I spend a lot of time on Twitter – too much really. Most of it is spent interacting with no-code folks, answering questions about Airtable, Zapier, Parabola, Memberstack and Webflow (the Ben Tossell stack
as I’m calling it – will keep that topic for for another day!). My boss thinks I’m an influencer, I see it more as support for makers (people I like interacting with!). Maybe it’s both, I don’t really care, I definitely enjoy answering so keep em’ coming.
When I’m not
on twitter though, I’m helping regular people trying to integrate “no-code” into their workflows. I put no-code between quotes not because I wish we had named our space of the internet differently
but because how most people use no-code
is not how we use no-code
. No-code as a term (even more so the movement) is completely foreign to them. What they care about is their day-to-day: being more efficient, less work to manage work. It’s through those conversations that I realized there’s really two worlds to no-code: makers
(on twitter) and what I’ll call everyone else
, for lack of better terms for both.
Most of the mentions I see on my twitter from makers are around understanding what’s possible. Questions center around features and functionality: Airtable vs other tools
, when to use Integromat vs Parabola vs Zapier
and many other DMs I haven’t yet made public. Mostly solo makers or small teams trying to go from A to B as quickly as possible, pushing the boundaries. Everyone on the team is onboard, adding new tools or new functionality is frictionless.
That’s definitely not what I see outside of twitter, when everyone else reaches out. Discussions usually starts (via email) with a champion that falls in love with a tool (or a set of tools). They’re usually not power users of the stack they’ve adopted but can already see that it’s head and shoulders above their current way of working. They use, maybe, 10% of its functionality? When I come onboard as an “expert” the discussions do touch around the tool themselves but the bulk of it centers around change management. For that champion it’s so obvious that whatever they’ve stitched together is better than what they have but how do they make that obvious to everyone else? How do they train their team on this new process and tool stack? Doing their job is hard enough, now they have to convince a group to change how they work (and convince IT, security, finance etc)? That sounds terrifying and exhausting.
In thinking about this, I was reminded of Camille Esposito’s talk about bringing Webflow to Getaround
which I think encapsulates this dichotomy quite elegantly. She wanted to increase the speed with which the marketing team could make changes to their website by migrating it from custom development to Webflow. To any visual developer (including her!) this seems like a no-brainer.
Of course your website should be built on Webflow!
To everyone else
, it’s not that clear. It’s about getting multiple teams –including developers
– onboard to that change. Convincing them that the marketing team reclaiming the website isn’t going to have surprises down the line! Notice how little of the talk centers around “is Webflow the right tool” but instead around “here’s why Webflow is good for us and you”. It’s not a 5 minute conversation either, but one that involved multiple meetings and many teams! Dealing with change, getting people onboard, understanding their worries and making sure those fears are considered and alleviated.
What I’m getting at here is that both of these worlds are crucial for visual developers. It’s obvious important to know the tools in and out. This is where a lot of our world, on twitter, youtube and elsewhere, focuses on. It’s necessary but not sufficient. What is even more important is helping your champions manage change. This is, I’m learning, much much more difficult than just knowing the tools. It requires empathy, deep understanding of their challenges and being their champion.
Anyone can learn the Webflow
, Memberstack, Zapier stack (thanks Makerpad
) but what will differentiate the great visual developers from the pack is those that can help others get over their fear of change.