What is a Low-Code App Development Platform? The Basics You Must Know

In the world of IT, a low-code app development platform has become a must-have for creating, modifying, and maintaining proprietary apps. But if you’re new to the concept, you may be wondering what role low-code app development plays in your tech strategy – and whether it can really deliver on its promises of more productive, more cost-efficient app development.

Low code applications take a visual approach to coding, allowing users to create and manage apps regardless of their coding skills (or lack thereof). This helps maximize productivity in IT departments and minimize development costs. Used well, low-code applications can also increase agility and innovation, providing businesses with collaborative tools for creating apps with ease.

Here’s what to know about the basics of a low-code business application development platform, including what it is, who can use it, and the many features and benefits it can have across your organization.

Table of Contents:

  • What is Low-Code Application Development?
  • What is a Low-Code Platform?
  • Low-Code vs. No-Code vs. Rapid Application Development (RAD)
  • Benefits of Low-Code Application Development Tools
  • Who Can Use a Low-Code Business Application Development Platform?
  • How to Use Low-Code Platforms to Create Applications
  • Types of Apps You Can Build with Low-Code Platforms
  • Popular Low-Code Application Development Platforms
  • Features & Benefits of WEBCON Low-Code Development Platforms
  • Choosing and Implementing a Low-Code App Development Platform
  • Explore the WEBCON Low-Code Development Platform

What is Low-Code Application Development?

Low-code application development is the use of specialized tools to create and/or modify applications and processes without the need for extensive hand coding.

Unlike traditional app development, low-code uses drag-and-drop templates, domain modules, user-friendly interfaces, and other visual tools to guide users through the process of building IT solutions. Today’s best low-code development platforms also make use of features like built-in AI and machine learning concepts, further simplifying app development so that citizen developers and professionals alike can easily build apps for their needs.

At the heart of low-code app development is its visual coding approach. The shift from textual to visual coding is a lot more accessible for users and requires less background knowledge on how code actually works. The result is application development that is more accessible and inclusive of various skill levels, including not just seasoned pros but novice developers, subject matter experts, business stakeholders, and decision-makers.

What is a Low-Code Platform?

A low-code platform is a software application built specifically for low-code development.

There are quite a few top-tier platforms to choose from. While they differ in some key ways, all of them offer users the ability to make that shift from textual to visual coding without a steep learning curve. This is due to built-in components that let you develop a custom app off of mostly pre-existing parts. You end up doing a small percentage of the overall work, but the final product is 100% yours.

Low-Code vs. No-Code vs. Rapid Application Development (RAD)

Businesses need applications. How they create them, however, depends on a lot of factors, from widespread operational goals to budgetary concerns.

Low-code and no-code platforms are both examples of smart solutions for making apps for your business with minimal coding requirements. Where they differ is in who they’re for and how they work. Low-code tools use visual coding to cut down on programmer work and make app development quicker and more efficient. No-code tools require no coding at all and are useful for citizen developers without any coding background.

Then, there’s RAD or rapid application development. This is an umbrella term that defines the methodology behind low-code and no-code app development tools. This agile approach to app development prioritizes action over planning, encouraging coders to build prototypes and troubleshoot from there.

Benefits of Low-Code Application Development Tools

Low-code tools help you work smarter, not harder, at developing custom apps. Features like visual modeling and drag-and-drop workflows are widely effective at streamlining the app development process, providing benefits that help your business innovate, scale, and engage in new and better ways.

Consider some of these major benefits to low-code applications, all of which help businesses establish a strong competitive edge.

  • Cost efficiency – Low-code cuts back on spending in some major ways. Most notably, it reduces development time and gets apps launched in record time. It also requires fewer resources and maintenance costs than traditional app development platforms, resulting in immediate cost savings and additional savings down the road.
  • Accessibility – Because low-code applications are built for users of varying skill levels, these tools increase accessibility and allow for more user participation in the app development process.
  • Scalability – Your apps need to be able to keep up with organizational growth. Low-code helps you do that, letting you modify and optimize performance as your needs and your customers’ needs change.
  • Productivity – Coding is a time-intensive process. By reducing the amount of original code that needs to be written and automating key tasks, low code helps programmers do their jobs more efficiently and frees up time for other value-adding tasks and initiatives.
  • Collaboration – The visual language model behind low-code app development opens up the door to greater collaboration, simplifying app building and deployment for more users. Many low-code platforms also offer tools that are specifically geared toward increased collaboration, such as revision tracking and workflow synchronization.

