High-quality software can become an essential pillar of any company’s strategy. Potential customers are almost constantly online. Offering them a digital product is a chance to catch their attention and convert them into buyers. However, many brands are not sure how to prepare a solution that will meet their goals and won’t consume too many resources. Technological advancements provided a wide range of options when it comes to building software, but are they all equally valuable? That’s what we want to investigate in this article. To do that, we will take a closer look at the battle between custom software vs. no-code/low-code solutions.
The former is tailor-made to meet specific business needs. The latter are cheaper alternatives that have their own limitations but can be handy in various situations. Each option has pros and cons. Making the right decision can be crucial for the growth and success of an organization. Let us help you with that. We will explore the differences between them and showcase factors to consider when picking which one to go with.
No-code and low-code solutions – definitions
We want to begin with no-code and low-code software. No-code platforms allow non-technical users to create applications without programming knowledge or coding skills. These platforms typically offer a drag-and-drop interface, pre-built templates, and visual workflows. That’s how they make it easy for users to create basic software products through a series of simple steps. Low-code tools are similar, but they might require basic technical knowledge. They provide the possibility to use code if the user pleases.
Systems based on no-code and low-code can be utilized to create a wide range of software products such as websites, mobile apps, and process automation tools. Every type of business can take advantage of them, from startups to large enterprises. Usually, they turn towards these solutions to reduce development costs, shorten time-to-market, build MVPs, and create simple, basic products that don’t require too much customization. It can all be done internally. However, it usually requires at least one developer to prepare a good-quality product. Sometimes it might be necessary to write a custom element, too. Thus, it’s important to hire someone competent to be responsible for such a solution.
Benefits of no-code/low-code solutions
There are many positive traits low-code and no-code can offer to a business:
- Lower initial price: Such solutions don’t require elaborate budgets from day one to be created. All that has to be paid is the tool’s subscription plan and sometimes additional fees for premium features.
- Quick implementation: Since there’s no elaborate coding involved, the no-code or low-code solution takes less time to be made. Drag-and-drop style of building mechanisms promotes faster “development” and allows the user to create a system within days.
- Great for idea verification: No-code and low-code can be used for MVP and prototype creation to test the product concept without spending too much money.
- Maintenance and support: Since such products don’t have complex, advanced architectures, their maintenance is simplified. Support is often provided by the platform to help their users in case of more important technical malfunctions.
- Accessible: As we mentioned, platforms like that don’t extensive tech knowledge and usually have quite intuitive interfaces that are easy to navigate. Everyone can use them to start their own software development journey.
Drawbacks of low-code/no-code solutions
Now we should take a look at all the negative traits of these tools:
- Limited customization: Every business with unique demands will probably feel the lack of functionalities they need for their particular brand. Low-code platforms offer a bit more in that area, but they still can’t beat custom software.
- Redundant elements: Each platform has its own payment plans that might make you spend on unnecessary functionalities your business won’t need.
- Not so cheap: Monthly or annual subscription fees can get high if there’s a need to use premium features or handle higher traffic. An internal developer that handles all the product-related activities and maintains it also has to be paid every month.
- Compatibility issues: If the low-code or no-code platform doesn’t have an integration with an external provider required for your solution to work, it will be hard to implement it seamlessly.
- Problematic migrations: Future decisions about the potential move to another system might be difficult to carry out.
- Lack of full control: You won’t know what is happening behind the scenes, which means fixing some errors will take more time and will depend on external factors.
- Not suitable for everyone: Businesses that have to keep data on-premises or provide extreme security measures due to various conditions can’t use low-code and no-code solutions because they host everything on their servers and offer platform-specific safety policies.
Custom software – what is it?
Custom software, as the name suggests, is tailored to meet specific business requirements. Such software is built from scratch according to the unique needs and goals of a brand. The tasks of the software agency include a thorough analysis of the company’s objectives, target market, and niche, project management, UX/UI design, coding, testing, and deployment. Many of them also offer post-release maintenance.
What’s most important is that custom software is always adjusted to the organization’s requests, desires, and also potential challenges. It has the features they expect and no unnecessary additions. Such a system can be changed, developed further, redesigned, and powered with new functionalities whenever it’s wanted by an organization and their customers.
Pros of custom software
Let’s see what advantages custom software can offer:
- Flexibility: Since it’s designed to meet particular business goals, such software can be freely customized and scaled whenever the market conditions change.
- Process optimization: If you bet on a tailor-made solution, it will be created to streamline your operations and raise productivity. It will also provide detailed data for informed decision-making.
- Unforgettable design: Custom software can look exactly the way you want it to. That provides countless possibilities and also can result in a better, more customer-centric user experience.
- Freedom to integrate: Whichever tool is used internally within the company, software developers can prepare suitable integration compatible with it to elevate the team’s activities and make their lives easier.
- Cost-effective in a long run: Once your software is made, you don’t have to pay a yearly subscription and additional fees. Also, custom software can be less prone to potential migration issues or technical failures which cuts future expenses.
- Easier implementation: Since the software is prepared with your company in mind, it will be easier to train employees to use it and then launch it as a standard in your organization.
