The inaugural No Code Conference burst into 2019 at a perfect moment. We've been on the cusp of a new movement in digital ideation and creation for the past couple of years and Webflow's event marks a definitive moment in the sands of our industry: no code tools and methods are all around us, have always been, and embracing new no code innovations will only give more creators more opportunities.
The biggest take away for me — someone who has been using Webflow since 2014, giddily celebrating every new feature they've consistently added to their platform month after month after month — was that Webflow is no more just another “visual web builder”, limited by its very no code-ness. Webflow has grown up substantially in this year alone — releasing a serious e-commerce contender that wipes Shopify and Squarespace off the playing field when it comes to customizability.
In the core workshops on the first day — as well as in the aside lightening talks between the main keynotes on the second day — people showed how complex, dynamic, and visually precise you can get with Webflow thanks to a bevy of integrations (like Parabola, Zapier, and Airtable) and the usage of new platform features.
One particular instance, was how a single creator, Connor Finlayson, nearly all on his own and with little experience in the matter, created a creative freelancer job service using Webflow (the front-end), Zapier (for automation), Airtable (for the database), and MemberStack (for the payment portal). All virtually without any code, much less experience with back-end programming: Unicorn Factory.
And it was precisely this creator drive that Vlad Magdelin, the CEO and founder of Webflow, talked about with his opening keynote on the second day. Only 0.3% of the world's population know how to write code. Can we all just take a moment to realize just how incredibly limiting that is? Now, imagine if we broke down the barriers for digital creation, allowing those who don't know code to create and build? Tools, services, ideas, products, and so much more would stop being transient thoughts or dreams that die before they are built.
Refreshingly, what was pervasive throughout everyone's discussions was that developers will always be needed, in fact several keynote speakers gave numbers praying for more developers. This isn't the death of specialization, rather, it is the evolution of it! It is breaking down those barriers that stop us from making our dreams a reality, helping the less fortunate and underfunded, and giving developers the time and space to focus on building more and better tools.
Here's a list of the Youtube links (timestamped) of the recordings from the second day keynotes that might be of interest:
- Vlad Magdelin's opening keynote.
- Nashilu Mouen-Makoua, Investor at First Round Capital, talked about the evolution of esoteric tools into highly accessible ones (i.e. code-heavy to no code).
- Al Chen, Solutions Architect at Coda, had another great talk about the evolution of no code in everyday programs we use, specifically concerning spreadsheets.
- Harald Kirschner, Product Manager of Firefox Developer Experience at Mozilla, demoed new and upcoming no code debugging tools for Firefox.
- Ivan Paudice, Head of Product Design at Pushapp, had a really great talk on why no code is a better tactic for strategic ideation and making an idea into a real product at a much lower risk.
For those of us that are more interested in the security and technical setup behind all of this, Bryant Chou, CTO and co-founder of Webflow, gave an exceptional closing keynote on Webflow's tech stack: proving that no one should be paying huge piles of cash for server maintenance and security. You can see his keynote at this timestamp.
What is definitive coming out of the first No Code Conference is that this isn’t a new movement but merely another evolutionary step to putting what before the how in our industry. Until I catch you at next year’s conference, here is the Google Slides presentation I presented at No Code Conf 2019.