From front-end to no-code

2nd of May 2020

I recently re-did my portfolio, yes the one you are looking at and for the average user it looks like an average portfolio website but it's actually a little different. Here's why and how I ended up using a no-code application to build my portfolio.

Okay so you can code or not?

The short answer; yes. I did graduate in digital design & development (Devine) which means I used to be a 50% designer and a 50% developer. A great combination in my opinion, companies are looking to hire designers who can code or coders who know how to design a webpage. Although I can code, it's mostly front-end code so HTML, CSS and vanilla Javascript. I did take classes in back-end development such as PHP and was also exposed to no-sql applications through react.js.

Now where I want to go with this is the following; coding is fun, maintaining code is not. If you write your own code you don't do this in the browser, you do this in an application like atom, visual studio code, ... If you write your own code you also rely a lot on your terminal and npm packages to automate workflows or just make your life a little easier. There's packages to automatically lint your code, compile it into a different language, automatically refresh your browser, ... The list goes on and all of these things you can do with just one line in your terminal. This is bringing me to my next point...

The terminal and npm

Getting the hang of using your terminal isn't too difficult and most of the answers to your questions are online. It might be a little scary to new users but don't worry about it too much, you won't break your computer (well not instantly I guess).

As I talked about before, developers use a lot of npm packages to automate all kinds of tasks. Just like the apps you use from day to day these packages are made by people. But unlike the apps you use from day to day these people usually do this in their free time and share their package with the world for as long as they like. And just like the apps you use from day to day these packages sometimes need updates and if you don't update your package things start to break.

This is my main issue, packages you used for a while now are not updated or maintained anymore and start becoming security issues. From here on it just get's even more complicated, you have to start scouting the web for a package that might do what you want. You need to install it, add it to your workflow, test it and then see if it does exactly what you want it to do. If not you can start your journey of package-hunting once again.

My journey into no-code

As I started working as a full-time digital product designer I stopped writing code for myself mostly. I was focussed more on the UX and UI part of (web)applications rather than the technical side of things. The main advantage I had in being able to code here is that I know what's easily built and what will require a developer a lot of work.

My first no-code experience was Wordpress and let's just say I didn't like it, it's slow and you need a 3rd party visual builder if you don't want to code. There just had to be a better way to build websites and one of my colleagues pointed me in the direction of Webflow. He hadn't used it yet himself but it looked promising on the website.

For some reason I can't "play around" with software or tools, I'll get bored and either call it good or bad without actually going into depth. If I want to test something I need to do it with a goal and for my journey into webflow that was my parens' business website. I designed it in Sketch and after watching a couple tutorials felt confident enough to put it into Webflow. The result was magnificent, I got the freedom of code in a visual builder without any limitations. To this day my parents' business website is still running Webflow and I have built four others in it.

Reflection

I am glad I took a journey into no-code and I will certainly write about it more in the future. If you have any questions about no-code or about this article in general feel free to reach out to me.