- Competitive edge: A unique solution is always in tune with your brand’s values and your audience’s needs. That’s why it can help make your brand stand out.
- Ownership: Only your company can decide what happens to the software. It can’t be suddenly canceled by the owner or stop receiving updates like an external solution.
- Possible MVP approach: You can create a basic version of the software to test it and gradually develop it further as well. This way, you can spend resources better and prepare a system that will truly meet the needs of the end-users.
Cons of custom software
There are several disadvantages that could be dealbreakers for some brands:
- Demands higher budget: Especially in the beginning, the investment has to be significantly higher. As we mentioned it can be worth it but if the company doesn’t have resources, they won’t be able to hire a software agency to prepare a custom solution.
- Longer time-to-market: Custom development is a time-consuming process which means it can take months before the solution is ready.
- Requires tech specialists: It’s impossible to prepare a tailor-made product without programming knowledge and other IT-related skills. That’s why this option requires either hiring an in-house team or outsourcing to an external developer.
- Maintenance costs: The solution hosted on-premise will require a higher budget to keep it running. Also, a custom solution has to be regularly updated and fixed to ensure its continuous high quality.
- Risk of excessively complex architecture: The software team should pay attention to the product’s construction, so it’s not too complicated. Many dependencies make it much harder to detect and resolve bugs.
- Finding the right provider: The search process for an outsourcing company should be detailed and thorough. Hiring an unreliable software agency will cause additional costs and delays.
Custom software vs. no-code/low-code – how to choose?
You probably can tell already that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. There are numerous factors that can influence the final decision to choose between custom software vs. no-code/low-code. It’s impossible to predict lists of requirements that would be perfectly suitable for one or another option. Each brand has its own unique situation that has to be considered.
For example, one company can have a huge budget but a very tight deadline. Another might not worry that much about time-to-market but have limited resources. Some businesses have rigidly specific requirements. Others just have a general idea of what they want their software to do. The combinations of these conditions are endless. Here’s a list of the most important ones:
The most crucial factor for many organizations. We would never recommend saving money on a software solution. However, if the brand has a small budget, they won’t have all the options available. If there are not enough resources, trying a no-code or low-code platform might be a good start. They can always progress later on when the idea proves itself and gets attention.
The timeline assumed for the development and deployment is another critical factor. Especially for businesses that have to meet strict deadlines. It’s also essential for industries where market conditions can change rapidly. Custom solutions can be created quickly (especially as MVPs). Nevertheless, they might not be perfect for brands with very tight schedules. Low-code and no-code can be great prototyping alternatives. They might not be enough if the product gains momentum and requires further expansion though. It’s all about the balance and awareness of the expectations that have to be met. Sometimes it’s better to spend more time preparing the solution to deliver something unique and robust.
The scope of the project can definitely determine which direction to follow when it comes to software development. Complex, advanced solutions almost always require a custom approach. That’s because no-code platforms can’t achieve the same results due to their limited architectures. The low-code approach can be a cheaper, less demanding starting point because of its higher customization level. However, it still won’t be enough when there’s a very specific project scope.
Software products can have various purposes and be dedicated to different end users. If the solution they expect is a simple, single-featured product, preparing it with a no-code or low-code tool could be more than enough. However, multipurpose systems with a plethora of functionalities and integrations won’t thrive if they’re not prepared as custom software adjusted to a specific list of demands.
If you plan to constantly grow your solution, custom software should be your to-go strategy. With no-code or low-code you might quickly hit the wall in terms of further development and additional features. Also, without a well-prepared environment (server space, etc.), handling vast amounts of traffic could be challenging. Companies that have ambitions to make their system a leading choice within their niche should definitely bet on tailor-made products.
Available development team
Every company has a different situation when it comes to IT departments. Some have a full squad of skilled developers that can handle custom programming in-house. Others, like startups and new organizations, don’t have enough resources. They might want to try a no-code solution to begin their digital journey. If a brand has a bigger budget, they can always invest in a custom solution, no matter if they have adequate specialists on board or not. Thanks to outsourcing, they can hire a whole team or a few developers to prepare the software solution they need.
Custom software vs. no-code/low-code – conclusion
The decision between custom software vs. no-code/low-code solutions depends on a plethora of factors, as well as particular business needs. Both options have their pros and cons to consider when choosing which direction to follow. Of course, it’s possible to start the brand’s digital presence with a less demanding, cheaper option. It can be redesigned as a custom solution later on. However, if a company has resources, we always recommend betting on the latter. The ownership, control over assets, and countless possibilities to create new features and meet customers’ needs are only a few benefits that are worth the money and time spent on building a tailor-made system. Ultimately, it’s essential to weigh all the advantages and drawbacks before going one way or another.
Do you want to create a custom product but don’t have a software team? Or maybe your internal department lack experts in a certain area of programming crucial for your product to thrive? G-Group.dev can be your outsourcing partner. We will help you achieve your business objectives with a help of a high-quality, powerful solution. Sounds good? Let’s talk about your needs and strategize your brand’s efforts to level it up within the industry you operate in.