Low Code vs Custom Software Development: A Comparison with Pros and Cons
The dichotomy between low-code solutions and custom code development has become a pivotal point of consideration for businesses seeking to leverage technology for growth. The allure of building applications without delving into the intricacies of code continues to attract enterprises, startups and large-scale.
By 2026, a staggering 80% of developers are expected to emerge from non-traditional IT backgrounds, a sharp increase from the 60% recorded in 2021. The shift is indicative of industry-wide acknowledgment of the accessibility and efficacy of low-code and no-code platforms.
Yet, amidst this surge in these citizen development platforms, customized approach to building software stands relevant and significant. The global market for custom development witnessed a valuation of USD 28.2 billion in 2022, with projections indicating an astounding CAGR of 21.5% from 2023 to 2032, culminating in a projected worth of USD 198.6 billion by 2032. The numbers clearly speak that despite the rising use of low-code and no-code apps, custom apps will continue to remain hot commodities.
As we go deeper into the discourse, let’s draw out a comparison between the two approaches, so that for your next project, you have the right choice in your hand.
Low code or Custom Development – Which to Choose?
The low-code approach is penetrating most industries, empowering enterprises with citizen developers, and offering the prospect of cost savings. However, this limited view can obstruct other many benefits as well as its limitations, when compared to the customized approach. Building custom applications has always offered immense benefits to businesses looking to digitize their operational processes, though it, too, poses some challenges. Comparing low-code with the custom approach deems a close analysis of both approaches.
What is Low-code approach to building software?
Low code development is an that empowers business users to build applications with minimal manual coding. It relies on visual interfaces and pre-built components, which developers i.e., end users can drag and drop elements to design, customize, and deploy applications rapidly. Overall, the approach reduces the need for traditional coding skills, making it accessible to a broader audience, most of whom are non-programmers.
What is the Custom approach to building software?
Customized way of developing applications is a tailored approach to building applications to meet specific business needs. The team undertakes the project, after closely analyzing the client requirements. It is best for business with unique or complex requirements that cannot be met with off-the-shelf applications.
Why should we compare the Low code Custom Software Development approaches?
Basically, low-code and customized development should be looked at from two different angles. While low code (or no code) relates to the degree of use of technology in the application building process, customized way of building applications denotes the approach driven by requirements. So, ideally comparing low code with the customized approach is like comparing chalk with cheese.
However, not, comparing low-code development with bespoke development has become important from the perspective of business decision-making. Offering a rapid, user interface-driven process to build applications, low-code offers the prospect of eliminating the cost of hiring and building a dedicated team. Then there are circumstances, where only the customized approach can be the viable route, though it may require higher development time and more dollars. So, making smart, relevant, and useful decisions revolving around building your app rests on the comparison between these two approaches.
Pros of using Low-code for Developing Applications
Low-code has ushered into a highly-used option, as it offers several advantages to businesses. As a result, it has started becoming the cornerstone of modern products. Some of these advantages include.
Developers get a visual interface with multiple drag-and-drop pre-built components, which significantly speeds up the process of building applications, and can help meet faster time-to-market needs.
Low code platforms abstract away much of the underlying code and make it accessible to a wider range of users, including those with limited coding experience. The platforms democratize the process of developing applications and allow business analysts and other non-technical stakeholders to participate in the process.
Because developing products using low-code streamlines the process and requires less manual coding, it can lead to lower your project costs, reducing it by up to 60%. Additionally, it can reduce the need for a large team of specialized developers.
Applications developed with low code platforms often have a standardized structure, making them easier to maintain and update. In the long run, it leads to lower costs and a more sustainable application building process.
Harmony in Building
It often includes features for team collaboration, whereby multiple stakeholders can work on a project simultaneously. So, there’s no barrier to communication and coordination among team members.
Many platforms are designed to support the building of applications that can run across diverse operating systems and devices, which is always a significant advantage in a multi-platform environment.
Low-code platforms often come with security features and best practices built in, helping to reduce the risk of security vulnerabilities. The robust character can be especially important in industries with strict compliance requirements.
Applications developed with low-code development platforms are typically designed to scale easily, which is helpful for businesses that anticipate rapid growth or seasonal fluctuations in demand. In terms of revenue, they increase it by around 58%.
Swift Prototyping and Agile Refinement
Low-code platforms make it easy to create prototypes and minimum viable products (MVPs) quickly. Based on user feedback, rapid testing and iteration can be carried out, which can lead to more refined and user-friendly applications.
