[Ben] I have a background in creating with code and started just by making my own sites, HTML, CSS, and then really got into WordPress and developing custom WordPress themes. And then I started working on a project where I had limited resources and I was trying to build a lot of sites and it's like, “There's gotta be a better way to do this. This is so, so tough” And so then I found Webflow, and I was like, “Oh sweet, let's give this a go!”
[Matt] In terms of Visual Dev FM, it was originally formed around the idea that Ben and I get coffee every Friday just to talk no-code, and nerd out, and it just started from us being like, we should — the most basic thought ever — we should start a podcast about this. And so we did, and then we met Lacey and the podcast got way better.
[Lacey] So when I'm explaining what no code is to someone, I talk about how I view it as like building blocks to create a project, a website, web app, or mobile app. And that in code, if you think of high level abstractions, that you can kind of reduce down specific types of behavior. And then you can use them as blocks to build with. What I consider no code products is that the intent behind the product is to enable all people to create for the web, so it's the democratization of building software, of building websites. The things I probably don't consider no code are things that don't really give you a lot of control.
[Lacey] I know that this is not a new concept. I know that there have been advances in this for quite some time now. I, looking back, it seems like to me that the drive wasn't behind it and then the technology wasn't behind it either to actually bring it to where it is today.
From what I can tell the original person who was doing no code before it was no code was Tara Reed. And I love that she pioneered it in that way. And she was, you know, building apps together using Google Sheets, Typeform, and a landing page. And that was before it was even called no code. So for me, that's who I look to and credit saying that she was the first one out there actually doing it, and selling the product that she had made was no code.
[Lacey] I use just two words. No. Code.
[Ben] No dash code.
[Matt] It's no dash code.
[Matt] A common problem that we saw years ago was a lot of people saying, like, “Hey, I've got this idea, but I don't have a technical co founder.” And now you don't need a technical co-founder. If you got the idea, you can be scrappy. I think that what also comes into play as an entrepreneur, or as a small business, is that a lot of these people have limited funding. If you're an entrepreneur, and you're bootstrapping, you're not going to be able to hire a dev team.
And so I think no code, is getting to the point where it democratizes software development — you don't have to be rich, and you don't have to know how to code, you just have to be willing to learn, and be willing to put in the work. And so I think it opens the doors for all these companies, especially enterprises; I think we're going to start seeing more enterprises come into this space a lot more often.
[Ben] I think this really depends on the leadership from space to space. I think there are a lot of developers who see the advantage there. [I’ll hear things like] “I just want you to know, I found Webflow, and oh my gosh, like what it's done for me, instead of having to spend all this time working on micro interactions, I can actually jump back to what's happening on the back end and spend more time there.”
It's the same for designers and PMs too. For a designer to not just show you a Figma or Sketch mockup, but to actually show you, ‘look at what this micro interaction looks like,’ or ‘look how this flows,’ like, you can actually click through this app and go through the whole app flow. I just think it is going to help people all around developers, designers, PMs, I think it plays a really big role. I can already see it doing that. And I think it's only going to continue to do those sorts of things.
[Matt] I think dev shops will start to hire no-code specialists for their team to take some of these projects on that they're getting like that. And for the agencies and freelancers part, like, to me the whole thing here with these three groups is like you get a bigger piece of the pie. You know, like you don't have to outsource, you can handle it yourself. I think we're gonna start seeing more of these groups, including consultants just like start to adopt the technology because it just works better for you.
[Lacey] I wish that I had learned to code when I was very young, because it's such a great skill to have. So I think that for children, learning how to start using this method of no code building blocks and using those kind of things, to allow them to start thinking creatively.
In my own personal life I love that I if I get an idea, I can just start, I can quickly spin something up and start playing with it and start validating even just to myself, would this work? Would this be a good solution?
Economic disparity is probably the biggest one to me and the biggest driver for me personally, why I'm in this space, why it matters so much to me, is because it allows people to do something that otherwise they would not have the opportunity to do. Getting a computer science degree is expensive, going to coding boot camps is expensive, learning to code, even if you go through, can be a long process, and that assumes that you have access to a lot of platforms. [Anyone] can become problem solvers, and they can then start making a difference. And that to me is the biggest thing — that people have the power and the ability to impact positive change within your community and within yourself.
[Lacey] Oh, I think, gosh, we're probably a year away, I think.
[Ben] Two years.
[Matt] Two and a half, three years.
[Lacey] I think we're looking at probably five years, if not longer.
[Ben] It's already happening.
[Matt] I think the top tier of colleges will start to teach it probably within the next five to seven years. I think what's more likely to happen is in the next six months to a year, you know, these college extracurricular activities, those groups will start to adopt no code like engineering club and things like that.
[Lacey] 12 to 18 months?
[Ben] No, two years.
[Matt] Yeah, same two years.
[Lacey] I'm thinking more 18 to 24 months. It's gonna I'm just giving myself some room.
[Ben] Three years
[Lacey] I think three years.
[Ben] I think it's about three years.
[Matt] Yeah, likewise.
[Lacey] Oh, good seven years.
[Ben] I'm gonna I'm gonna take a hot take here. I think in the next two to three years, you can see it.
[Matt] Seven to 10.
[Lacey] I think probably within the next two years.
[Ben] I would put it closer to seven years, probably when you talk about most, but I could be wrong.
[Matt] I say five to six, no, maybe less. I. would say three years if we're just talking about using them in your workflow.
[Lacey] I'm gonna say five to seven. Unless... all it takes though is one thing shifting it. Just one big product coming out that you know?
[Ben] In the next year.
[Matt] Let's say five years.
[Ben] It's those stories where people are really changing their stars. Their career was headed one direction, and then they found no code and built this and now they run a software company or they an agency.
Or they're doing really impactful work and it's changing their economic situation, or they're using the tools to help people and to make an impact in their community. It's those things that really hit me the most.