Low-Code vs Custom Development: What Are the Real Differences
Gartner forecasts that 65% of all app development will be low-code by 2024. If they get that right, what it might mean is that custom software development will still be in place, although overrun by low-code in many cases and scenarios.
What does the choice of a development method depend on? Or, in other words, what are the differences between the two? This article compares the low-code and traditional development approaches against a number of most crucial criteria.
Speed of development
An average custom software development project can take 4-9 months until it goes through the stages of technical analysis, prototyping, development, testing, and implementation. The duration of a project can change significantly depending on the product requirements and the size of the IT team, but even in the fastest scenario, it’s always a matter of months.
The low-code approach allows for much faster progress – general design and further customization might take a few days to a few weeks. This is possible due to building software from predefined modules, or blocks, rather than coding them from scratch. Therefore, the shortened development time is one of the major benefits of no-code and low-code solutions.
With manual coding, you can build virtually any feature and realize any integration you need – the only limitations are your time and financial capabilities. Moreover, when developing a custom app using the traditional approach, you enjoy full flexibility in choosing the technology stack, tools, hosting, and APIs. You just pick whatever works best to meet your functional requirements.
Low-code solutions allow for greater flexibility as compared to no-code solutions, but still, there are certain limitations you need to take into account. For example, when customizing your low-code application, you will most probably have to deal with some intrinsic restrictions, even if you change the code with the help of a professional developer. You might also have trouble integrating your app with other tools that are not supported by the solution provider (this, however, can often be solved by some additional coding.)
Creating a custom app requires an entire team of qualified software engineers, QA engineers, UX designers, project managers and other specialists. The chances that you can build a properly functioning application with the help of only one tech specialist, are close to zero. Coding is not an easy skill to master, and it’s paid correspondingly.
Quite the contrary, low-code solutions are designed that way so that you can begin using them with little or no technical background. The low-code approach minimizes the complexity of creating apps and ensuring their security and scalability. Therefore, it’s often viewed as an optimal choice for building MVPs or apps solving common issues like making orders, processing requests, automating processes, etc.
One of the obvious benefits of the traditional approach to software development is your complete control over all aspects of the system that you’re creating. With custom coding, you don’t completely depend on third-party solutions. Even if you’re using some external frameworks or libraries, the final product itself is your own development which you can protect and sell as a proprietary tool.
Although there’s less flexibility with low-code solutions, you’re still able to create fully functional applications on the basis of the provided technology and predefined modules. Whether the source code of the final product can be downloaded and moved to another hosting or platform varies depending on the provider.
Cost of development
According to Soltech, most custom software projects cost between $40,000 and $250,000. Of course, the final cost might change depending on the project scope and requirements, but it usually ends up being an expensive affair, mainly due to the project team size and duration.
When using low-code solutions, you only pay for the access to the service, which is much cheaper than a full-fledged development process. In some cases, you might also need the help of a qualified software developer to make the adjustments or integrations. However, these expenses are nothing compared to those incurred on a traditional custom development project.
The low code development approach allows you to create apps faster and within smaller budgets as compared to traditional custom development. However, it’s not as flexible when it comes to building complex systems and proprietary tools.
There are pros and cons to each of the approaches, and, in the final count, it largely depends on the company’s needs and capabilities as well as the project specifics, whether you choose low-code or custom development.