Many low-code platforms have connectors or APIs that allow for easy integration with existing systems, databases, and third-party services, through which businesses can leverage their existing technology investments.
Cons of Developing Apps with Low-code
Despite making the buzz amongst end users, low-code platforms succumb to incapabilities, proving inefficient in large projects. As a result, it suffers from disadvantages such as:
Low-code development platforms may not provide the same level of customization as traditional coding, which could be limiting for complex or highly specialized applications. 32% of enterprises thus lack confidence that they would be able to build desired apps with low-code technologies.
Despite being more accessible, there is still a learning curve associated with low-code platforms, especially for those unfamiliar with the specific platform. Based on the features of the platform, business users will have to spend some time learning and mastering capabilities worth for professional projects.
Some low-code platforms may tie you to a specific vendor’s ecosystem, potentially limiting your flexibility in the long run, which is why 37% of enterprises still grapple with the concern. You will always have to pay attention to overcoming the limitation, so as to not let the performance of your applications suffer.
In certain scenarios, applications developed with low-code platforms may have performance issues, especially for applications that require high computational resources. As much as 25% of organizations have found issues in scaling apps developed with low-code/no-code development platforms.
Lack of Control
Developers have less control over the underlying code, which could be a concern for organizations with strict compliance or security requirements. Usually an issue for newly founded firms, the issue can be managed through consultation from a firm seasoned in software development for startups.
Over-Reliance Can Prove Disastrous
Relying heavily on a visual interface might lead to a lack of understanding of the underlying code, which may show adverse impact on troubleshooting or customization.
Long Run Costs
While developing applications with low-code can be cost-effective initially, depending on the platform and usage, licensing fees and additional services can add up over time.
Struggle with Specialized Applications
For applications that require highly specialized or intricate code, low-code platforms may not provide the necessary level of granularity.
Dependency on Platform Provider
If the platform provider discontinues the service or makes significant changes, it could disrupt ongoing projects or require migration efforts.
Code Bloat Vulnerability
Without careful planning, it’s possible to build applications with unnecessary complexity or excessive components, which will bring long-term inefficiencies.
When does Low-code Development stand best?
Low-code approach is best suitable when there is a need for rapid application deployment and requirements are addressable with low-code and no-code approaches. Business users can take up the task in their hands and execute the project. Alternatively, we can say that businesses that don’t intend to build a team of specialized developers due to cost constraints or other reasons look to employ low-code The approach is ideal for small-scale projects for building applications that may span from internal tools to simple customer-facing applications.
Pros of Custom Custom Development
The customized way of building applications still reigns supreme. It dominated the North American market in 2022, with a revenue share of 37%. Let’s move ahead to understanding the customized approach. Let’s start by understanding some of its advantages, as outlined below.
Tailored to Specific Needs
Bespoke applications are designed to meet the unique requirements of a business and can be tailored to fit the exact processes and workflows of the organization.
Growth Potential and Expandability
As your operations grow, custom apps can be adapted and expanded to accommodate increased demand and complexity.
Economical Over the Long Haul
While the bespoke process of developing applications can have higher upfront costs, it can be more cost-effective in the long run, as custom apps are designed to precisely fit your needs.
Ability to Synergize
Tailored apps can be seamlessly integrated with existing systems and applications, allowing for a more cohesive and efficient technology ecosystem within the organization.
Better Security and Compliance
Developed with specific security features and compliance requirements in mind, custom apps are essential for businesses operating in industries with strict regulatory standards.
Command and Authority
When you invest in custom applications, you have full ownership and control over the source code. This means you can make modifications and enhancements as needed without being dependent on a third-party vendor.
Reduced Dependence on Vendor Support
With bespoke software, you have the option to manage updates, bug fixes, and support internally or work with a development team of your choice, without having to depend on a vendor.
Focused Support and Maintenance
The support and maintenance of bespoke software can be focused directly on your specific needs, which provides faster response times and more personalized attention.
Adaptability to Changing Business Environment
A custom solution can be adapted as your business evolves and changes over time, which gives a significant advantage in industries where rapid adaptation to new technologies or market trends is an absolute necessity.
Edge in the Market
Having an application that is specifically designed for your business can give you a competitive edge. It can allow you to differentiate yourself from competitors who may be using off-the-shelf solutions with less customization.
