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Low Code Vs. Custom Development - A Battle for the Ages

by
Varun Mehta
July 16, 2021
7
Min(s)

Think Harry Potter vs. Paradise Lost, Android vs. iOS, hatchbacks vs. SUVs, American football vs. football, and whisky vs. wine; these are just some of the ‘battles’ that people continue to argue over passionately. Well, you can add low code solutions vs. custom development solutions to this list.

The discussion for the case of each solution has taken the software development industry by storm. So, we decided to join the bandwagon and give our two cents on this passionate debate.

But before that, let us give you an idea about low code and custom development solutions so you, too, can decide which side of the fence to choose.

Introduction to Low Code

As the name suggests, low code is a specific software development approach wherein little to no coding is required to create an app or a website. Low code solutions have gained popularity in recent times among small businesses since they provide templatized solutions.

Let’s look at this using an example, imagine you are a small business owner, and you have to set up a website to showcase your products. However, you do not have the requisite technical expertise to design it yourself or a large amount of money to hire someone to create it. So what do you do in this scenario? You go low code!

In this case, you can use intuitive visual interfaces with drag-and-drop capabilities to design a website on a low code platform. Furthermore, you do not require any knowledge of coding or software development to carry this out. So now, let’s introduce you to some key features of low code:

  • Visual Templates and Tools

Employing visual capabilities, tools, and templates to design websites and apps is one of the primary USPs of low code platforms. In addition, these platforms are integrated with visual modeling capabilities that make it easier for you to design your website.

However, since these visual templates are standard, it may lead to different organizations having the same web design. This can be an issue for those organizations who want their website or app to reflect their brand image.

  • Monitoring and Reporting

Apps and websites developed using a low code approach come equipped with processes and workflows that allow you to examine their effectiveness. Furthermore, you can also use these workflows to analyze the performance of connected applications such as web portals and applications, mobile applications, and office applications.

It is important to note that you can only monitor other applications if they belong to the same vendor. If the applications are from different vendors, you will not be able to sync and monitor them. This also opens up the business to the drawback of vendor lock-in.

  • Cross-Platform Compatibility

Low code platforms also allow you to develop a website or application that is compatible with major operating systems and can run on various devices and platforms. However, the performance of the app or website suffers due to the low code nature when the cross-platform capability is implemented.

Introduction to Custom Development

Custom or traditional development comprises collaborating with a team of programmers and developers to understand your custom requirements and then writing a software code based on those requirements. Custom development is similar to hiring an interior designer for your home, where you discuss the needs, budget, and vision, and the designer brings it to life. The custom development process consists of a few essential steps – requirement analysis and planning, technical and visual design, development and implementation, testing, deployment, and maintenance.

The code in a custom development solution is created from scratch, thus it can take longer to complete an app or website development.

You can’t rush brilliance, and that’s precisely what you get with custom development. The app or website is designed precisely as per your instructions and requirements, giving it that personal touch and experience that is often found lacking in low code solutions.

Custom development solutions offer numerous advantages, which include:

  • Reflecting Brand Identity

Custom development solutions can be designed precisely as per your requirements and can clearly reflect your brand identity. This helps avoid generic interfaces, which allows your brand to stand out from the competition. Moreover, this ensures the same brand identity is reflected across the app, website, documents, and the office.

  • Scalability

These solutions are well-suited to handle large quantities of data. Thus, these apps and websites can be scaled as per the incoming demand while providing your customers with a superior experience.

  • Ease of Distribution

Another great advantage of custom development solutions is that you can create an app for multiple platforms simultaneously. This allows you to upload updates faster, thus ensuring your end-users get the best version of your app across all platforms simultaneously.

Low Code vs. Custom Development

Let’s deep dive and take a closer look at the battle between low code and custom development and ascertain who comes out on top.

  • Level of Customization

Custom development platforms provide you with the freedom to develop enterprise-grade websites or apps designed as per your requirements. This is all due to the beauty of code, which lets you create what you want and how you want it.

