Low Code Platforms: Understand Their Benefits and Uses
Low code platforms facilitate the application development process. When selecting one for your apps, explore the many facets of their features and applications.
Written by RamotionJan 23, 202415 min read
Last updated: Feb 6, 2024
Modern businesses require an active online presence for effective customer engagement. They hire developers who can handle complex development processes to build unique and user-friendly applications. The objective is to improve the level of interaction with customer user experience.
While web development experts come across multiple app building tools today, they always look for ones that can simplify the process. Hence, they carefully select frameworks and platforms that claim to provide simpler development environments.
Today, in contrast to the traditional development processes, developers have access to low code platforms that have simplified the work for developers. Low code development platforms are a helpful tool for modern-day developers to reap quick and effective results.
In this article, we will understand and explore the uses and features of a proper low code platform. You will also get insights into applications of low code platforms and their future in the world of software development.
Read along to explore the impact of low code platforms in improving the traditional development processes and how to select the most suitable one for your business.
Defining Low-Code Development
Software development and app building are complex processes that require a development team with top-notch coding skills. Businesses rely on custom codes to ensure a smooth user experience. While several options are available to developers, low-code development is an approach that uses minimal coding to create applications. It emphasizes using visual development tools that enable developers to go through the app building process quickly.
Low-code development reduces the reliance on traditional software development processes, enabling the developers to focus on the application's functionality. It allows people with limited coding knowledge to develop complex software applications quickly. The approach significantly empowers a more comprehensive range of users to build programs.
What is low code development?
It is a programming environment based on graphical user interfaces and configuration that supports the quick development of complex applications with minimal coding.
Low-code app development is facilitated by low code platforms providing an integrated development environment for developers to create software. Unlike traditional development, low code development platforms offer drag-drop options, pre-built templates, and simplified design interfaces. They can be used to build a range of applications, catering to the different needs of a business.
Low code platforms are often considered similar to no code platforms as they are both alternatives to the traditional development environment. Both platforms rely on visual modeling software to build applications, but some fundamental differences exist between low and no code platforms.
While a low code platform requires minimal hand coding, no code development platforms are built for non technical users who might need to become more familiar with coding. No code uses declarative programming, where a user is expected to tell the software what to build. Hence, no code allows anyone in an organization to build business apps.
Businesses have a choice of multiple platforms to build apps with varying development processes. While the transitional process requires constructing complex code lines for the software, low-code and no-code platforms offer more flexibility and less reliance on complicated programming knowledge.
Features and Benefits of Low-Code Platforms
While no code is an available option for app development, it is limited in its features and customizability. Hence, businesses opt for low-code development, which offers a middle ground between complex traditional processes and simpler no-code platforms.
Let’s look at some of the significant features of low code development platforms that make them popular for modern businesses.
What are the key features of low-code platforms?
Here are some of the essential features of low code platforms:
- Visual modeling tools
- Reusable components
- Data integration
- Application lifecycle management
- Workflow automation
- Drag and drop interface
1. Visual modeling tools
Low code tools are equipped with visual development capabilities that enable the developers to visualize the enterprise apps as they build them. The built-in modules and drag and drop functionality allow easy navigation during the app development process. Hence, the visual development of low code apps becomes more interactive with a graphical user interface, enabling even non-technical users to build various applications.
2. Reusable components
Business processes become faster with quicker app development with reusable components of low code apps. As developers build apps using the low code tool, they get access to pre-designed templates, modules, connectors, and more. They enable improved scalability and consistency when developers build business apps.
These components support cross-platform development of mobile apps and provide customizable solutions to businesses for complex projects, reducing the investment of time. While low code development platforms have existing libraries of components, they also allow users to create, save, and reuse custom components for different projects.
3. Data integration
Low code app is also crucial to ensure business intelligence with improved data integration during development. The platforms allow pre-configured APIs, connectors, and databases that equip developers to build custom integrations. Data and logic can be easily integrated from multiple sources, systems, and services that enable businesses to integrate their core systems into the low code application development process.
4. Application lifecycle management
The app development process has multiple stages, like ideation, development, testing, deployment, and operations. Low code supports different phases of the application lifecycle management. It quickens the development process and leads to agile project management for businesses. Hence, developers can work iteratively and autonomously to build apps.
5. Workflow automation
The visual interface of low code development enables the developers to create and customize processes easily. It also empowers developers to automate processes for business users that help them avoid manual coding for each app update. The automation tools assist development teams to get rid of redundant and repetitive backend processes and focus on more creative and valuable aspects of building mobile apps.
