The (incredibly tough!) transition to the "age of no-code" for web development
"WordPress, it's not you, you just happen to be a victim of a paradigm shift". First of all, this is not really about WordPress and also not really about the better alternatives that I'll cover. It's about a paradigm shift from having to relate to code, servers, plugins, security updates, development environments, and all that headache, to the “age of no-code”.
“No-code” web development refers to working with platforms that generate the code for a website automatically in the background, while the website builder offers visual tools to create the structure and content. So writing HTML, CSS, and JS is not required. But it’s often possible to add custom code in a no-code website builder to add functionality that is not included out-of-the-box.
Being both a developer and a designer myself, I made an educated decision about three years ago to gradually steer away from the old school ways of making websites. Since then, content, design, and user experience has gotten the focus it deserves, while the code has been written automatically in the background. The age of no-code is absolutely amazing. There's just no turning back.
I'll get into a couple, but I will argue that the best visual no-code website builder out there is Webflow. They have been kicking ass for about six years. Now, with a recent $72M Series A round of funding, they are ramping up to let people build better websites and even web applications visually. If you're in the mood for some inspirational eye-candy, check this "Welcome to the age of no-code" video just released :)
How does the transition to no-code web development affect the business?
Imagine for a minute you manage a successful web agency. You have three designers and six developers, all WordPress experts. One day, you come across Webflow. You realize that you can make 80% of the sites you're selling to your clients in half the time at half the price. No code, bugs, server management and optimization, none of that - it's all automated. Ok great! We save time. The client saves money. Let's fire Jeff, Bill, and Stacey from the development team, train our designers in Webflow and cut our revenue in half. Fun times! No wonder most WordPress agencies are going to keep convincing themselves and clients that WordPress is the way. They have to double down. The alternative is unthinkable for most.
Been there done that
I'm speaking from experience. Tough, tough, really tough experience. During the last three years, I have taken my agency from a lucrative business based on code, servers, and all that, through a rough transition to the age of no-code. Our revenue has gone down drastically, and we have had to downscale our team. It still hurts, but honestly, I can't sell our clients the wrong thing, just because it's easier for me.
Even though it's hard to stay afloat, I stand by the decision to "get with the times". It's not all black, though. We have been able to make up for some of our losses by getting into smaller websites that we would normally turn down. We can make websites in such a short time using Weblow, that even though the price tag is low, we can make significantly more than our agency's standard hourly. It has also left us time to focus on a new startup I’ll mention in my story later.
Time to evolve
It's not always going to be pretty, but it's time for many WordPress developers and agencies to pivot before they become obsolete. Even if it may be an almost impossible choice to make.