Many people assume that application development involves time, cost, and coding experience. Low-code development introduces new technologies to business that enable anyone to create business applications without needing hand-coding knowledge.

A low-code solution meets a wide variety of needs, from citizen developers who may be new to building applications to professional developers tackling complex problems. As someone just getting started with low-code development, you'll find that an easy-to-use user interface and other great low-code tools mean rapid application development.

Low-code platforms allow you to create solutions that digitize paper processes, collect and share data, and streamline your workday without having to learn code. Low-code and no-code solutions come with pre-built components and drag and drop no-code tools that make it easy to produce business applications quickly.

At the beginning of your low-code journey, you need to identify the platform that fulfills your needs and begin using simple tools to acclimatize your staff. It is also crucial to determine who your audience is to tailor a solution that best fits their needs while ensuring that company and customer data is secure.

How to Get Started with Low-Code Development?

According to a recent study by 451 Research and FileMaker, Inc, nearly 60% of all custom apps are now developed outside the IT department. Of these, 30% are created by employees who have little or no technical development skills and who aren’t familiar with code application development.

Many companies can't afford to pay a full-time development team, and that's where a low-code platform can help. A company's business and technical experts can potentially step in where development expertise is lacking and create application solutions on low-code platforms that require minimal coding skills.

Low-code platforms are one of several strategies companies can adopt to accelerate the number of applications they build.

When a company lacks a deep pool of development expertise, low-code tools are one way to compensate. However, before you get started with low code development, there is some important information to know:

Considerations Before Getting Started with a Low-Code Platform

  • Does the low-code platform integrate with your existing systems? Most low-code platforms allow you to call through your existing services via APIs and provide APIs for accessing data and services.
  • Cost: Pricing varies between low-code platforms. Some will charge you an annual fee, others will charge you per user.
  • Who will use the low-code platform? A company may or may not have a developer or development team on board to take care of integrating a low-code platform with existing systems and software. Companies need to consider who will perform this important function before they start using a low-code platform.
  • Adaptability of low-code platform: Consider whether the application platform is adaptable to the changing needs of your business and customers. It is important for a business to recognize that some platforms may not be as customizable as others. 

How do you choose a low-code platform before you get started?

  • Is it for a developer or business user?: No-code platforms tend to fall into two different market segments: For business users or for developers. Before you start, it's important to decide who will use it and whether the platform will serve their purpose.
  • What use cases does your company want to deliver? Each low-code tool provides functionality in different areas, including business processes and workflows. It's crucial to choose a platform that meets your needs.
  • Create a strategy that includes governance: Building and maintaining software is challenging, whether it needs to be coded or not. Companies that benefit most from low-code platforms are those that create a strategy, such as a portfolio system that keeps track of how many apps have been built on the platform. Now, we’ve gone through considerations before selecting a low-code platform, here are four tips from our experts.

Expert Tip 1: Understand Low-Code Tools

Any organization that wants to start low-code development must have a good understanding of low-code tools. An important distinction exists between low-code and no-code tools. IT departments and others who have some background in programming languages typically use low-code tools to build mission-critical, custom applications. Business users without coding skills use no-code platforms to streamline their day-to-day operations.

Different low-code tools can be used by different departments, from software developers to business users. Low-code platforms work best when:

  • Business users want to build applications
  • There is no homogeneous solution to a problem.
  • The application is a normal business use case
low code application without programmers

These are still very general reasons. To get a clearer understanding of low-code tools, it's best to think of low-code solutions in the context of real-world business decisions and challenges. Here are several low-code examples from different business operations.

  • Sales: Many companies create their sales invoices in different ways. The sales team is best suited to design a software-driven sales invoice management solution. If it doesn't need to be a sophisticated application, the sales team can independently create an application using a low-code platform.
  • Marketing: Your marketing team works in a world where content must be approved before it goes live. Signing off on a piece of content is usually left to a diverse group of employees. This process is prone to errors and delays. To mitigate this, they can create a software application that manages the approval workflow as often as needed without involving IT.
  • Human Resources: HR are responsible for one of the most business-critical operations, the onboarding of new employees. When there is a change in staff, this often needs to be documented quickly and can't wait for IT to clear urgent work off their desk. With a low-code solution that allows human resources to update onboarding quickly, they are in control and can work more effectively.

There are several no-code/low-code solutions on the market. It is best to look at the product evaluations and match the offerings with your needs. Most companies have starter-level platforms and offer free versions.

