Bringing in software that can help nontechnical employees build websites or apps could stretch your association’s ability to experiment on the fly.
If your association doesn’t have a dedicated web development or design team, launching a new initiative might feel difficult, if not impossible, because of the costs and resources involved.
But no-code tools, a rising trend in the tech world, carry potential for associations looking to test an idea before making a big investment. You might just find that they’re what you need to bridge the gap.
What’s the Strategy?
No-code tools have technically existed since the days when Macintoshes had built-in CRT monitors, but they’ve become increasingly powerful in recent years, enabling fast building even by users who don’t have traditional programming skills.
With the rising popularity of application programming interfaces (APIs), these tools have matured in function and can now integrate with existing tools associations use, such as association management systems.
No-code tools vary in complexity—Bubble.io, for example, allows in-depth mobile applications to be built without programming, while Carrd specializes in single-page websites that could be used to promote an event or sell a product. And Webflow makes it possible for designers to build sites without having to touch HTML (though if they want to get their hands dirty in the code, they can).
Generally these tools are sold as proprietary software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions, which means they’ll come with a monthly or yearly bill. But they could still be significantly cheaper than a development resource.
Why Is It Effective?
It could save a lot of money, enabling applications to be built and managed by less-technical employees than a custom solution might allow.
“No-code software is suitable for use by nontechnical businesspeople, sometimes known as ‘citizen developers,’” Harvard Business Review contributors Chris Johannessen and Tom Davenport recently wrote of the trend. “For many companies, this helps them digitize and automate tasks and processes faster than trying to hire and onboard hard-to-source development talent.”
(Johannessen and Davenport did warn, however, that no-code may require resources from the IT department to support development.)
What’s the Potential?
It’s often said that emerging technologies are best implemented in areas that aren’t your primary discipline, and no-code tools could make it possible to work on those secondary initiatives. No-code tools let your association try out new endeavors with a relatively low level of risk, giving creative team members who may have strong ideas but less technical know-how what they need to try out something new. It could even stretch out the reach of an existing development resource.
“We’ve seen organizations where one system developer supports ten or more citizen developers,” Johannessen and Davenport wrote.
It won’t be enough to replace larger development tasks—you may still need to outsource development of your main website—but it could help put your experiments within reach.