Now and again markets and businesses are forced to face a crisis, a serious threat to their operations which can have devastating consequences if handled improperly. When going gets tough, speed and agility are of utmost importance. That’s why, today, we talk about no-code platforms and tools and their key role in modern crisis management.
A Crisis? That Only Happens to Other People...
We rarely can imagine something bad happening to us.
Bad things usually happen to other people... While this notion is completely unfounded, it’s fairly common.
A crisis can be small-scale, affecting a specific company or subsector (e.g., financial, personnel or technological crisis, etc). Or, it can be a large-scale critical situation affecting whole countries or the entire planet. These include natural disasters, economic and military conflicts or… an eruption of a global pandemic.
A few months ago, a global pandemic would seem like the most unlikely scenario. Today, people all over the world self-isolate, economies suffer and millions of businesses are trying to fight off bankruptcy - many unsuccessfully.Within a few short months, we already know today that the COVID-19 crisis changed the world economy for years to come.
In an ideal world, organizations big and small would have a crisis management plan ready with the textbook phases of pre-crisis, crisis and post-crisis strategies. Indeed, numerous larger companies do have some sort of crisis response in place...
Nevertheless, a vast majority of small and medium businesses depend on monthly revenue to survive and closing down for a few weeks can represent a fatal blow.
Alternatively, in the case of the opposite crisis scenario when the demand explodes instead of plummeting, they don’t have the resources to quadruple the volume they can deal with overnight, ruining their reputation in the process.
Still, we are hearing rumors of unlikely successes, quick crisis responses and smart initiatives from individuals, communities, and businesses of all sizes.
Most of these successes are powered by an unlikely hero of this crisis… a platform or tool from the no-code movement.
In the beginning, there were only a few software developers building things online. No matter how smart and ambitious, creating something worthwhile would still take them months of learning and programming.Today, things are a bit different.
Pretty much anyone with a computer and a WiFi connection can build and publish a website in a meter or hours or days.Aside from thousands of no-code or low-code tools available, no-code resource hubs like MakerPad, NoCode, Zeroqode, NoCode HQ, Nocode Essentials, Maker Mag, etc. exist to offer support, INSPIRATION and learning materials to anyone interested.
The point is, you no longer need to be a developer to develop things for the web because no-code platforms use a visual interface allowing layman creators to build websites, apps, and facilitating chatbot development through methods such as drag-and-drop. No coding knowledge required!It sounds a bit too good to be true but, the truth is, it’s real and it works.No-code is changing the tech and business landscape. It empowers people of different backgrounds and so unleashes new perspectives, new ideas, new waves of creativity and innovation.
The Criticisms of No-Code Development
Since the dawn of no-code tools, their users have been judged and criticized. Many developers consider no-code to be cheating or even lazy and weak.
It’s true, being reliant on someone else's platform/service comes with certain tradeoffs. You are somewhat limited by the features of the platform. However, you are still likely to create more products and projects without coding thanks to the production speed and cost-effectiveness. Aspects from which both non-tech professionals and coders can benefit.
While no-code was the bridge that let small and medium businesses into the big game, more and more corporations - despite boasting with teams of skilled engineers - are turning to these tools as well. Simply put, they are faster to implement and significantly easier to maintain.It’s in our nature to consider things that are harder, better. Sure, there are instances when this is completely true. But doing things the hard way, if you don’t have to anymore doesn’t seem that smart.
As for the arguments that coding from scratch gives you more control and freedom…It does. And it doesn’t.
How much control and freedom do you actually have if you are held back by the extensive time and labor demands?
How much control and freedom do you have if every time you spot an error… make an update... grasp a time-sensitive opportunity, you need to refer the task to someone else losing time with explanations and endless back and forth?
Using No-Code Platforms: Key Benefits
Each no-code tool or platform will have its limitations. However, these the definition of “limits” depends on your needs and so, quite often, the benefits outshine the compromises (provided you had to make any)
1. Agility and Speed
Since no-code tools work with a visual interface and often even leverage pre-built modules, they provide businesses with the agility they were not capable of before. It’s not just about improving building the website/app/bot but also about automating the testing process.