Who Can Use a Low-Code Business Application Development Platform?

In a word, anyone. After all, what is low-code development if not a tool for leveling the programming playing field in efforts to boost efficiency?

From a corporate perspective, low-code dev platforms offer a big payoff on their initial investment since they can be used across the organization and not just by the IT department. For professional developers, low-code software provides useful capabilities for extending apps and integrating data. For non-technical business users, they offer a jumping-off point from which to build basic applications and workflow processes.

Beyond individuals, low-code application development platforms also provide the ability for multiple users to collaborate on projects and co-develop apps. Think of them as the happy medium between no-code tools and standard high-code tools, offering a visually-driven environment that significantly more users can engage in at any one time.

How to Use Low-Code Platforms to Create Applications

The more you use low-code platforms, the more you’ll figure out a step-by-step process that works well with your business. But in the meantime, here’s a general blueprint that you can follow if you’re just getting started with low-code app development.

  • Step One: Define Your Audience and/or Intent – Be clear and concise in defining who your app is for and what pain points it’s addressing. Better yet, take a cue from your marketing team and create user personas that tell you exactly what end users need from the finished product.
  • Step Two: Build Your Prototype – As dictated by RAD, you want to minimize planning and dive right into prototyping. There will be plenty of time for feedback and troubleshooting later on.
  • Step Three: Test and Optimize – Test your app to make sure it’s hitting the mark from all relevant angles, including overall utility, user-friendliness, and security. If changes are required, there are plenty of low-code features to help you do it.
  • Step Four: Deploy – Your app should now be ready to face the world. Manage your new application through your low-code platform and continue modifying in real time based on user feedback and internal improvement goals.

Types of Apps You Can Build with Low-Code Platforms

Front office. Back office. Internal systems. There is no limit to the types of solutions you can develop with low-code platforms.

Financial Apps

Your financial department has a ton to gain from low-code app development. For example, applications that streamline budgeting, purchasing, and investment planning requests or apps that automate workflows for invoice approvals and payroll. Do your teams do a lot of traveling? You can also use low-code app development to create a solution for business trip approval and reimbursements that requires little to no manual involvement.

Operational Apps

The use cases for operational apps are incredibly varied. Plan and approve legal agreements, manage project lifecycles, and create a better system for claims, complaints, and returns. You can also create low-code apps for document organization and correspondence, a big win considering the complexities of modern-day business communication.

Human Resources Apps

Use low-code development to provide your human resources team with all the tools they need to do their jobs more efficiently. This includes apps for employee on- and off-boarding, remote worker management, and leave and holiday requests, among other necessary tasks and workflows.

IT Apps

No one understands the utility of custom, low-code app development quite like your IT department. Your programming pros can build and innovate to their own needs, designing apps that enhance utility in project management, ad-hoc tasking, trouble ticketing, and so much more. These and other apps can mitigate tech-related errors and miscommunications and are integral to fostering communication between IT and other departments.

Sales and Marketing Apps

Need a more effective system for customer relationship management (CRM)? Struggling to connect the dots between social media marketing and your wider content plan? There’s an app for that and for loads of other essential tasks within your sales and marketing departments.

Popular Low-Code Application Development Platforms

No matter the industry, low-code platforms are quickly becoming indispensable tools for getting new apps off the ground. As for the platforms that can help you do it, you’ve got several top options, each of which has a little something special to offer users on the back end.

Some of the most popular low-code application development platforms right now include

  • Mendix – A longstanding industry innovator that uses model-driven engineering (MDE) to build apps off of existing conceptual models.
  • Kissflow – Fuss-free low-code tools for businesses that want to take a quick and simple approach to new app development.
  • Appian – Low-code development backed by generative AI for apps that are easy to modify and manage.
  • Microsoft Power Apps – Smart capabilities, including language detection and translation, make this platform a good pick for businesses in need of low-code basics.
  • Nintex – Low- and no-code support rooted in centralized mapping and modeling.
  • WEBCON – A one-stop shop for businesses that want to not just design low-code tools but that are in need of a centralized dashboard for managing apps after deployment.

