Modern ways of building for the web are founded on transparency, trust, and dialogue between IT, marketing, and design.
But as teams face unparalleled pressure to deliver more engaging user experiences, outdated methods of web development are holding them back.
Historically, traditional ways of building for the web — ones that hinge on technical teams — have limited business’ ability to deliver engaging, timely customer experiences. Today, however, companies have access to technology that lets their non-technical teams play more of a “developer” role.
Below, learn how modern web tools are transforming marketers and designers into citizen web developers and how visual development allows teams to quickly build, launch, and edit web experiences autonomously.
What are citizen web developers?
Citizen web developers are people without coding or technical skills who use technology and platforms to build websites and web experiences.
Learning to code is a complex, ever-evolving process. Not everyone wants to (or can) dedicate the time to learning one programming language, let alone the multiple languages they might need to build a stunning website. The low-code/no-code movement, however, has made it possible for those without formal coding skills to build applications, software, and tools with little-to-no help from engineers, hence coining the term “citizen developer.”
Today, visual development — the ability to build digital experiences in a visual canvas without writing code — has specifically opened up the practice of web development, turning non-programmers into citizen web developers. It broadens the scope of what marketers and designers can build, and it helps companies transform what their web teams look like. “We work together every single day on projects now,” said Corey Shrecengost, Content Producer at Dropbox Sign during a recent webinar.
Citizen web developers can actively build web experiences, giving them more freedom and flexibility. And in the process, they gain a deeper connection to their own websites than they would if they had to consistently rely on engineers as intermediaries.
What citizen web development means for modern businesses
Team roles and team structure are foundational to long-term success, and visual development offers today’s businesses a new model for how they operate. When marketers and designers transform into citizen web developers, they can reimagine how they approach work and the roles they play when it comes to the website. And the time engineering saves when they don’t have to focus on minor site changes and projects can be used for complex, high-impact initiatives, experimentation, and campaign and program optimization
Taking steps to reimagine what your teams look like, what they’re responsible for, and how they work together is an always-on effort — especially as technology and businesses continue to evolve. If you’re a team leader looking for ways to be more efficient, consider asking the following questions to keep challenging your processes and operations:
- How do we reduce complexity?
- How do we increase speed?
- How can we dissolve organizational silos?
- How do we center our focus on high-value projects?
Give marketing and design the freedom to create engaging, digital experiences
Citizen web developers can build and create website and web experiences using visual development tools like Webflow. With speed often serving as a core competitive differentiator, having a marketer-friendly tool helps businesses push out time-sensitive campaigns in a fraction of the time needed with traditional web development. Designers can also build their own fully-functional designs in Webflow instead of waiting for engineering to translate their Figma files into web pages.
Marketing can be more experimental and responsive
With traditional, engineering-dependent ways of building for the web, marketers have no control over how and when changes are made. But the reality is, a brand’s website is a vital marketing asset and marketers need to be able to work on it themselves.
Visual development gives marketing the autonomy to experiment, make changes, and move quickly. They can build what they need and make changes on their own timeline to quickly adjust to changing market conditions and experiment with their approach.
"I think once marketers understand the impact they can have, they're going to be much more excited to take on more of a technical role. You don't realize some of the optimizations that you can make. If you want to make big changes quickly, you have to adapt."
Building their own assets for the web allows marketers to constantly refine their approach to generate better performance and rapidly meet customer needs. They can work on SEO, create landing pages independently, and iterate as needed to determine what their audience responds to best and cater to those preferences.
Designers can bring their designs to life
Visual development also improves designers’ workflows by removing an entire step from web development. Instead of sending instructions to developers, designers can build their designs in a visual canvas. This also means designers don't need to give developers static instructions for interactive web elements. Instead, they can see how their websites will look and function. They can make sweeping changes in a single click — even after launching the site — and keep branding up-to-date.
"Webflow allowed us to design and build new pages so quickly that, when we decided to add a number of new pages close to our deadline, we were able to easily finalize them in time for launch."
Empowering designers with the right tools doesn’t mean classic developers will never be needed. Instead, it allows teams to shrink timelines, cut down on feedback loops, and reserve developer assistance for more complex projects or initiatives.
Companies can set up development guardrails
You can also put guardrails in place so less-technical folks can work on a website without the fear of breaking things. Teams can set roles and permissions that prevent less technical team members from accidentally making a change go live before it’s ready.
This level of control helped Justin Johnson, a web developer at Dropbox Sign, build an environment that his colleague, Corey – as well as the rest of the marketing team – could use to have autonomy over their work. “Devs are the ones who manage our actual publishing cadence,” said Justin, but “anything CMS-related, Corey can go ahead and build himself.”
Give your teams the power to build for the web
Web development is no longer reserved for the 0.3% of the world that can code. Instead, with the right technology in their hands, non-technical team members have the power to build and deliver web experiences on their own, allowing them to become citizen web developers. This autonomy and freedom allows business leaders to reimagine the role marketers and designers can play at their organization, freeing up precious engineering resources in the process.
For leaders looking to learn how modern ways of building for the web helps marketers and designers move quickly, build stunning digital experiences, reduce their dependency on technical teams, read our latest ebook, Reimagining web development teams.