When No-Code backfires
And how these creator tools limit our creative freedom
👋 Hello! I'm Nate Kadlac, and this is #65 of Plan Your Next. It’s a newsletter that connects design, creativity, and how you prepare for your next thing. If you’re one of the 6 new subscribers, welcome!
Good morning from Los Olivos, California!
This weekend, Alie and I took our 8-week old daughter on our first road trip to the central coast of California, which happens to be the closest version of wine country we could find.
Along the way, I texted back and forth between a friend who is taking my design workshop next weekend to better define his own visual style. He mentioned how fashion plays a large part in defining his visual taste. He has been pulling images of camo hoodies, Y-3 minimalist Japanese kicks, surfing, and other things he finds inspiring.
It’s a process that takes some time to work through, but will exist as a foundation for all his future design decision-making.
It’s been interesting to watch the process unfold from his perspective as he uncovers new colors, textures, and potential typefaces.
But once you have a visual starting point, where do you go from there?
In many cases, you find yourself looking for ways to implement this new understanding of your further distilled visual taste in your life.
In the real world, it could affect how you bring more into your life. The clothes you buy, the design of your living space, the objects you might sprinkle around your home.
And it could affect what you get rid of, with your new discerning taste.
When you’re able to articulate and understand with confidence how you define your unique aesthetic, you become more intentional about your ability to recreate it.
The problem with No-Code
I wrote why minimalism is boring because when I look around the web, I feel frustrated when I see people not being able to express themselves fully.
The crutch is to go with the least offensive choice, which is usually the black and white option you’ll find in most No-Code tools. The minimalist template is often a choice made from design exhaustion.
I can’t help it, it’s the designer in me who wants everyone to be able to have the confidence to fully express themselves fully, and find subtle ways to show that off.
The advent of No-Code tools has brought enormous autonomy to creators who were held back by the inability to actually do the complicated work of coding.
The speed of being able to stand up a website or product with any of these services is unimaginable just 10-15 years ago.
Creating an Airbnb clone with No-Code can be cobbled together with just a few tools. Setting up a Shopify store to sell your new product can be done in an afternoon. Making an account on Ghost for your blog/newsletter/membership can take mere minutes to throw together. Selling a PDF on Gumroad takes seconds to start accepting payments from around the world. Hosting your website based on a Notion document is child’s play. Creating a newsletter on Substack is possible just by squinting through one eyelid with the other eye closed.
When software enables a profitable hustle for creators who don’t code, making design decisions is done by choosing a typeface from a dropdown, selecting a color from a pre-determined palette, and a 300x300 optional logo to complete “brand” the experience.
What you end up with are thousands of Shopify websites with the same visual experience whether you’re selling baby bottles or leather jackets.
Thousands of Substack newsletters requiring nothing more than modifying 2-3 settings.
Gumroad pages that all look the same unless you upload a few custom graphics.
While No-Code tools become more commonplace, the internet looks more like a sterilized database.
🎨 Approachable Design enrollment closes Tuesday, June 22nd at 11:59 PM EST.
Even if you’re not a designer, you can create a confident design system from which you make all your design decisions. In just two days, I teach you how in my workshop Approachable Design.
Based on this workshop, I worked with a phenomenal writer to explore her own underlying aesthetic. In this video, Charlie shares how it gave her the confidence to work with a photographer she recently hired.
👋 See you next Sunday
Have a great week,