However, this is not the case with low code platforms. Such platforms often do not have the capabilities to build complex and enterprise-grade websites and apps, making custom development the better option.

  • Resources – Cost and Time

When deciding which type of development to choose, you must consider the overall cost and time. Traditional development requires experienced developers to spend months to code, implement, test, and release the product, leading to high costs. However, despite the higher costs and longer development period, a custom solution pays off in the long run. It provides you with greater scalability, limited maintenance, and the freedom of customization.

On the other hand, low code platforms use visual interfaces with no coding that speeds up the entire process, leading to lower costs.

This aspect for low code only holds if no plugins are involved. But, if you have numerous plugins installed on your low code platform, it is another story altogether (don’t worry, we won’t leave you hanging; you can scroll down to ‘What the Future Holds?’ to read the conclusion to this story).

However, opting for low code can only be a solution in the short run. As your business grows and demands increase, it would be difficult to continue with low code due to limited scalability. This limited scalability can adversely affect your business growth, hence, custom development is the solution for the long run.

  • Ownership

Using custom development allows you total control over each aspect in the development phase, thus you can customize the app or website as per your requirements. Conversely, suppose you opt for a low code platform. In that case, the platform determines all the aspects like architecture, integration, compatibility, and security, which proves to be a blocker if you have some ideas of your own to implement.

  • Maintenance

Software development is complete but never finished. There will always be updates, changes in processes, and edits made to the website or application. Similar to the actual development process, this too requires planning, designing, and testing. Custom development solutions have it easier despite the complexity aspect since no third-party permissions and nuances are involved. Furthermore, the created code is customized for your app or website, which eases the load on the developers despite the numerous steps involved. Also, repetitive tasks can be easily automated, which speeds up the maintenance process.

On the contrary, low code platforms are usually an application platform as a service (aPaaS), i.e., they are operated and maintained by the organization that owns the platform. Thus, maintenance and updates are handled by the hosting platform. However, due to numerous plugins and the hosting platform itself, the maintenance and update process is cumbersome and lengthy. Additionally, this also cannot be customized as per your requirements, giving low code solutions another black mark.

Thus, you should also take the maintenance aspect into account before making your decision.

And the Verdict is in!

Looking at the comparison between low code solutions and custom development solutions, it is clear that custom development offers more significant advantages suitable for all types of businesses.

Additionally, you can use low code as a proof of concept before spending on custom development. This will help you determine whether your idea is viable and whether the app or website should be custom developed.

What the Future Holds?

The future seems rosy for low code development. Gartner predicts that 65% of app development will be entirely low code by 2025. Does this bold statement signal the end of custom development? We don’t think so.

At times, business problems necessitate open-ended thought processes, making it complicated to build a website or an app without a preset structure, thus making a major case for custom development.

Custom development solutions encourage the collaboration of ideas and discussions, which ultimately help design a well-rounded app or website.

Secondly, suppose you have to design a website that requires a high degree of specialization like Facebook. In that case, custom development solutions are best suited to the task. This is because low code solutions do not provide the same freedom and flexibility as custom development.

We promised you the conclusion to the story of plugins in low code solutions, so here it is. Installing plugins in low code solutions can become necessary since low code platforms offer limited customization features. However, these plugins come at a price. Thus, if you purchase and install numerous plugins, your low code solution would end up being much more expensive than custom development. Furthermore, this would make your entire platform highly complex, and you ultimately may require software developers to handle the demand. The complexity and the numerous plugins will also increase the time taken to complete the development.

Therefore, we can emphatically say that custom development wins this battle hands down.

Low code solutions may be the next big thing to disrupt the software development industry; however, it’s not big enough to take on custom development, which is here to stay for good.

We, at Mutual Mobile, couldn’t agree more. Our expertise in custom development for websites and apps is unparalleled and is proven by our work carried out for brands like Audi, AccuWeather, Disney Moment, and The Economist.

Our world-class developers meticulously develop apps and websites tailored to your requirements, providing your business with the platform to reach for the skies.

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