What is the Price of No Code Tools?

No Code
January 17, 2022 | Rokas Jurkėnas

Are No Code tools cheaper than traditional software development? We can probably end the argument in less than a minute. A Clutch survey indicated that the average cost of a meaningful app comes to approximately $200,000[1]. Generally, the price of No Code tools is lower. The comparable price for Bubble.io, for example, can be as low as $475 per month or $5,700[2] per year. This means that by choosing No Code tools for product managers, you can save as much as 97% of your app development costs. 

Illustration of a man standing next to a smartphone with the text "what is the price of no code tools"

The actual costs of app development, however, are not this linear. Generally, three variables play a crucial role in deciding the prospective cost of an app:

  1. UI Complexity: How idiosyncratic is the UI? 
  2. Workflows: What are the complexities and dependencies in the way the app works? 
  3. Third-Party Integrations: How many third-party APIs do you want to integrate with your application? 

The general valuation of development costs focuses on the developer hours, i.e. how much developer working time the app needs (one developer hour equals one billable hour for one developer). It is important to keep in mind that developer hours are directly affected by the complexity of the UI, workflows, and third-party integrations. 

So, let's drill a little further and see how these variables, along with the chosen functionalities, features, and user touchpoints, can remarkably make a difference in the cost of developing an app using the conventional route and contrast it to the price of using No Code tools for application development. 

What is the Conventional Development Process?

To keep the comparison objective, let’s define the conventional app development process. Here are the basic steps involved in a functional app:

  1. Ideation and Wireframing
  2. Prototyping and Iteration 
  3. Feedback, QA, and Reconfigurations
  4. Launch, Deployment, Feedback Collection
designing a No Code prototype with digital design tools
Photo by soheilr on Reshot

While the process with No Code tools would be close to this app development lifecycle, it would also have considerable differences in options, customization, and deployment cadence. That is where the impact of cost grows. 

Direct Costs: No Code Tools vs. Conventional Development

A. Conventional Development

The rule of thumb is this – more features would cost you more in a conventional app development process where you have hired developers on an hourly basis.

Hence, the costs of developing an app with the conventional process grow in a step function – the hourly costs would be the same for functionalities of similar complexity but would dramatically increase as the complexities increase. 

The groundwork you have laid out is also a counterbalancing force in the conventional app development process.

If you already have the wireframe design, workflow prepared, and the APIs enlisted, some foundational work is taken care of. This would mean that even with a complex set of functionalities, you can accelerate the development lifecycle, eventually translating into lesser billable programmer hours. 

a man writing down the steps of making an app with traditional software development
Photo by Sarah Pflug on Burst

For an app with the following functionalities, the approximate development cost[3] can be anywhere between $61,000 – $120,000. 

  1. Targeted Platforms: Native, Android, iOS, others.
  2. User Engagement Features: Log-In, Notifications, Gamification, Comments, etc.
  3. Admin Functionalities: Security, Content Management 
  4. Ecommerce Functionality: Product Catalogue, Availability, Payment Integrations
  5. Third-Party Integrations: CRM, ERP, Payments, Analytics, etc.

B. No Code Tools

The process used by most No Code tools would have the following steps in order: 

  1. Idea Mapping: You put together a formal definition of the idea and start choosing the templates with the best fit for your use case. 
  2. Prototyping: Based on the type of No Code tool or platform you are using, you can either use a drag & drop process or have a database on top of which the app is to be developed. 
  3. No Code Development: Based on the complexity of functionalities, you may or may not need certain manual development with the help of programmers. However, this would be a small percentage of hours compared to a fully fleshed out and conventionally developed application. 
  4. Beta Launch and Iterations: The focus is on the beta launch and aggregating feedback from early users and beta testers. Finally, necessary iterations are made on the frontend and backend using the user feedback as the central thesis for the next update. 
two women discussing no code
Photo by Nicole De Khors from Burst