6. Drag and drop interface
Every low-code development platform comes with a drag-and-drop functionality that offers convenience in developing custom apps. The process becomes faster and more efficient. The drag-and-drop functionality also enhances the visual modeling experience of low-code development platforms.
While several features of low code platforms allow developers to implement specific business rules effectively in the app development process, they also offer various benefits. Let’s explore the typical advantages of low code development platforms.
Benefit 1. Flexibility
It enables businesses to build mobile apps that offer flexible uses for different business solutions. It also ensures easy scalability that promotes quick development and business growth.
Benefit 2. Efficiency
Business processes become more efficient as they take reliance on building applications away from a skilled developer. Other team members can develop apps or their working models until a developer can give their technical input.
Benefit 3. Consistency in user experience
With pre-built templates and different platform features, project management becomes consistent in low code development. The designs are implemented to ensure a consistent and positive customer experience, ensuring better user engagement.
Thus, low code application platforms' low-coders and benefits provide an easier and smoother experience to build. It caters to the different levels of expertise in development teams while ensuring a good experience for business users. Hence, businesses must explore the available low code platforms and choose the right one to create apps efficiently.
Evaluating and Selecting Low-Code Platforms
It is crucial for business users to choose an appropriate low code platform. Before exploring the multiple online options, you must understand some key aspects that define your business requirements. Let’s take a look at these critical factors.
1. Defining requirements
The most important aspect is to understand the requirements of your business apps. It involves understanding the different characteristics of your app, including its goals, functions, and future development. It enables you to understand the type of application your business needs, the level of scalability you would require in the future, and the kind of customization your app would demand.
2. Understanding users
While app development and scalability factors are essential to creating apps, proper insight into the expertise of your technical team is necessary for the research to be complete.
The low code development platform will be accessed by a particular set of individuals in your enterprise; it is crucial to understand their level of technical knowledge and comfort with the different aspects of app development. It ensures that the platform of your choice caters to the requirements of the development process and provides adequate support to the team.
Once you have evaluated your app-building requirements and understand your team's expertise, you are ready to explore the various low-code application development platforms in the market.
Following are the critical aspects of low code application platforms that you must be on the lookout for:
3. Visual Development Tools
These are the most critical aspects of low code platforms. Ensure your options offer robust visual development features, including drag-and-drop features, pre-built templates, and graphical workflows. It ensures that the project management is streamlined correctly and that your team has proper support in the development process.
4. Collaborative Integrated Development Environment (IDE)
It enables the development team to co-create applications by collaborating in real time. The integrated environment offers pre-built templates, databases, connectors, and third-party services. These low code development tools ensure seamless integration with the existing enterprise systems. As a result, it becomes easier for developers to find, understand, and use data from external and internal sources.
5. Security Features
Data security is a top priority for all organizations in today’s competitive market. Hence, analyzing the privacy protocols available for your business’s custom applications is essential. Some common aspects of security features include encryption capabilities and role-based access controls to ensure the protection of sensitive data.
6. Cloud Support
A useful low code platform must also ensure external development of applications on public, private, or hybrid clouds while supporting on-premise development. Cloud support will ensure the development of cloud native mobile applications, ensuring resilience and adaptive qualities when businesses have to extend apps on different platforms.
7. Vendor and Community Support
While enterprise features can be customized into the app development process using the low code platforms, it requires reasonable support from vendors and the available community. Hence, businesses must ensure that proper documentation, training resources, and accessible support forums are known for their development teams.
8. Cost and Licensing
Financial aspects are essential for businesses to ensure the platform of choice stays within the budget. It is also necessary to look closely at the licensing to ensure it supports your scalability plans while catering to your budget constraints.
9. Regulatory Compliance
Ensuring that your low code platform complies with the set standards and regulations is vital. It confirms that all certifications and legal aspects are covered, especially any regulatory policies specific to your enterprise.
The aspects mentioned above ensure that you make a well-informed decision when choosing a low code platform for your organization. While you review these characteristics when making your choice, here is a list of leading low code development platforms to kickstart your exploration of available choices in the market:
Application and Use Cases of Low-Code Platforms
Low code platforms offer versatility in the app development process, suitable for various industries and business processes. It accelerates the development process and allows people of varying technical expertise to participate in the app design process.
Below are some everyday use cases of low code platforms that can help businesses in their digital mark.
What are some of the primary use cases of low code platforms?
Some everyday use cases of low code platforms are as follows:
- Progressive Web Apps
- Product Catalogs
- Supply Chain Management
- CRM and Sales Applications
- SaaS Development
Progressive Web Apps
In a world where every business aims to create applications, progressive web apps offer the best of both worlds: the web and the mobile. Low code platforms support their quick development, cross-platform compatibility, iterative development, and offline functionality. Developing progressive web apps becomes easier with common code development, making them more accessible for businesses to build.