Cons of Custom Software Development
Developing Custom applications has remained the way for businesses to digitize their processes. It helps capture the niceties of specific business operations in applications. However, it is not without its own disadvantages, some of which include:
The process of building customized apps can be expensive, as it involves hiring skilled developers, designers, and project managers. But then the project cost shouldn’t dissuade you from developing a bespoke application for your needs. You can connect with experts from Finoit to overcome the fear surrounding costs of building customized applications.
Being an iterative process, reaching the full-fledged version of your customized software may take time, requiring significant time investment, especially for complex projects.
Developing customized applications can be highly complex, especially for projects with unique or intricate requirements, and the complexity can heighten the chances of errors.
When the needs change or grow significantly, custom apps may require extensive modification or even a complete overhaul to accommodate the new requirements.
Dependency on Dedicated Team
If a custom solution is developed by an external team, the company becomes dependent on that team for any future changes or maintenance, leading to complications, especially if the original team is no longer available.
Possibility of Over-Engineering
In an attempt to create a highly tailored solution, there’s always a risk of over-engineering the software, making it overly complex and thus difficult to maintain, and potentially more expensive than necessary.
If a company outsources the project, there may be concerns about the ownership of intellectual property rights, for which enterprise clients must look for clear contracts and agreements.
The Ghost of Scope Creep
As the project progresses, there may be a tendency to add more features or make changes beyond the original scope, leading to project delays and an increase in costs.
Difficulty in Technology Upgrades
As technology evolves, customized software may become outdated or incompatible with newer systems or platforms, necessitating expensive and time-consuming upgrades.
Risk of Project Failure
As many as 50% to 70% of custom projects run the risk of failure. Unless and until you hand over your project to trusted software developers, you run the risk of the project not meeting the desired objectives, or even failing entirely.
When does Customized Development stand best?
Customized approach is the most suitable for building software applications with unique, complex, or highly specialized requirements that cannot be easily addressed with off-the-shelf solutions or low-code platforms. It is most beneficial for organizations that have specific business processes, workflows, or functionalities that are not met by pre-existing software options. Additionally, building a custom app is the preferred choice when there is a need for deep integration with existing systems or legacy software. It is particularly valuable for large-scale projects or enterprises with complex and diverse operations, for which seeking assistance of an experienced custom software development proves highly beneficial.
Low code vs Customized Software – Summing the comparison up
|Speed||Due to visual interfaces and pre-built components the application is rapidly developed.||Typically takes longer due to building from scratch.||Low-Code|
|Complexity of Projects||Best suited for less complex applications with standard features.||Ideal for highly complex, specialized projects with unique requirements.||Customized|
|Flexibility and Customization||Limited flexibility due to reliance on predefined modules and templates.||Highly flexible and customizable, tailored to specific business needs.||Customized|
|Integration with Existing Systems||May have limitations in integrating with legacy systems or complex architectures.||Offers deep integration capabilities with existing systems and databases.||Customized|
|Cost-Efficiency||Can be cost-effective for smaller projects and when speed is crucial.||Initial costs may be higher, but can provide long-term cost savings for large-scale, specialized projects.||Customized|
|Skills Required||Requires less coding expertise, making it accessible to business users and citizen developers.||Requires a team of skilled developers proficient in various programming languages.||Low-Code|
|Scalability||Limited scalability for highly complex or large-scale applications.||Highly scalable, capable of accommodating future growth and evolving needs.||Customized|
|Maintenance and Updates||Easier to maintain with automatic updates for underlying platforms.||Requires careful planning and implementation of updates to ensure compatibility.||Low-Code|
|Suitability for Small Businesses||Well-suited for small-scale projects and businesses with limited resources.||More suitable for larger enterprises or projects with complex requirements.||Low-Code|
The debate between low-code platforms and custom software continues to be a topic of discussion for enterprises venturing to build software applications. While low-code and no-code platforms have their merits, they aren’t without limitations. Although promising, they cannot replace the expertise and finesse of skilled software developers.
Customized approach, rooted in traditional coding procedures, remains the gold standard for creating uncompromised, tailored solutions. It ensures compliance and carefully considers security in an increasingly volatile digital landscape. Although it requires an investment, the long-term benefits far outweigh the costs.
However, this doesn’t mean dismissing low-code or no-code development entirely. They can find their place in building less critical applications or in articulating requirements to a partner. Striking a balance between these methods is key, as harnessing the strengths of each will help address use cases effectively.
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