In the year 1999, a simple yet revolutionary software altered the way music was consumed everywhere.
Within a few short years, Napster, a cataloguing system that allowed people to share music and see each other’s music collection, changed the way we experienced music forever. Before then, people relied on physically sharing mixed tapes and CDs in order to hear their favorite bands.
Napster changed all of that. As its creator Shawn Fanning noted in an interview “For the first time this full history of recorded music was available online to everyone instantly.”
The digital music service didn’t just democratize music in its time, it paved the way for the music streaming services we enjoy today like Spotify and SoundCloud to become possible. And with it, the advent of an era where people don’t simply listen to music, they create their own records and upload them to these platforms.
Musicians no longer have to rely on industry connections or large capital for studio time. They can take control of what they want to put out in the world.
This brief example illustrates the power of giving people more access. Today, tools like the above have extended well beyond the musical. “No code” focused software is making it more and more possible for anyone with zero developer skills to feel empowered to translate their ideas into things people can use.
For over a decade, my company Jotform has allowed millions of people to make their own myriad kinds of web forms using our no-code products. In doing so, we’ve witnessed firsthand how giving our users countless customizable options has encouraged their creativity and innovation. Offering no-code tools to our customers has given them the freedom to turn a simple web form into a creation of their own — to turn their vision into reality.
How No-Code Helps You Define Success On Your Own Terms
“You don’t have to be a genius or a visionary or even a college graduate to be successful. You just need a framework and a dream.” — Michael Dell
Say, you’re a budding jewelry designer who wants to start selling your products but don’t count on a substantial budget to hire developers or marketers. You can now easily start your business using resources like Shopify, a commerce platform that lets you set up an online store.
You manage everything.
Of course, progress now doesn’t mean doing away with traditional IT (a completely illogical idea as it has many great uses), it means drifting away from the concept that only developers who laboriously hand-code or entrepreneurs with deep pockets should hold the privilege of creating.
In an article for Wired, Clive Thompson speaks to how no-code is changing the landscape. “It neatly inverts the cultural logic around programming and its unique value,” he writes. “A decade ago the rallying cry ‘Learn to code’ emerged.” But as Ryan Hoover now notes in his popular Medium article from a couple of years ago, “You no longer need to become a programmer to build things on the internet.”
In lowering the learning curve, no-code products all aim to make it easier for anyone to build without writing a single line of code.
Here are 4 key ways you can use the “no code” movement to create success on your own terms:
1. Translate your ideas within hours — not months
Years ago, to build a functional website, you’d contract a web designer who’d take an average of a few months to get things up and running. But now, building your own site doesn’t have to be an overwhelming experience. Products like Webflow, make it easy to create a visually engaging design — even if you don’t know how to code. The real kicker? It takes you just a few hours, compared to months. Whether you’re a freelancer or small business owner, what this means is that you can see your ideas come to life without taking away precious time on more valuable work.
2. Maintain autonomy
Jotform is bootstrapped and we’ve never taken a penny in outside funding — so, I know what it means to start small and gradually grow your business. Obviously, this approach isn’t for everyone, but what I want to say is that it’s possible to choose an alternative route — one where you also have the freedom to set your own targets.
No-code products give you the autonomy to remain lean and flexible by saving you money and avoiding hassles. For example, instead of investing in a sophisticated website to document sales, our product allows you to instantly accept payments online. This makes it so that you don’t have to rely on venture capital to grow your startup for simple projects.
3. Experiment without fear
With lowered costs, you also have more confidence to experiment with different solutions for your business. You don’t have to limit yourself to only building a well-crafted website, you can create a mobile app using Thunkable, add on a paid newsletter with Substack, or use one of our latest tools, Jotform Tables for your workflow needs.
Before, budding entrepreneurs were limited by their smaller budgets, but with no-code — many of these problems are eliminated, leaving the path open for more experimentation.
4. Seize valuable learning opportunities
When my startup was first founded, it was just some far-fetched idea. Yet, growing as an entrepreneur for the past 15 years has been an education in itself. I’ve learned a lot about myself in the process, about being a leader to an incredible team, in communicating with customers, and consistently raising the bar with product-development. All of these lessons have come from the valuable learning opportunities that come from building and running my own business.
The “no-code” movement, when it comes down to it, is removing the technological barriers to entry and enabling more access to these learning benefits — making it possible for more and more ideas to thrive and for people to define personal and professional success on their own terms.