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min read
July 11, 2023
June 30, 2022

Merging Low-Code & No-Code with Design Systems

Merging Low-Code & No-Code with Design Systems
Table of contents

Companies have been using low code and no code tools for software development. These technologies have become popular as they help modern development teams build applications faster and require little or no coding. Although these tools offer great flexibility, utilizing them for enhancing user experience design is not straightforward. UX designers struggle to maintain a consistent UI across devices and face limited layout facilities and customization issues. To overcome these issues, merging standardized design and development practices might be the answer. So, modern design platforms are trying to accommodate design systems and testing tools to reduce LCNC issues.

To understand this better, let’s dive into the challenges of LCNC tools with UX design and the possible developments of the same in the future. 

What is low-code and no-code development?

Low code and no-code development tools emerged when organizations required faster app deployment. 

These tools facilitate the development of applications with less supervision and programming. Hence, the companies enjoyed better productivity and deployment rates. But, both platforms have limitations when it comes to UX.

Low-code development

Using low code development tools, teams have become more efficient in building visual tools without substantial coding. Being a visual development approach allows a UX designer to automate steps of the application lifecycle. 

Although very useful, low code tools have a few issues. Applications designed using these tools aren't scalable. This is because the apps are limited to the low code platform's functionalities. 

Nevertheless, it is expected that by 2025, 70% of modern applications will utilize low code tools. This might lead to more low-code full-time and part-time developers. Additionally, these low-code developers might be proficient in building the best UIs. This means that UX designs will seem restricted and of low quality.     

No-code development

Similar to low code, no code platforms require no coding. So, these platforms enable even non-technical professionals to develop software without writing a single line of code. 

As such, they are extremely user-friendly and provide drag and drop tools, making the implementation process convenient. Furthermore, these tools reduce development costs and improve the company's productivity. 

They also enable professionals to focus more on the application's functionality instead of understanding complicated programming constructs. However, some complications may arise while using them.

This can be because while developing UI designs, professionals might work independently with no-code tools. The situation reduces the opportunity for design experts to supervise the projects. 

So, the apps developed by non-technical professionals might have security, data storage, and scalability issues.   

Measuring the value of user experience design

Customers expect apps with UIs to simplify their lives and help them fulfill their objectives. Designers keep these points in mind during development. However, an app that satisfies a user might not impress another. Analyzing or measuring an app’s UI becomes vital here. As UX design will not necessarily depend upon the opinions of a particular user, KPIs become crucial for measuring the app’s success. Additionally, not every UX project will be feasible for a company. 

To elaborate, the next section will focus on two KPIs– revenue generation and reduced development costs. 

Reduced cost

If you're a UX developer, you must first consider if the project requires end-user training. So, focus on the amount of customer support associated with the app or UX project. 

Secondly, you need to evaluate the bugs, code modifications, and associated expenses. Whether the project is based on low code or not, it's essential to focus on the code's functionality. 

Lastly, you have to analyze the costs and time it will require to market the project (app). If the cumulative expenses of all these considerations seem feasible for your company, you can consider starting the project.     

Higher revenue 

The next vital metric to consider for the project is the expected revenue. Revenue will depend upon multiple factors related to the project. These include usability, credibility, customer satisfaction, and conversions. 

Additionally, analyze the application to answer these questions:

  • Is the application practical and fulfills its objective, like messaging or file sharing? 
  • Does the application deliver what it promises and builds among the users? 
  • How well do you think the app will rank in customer satisfaction?

Remember, obtaining the answers to these questions will offer you clarity on whether you can move ahead with the project. In addition, you will also gauge the number of conversions the app might receive.

Challenges of low-code and no-code development approaches

Low code and no-code development tools shorten the path from ideation to app launch. But designers face multiple issues like limited layout, limited UX processes, and scalability.

Limited layout and design process

Most low-code tools have limited functionality and might follow a template-driven approach for creating apps. Additionally, these limitations make enhancing the application difficult. 

So, if you want to develop a responsive application with a consistent UX, low code tools might hinder the process.    

Minimal custom integrations with design tools

If you are a first-time developer on these platforms, integration is a challenge you might come across. While connecting the UX application with third-party services, you'll require a connector for the API. 