Take a look at low-code starter-level solutions and try to build an app that solves a problem. It's easier to adopt platforms one project at a time.

Aspects to consider are ongoing costs and support, the areas where a platform differentiates itself from its competitors, and the features of the platform. Some platforms offer a more responsive design, while offers offer more functionality and integration.

The top three things to look at are:

  • Scalability: When you have more users on the platform, it should be easier to make changes and scale.
  • Security Certifications: Make sure that the platform has all the necessary security certifications in place and that your platform is enterprise grade.
  • Deployment: The platform should allow you to deploy the application everywhere you need.

Expert Tip 2: The Smaller the App, the Better

If you start with a simple platform, that doesn't mean you can't move on to something more complex later in your low-code journey.

Low-Code Building Blocks

Start with one Simple Platform: Stewart Small, founder of digital marketing agency Kttp, recommends starting with the simplest, least intimidating low-code platforms before making a jump to more complex platforms. Your employees will be much more likely to use and stick with more complex platforms if their first introduction to low-code platforms is successful.

Start Creating Simple Applications: You should also start by creating the simplest applications, such as form submissions, so you don't overwhelm your employees. Some low-code platforms have pre-built applications as a starting point. This is to help users better understand the functionality.

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How To Start Off

The Ideal Starting Point: Established paper-based, email, and file-sharing processes between two or more people are perfect to bring into no-code platforms to provide process control, visibility, and 24/7 usage.

Other Recommendations for Getting Started Small: It's best to choose a clearly defined task for your first low-code project and be clear about your final application. You'll find that creating a solution is much easier when you have clarity about the problem you're trying to solve. This also allows you to dive in and start exploring a platform while staying focused.

Expert Tip 3: Determine Your Target Audience

mobile app low code development platforms

Understanding the problem you want to solve and the data you will use is only the first step in starting to build a low-code application. Equally important is knowing who will use your solution and how.

If you and your team will be the users, it's a good starting point to solve a challenge you or your team is experiencing. This makes the process of building an application much more straightforward.

If you're building the app for you and your team, it's easier to figure out whether you want to access the app through a tablet or a mobile device.

However, if you're developing an app for an audience outside your organization, take some time to ask yourself questions like: What devices do they use? What is their day-to-day work like? What industry are they in? Are there mostly citizen developers there, and in which area of the company do they work? By putting yourself in their shoes, you can create a more successful business app.

build apps with low code

Expert Tip 4: Make Data Privacy a Priority

The Importance of Data Privacy

The security of your data should be an important focus if you are a business thinking about moving to no-code or low-code platforms, and here's why.

Top priorities should include whether the platform has sufficient controls in place to ensure data security. Depending on the low-code or no-code tool, companies may be able to restrict certain types of data or how it is used.

Gartner analyst Jason Wong says many platforms allow you to set up a sandbox where employees can create whatever they want but not have access to business-critical data. To get access to anything else, they would have to send a request to management or IT.

what to look for in a low code development platform

Be sure that the low code software platform you select fits the experience level of the people developing the apps.

Low Code Gartner

Gartner analyst Jason Wong says many platforms allow you to set up a sandbox where employees can create whatever they want but not have access to business-critical data. To get access to anything else, they would have to send a request to management or IT.

Data Security and Data Governance

Keeping Customer Data Secure

Most top-tier enterprise platforms provide companies with a variety of ways to apply controls. However, when starting with a low-code or no-code solution, the underlying data is a major concern. For example, a company may create a simple application that performs a basic function. It becomes problematic when they decide to add sensitive customer data. That's why it's important to adopt a data-first mentality.

Possible problems to be aware of 

One of the issues with some platforms (no-code and low-code) is that users are able to make decisions about their configurations, permissions, and access controls. This can lead to problems when customer data is siloed and partitioned.

Community Edition Screenshot
Effective Data Segregation

Achieving effective data separation requires the implementation of access and role definitions, something that is probably beyond the capabilities of the average citizen developer.

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A Final Thought...

Our four expert tips for any company moving towards using low-code platforms are (a) to evaluate every product according to your needs, (b) start with more intuitive tools and create simple solutions. And (c) understand the needs of your audience and (d) remember that data security is imperative to success.

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The Best Software for Low Code App Development

You'll find Alpha Anywhere is the best low code development software for building web and mobile apps for business.  We've made it easy get started with Alpha Anywhere Community Edition, a full featured and FREE low-code development environment. We have a team of experienced app designers and developers, and offer mentoring and tutorials on how to build mobile apps.