“No Code” for Agencies and Consultants

Moving up the value chain

“No Code” for Agencies and Consultants

Originally published on Medium.

In 2016, I wrote for Smashing Magazine about “advanced website builders” and how Squarespace and Wix were getting good enough to be used professionally.

My message was met with skepticism from Smashing’s web design audience, but I was right, and now “no code” website builders and other tools are at the heart of a movement that’s turning creative dreamers into business owners.

But what happens when “no code” tools are used by experts who can code?

It’s easier than ever to do amazing things with off-the-shelf SaaS, and “no code” enables startups to do a lot. Businesses with money will still contract out and hire consultants like they do today, though.

This is an enormous opportunity for modern service providers, yet many of us will miss it. By using “no code” tools ourselves, we can improve our offerings and focus on the valuable parts of what we’re delivering.

The message in my Smashing article (and my message today) is that we can either adjust our offerings and charge for expertise instead of hours, or we’ll get passed by forward-thinking competition that embraces a “no code” future.

#NoCode as a movement

I like this Ryan Hoover article for an explanation of what “no code” is. He frames it as a maker movement (which I like) and includes concrete examples of “no code” tools. (Here's my list.)

The concept is that there are tools today that enable non-developers to build powerful and scalable businesses, without writing code. More ideas are being tested and realized than ever before, because more of us can act on them (and we can act faster).

What a great concept!

First principles

To understand why the “no code” movement can be powerful for agencies and consultants, it helps to understand first principles.

Elon sums up the concept up in this video, where he talks about “boiling things down to their fundamental truths” instead of “reasoning by analogy.”

First principles tell us that clients only care about the value a service brings to their business. Value comes from results, not from the hours spent or what frameworks were used.

Modern consulting

I’m an experienced developer, and I use Squarespace and Shopify for myself and my clients. The “no code” approach is my unfair advantage as a consultant right now.

With my web and UX knowledge, I make a damn good Squarespace site and a highly effective Shopify store. At a fraction of the price I’d charge to code one, I can deliver a complete site on either platform in one or two weeks. We’ve reached a point that many web professionals (including myself) thought was impossible: good, fast, and cheap websites.

I’m using “no code” tools to save on development time, but I’m still pulling from my years of experience and industry knowledge to create highly functional, well-made websites. I’m still translating each client’s business goals into something that works online. I’m still delivering something that is essential and valuable.

A universal phenomena

It’s not just web development. Experts in every industry benefit from tools and services that replace things they’ve been doing for years. While “no code” gives average people the ability to ship things in the first place, it can turn an expert into a superhuman. The ones who take advantage, though, will likely be newcomers who aren’t weighed down by their “analogous reasoning.”

My advice, whether you code or not, is to find the “no code” tools in your industry that will help you do your work twice as fast. Use the time you save to focus on higher level decisions, to work less per day, or to deliver in less time.

Then find the “no code” tools that allow you to expand your offerings and deliver things you couldn’t offer before or had to hire out for.

Moving up

“No code” is a chance to take a step up on our professional journeys. We can use this opportunity to jump from freelancer to consultant or from order-taking agency to strategic partner. Our experience is our differentiator. The “no code” movement is not going away, so our best move is to leverage it.

Cover Photo by Matt Artz on Unsplash