Leapfrogging Coding

Leapfrogging Coding

Who belongs in Tech?

Feb 14, 2024

Illustration by Neema Iyer

Is coding holding us back?

For the past year, I’ve been toying around with a number of no-code tools, and I have been blown away by what can be built without a solid knowledge of coding. From tools like Bubble, Softr and Glide to Framer and Webflow and more niche applications like TuesdayJS. The ease of use, the beautiful UI and the speed to publish have all been very impressive! 

This has me wondering: how many entrepreneurs, creators, builders, are held back due to their perceived lack of coding? I found myself in the same trap a few years ago, tried to pick up coding (once again!) and then abandoned the endeavour until I stumbled upon Bubble and could build exactly what I had in mind in a matter of weeks. 

Who gets to be a techie?

Digging deeper, in conversations I’ve had over the past few months, not only does a perceived lack of knowledge of coding hinder the development of innovative ideas, it also seems to define who gets to be called a technologist. I’ve spoken to many women who have built incredible platforms who don’t see themselves as techies - rather just tinkerers. One woman I spoke to from Trinidad said that she conceptualised techies as white men in Silicon Valley, and that just wasn’t her. 

In this piece below, I want to explore the pros and cons of no-code through the lens of who gets to be a self-described techie (or not).

First of all, are technologists and techies interchangeable? 

Not unlike my colleague above, I’m sure we all have a certain image in our mind when we think of the word ‘techie’. For me, it’s male, wealthy, grey-tone clothes, plonking away at a computer somewhere far flung from me - creating software aimed at controlling my choice of music, TV, books and purchases through nifty algorithms. Techie is a colloquial word that flattens professionalism, experience and enthusiasm into one broad term that others whoever the word is targeted at, whether out of awe, contempt or confusion. It seems to be a word that many people would rather not be identified by.

Technologist, on the other hand, speaks to someone who is professionally engaged in a specific technological field. This term encompasses a wide array of roles, including scientists, engineers, software developers, as well as those who theorise, critique, and write about technology's impact on society. And both should likely not be confused with technicians, who are more focused on the practical application and maintenance of existing technologies with more technical tasks such as repairs and maintenance.

While this blog post is mainly concerned with information technology, I also want to touch upon the fact that viewing technology through such a narrow lens is also problematic. Marc Andreessen wrote in his famous piece, Why Software is Eating the World, “all of the technology required to transform industries through software finally works and can be widely delivered at global scale.” Indeed, software computing is prevalent in almost all fields from agriculture to oil and gas to finance to culture and so on. There are critical elements in infrastructure, healthcare, environmental conservation, and materials science, among others, where the tangible intersects with the digital, demanding solutions that software alone cannot provide. Beyond the realm of code, technology encompasses hardware innovation, biotechnology, nanotechnology, and renewable energy technologies, for example, which are crucial for addressing global challenges like climate change and health crises.

Let’s circle back to no-code.

In the early stages of IT, the process of software creation was laborious, time-consuming and resource intensive, often necessitating extensive periods of development to achieve functionality. However, over time, it has become easier to build digital products that are as aesthetically appealing as they are technologically sophisticated.

I find no-code to be a truly feminist movement, but I’ll get into that in a different blog post. First, I want to touch upon why we’ve needed a no-code revolution for a long time and why it’s important for more people to become more aware of developments in the no-code ecosystem.

The traditional coding landscape is riddled with challenges that both stifle innovation and inclusivity:

  1. Gender Bias: The tech industry is notoriously male-dominated, with women significantly underrepresented in coding and software development roles. This gender imbalance not only perpetuates stereotypes but also creates environments that can be unwelcoming to women.

  2. Low-Level of Education: Access to quality education in computer science, especially more cutting-edge or newer applications, is unevenly distributed, across socio-economic status, gender, race and geography. The traditional education system often struggles to keep pace with the rapid evolution of technology, leading to a skills gap. 

  3. Few Opportunities for Out-of-School Education: Even for those with a passion for technology, the opportunities to learn outside of formal education can be limited, expensive, or both, creating barriers to entry for aspiring coders. Even with online learning and all the online resources, this can be challenging. I’ve never been able to complete a single online course that I started! 

  4. Cultural and Language Barriers: The majority of coding resources, documentation, and community support are in English, which can be a barrier for non-English speakers. 