Since enterprises build applications to engage with their customer base, product catalogs are crucial in ensuring their reach into the market. Low-code platforms offer pre-built systems and templates that assist developers in creating interactive and user-friendly product catalogs that improve customer engagement and better business performance in the market.
Supply Chain Management
Low code development enables businesses to build suitable supply chain management applications for their aid. It assists them in escaping the manual processing of complex workflows and elaborate handling of extensive data in spreadsheets. The ease of app development through low code platforms offers a solution that speeds up inventory management, tracking of shipments, and stock alerts.
CRM and Sales Applications
Customer relationship management (CRM) forms a significant part of online businesses today. Low code applications simplify the process by offering easy development of apps that can help organizations manage customer interactions. It can also help to track sales leads and automate the sales processes, ensuring a better customer experience.
Software-as-a-service (SaaS) development is an extensive and resource-consuming process with the traditional development approach. The low code platforms accelerate the process by providing rapid prototyping, easier A/B testing, and a faster time-to-market. It will also allow reusability of pre-configured functionalities to build a robust system.
Low code platforms offer a wide range of applications to the market, making their development more accessible and efficient. It also widens the accessibility of individuals who can create applications using the low code development process. People with different levels of technical knowledge can interact with low code platforms to develop innovative and valuable app designs.
While it assists professional developers and IT professionals to work more efficiently, it also helps UX developers translate their design concepts into functional applications. It enables entrepreneurs to build quick prototypes at lower costs and cross-functional teams to collaborate more smoothly. Hence, businesses must understand their requirements and identify their challenges when using a low-code platform to maximize its potential for their benefit.
The Future and Evolution of Low-Code Development
Low code and no code development have altered the app development process. It has empowered individuals with little programming knowledge to design and create enterprise-grade applications. Hence, it makes development more inclusive and accessible for organizations.
Since low code platforms support the efficiency and creativity of the development process, their use will also expand in the future. They can potentially revamp digital strategies for today’s enterprises with enhanced innovation and business value.
Some leading trends for the evolution of low code development can be stated as follows.
Integration with AI and Machine Learning (ML)
The increasing use of AI and ML in today’s digital market has revolutionized the business infrastructure. Organizations must adopt new tools to ensure innovation and quick development of new ideas that keep them afloat in the competitive online market.
Since AI and ML are the leading tools of innovation today, low code platforms are expected to integrate their features in the future. It can result in better automation and predictive analytic features for businesses in their app designs.
Support from Edge Computing
Edge computing is another rising technological advancement today, and its integration into low code development can reap lasting benefits. It can ensure developers create applications better suited to run on edge devices, lowering latency and enhancing data security for businesses and their customers.
Improved focus on User Experience (UX)
While low code platforms already enable developers to create user-friendly applications that ensure a smooth customer experience, the focus on it is expected to increase.
Since user experience is a major marker of an application’s successful design, the low code platforms must focus on offering features that can assist developers in creating more user-friendly applications. Enhanced focus on better visual design tools and user-feedback mechanisms can ensure improved focus on creating enhanced user experience designs.
Hybrid Development Environments
One prominent feature of the evolution of low-code platforms is the combination of a code environment with traditional programming approaches to app development. It will ensure that developers can access the best aspects of both practices.
While low code development can offer visual tools that can enable developers to visualize their process results simultaneously, the traditional approach can provide more freedom for customization and the creation of increasingly complex designs. Hence, each approach can leverage the other in enabling developers to create more tailored applications to the business demands.
Hence, low code development has the potential to grow and expand the app development process outside of the IT department of an organization. Since it offers lowered development times and more significant innovation, the use of low code platforms will expand to different enterprises, making it a necessary tool for businesses in the rising competition of the digital marketplace.
Low code platforms are development environments with pre-built templates and other useful features to simplify the application creation process. It offers an app development process with minimal coding, and unlike the traditional approach, it does not require a high level of technical expertise. Unlike the no-code platforms, low-code development requires slight coding to build apps.
It offers several benefits, including quicker development, better data integration, visual development tools, and efficient application lifecycle management. Businesses must evaluate their requirements and understand the capabilities of their development team when choosing a low code platform for use.
Additional aspects to remember include the platform's cloud support level, available vendor support, security features, and compliance with regulations. Once the right choice is made, organizations can use low code platforms to improve their CRM functions, supply chain management, and other business functionalities.
Low code platforms provide a chance for businesses to enhance their processes both within the organization and also for their customer base with improved user experience. With advancing technological tools and increased reliance on applications, low code platforms are expected to grow within the business world.