Hence, companies are able to cut down the time spent on development. Better yet, deploy campaigns or solutions on demand, in hours or days - instead of weeks, months or years.By empowering your sales, marketing, and support teams to build solutions for themselves you are freeing your IT team from the mundane and allowing them to focus on more complex projects which can improve your agility in the long term.
2. Reduced Cost
Developers possess complex technical skills of which demand is steadily growing. In other words, they are expensive. No-code solutions allow you to work around that obstacle. An obstacle that can be problematic to big companies and even pose a dead-end to freelancers or small and medium businesses. Rapid application development... The ability to create tailored and hyper-targeted landing pages... The skill to design and build smart chatbot assistants without the overhead cost... All of these factors drive down the price and give individuals and brands the power to compete against businesses with greater resources.
3. Easy to Maintain and Apply Changes
The issue with traditional coding is that you can’t adjust a function or a feature with a snap of a finger. Especially, if you are not the one doing the programming and need time to communicate your idea(s) to the developer. What’s worse, if that change doesn’t work as you imagined it still would have cost you a great deal of time, effort and money.
No-code platforms offer the exact opposite. To make a change or an update on the landing page or the chatbot you built is usually a matter of clicks. They allow you or any of your employees to implement necessary changes in a matter of minutes or hours.
4. Improved Risk Management
The agility, speed, minimal costs and ability to apply changes on demand allows you to effectively identify potential risks or losses in advance (or, at least, in the earliest stages).
No-code tools make deploying new projects significantly less risky. The investment is usually very low compared to traditional coding and time to deployment quicker. Furthermore, running tests at scale but at low cost gives you the chance to analyze the strategy, solution or campaign and take quick precautionary steps and an adjustment to reduce risks and the possibility of failure.
These benefits are great news. What’s more important though, all of the advantages mentioned above are the key elements of efficient crisis management.
No-Code Benefits in Practice: How Businesses Used No-Code Tools to Fight COVID-19 Crisis and its Effects of the Economy
COVID-19 pandemic spread incredibly fast. People and businesses all over the world were hit by its consequences; many of them unprepared. A majority of businesses, though doing well, were dependent on recurring monthly revenue and lacked resources to fight against the crisis.
However, instead of the post-apocalyptic scenario portrayed in horror movies, the world witnessed a great deal of kindness, creativity, and initiative. An initiative, which, in many cases, was realized and powered by no-code platforms and tools giving the no-code movement a push to the forefront.
Support Columbus Eats
Tools: SquareSpace and Airtable
Aim: Support Local Businesses
Authors: Local Tech & Business Community
The first story to share is that of a project launched by a local tech community in the city of Columbus, Ohio. Knowing that numerous local restaurants and bars - especially those with a nonexistent or negligible online presence - will be severely impacted by the quarantine.
To help to ease the impact, they built a crowdsourced resource page using SquareSpace no-code website builder called Support Columbus Eats. The site provides inhabitants of Columbus with key local business information such as:
- Option to purchase gift cards
- Order options
- Availability of Delivery Apps
- Contact Information
- Links to website and/or menu (if available)
To allow crowdsourcing, they integrated their site with Airtable, a cloud-based collaboration service. In short, it allows people to submit and upload new business info and their info instantly.The website helped to centralize local business information, helping them to gain visibility and stay in business.
Format: Web Chatbot
Aim: Customer Support & Order Management
Author: Healthwave Online Pharmacy
Healthwave is an online prescription delivery service based in the Republic of Ireland. Unlike in the case of hospitality businesses, they had to face a different kind of crisis - an insurmountable surge in demand for prescriptions as the government started shutting down businesses in mid-march.
They need a quick solution that would handle the increased volume of requests and inquiries without overwhelming their team. The company used Landbot, no-code chatbot platform, to create and deploy a website chatbot to:
- Collect customer data
- Send the data to pharmacy systems for processing
- Provide patients with a COVID19 assessment to indicate whether they require testing and so, by default, reduce the pressure on emergency call centers.