  5. Mentorship and Role Models: The shortage of mentorship opportunities and visible role models from diverse backgrounds in technology can leave aspiring coders without guidance, inspiration, or a clear path to follow.

What is No-Code?

No-code (and low-code) platforms are wonderful tools that democratise the creation of digital products. They enable almost anyone to build websites, apps, and software without significant coding knowledge or experience. While no-code platforms are designed for users with little to no technical background by using visual development environments, it is certainly helpful to have a basic understanding of coding, especially when you want to make certain customisations. This brings us to low-code platforms which do require minimal coding, catering to users with some technical know-how but significantly speeding up the development process. You can really build some powerful applications without ever writing a single line of code! Also worth noting is that no-code is not a new development and many different iterations of no-code tools have previously existed - they’re just getting better and better with time.

I’ll quickly list some pros and cons of no-code below before landing back at how we identify who gets to be a technologist.


  • Quick Iteration and Prototyping: No-code platforms allow for rapid development and iteration, making it easier to test ideas and refine products without extensive time or financial resources. You can quickly create a Minimal Viable Product, assess market interest and then either continue to grow/scale from there (or shut down if it’s crickets).

  • Leapfrog Coding: Individuals and businesses can bypass the steep learning curve of coding, enabling them to create and innovate without being held back by the lack of technical skills.

  • Better Design/Experience: With a focus on visual development, no-code platforms often have sleek dashboards or interfaces and lead to better-designed products and user experiences.

  • Can Always Pivot to Code When Scaling: If a project outgrows the capabilities of a no-code platform, the groundwork laid can serve as a prototype for more traditional development, providing a seamless transition to coded solutions when necessary.


  • Cost: Many no-code platforms operate on a subscription basis, which can become expensive over time as well as with complexity and growing number of users. While open-source models such as Web Studio are emerging, they are not yet as prevalent.

  • Don’t Own the IP: Using a platform to build your application often means you’re working on rented land. The intellectual property rights of what you build can be murky, with significant control remaining with the platform.

  • Limited Customisation and Flexibility: No-code platforms often provide a set of pre-built components and templates, which can limit the ability to develop more tailored solutions, and this is often one of the bigger drawbacks. It’s helpful when you can turn to coding to get around some of these barriers, if the platform allows it, or when the platforms have a helpful community.

  • Security and Compliance Risks: While no-code platforms generally offer security measures, the control over security protocols is limited. For applications that require stringent security measures or need to comply with specific regulations, this can pose a risk. 

From my experience, a few other things stand out when I think of my journey with no-code. Firstly, they can be a major catalyst in closing the digital gender divide by lowering the barriers to enter the tech space, becoming an entrepreneur and making a sustainable livelihood. In terms of community and collaboration, no-code/low-code platforms often come with vibrant communities of creators, offering a collaborative environment that is not always present in traditional coding ecosystems. These communities often act as support networks, providing resources, advice, and encouragement to newcomers. 

There is also a massive ongoing and growing opportunity to provide educational opportunities in no-code in both traditional academic settings and in new modalities of educational institutions. This could also mean that there might be a shift in how coding is taught, moving towards teaching fundamental principles and logic behind digital development rather than language and syntax.

Finally, no-code can ultimately not replace the need for those with traditional coding skills. While no-code platforms make app development more accessible, there is still a high demand for skilled developers, for example to build the actual no-code platforms, so it is more of a complementary relationship rather than one of replacement. 

So, are you a technologist?

Can we simply self-identify as technologists or as techies? Or do we need the formal education, practical experience, and/or recognition by peers or industry standards to claim either title? This nuanced distinction between the two as well as who gets to be in the club invites a broader discussion about inclusivity in technology whereby we need to reevaluate how we define and value diverse perspectives and expertise, and who gets to participate in the tech narrative. Is it worthwhile to reclaim the word ‘techie’, or is it one that should get left behind?

As we navigate rapid digital advancements, it becomes increasingly clear that the boundaries traditionally drawn around the field of technology have become somewhat outdated. The act of creating, innovating, and solving problems using technology extends far beyond the confines of code. Whether you use no-code tools or think critically about the impact of technology or contribute to the tech ecosystem in any of the myriad ways, for example, trust and safety - then that would indeed mean that you are a technologist.

This democratisation of technology creation as well as the reclaiming of our role in it means that we can recognise the contributions of everyone who shapes the digital landscape. The future of technology is inclusive, diverse, and without boundaries - and so too should be our definition of those who lead it.