And there you go! You have the initial version of your app ready. Now, the pricing for this process can look different on different platforms: 

  1. Annual Pricing Model: Such models are used by platforms like Bildr[4] and can cost up to $495 for the entire year. However, the UI wireframes and functionalities would be limited. Such pricing models are ideal for projects that require a turnkey launch and iterated updates throughout the calendar. If you enter a populated market with several competitors, this might not be the best model for your use case.
  1. Annual Resource-Based Subscription: Platforms like Bubble.io charge approximately $475 per month. And you get 10 units of server capacity, 15 application editors, and up to 20 development versions. Such resource pricing is not available on several platforms and can aid the budgeting process. However, it can be limiting for ideas primarily in the exploratory stages that require frequent updates and more resource-consuming schedules.
  1. Flexible Pricing Without Ceilings: If the No Code tool you are using does not have a SaaS-like offering, it might offer hourly prices without any ceilings. But does that sound familiar? It is, and this is the exact pricing model used in the conventional pricing process. 

Indirect Costs: No Code Tools vs. Conventional Development 

While the direct costs show how No Code tools lead the efficiency race by a mile – there are several other indirect costs you will incur over the entire deployment lifecycle of your application: 

  1. Cost of Learning Curve: No code tools, apps, and websites are primarily DIY tools. Hence, there is a smaller learning curve attached with such platforms compared to traditional app development. For something as simple as adding a search bar, you have to learn the basics of the programming language with the traditional method. No Code makes it just a simple drag and drop process. To top it off, there are community-built learning resources for every popular No Code tool in the market.
  1. Time to Deploy: By design, the No Code tools position you to work with a fixed set of templates, clearly defined functionalities, and more manageable iterations. This reduces the initial brief-to-deployment cycle from months to weeks. The only way to achieve a similar trajectory with conventional app development processes would be to utilize more programmer hours, but that defeats the purpose of rapid development since costs escalate exponentially and quality assurance becomes a considerable challenge with parallel development. 
a person writing code on a laptop
Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst
  1. Scalability: This is one of the few areas where it makes sense to take the conventional app development route. If you plan to deploy your app across multiple environments, platforms, and devices, it might make sense to have programmers design custom modules that are easy to integrate as the workflows of your app become more complex. The only challenge here is that most apps are not very complicated from day one of operations. Hence, if you plan to stick to the agile approach and scale along with user feedback, No Code tools might still come in handy due to easier deployment and faster feedback loop. You can add new features or tweak older features within a much shorter time.
  1. Scope of Functionality: For No Code tools, the room for customization in terms of feature engineering is limited due to higher standards of security. But you can extend the features by utilizing APIs without editing the software code. You are working to lock the user experience and then work on the features as the app grows. With the conventional development process, you have your budget as the only constraint on the functionalities you can have. 
  1. Cost-Value Proposition: This is where things get tricky. The guiding principle remains the same – if you have a lot to 'figure out' in terms of features, UI/UX, and scale, No Code tools will have a high-value proposition for you. Suppose you have distinctive features, a very good idea of the end-product, and the product-market fit. In that case, the conventional route might have a better value proposition because you will have the exact product that fits your specific user persona. 

Final Report and Conclusion

Let’s sum up the advantages that No Code and conventional development have:

No Code ToolsConventional Development
Direct Costs
Learning Curve
Time-to-Deploy
Scalability
Scope of Functionality
Cost Value Proposition

And the verdict is out. If a market entry, quick deployment, and an evolving product roadmap are a part of your strategy – you cannot go wrong with No Code tools. Here's all you need to know about their capabilities - What is No Code?

If your app idea includes some industry-first features, you might need the conventional development process. However, that would also mean allocating significant resources before launching your beta version. This has its underlying risks.

Still confused whether you should go for a code or No Code-based process? Take our free quiz and get a recommendation in less than 2 minutes!

References

Author

Rokas Jurkėnas
Code or No Code, that is the question
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