Format: Website + Cloneable Template
Aim: Support local Businesses
Authors: Ben Parker & Matt Varughese
Project OKforOK stands for “Oklahomans for Oklahoma” and was, in fact, inspired by the Support Columbus Eats project. No-code enthusiasts Ben Parker and Matt Varughese decided to put together a website with a similar purpose to support local businesses in Oklahoma City.
What makes their project unique is that they used Webflow, a no-code/low-code website builder and hosting service. And, thanks to a popular Webflow feature, they made their website structure cloneable for free. This means that anyone wanting to launch a similar website for their community, can simply clone the structural design, upload business data and go!
You can learn more about the project in the MakePad interview with the two creators:
Swiss Red Cross
Format: Web Chatbot
Aim: Volunteer Recruitment
Author: Non-profit organization
When the crisis hit, the Red Cross in Switzerland found themselves in a huge need for volunteers. They needed a quick but also friendly solution which would result in a maximum number of conversions (AKA successful volunteers).The screening process requires answering quite a few vetting questions. Therefore, they decided to go with a chatbot using Landbot builder.
In their own words: “We were able to set up, translate and put the service into production extremely quickly and that alone was an advantage. Within a week we’ve already got 500 volunteers who want to help the most vulnerable people in Switzerland in the fight against Coronavirus”.
“PotravinyOnline” eCommerce by SpicyBrown
Tools: Wix and (later) UPGates
Format: eCommerce website
Aim: New Business Strategy
Author: SpicyBrown Event Agency
SpicyBrown is an event agency based in Slovakia. It’s needless to say that when the COVID-19 regulations came into action, the agency was in an extremely dire situation.With all employees on standby and the end date of quarantine nowhere in sight, they needed a solution, fast. Being an event agency, they decided to take advantage of their storage spaces, transport vans and good relationships with food suppliers to temporarily rebrand and open an online Supermarket.
To do that, they needed a website...Zuzana Danechová, head of events & marketing at SpicyBrown, summed it up: “We knew that in a situation such as this one time is of the essence. We needed to launch the online store immediately. We didn’t have time to wait for already overloaded developers busy helping out established e-shops, to be available, so we decided to use a no-code platform. Our original prognosis for completing a customized e-shop was 2 weeks. However, we were able to do it in 3 days.”
Thanks to Wix, cloud-based no-code web development services, they were able to launch their eCommerce incredibly fast, taking only 3 days from the idea to launch! Later, to enable more payment methods, they switched to an eCommerce-only focused platform UPGates.
Format: Web Chatbot & WhatsApp
Aim: Mental health support
Authors: Team of Entrepreneurs from Demium Startups, Valencia
With so people confined at home, many facing unemployment and financial insecurity, the necessity for mental health support has never been greater.
A group of entrepreneurs from Valencian startup incubator Demium decided to create a tool that can help people in need of mental support. A tool to put them in touch with professionals from the safety of their homes and for free. The project is called Mindhope.
To make the service accessible and convenient, they created a web chatbot (with Landbot) which swiftly collects personal data as well as basic information about users' mental state. After the user confirms to be interested in a session with a mental health professional, the bot initiates a WhatsApp opt-in process. The registration takes only around 2 minutes.
The patient will receive a notification via WhatsApp about their appointment and will be contacted by the mental health specialist using that same channel.
Thanks to the no-code builder, these entrepreneurs were able to put together a website chatbot and integrate it with the most popular messaging app in Spain in a matter of days. Thus, providing help to those who struggle as quickly as possible from the convenience of their homes.
In a Nutshell
During the time of crisis, the no-code movement made its way into the spotlight.
Once it’s all over, some things will go back to normal. Nevertheless, no-code platforms and tools are unlikely to retreat into the shadows. Entrepreneurs, business and governmental organizations will remember that they were able to build websites, chatbots, mobile apps... They won’t forget they were able to combine and analyze data and communicate with them in a friendly manner… businesses, even the smallest ones, will never go back offline.
Check out Forbes' list of no-code tools offering their service for free those in need or those trying to make a difference. We might not be on the list but Landbot is also offering a helping hand as well.
P.S.: If you are not helping to fight the Coronavirus but would still like to build a bot for the web, WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger without coding, start your free trial today!