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How to use low-code software platforms for digital experiences

Low-code software platforms enable flexibility and faster development for digital experiences. Here's what content managers should consider before purchasing a low-code tool.

Low-code and no-code software development is a rising trend, but organizations should consider the caveats before using these tools to create customer-facing websites.

Low-code fills the gap between template-driven sites and building everything from scratch. Low-code offerings are component-based and allow users to extend those components and build new ones. They can quickly take organizations to the 80% completion rate for their desired digital experience.

No-code software development makes sense for a software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering to support a client's custom code. Unless organizations plan to build an extremely simple website, however, it's important to be able to use code to create unique digital experiences for your clients.

Here's what you as a content manager should consider when looking for low-code or no-code tools.

Building blocks

When building anything using low-code software, the key to success is the existence of useful components with which to build your application. When building digital experiences, components should provide a standard action or deliver specifically formatted content. When the system has the necessary components, designers can quickly pull together prototypes. With the right user controls, less technical people such as marketers can quickly pull together a new digital experience without waiting for IT's backlog to clear up.

No product can deliver every component that every organization will ever need. That is why the ability to create new components is critical. Building a new component may not take a low-code approach, but your organization can build digital experiences with those new components using the low-code approach.

Even so, you shouldn't need to create all your components from scratch. It should be possible to create a few components to meet specific needs using a strong low-code tool. The components you develop should have configuration choices to add flexibility. This allows the same components to deliver similar, yet distinct, experiences while keeping it manageable to maintain the number of components.

A good low-code platform takes the traditional website template and delivers greater flexibility. You are no longer customizing a page template. You are building a page with components, creating a unique look and feel. You can use these components to build different digital experiences for your internal and external audiences.

Find the right starting point

It's a challenge for organizations to deploy an effective low-code software platform. The primary reason for this is that finding an effective low-code offering requires a lot of research to ensure that you are making the right investment.

The key is to find one that gets you most of the way to your goals. The biggest risk you face is picking a system that is a medium-code system for your needs instead of a low-code one. The more code your team writes to fulfill your requirements, the more you are at risk during future upgrades.

Sometimes you can't find what you want. Before you give up, ask yourself, "Do I really need something that unique?" Often, you can solve this problem by having a vendor demonstrate the system, showing the flexibility of the components. A good way for your team to learn the strengths of the system is to enlist an expert to get you started with building your desired site, whether that expert is a vendor representative, consultant or implementation specialist.

Balance uniqueness and usability

Being too different can hurt your digital experience. If you make your visitors think about what they are trying to do, they may go find an experience that is more intuitive and comforting. You want people to focus on learning what they need to learn about your organization's services rather than focus on how to take an action once they've made a decision.

Balancing between the familiar and the desire to leave an impression can be a challenge. Your uniqueness is in your content and your offerings. Using the right content, both written and visual, can make the difference between a digital experience that blends into the crowd and one that is both memorable and useful.

Balancing between the familiar and the desire to leave an impression can be a challenge.

Unless you are selling web development services, you don't need the fanciest website. Your investments need to flow into areas that provide true value. That is part of what makes low-code tools so appealing. You can get solid capabilities without having to compromise on the end-product.

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