Features & Benefits of WEBCON Low-Code Development Platforms

It’s impossible to answer a question like what is low-code development and why is it important without referencing the unique features and benefits of the programs themselves. To narrow things down, we’re taking a look at some of the multitude of tools available in our own WEBCON low-code platform, including the top features that set us apart from others in the field.

Features of the WEBCON Low-Code Development Platform

  • Visual Modeling – Visual modeling in low-code development uses graphical representations rather than complex coding to design systems that are deceptively simple and concise.
  • Enterprise-Ready Approach – A low-code platform needs to be able to grow with its users. For enterprise businesses, this requires inherent flexibility, scalability, and adaptability, plus a secure platform that’s able to handle large amounts of data at once.
  • Extensive Integration Capabilities – Our low-code platform integrates seamlessly with other programs in a user’s tech stack to improve data sharing while minimizing system disruptions.
  • Advanced Analytics Framework – An advanced data analytics framework provides a necessary safeguard for speeding up app development and pulling out key insights without sacrificing data security.
  • Effective Business and IT Collaboration – Built-in tools support cross-departmental collaboration, making it easier than ever for various users to contribute their skillsets and knowledge toward a common cause.
  • InstantChange™ Technology – InstantChange™ from WEBCON helps future-proof apps by allowing users to instantly adapt them to changing needs and environments.

Benefits of the WEBCON Low-Code Development Platform

Agile App Delivery:

  • Fast-track app development and boost productivity
  • Streamline workflows, automate processes, and improve the customer experience
  • Achieve goals in days or weeks rather than months or years
  • Easily integrate apps with existing data sources
  • Securely scale solutions across all devices

Versatile Use Cases:

  • Automate a wide range of processes across an organization
  • Improve everything from simple workflows for teams to complex enterprise scenarios
  • Create solutions tailored to real business problems

Simple App Development:

  • Build and continuously improve an entire catalog of applications
  • Deliver hundreds of apps to thousands of users on a single platform
  • Easily manage apps without compromising quality
  • Get security, auditing capabilities, and measurement tools all built into a single platform

Choosing and Implementing a Low-Code App Development Platform

The better suited a platform is to your needs, the better the results you’ll get. For that reason, businesses need to do their due diligence when selecting low-code application development software, keeping key considerations top of mind and looking at multiple options before deciding on a final fit.

The first step in doing this is to define your evaluation criteria. Know what your short- and long-term goals are, and set up your expectations around collaborative IDE, data integration, application lifecycle management, user experience, productivity, and cloud support, among other major factors.

Next, look at the bigger picture, paying attention to things like use cases and the vendor’s vision and reputation. Avoid vendor lock-in if at all possible by reading the fine print, asking the right questions, and resisting the urge to rely on a single vendor for multiple types of software solutions.

And finally, test it out. A free trial or demo is a fantastic way to put a low-code platform to the test and make sure it checks off the right boxes for your business.

Explore the WEBCON Low-Code Development Platform

The future of application development is here, and it’s rooted in low-code platforms.

If faster, easier, and less confusing app development is your goal, then low-code can help you do that and more, providing a visually-based alternative to traditional text coding. The result is custom apps that only look like they took a dedicated team of expert developers many months to create, plus unbeatable opportunities to boost your productivity and profit potential. Sounds like a win-win to us.

At WEBCON, we’ve made it our mission to deliver an enterprise-ready low-code solution that fast-tracks app development for a wide range of use cases. Unlike our competitors, we’ve put as much effort into making sure it’s as easy to manage the apps you’ve built as it is to create them in the first place, whether you’ve got a dozen apps running or several hundred.

If you’d like to see WEBCON in action, get started with a free trial.

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WEBCON is the leading European-based provider of a complete Low-code Application Platform for mass delivering business solutions. Companies choose WEBCON to dramatically reduce time and cost of app development. The platform allows them to automate and manage business processes across the entire organization – using a single, unified platform. Thanks to its unique InstantChange™ technology, WEBCON embraces change like no other platform on the market.

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