Additionally, you need to ensure that the low code tool has inbuilt integrations to support the third-party software. As most low-code platforms lack proper integrations, the development process might become difficult for your team.  

Limited or no UX process

Due to restrictions on functionality and templates, low code tools suffer from a lack of UX processes. In addition, there are limited functionalities for app customization and screen design. 

This creates problems while developing mobile apps, as most applications aim to deliver a seamless experience across all devices. So, developers might not receive the best assistance from low code. It also hampers a brand’s image and intended customer experience. 

Inadequate theming and branding capability

These platforms do not have much flexibility to change themes according to your brand requirements. Low code tools usually have pre-built themes and designs, making it difficult for customization. 

As developers don't receive many themes to experiment with, these tools might not be useful in modifying an app frequently. For example, if you want to modify the app according to the special occasion using the theme, it wouldn’t be easy. 

Poor scalability

These tools don’t produce scalable apps. And it isn’t easy to include them in a private cloud. Since there are limited layouts available, it is difficult for organizations and businesses to scale digital experiences for their users. 

This leads to stagnation in terms of layout options and eventually, the websites of different organizations appear the same. Scalability is a top priority for vendors and users alike. 

Security and risks 

Applications containing sensitive customer information might not be secure when developed using low code tools. Even if these tools have some security functionalities, they might not pass corporate security standards. 

Moreover, this might lead to risks to your internal systems and company data. So, given that you need to depend on the low code providers for security, addressing security issues might prove to be challenging.

The future of low-code & no-code 

The future of low code depends upon the platform's capabilities to provide better customization and flexibility. However, the multiple design challenges remain a concern.  

To that account, a new technological platform has emerged to overcome the various challenges of low code tools. These are called digital product design platforms, which aim to improve customer experience and low code capabilities by merging standardized development practices with standard design strategies.

What is a digital product design platform?

A digital product design platform strives to combine practices like UI kits and design tooling with code generation and developer IDE. So, it will provide digital teams with a unified platform to utilize all functions needed for app development. 

These functionalities or steps include user testing, prototyping, and code generation. However, these steps are divided into two teams- design and development. 

Additionally, the platform provides maximum integration and convenience to make the development process smooth. You can utilize HTML, TypeScript, and CSS or the code according to your requirements.      

Elements of a digital product design platform

Design systems are the core of any digital product design platform. It provides an inventory of multiple UX patterns and styles. You can utilize them for building and refining your applications. However, any design platform has other vital components. These are:

Screen design

Screen design is the layout or graphical design of any app's UI. In this process, the developers focus on enhancing user experience and usability. So, the screen design needs to be attractive and seamless. Some digital product design platforms improve app development by integrating user interface designs from other platforms like Adobe.  

User flows

These are diagrams depicting the path any user takes while using an application or a product. They map out every user interaction, from the beginning to the exit. 

Prototyping

Prototyping allows developers to create a mock-up of the application. It will consist of the entire view and interactions they want to offer to their end-user. So, designers and developers understand what the application will look like after deployment.  

User testing

After developing the prototype, you need to test the applications. This is where user testing becomes important as they allow you to test your designs and prototypes in front of real customers. The process provides you with valuable insights into user experience and usability. You can also modify your application based on these insights or testing results. 

Collaboration and co-editing

This is the process where developers, designers, and product managers collaborate to analyze the application or UX project. It is a real-time process where these professionals will upgrade and co-edit the app's functionalities to satisfy the user. It might occur during various stages of the design phase to understand the final UX.  

App building

App building is probably the most critical process when the application is built. Developers prepare their testable code for the app with the help of low code tools. They also utilize other components, including a convenient IDE, UI kits, configuration editor panels, themes, and hierarchical views of master pages. 

Code generation 

This is the process or stage where developers convert the prototypes and screen designs into executable code. You can consider this the final stage of the application development process. So, the developers will prepare the presentation layer code for deployment.

The bottom line

Although low-code and no-code have specific challenges, digital product design platforms can help tackle them. These platforms will enable designers to speed up the development process and focus on user satisfaction. Moreover, developers can save time and money tackling low code issues. 

So, organizations can utilize the time to enhance their application functionalities. It will ultimately elevate the company's image and enable it to expand its customer base. But, always keep in mind that collaboration is important to develop better applications. 

     

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