Hello everyone, and welcome back. I wanted to talk today about a specific subject that I’ve wondered about, that I’ve seen others discuss, and it’s a kind of anxiousness that I sense rising beneath the surface for software engineers. Will no code, in other words, replace software developers? So I wanted to share my thoughts on that today.
I believe there are occasions where the answer is simply yes. I believe there are circumstances where the answer is no, so I wanted to dive into each of those and explain why the answer is yes in certain cases and no in others where no code may fall short and we may still want software developers. So let’s get started.
Okay, so the first situation where the answer is yes, that no code will most likely replace software engineers and web developers, is with Marketing Websites – your typical marketing website. So, I believe this will primarily be noticed in the freelance world. You know, you could earn a livelihood online running marketing sites for small firms until recently, maybe the last five to seven years. Even now, many small businesses have unappealing websites. However, anyone can now go online and create a website for almost anything using Squarespace, Carrd.co, or Webflow.
So, presuming the individual knows how to use them (and with Squarespace, you don’t really need to know how to use it, it’s not that involved), I believe those things have mostly eliminated the need for people to hire a developer just to have a website for their business. That was a very typical use case for finding jobs online, for employing a web developer. So I believe that particular method of web creation is in jeopardy, owing to the lack of code. That, I believe, is already beginning to emerge.
That, I believe, will continue. I believe it will be quite difficult to sell oneself on Upwork as an only provider of marketing sites. I believe it will have to be a little more involved, and we’ll discuss that in a moment about how involved it truly has to be before someone looks to employ a developer. But that’s the first area where I believe no code will win out, if it hasn’t already.
The second area where I believe no code will eventually triumph over specialized software development is in content-heavy sites or CMS-backed Content Heavy Websites – websites. So this could be any site you can think of, and formerly, those would have been built on something like WordPress. So, even if it’s a company landing page or website, if it’s blog-heavy or content-heavy, and you have a content or marketing team working SEO and all that kind of stuff, it’s usually going to be on WordPress. And, for the most part, if it’s on WordPress, you’ll need a WordPress developer.
But, with the emergence of tools like Webflow, I believe the necessity for such is dwindling. Webflow is not the same as Squarespace. Webflow is a site builder as well, although it is far more complex. The editor is a little more scary because there’s a lot more going on. As a result, I believe that learning and mastering Webflow is a skill. So it’s not as simple as pointing and clicking; it takes effort to figure out where everything is and how everything goes together. However, Webflow includes CMS capability. Users can create and manage their own material.
So, as Webflow becomes more popular and more people understand it, I believe the requirement for a WordPress developer who you contract or employ specifically for your website will become less important. In fact, Webflow has some really interesting case studies on their website, one of which is with HelloSign, which I imagine is similar to DocuSign, about how HelloSign’s marketing team can just generate their own pages in Webflow and do a lot of their own marketing automation and operation stuff without having to use their web developers or internal people to do that.
Marketers and designers can do everything for themselves, and I believe that’s where we’re going. That, I believe, is what solutions like Webflow enable. So I’ll include a link to it below; I believe it’s very interesting if you’re just curious. But, as I previously stated, the second area that I believe will be supplanted is content-heavy CMS type websites, such as those seen on WordPress.
Scripting and automation are the third areas where I believe no code will make significant advances against bespoke development. This is something that has historically required a developer and is something that most individuals would not think to perform. I don’t believe this is something that engineers would do for themselves since we are more aware of how things function, how things go together, how code can make your life easier, and how code can automate repetitive and dull jobs. I’ve written a handful of pieces about it. But, with tools like Zapier, I believe people are realizing, “Oh, I have all these systems in my business, and I can connect them all together and set all these automations.”
So I don’t have to go update Slack, for example, when we have a new customer and begin an onboarding phase. There are numerous possible applications. But it is only one. So I believe people are starting to understand, “Hey, we can now do something that would have previously taken a ton of work, integrating all these APIs, writing our custom script just to get reminders and notifications, and automate flows, with this amazing tool.” So I believe there was once a market for a developer to do internal automations. I believe it is more likely that corporations will hire a developer to create internal tools.
However, with tools like Zapier, this has become much more democratized and accessible to almost everyone. As a result, I believe we will notice that internal developers who would have worked on that previously are no longer doing so. And, if there was a market for people performing that kind of work before, I believe it will soon dry up. For what it’s worth, I enjoy writing my own bespoke scripts. But if it’s something that Zapier can accomplish, I’ll probably simply do it that way. I despise having to pay for it. I believe you eventually end up accumulating subscriptions for all of the services I mentioned. But that’s an other story.
In terms of simply getting things done, I believe Zapier will cover a wide range of use cases for the majority of individuals.
So those are the three domains where I believe no code will either replace or significantly compete with custom software development. Let’s talk about places where it falls short, and for me, this is going to come down to areas where you must have custom software development. So, what exactly would that be? Let’s take Uber as an example. Uber is a completely unique firm. Their app is unique, as are their backends; they have microservices, telemetry, reporting, automations, and scripting.
As a result of all of this, it simply could not be done with a no-code tool. Their setup is absolutely unique to their situation, tailored to their engineers, internal teams, and the way their organization operates. So it’d be easy to compare Uber, a mobile app, to Glide, a tool that allows you to create mobile apps from Google Sheets, and say, “Hey, couldn’t you just make Uber in Glide?” And I believe that’s a perfect illustration of when no code falls short, which is when you run against restrictions and features and can’t do what you want.
So, as an example, consider Glide, which I just discussed. It’s ideal for a special type of mobile app with a lot of material. But what about when you get into really interesting interactions and sophisticated flows like Uber or fill in the blank? At that point, it begins to disintegrate and fall short, not to mention everything that happens on Uber’s back end to support the mobile app. So there’s a lot going on behind the scenes that we’re not seeing that requires a massive amount of infrastructure.
So, while that is an extreme example, I believe it is generalizable across the board, in that firms will eventually require features that are more unique to their use cases than no code solutions can deliver. And it is here that developers will shine.
So, to rephrase the question, will no code replace software developers? I believe that developers will continue to do well, be needed, and have jobs in very specific circumstances where the feature sets aren’t too complicated and are more content-heavy, but in areas where developers really shine, which is doing custom development tailored to meet the needs of a specific company.
So I don’t believe we should be concerned about being displaced by no-code tools. In fact, I believe it is fantastic to embrace them and use them into personal processes for side projects. That’s something I intend to do. It’s pointless, in my opinion, to reinvent the wheel. I believe that no-code tools are excellent for MVPs and for getting started. And if you need special development, you can always do it afterwards. But, as I see it, it’s a kind of programming as a service. As a result, I believe it makes sense to capitalize on the labor of others. That’s all I’ve got for now. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this.
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