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Low-code vs. no-code platforms explained—and how Brightspot gets you there

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Some companies need all hands on deck with a no-code platform; others may want more granular control with a low-code platform. Which works better for your organization?

As the old saying goes, "work smarter, not harder." To an extent, this adage is at the heart of software development—make things automated or add intuitive interfaces so that a greater pool of employees (and not just developers) can accomplish a task. Once this happens, organizations can generally operate more efficiently, and this obviously benefits the bottom line.

This approach, and specifically its manifestation through easy-to-use user interfaces, is the idea behind low-code and no-code platforms. With each, organizations don’t have to lean as heavily into development to operate. Instead, less technical and editorial staff members can perform these tasks, which is especially important when it comes to content management systems.

When you think about future-proofing and being prepared for what is coming next, I think it is about finding ways to utilize no code and low code options that empower your content teams and free up developer teams to focus on revenue impacting organizational priorities. This has got to be a pretty critical focus for development leaders so they can keep their powder dry for when they really need it.
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James Clark, VP of Product, Brightspot

Low-code vs. no-code: The basics

What is low code?

As the name suggests, low-code platforms do not require much coding experience or expertise to accomplish the task at hand, opening up the pool of employees who can accomplish the task to less technical personnel. Developers are still needed to an extent, but not as much as they would be with a platform that didn’t pay as much mind to the principle of "low code."

It is important to note, though, that the concept of "low code" is subjective. There is no industry-determined nor industry-accepted way to measure what meets the definition of "low code." Large organizations could have hundreds of thousands of lines of code—which is considerable—but that might be relatively small compared to their competitors.

What is no code?

Similar to low code, the name "no code" is simply that: a platform that doesn’t require any coding experience or expertise whatsoever. These kinds of platforms are fully interfaced, and non-technical personnel can accomplish whatever they need to accomplish without ever having to open a console.

There isn’t a need for development with these kinds of platforms, at least not immediately. Everything that would be accomplished through code can be accomplished through a user interface, broadening the pool of employees who can complete tasks.

What are the benefits of low-code and no-code platforms?

As with any business process, the less chance for human error, the better. Developers, as an archetype, are typically highly detail-oriented professionals capable of great things, but we all have rough days. This might mean making an error (or a few) across hundreds of lines of code, causing things to break—but not if there aren’t hundreds of lines of code in the first place.

The less code, the less room for error.

The less code, the less room for security vulnerability, as well. Code that doesn’t need to be maintained and, as a result, can’t be accessed is just that—inaccessible. Hackers will continually try to find ways and weaknesses, but low-code and no-code platforms have a bit of a better baseline defense.
It is not like you start a low code or no code initiative and then there is nothing for your developers to do. What you are gaining is productivity for your developers as now they are focused on things that actually impact your business and not just the tables stakes of building a content management system or the framework that provides your editors the ability to do the customizations that they need to do.
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Lee Teague, SVP Engineering, Brightspot

Examples of low-code and no-code platforms

Conveniently, Brightspot is a no-code platform with low-code options, depending on what an organization needs.

Brightspot requires essentially no code. Everything an organization would ever need to launch a new site or app more quickly than with any other product is available to them right from the start. In a few mouse clicks, editors can make their own content types to fit their use cases, and Brightspot automatically generates the corresponding user interfaces so content teams can begin right away. Workflows are instantly available to guide a piece of content to the right eyes before publishing. Documents, spreadsheets and other kinds of assets can be loaded directly into the CMS for easy distribution across an organization. Newsletters can be generated quickly and used to engage audiences. All of this is without code.

Brightspot’s theming engine is where it gets really interesting, though. The theme engine, by default, requires no code; however, to better cater to customers who may want to do their own theme development on top of what Brightspot offers, they can.

Brightspot’s theme engine

Brightspot has two theme options.

The first is a suite of pre-built theme packages that leverage decades worth of experience working with technology and publishing companies. These themes have highly customizable attributes, and any user may change the way a site displays content on the front end by making changes to the back end interface.

Things like fonts, button colors, link colors, footers—practically anything—can all be changed in a few mouse clicks, giving users great flexibility. And all without a single line of code.

However, other companies may want even more control.

As a result, Brightspot also supports style packages, comprised of CSS and JavaScript files, where developers can very granularly fine-tune the site to look how their organization needs it to look. While there is code involved in this process, it’s minimal. Users can add these CSS and JavaScript files to a .zip folder and load it into Brightspot, thereby extending the built-in styles and JavaScript that comes with the core front-end platform.

Low-code or no-code? Which should you choose?

As with many things, there is generally no right or wrong answer to this question. It’s all up to the organization and what requirements it has. If it needs a CMS that is so user friendly that their editorial staff members can handle any and all publishing and theme operations, no-code is the way to go. If the organization wants more granular control over some aspects of the platform, low-code platforms may be better.

What’s most important is to find a platform that provides options. What one project might require is not the same as what another project may require. Having a platform that can attack multiple use cases in multiple ways is the best play for the future, given that requirements change frequently. Best, then, to go with a platform that can do it all.

About the Author
Mark is Director, Digital Content at Brightspot. When he's not gleaning insights from various developers from the company, he spends his time cooking new dishes at home with his wife and two hyperactive cats.
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