is a platform that supports the concept of “write once, adapt anywhere.” Many organizations must target audiences across mobile platforms and develop individual applications. Low-code platforms help organizations develop a single codebase and use it across platforms.

What is the difference between low-code and no-code development?

One of the common myths about the low-code or no-code development approaches is that both are the same. However, both of these approaches are different in many ways. First and one of the most fundamental differences is the involvement of developers. 

While low-code development has linear coding requirements, the no-code approach provides a complete hands-off development.

For example, the applications for self-service inside an organization, dashboards, web apps for internal functions, content management platforms, and others can be developed through a no-code approach. 

Low-code platforms are an excellent option for creating an interconnected web of applications, while a no-code platform is best for standalone apps. Especially if you need user interface development and automation of standalone functions, no-code development is best. Some of the use cases also include BI reports and facility management applications.

Low code apps use cases

Low-code application platforms or LCAP can support many different types of use cases like 

  • Citizen development 
  • Business unit IT apps
  • Business process apps
  • Composite applications
  • SaaS and ISV applications

Citizen development 

Low-code development platforms provide some no-code features for citizen developers to build applications using pre-built design templates, APIs, and default logic. It supports a citizen development strategy for businesses, which is useful when you do not mind a shadow IT scenario. Citizen developers build apps without proper IT approvals, called shadow IT. 

Due to the drag-and-drop format and no-code capabilities, you will end up with several apps, which need to be connected. Especially without proper control over citizen development, you may have many duplicate apps. So, it becomes crucial that you have a citizen development strategy and a low code platform accordingly. 

Business unit IT apps 

Business units are cornerstone departments or units of a business. For example, your human resource or sales department are business units needing management applications. Low-code platforms allow organizations to build business unit applications quickly to support different activities across such units. 

Business process apps

Companies need to access, share, and use backend data to automate specific processes. They especially need to share and use business logic to build platform applications. Automation of such processes across platforms needs apps that execute business logic.

Low-code platforms allow companies to build applications for business processes. Due to minimal coding, it takes little effort for businesses to make the low code platforms an attractive option.

Composite applications

Multi-disciplinary teams often work on cross-functional projects to bring business logic and IT together. For such projects, time and budget become critical aspects, which is why low-code platforms are suitable.

Low-code platforms provide visual tools crucial in promoting such collaborations because cross-functional teams need professionals that are more skilled. While one team has developers with preferred skills, others may have different levels of mastery. 

Therefore, low-code platforms with no-code capabilities are ideal for delivering composite apps. 

SaaS and ISV Applications

Low-code platforms allow businesses to build web and mobile SaaS apps. It also provides templates that make software development quicker for independent software vendors (ISVs). 

However, low-code platforms can be restrictive if you want to have customizations for your SaaS applications. Most platforms come with specific templates and boxes in your design strategy. Therefore, you need an alternative strategy to apply customizations. 

How to pick a low-code platform?

Low-code platforms are available in the market with different options. While some focus on tools for rapid development, others offer features like data visualization, integration, and information preparation tools. Nevertheless, how to find the right platform?

Here are steps to follow in choosing a low-code development platform, 

Step 1 Analysis

Identify and analyze the need for a low-code platform. What is the timeline of your project, how much is the budget, and what is the app’s complexity? Here are a few questions that you need to ask about need analysis. 

Further, identify specific use cases of low-code platforms for your organization and plan accordingly. You need to design processes, business logic development, and app features and decide which platform can suit your requirements.

Step 2 Development Strategy

Define your development strategy that involves the following aspects,

  • Who will develop apps?
  • Who will design the apps?
  • What is the testing strategy?

These questions are essential because there are specific low-code platforms that target designers, developers, and testers separately. In other words, you can choose different platforms for each phase of the software development lifecycle or pick an MBAP for your apps.

Step 3 Customer experience impact

Low-code platforms provide pre-built templates to build a superior interface and user experience. However, you need to analyze the user requirement before choosing a platform. You also need to examine the impact of such platforms on development and customer experience.

Step 4 Costing and usage requirements

Estimate the development cost with the low-code platform and compare it with the conventional approach.

Further, keep in mind the specific usage requirements of the application before choosing a platform. 

Step 5 Features, compliance, and tools

Compare different platforms based on their features, ability to develop apps quickly, and compliance with standard data regulation standards. Check for no-code capabilities among other vendor options if you plan to leverage citizen development for your projects. 

Conclusion 

Rapidly growing mobile application usage is forcing companies to speed up digital transformations. However, the conventional approach to designing, developing, testing, and deploying apps need extensive coding efforts. Developers must create massive code repositories and create new code each time they release a new version. Low-code development platforms make development faster for developers reducing the need for a huge codebase. They can drag and drop ready-made components to create a reliable app experience. However, the suitable platform for your project will depend on specific requirements.