Have you ever felt the thrill (or fear) of launching a new product where the outcome could be anyone’s best guess? From afar, watching Elon’s SpaceX rockets blow up can be an exciting (and terrifying) display of fiery failure that costs millions of dollars. Watching your own product launch then fail isn’t nearly exciting, and hopefully there’s a lot less fire. The difference between rocket launches and releasing a new tool for your organization is that Elon doesn’t have a time machine to see if his rocket will explode, but you do (in a way). With new low-code development tools that lower the cost and time to launch paired with the right design research strategy, you have the ability to control your own fate and de-risk a multi-million dollar launch explosion (or maybe worse, cricket-chirp applause). Embracing low/no-code tools is the way Elon and other experiment-minded leaders would fast-forward their prototyping process to build their way to a successful launch. Imua Studio is a San Francisco design agency that embraces these tools to help organizations move faster towards adoption of digital tools to solve modern problems.
A former early employee of Airbnb, Eric Johnson used to work closely with engineering and IT teams to build internal tools to scale the operations of the recently IPO’d travel booking behemoth. He’s teamed up with Alexander Davies, an innovation designer and former architect to tackle complex, real-world problems with this one-two punch of an approach. Their process is a marriage of “human centered design” meets “rapid, low-code development.” The result is the execution of ideas that can be quickly vetted with real human feedback and then put into the hands of actual users in less than a week thanks to the speed of low-code tools.
Low-code/no-code platforms like Bubble.io and Webflow are a fast evolving technology that enable non-technical users to drag and drop visual elements to create screen designs for websites and apps. They can then use the same intuitive experience to create application logic to make screens interactive and dynamic with data. All these visual elements and dynamic data connect into a flexible database that also is fluid to create and update. The result can feel like an entire software engineering team’s abilities in one non-technical user's brain and fingertips. This can be leveraged to create early stage products for testing out concepts to get feedback, building a prototype for internal stakeholder buy-in, or validating experimental tools before investing millions of dollars. Elon is smiling somewhere.
I expect every innovative company will eventually have internal low-code talent alongside their traditional software and design team… it frees up valuable resources
Pairing low-code tools with best practices from the 5-day “design sprint” model pioneered by Google Ventures and drawing from research methods used by the world renown design firm, IDEO, you’ve got a powerful combination of tools at your disposal. Imua Studio uses the approach to great success and can help a group of motivated stakeholders navigate from problem to an actual prototyped solution in a week. With no-code, the result isn’t a throwaway concept, but a functional application that can be further polished to bring it to a near-production state in a few additional weeks if desired.
Applying this process to any industry or problem space is feasible thanks to the flexible nature of sprints and no-code. Imua has implemented this in applications ranging from sophisticated deep foundation drilling measurement tools to the design of an internal tool for quality assurance testing and risk management. When working with a client, Imua’s team of designers and developers strive to understand the users’ needs, and the business’s long-term goal so they can thread the needle that so many product design efforts miss. By developing this understanding, then working backwards from a well understood outcome, they can rapidly prototype a simple solution to the problem and land you closer to the “right product”. If after prototyping there is confidence in the solution then Imua can help take that design from prototype to production. For those looking to develop in-house low-code expertise, they also provide training to help your team learn how low-code tools prototyping can be done in-house.
As low-code platforms continue to become more popular, the company plans to help more entrepreneurs and businesses embrace them to build useful, well designed apps. “With the pace of technology today, it's too costly to move slowly—either innovate or become obsolete. I expect every innovative company will eventually have internal low-code talent alongside their traditional software and design teams. It frees up valuable resources and helps organizations build the right product faster,” says Johnson.