Last week we wrote about how to create a marketplace with no-code and the great power that these tools can provide. However, we did not talked about the limitations that we may find when creating our product with no-code.
The goal of this article is to present some of the difficulties we encountered when developing our marketplace project, so that you can get a better idea of the implications of choosing this kind of solution when creating our product.
There are many tools
One of the first problems we find when we want to create a product with no-code is the huge amount of tools and solutions that exist. In our case, to develop the marketplace we use the following set of tools:
The decision to use these tools was motivated by our interest in exploring Webflow as we believe it is one of the most interesting tools within the ecosystem due to its flexibility and customization, as well as the great community supporting it.
Webflow is focused on creating static informative websites and not so much web applications with custom logic. This means that in order to offer functionalities such as the booking of a space or authenticated user environments, it is necessary to add other tools that provide this functionality.
If you have no idea which tool to use for your product, one of the best options is to look for no-code products with similar logic and see what stack of tools they are using. The Wappalizer extension is very useful for this. Normally, the more content and more community there is around a tool, the easier it will be to solve the problems that we face thanks to other users who have already solved them.
You don't need to know how to code
It is true that with these tools you can create products without coding knowledge but this only happens when the tool we are using is designed for the product we want to create. For example, creating a corporate website with Webflow is ideal and we also have a large number of templates that make things easier for us. Another example is creating an ecommerce using Shopify, where the tool-product tandem fit together perfectly.
However, at the moment we want to create a product that go beyond from what is established by the tool, then we must begin to integrate and connect multiple services that add the functionality that we did not find in the original tool.
Here is where tools such as Integromat, Zappier or Parabola allow us to create high-level programming logic. If we think about it from a developer angle, it is basically a block-based visual programming system, similar to what Scratch is, which is often used to teach mental models of programming in schools.
This is neither bad nor good, we simply have to bear in mind that concepts such as JSON, Webhooks or API's may appear as we develop our product and we have to be able to not be intimidated and learn step by step. In fact, I think it is a very interesting way of bringing programming concepts to people who are not used to it so they can lose their fear of technical concepts a little.
The no code is cheap
Another drawback that we can find when we develop products with no-code is the invoice at the end of the month. For example, the marketplace that we created would have had the following cost in production:
- Webflow: 36$ a month with the business plan since the limitation of 1000 forms in the economic plan would be easily surpassed.
- Memberstack: 25$ a month in the basic plan
- Jetboost: 18$ a month as we were using two types of filter per text and per city
- Airtable: 24$ a month, although this could be scaled from the free plan depending on the use
- Sendgrid: The free plan should give us a lot of runaway unless we start sending emails that are not purely transactional.
- Integromat: 9€ a month initially, the following plan will be 29€
- Total: 88$ per month in the most basic approach
Although the maintenance cost may be higher, in the vast majority of cases the total bill for the project will be less than developing it completely from scratch.
Still I do believe that thinking about no-code as a cheap solution is not the best approach. I think it is better to approach it as a faster solution when validating a product and, above all, a solution that offers great empowerment to non-technical people who want to create a digital product. For me these two are the great advantages that no-code offers over other types of solutions.
No-code is good for everything
No, no-code does not work for everything. For example, when we use tools like Webflow or Airtable, limits quickly appear such as the number of records we can save or the number of forms we can send. Depending on the product we are creating, we need to be very aware of these limits and make an adequate definition to be able to validate our hypothesis before reaching that point.
Beyond the limits based on the volume of records, there are other types of limits that are much more important such as functionalities. When we work with no-code we must assume that there are certain functionalities that cannot be done without applying some code to our product. For example, in the case of our marketplace, we could not manage to check the availability of the space before the booking.
Depending on how you want to execute this functionality, there is no choice but to create your own logic with code. However, this is where our creativity and the mindset of doing things that don't scale at first comes into play and then scale later. Automation can always be solved with operational and manual work, and this should be our mentality when we carry out a project with no-code.
Performing certain operations manually at the beginning will help us better identify the processes that are most critical and figure out where we should start investing in custom development and automation.
When we are going to develop projects with no-code it is very important to know if the product that we are going to build and the tool we will use have a good fit, since the further they are away from each other, the more pieces we will need to fit into our puzzle, increasing the complexity and cost of the project.
It is also important to approach these types of projects with the appropriate mental framework, and the learning that we can obtain from the more manual processes of our product is a very good way to identify the most critical parts to invest in the future .
In the end it is a matter of expectations and trying to identify where the no-code fits in our product based on our resources, capabilities and objectives. This can be the entire product, a part of it or parts not directly related to the product but necessary for its management, operation or promotion.