High Code vs. Low Code vs. No Code: Why Choose Just One?

It’s important to understand the pros and cons of high-code, low-code and no-code development before deciding which approach is best for your project.

Back in the old days, businesses relied on a developer to write code and create experiences from start to finish. Thankfully, developers no longer have to be a jack of all trades; the load of creating digital experiences has expanded to business users, marketers, customer success teams and much more. With so many specialties and departments in the mix, modern development requires multiple approaches and solutions to creating new applications and services. 

Following best practices, modern applications should avoid the trap of the monolith by employing component-based design principles. With low coupling and high cohesion, components and services can be assembled into different types of applications. Choosing the right assembly model is a critical part of any successful project. These assembly models can be grouped into three distinct categories: high code, low code and no code.

Choosing the right assembly model is a critical part of any successful project.

Each assembly model has its own key advantages, and most often a combination of these approaches across multiple teams is needed to address all business needs. To illustrate this new modern development mindset, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of high-code, low-code and no-code approaches. 

The Differences Between High Code, Low Code and No Code

Let’s look at how the rise of other more intuitive methods and site-building tools have allowed people with zero coding or software development experience to have a greater role in shaping customer experiences. 

High Code:

High-code assembly relies on developers to write and deploy code.This assembly model is ideal for applications where the code should be coupled to the experience itself. Developers will often rely on JavaScript frameworks like React or Angular, or frameworks specifically designed for mobile or native applications. Content and data is typically provided via a headless CMS or other API-based services. 

This approach is ideal for a “code-driven” experience that is tightly tied to code deployment cycles. Content and data can be managed and updated from remote systems on demand, but the actual experience and interface is controlled by developers. 

However, with a high-code approach alone, businesses are heavily reliant on developer resources. When everything requires a developer’s hand, it takes time away from the more valuable work developers could be doing, such as creating new features and innovations. 

Low Code:

Using low code tools, developers focus on building a composable platform and providing self-service tools that allow business users to control the assembly of the experience. They can also create powerful components that can be reused for other applications.

The primary benefits of low-code solutions are speed and collaboration. Low-code solutions generally leverage pre-built components, design systems and functionalities that can be rearranged and repurposed to shape different experiences. 

Low code means that both marketers and developers play a vital role in the process. Developers build the components and marketers can then assemble these components into relevant customer experiences. This collaboration can speed up time to market and result in overall greater customer satisfaction for the business because marketers are able to directly translate their insights into actions. 

Traditionally, developers have been reluctant to embrace low-code/no-code due to concerns about functionality and security, but there are ways to build governance and regulations into the types of components and systems being applied. 

No Code:

No-code assembly puts marketers and other business users directly in the driver’s seat. True to the name, these solutions involve no need to write a single line of code once they are launched. Instead, they rely on forms, configuration and simple input tools to manage the experience.

No-code solutions are great for solving individual department issues, like updating content or assets on a page, without pulling the attention of developers away from other projects. They can also be leveraged to help scale solutions using more of a cookie-cutter approach.

However, no-code tools are limited in terms of bringing about large-scale innovations or building new platforms. They typically are more difficult and expensive to extend, and while fast to setup and use, they are often limited in their flexibility

Taking a Collaborative Approach to Application Development 

Now that you’ve got a grasp on the three assembly models, how do you decide whether to standardize on a high-code, low-code or no-code approach? Trick question; you don’t. 

There’s no single answer for how best to meet your development needs, but the key to success is not confining yourself to a single assembly model. Modern businesses can’t have a one-size-fits-all mindset when designing and building their websites. When developers are stuck in silos and made to take on all aspects of assembling, delivering and optimizing content, timelines are longer and technical talent has little time for true innovation. 

Now that you’ve got a grasp on the three assembly models, how do you decide whether to standardize on a high-code, low-code or no-code approach? Trick question; you don’t.

Instead, the greatest value can be achieved by selecting a truly hybrid CMS and building a platform that is flexible and composable enough to support different users and use cases. Rather than force developers to completely give up control, adding low-code and no-code capabilities to a high-code method allows for additional support from other teams to design and deliver the full digital experience. 

A fully functional and open approach to application development and content assembly accommodates developers through features like an API-first design and baked-in security features. Meanwhile, low-code/no-code applications grant marketers control over the display and layout of their content, so they’re more connected to the total digital experience. 

Build a Composable Platform for All Assembly Modes 

By choosing a truly hybrid CMS, you have the ability to create a composable platform that can be used for any assembly mode. In fact, you can even create a single codebase that can be reused over and over for different applications. It is like your CMS becomes a macro-component in your architecture.

But how do you know which assembly model to use for a particular application? It is actually pretty simple; you just have to decide who owns the assembly of the experience.

  • If it is a code-driven application where the developer owns the assembly, then you want high code. 
  • If it is a content-driven application where the marketer owns the assembly, then you want low code.
  • If it is a standardized application following more of a “cookie-cutter” model of assembly, then you want no code.

In any case, Acquia CMS is a truly hybrid CMS that can work really well across the board. By standardizing on a single CMS tool that can serve the whole organization, you can create a composable platform that is flexible enough to respond to anything your team needs today and in the future.

Learn more about how high-code, low-code and no-code solutions can support your development efforts in our e-book: High Code, Low Code, No Code: What Do You Really Need

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