Technology Pro Tip: Get started quickly with no-code frameworks: Associations now


Through Ernie Smith / 20 Sep 2021
(mangpor_2004/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Deploying software that can help non-technical staff build websites or apps can increase your association’s ability to experiment on the fly.

If your association does not have a dedicated web development or design team, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to launch a new initiative due to the costs and resources involved.

But no-code tools, a rising trend in the tech world, offer opportunities for associations that want to test an idea before making a major investment. You might find that they are exactly what you need to bridge the gap.

What is the strategy?

Utilities without code have technically been around since the time Macintoshes had built-in CRT monitors, but they have become increasingly powerful in recent years, allowing for fast builds even by users who lack traditional programming skills.

With the rising popularity of application programming interfaces (APIs), these tools have matured in function and can now be integrated with existing tools that associations use, such as association management systems.

No-code tools vary in complexity—bubble.ioallows, for example, to build deep mobile applications without programming, while Map specializes in one page websites that can be used to promote an event or sell a product. And web flow allows designers to build sites without touching HTML (but if they want to get their hands dirty with the code, they can).

Generally, these tools are sold as proprietary software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions, meaning they come with a monthly or annual bill. But they can still be significantly cheaper than a development tool.

Why is it effective?

It could save a lot of money, allowing applications to be built and managed by fewer technical staff than a custom solution would allow.

“No-code software is suitable for use by non-technical business people, also known as ‘civil developers'” Harvard Business Review collaborators Chris Johannessen and Tom Davenport wrote about the trend recently. “For many companies, this helps them digitize and automate tasks and processes faster than hiring and onboarding hard-to-find development talent.”

(John and Davenport warned, however, that no-code may require resources from the IT department to support development.)

What is the potential?

It is often said that emerging technologies are best implemented in areas that are not your primary discipline, and no code tools can allow you to work on those secondary initiatives. No-code tools allow your association to try new endeavors with relatively low risk, giving creative team members who may have strong ideas but less technical know-how what they need to try something new. It could even extend 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 your main website development – but it can help put your experimentation at your fingertips.

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