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Less Code, not Low Code – How to Spend More Time on the Things that Matter

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Ashley Streb
Ashley Streb
Chief Client Officer, DEPT® Americas
4 min read
7 February 2022
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Why has low code failed at revolutionizing app development?

To summarize, the lack of customization forces companies to either 1. Have the same product as everyone else or 2. Bring in a developer to upgrade things. Neither of these scenarios makes low code worthwhile, and so the conversation typically ends there.

But there is a solution situated in between low code and total customization.

We like to call it “less code.”

Let’s take it further. Let’s explore the motivations behind low-code and describe this middle path that captures the benefits that low code provides while avoiding the pitfalls that present themselves.

Why might you use a low-code framework?

Custom code is terrible. It’s expensive. It’s error-prone.

The only people who can write it are software engineers, and working with them requires a guidebook of its own. It’s understandable that you would want to avoid all of that. After all, it’s 2020, and all of these features have been written before. Why can’t you just pull something off the shelf that packages them all up? You would have an app that you can go to market with tomorrow and get back to what really matters.

Except that’s not the case. There’s something about your business that is unique, different than pre-packed features. Something better, be it a business process, a quality standard, a commitment to your customers. Your company is different – and that’s where low-code solutions fall short.

Code is a formalized business process

Writing software is the process of taking a set of business requirements and teaching a computer how to repeat them thousands (or millions) of times exactly the same way.

In the field, we have different words for these requirements: business logic, domain models, subject-matter expertise, the list goes on. This is the core of any successful software application. The act of gathering business requirements and making sure that you get what you need, instead of what you asked for, is the real value of a senior software engineer.

Trying to embark on an app development journey without that software engineer is going to be fraught with peril, and that’s exactly what you’re doing when you try to build an app with a low code framework.

Without someone to guide the process of translating your business to a computer, at best you’re leaving the valuable parts of your business off the table. At worst, you’re telling a computer to repeat your biggest mistakes on a massive scale.

Focus on what makes you unique

There is a silver lining in all this.

Part of our original assumption is true. It is 2020, and most of these features have been written before.

Everyone needs to log into their application. Everyone needs to send emails. Everyone needs a place to host their application, and everyone needs that place to be able to handle the sudden spike in demand that comes on black Friday or during a global pandemic.

As a result, we can hand off those parts of your application to services like Stripe, SendGrid, FusionAuth, or AWS.

This frees up your software engineers to spend more of their time working on the parts of your application that are unique. The parts that are valuable. They don’t have to spend their time making sure that they’re keeping up to date with the latest password encryption techniques. They don’t have to spend their time frantically setting up new hardware when your customers are beating down your door. They can spend more of their time focused on the innovation that lets you get your product to market 10% faster than your competition. More time on building the tools that let your customers have a delightful user experience.

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The answer is less code, not low code

In the end, it comes down to this: hire professionals who will understand your business and seek to make it better. Don’t force yourself to become a shallow copy of everyone that’s come before.

By taking advantage of modern, off-the-shelf solutions and pairing them with a custom core of well-written software, you can deliver faster, with fewer bugs, and still keep true to what makes your business unique.

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