No code? No problem: How museums can use no-code methods for speed, efficiency and reduced costs.


No-code tools and platforms help make it possible for museums & cultural organizations to keep up with the need for rapid digitization and innovation. This paper looks at the incredible potential that no-code tools can bring to Museums, especially for smaller institutions without dedicated developers on staff. It provides a background of no-code methods, presents example use cases, and explores some of the options for tools that may be relevant to Museum projects.


No-code methods are revolutionizing the world of web and app development. Every day new tools are emerging that make it easier and faster for programmers and non-programmers alike to create digital products. The business world, led by innovative startups, has jumped on board with using no-code methods. However, museums seem to have a slower rate of adoption and a reluctance to take the plunge into using these emerging tools.

No-code solutions have a wide range of practical applications for Museums. They can be used to create any type of website or app for external use, as well as to automate workflows and develop dashboards for internal use. This paper will focus more on the external applications while also discussing some use cases for internal applications that could be beneficial for Museums, with the goal of evaluating the feasibility of implementing these tools and methods within an organization.

A 2020 survey from the Knight Foundation and HG&Co found that 43% of art museums had either no dedicated digital staff or the digital department was represented by a single individual. Additionally, the survey noted that digital projects are often siloed, with only 7% reporting that their projects are driven by cross-functional groups (Knight Foundation, 2020). While there are many opportunities to address these issues through leadership support and staffing, there is also a case to be made that adaptable, versatile tools that do not require knowledge of coding can help institutions reverse these trends and build more cross-functional digital capacity.

Museums have a need to be more nimble and innovative than ever before. To stay competitive and relevant, they are often tasked with developing new platforms and services that meet the needs of their patrons while remaining cost-effective. No-code methods can make this possible. This paper will help cut through the noise and marketing hype to explore what no-code is and how it could impact a museum’s work.

What is no-code?

“No code is not a category itself, but rather a shift in how users interface with software tools.” (Nichols, 2020).

Web and app developers use tools and programming languages with varying levels of abstraction to achieve better code readability and expedite processes. No-code tools are simply a higher level of abstraction that can simplify and accelerate processes even further. As the name implies, no-code is a tool that enables anyone to create digital applications without the need for hand coding. It is a broad term that encompasses the development of mobile apps, websites, e-commerce platforms, voice, automation and much more. By removing the need to know coding languages and frameworks, no-code methods allow organizations to create new experiences for their visitors without investing in hiring developers or outsourcing digital work. With no-code, businesses can quickly and easily create the needed applications to meet their goals.

In place of working with a code editor, most no-code tools work with a graphical user interface (GUI), and many utilize intuitive features like drag-and-drop. The user engages with an intuitive, simple UI, leaving the code nearly invisible and behind the scenes. The codebase is regularly updated with most tools to meet current web standards and is flexible and scalable for various projects. The development stage can often become a bottleneck or barrier to museums launching new digital initiatives. However, the emergence of both low-code and no-code applications can help break through these hurdles. These tools are a force multiplier, providing maximum output with minimum input, freeing up time, energy and attention to focus on other tasks.

Origins of no-code

Twenty years ago, when many museums were still establishing a presence on the internet, a great deal of technical work was required to make content updates to a website. In 2003, WordPress changed all that when it launched along with several other popular content management systems. Over time, they released plugins and themes that significantly reduced the need to interact with code and could be categorized as an early no-code (or—depending on your definition—low-code) platform. Now, around 43% of websites on the internet are running on WordPress (Figure 1).

[caption id="attachment_13560" align="alignnone" width="900"]A line chart showing an increasing line for WordPress hosted sites, a decreasing line for sites not using CMS, and several stable lines for that represent other CMS's. Figure 1: Diagram showing usage of content management systems, 2012–2023, via[/caption]

The early 2000s saw an explosion of other low-code and no-code tools, from Shopify revolutionizing the eCommerce world to Bubble becoming a significant platform for web app development. The pandemic of 2020 further accelerated the adoption of tools that required less coding due to the rapid growth in remote work, creating a need for many organizations to quickly adopt no-code tools to adjust to the changing world. One survey showed that 82% of no-code users started using the tools during the pandemic (Zapier, 2022).

Is no-code just a fad?

Over the last several years, there has been plenty of publicity surrounding low-code and no-code technologies, similar to the blockchain rush, 5G promises, and Web3 hype. While it would be easy to assume that these tools are an overhyped tech trend, there has been talk about no-code being the next big disrupter for the last decade. Nearly every major tech company now offers no-code software services, including Google Appsheet, Microsoft Power Apps and Amazon Honeycode. The no-code market is a substantial one, estimated to be worth around $25 billion last year, and is projected to double in size over the next five years (McKendrick, 2022). The industry is poised to continue developing and growing over the coming years, and the platforms are increasingly becoming more sophisticated and easier to use.

Why museums should consider no-code

Many museums do not employ a team of developers or have a substantial budget to outsource development. However, even for ones that do have developers on staff, utilizing low-code and no-code tools can be beneficial in freeing up their time and allowing for a wider pool of talent from marketing, education and other departments to be assigned tasks related to developing a new project.

A recent survey of cultural institutions by One Further found that digital staff tend to be a bottleneck when producing content due to many processes needing to filter through small digital teams (One Further, 2022). These bottlenecks slow down the development process and impact an organization’s ability to innovate and meet the needs of its audience. No-code tools add a layer of standardization that is easy for anyone to learn, no matter their level of technical skills. There is a wide range of uses for museums, and just about every department could benefit from integrating these new tools, from development departments creating donor portals to operations departments using automation to streamline processes to marketing departments using no-code project management tools.

This paper will examine available tools and consider the pros and cons of implementing them within an organization. Before that, however, the following section explores a few real-world case studies that show how a museum used no-code web and app builders to develop digital projects.


Using no-code methods at Brandywine Museum of Art

The Brandywine Museum of Art is a mid-sized, regional art museum located in Chadds Ford, PA. Like many museums of this size, the Brandywine does not have any developers or engineers on staff and has a limited number of tech-oriented employees. Before the adoption of no-code tools, most digital initiatives were outsourced, severely limiting the number of digital projects that could be developed.

A kiosk app

In 2018, the Brandywine Museum of Art identified the need to engage visitors and raise awareness of the environmental work being done by the Museum’s sister organization, the Brandywine Conservancy. An easy-to-update digital kiosk was determined to be the perfect tool, and it became clear that a flexible no-code website builder would be the best option for developing the kiosk’s web app due to the limited resources allocated to the project. There were fewer tools in 2018 than there are today, and after surveying various platforms, the Museum settled on Webydo due to its flexibility and affordability. There are newer and more feature-rich app-building platforms out today, but Webydo was able to accomplish what was needed at the time.

The kiosk’s web app was developed as a multi-page site focusing on various aspects of the Conservancy’s efforts to protect water and preserve land, translating the complex environmental initiatives into a visual format with short text blurbs (Figure 2). A call-to-action at the end of each page allowed visitors to register their emails for more information. The Brandywine team built the registration form using another no-code tool, Wufoo. Wufoo is a simple form builder that integrates easily with other platforms and allows the creation of forms to collect data or files without writing any code.

[caption id="attachment_13561" align="alignnone" width="800"]An iPad displaying an app titled "Art and Nature" with text and two buttons at the bottom of the screen. Figure 2: Screenshot of the Art and Nature kiosk app.[/caption]

The tools used to build this app allowed Brandywine to efficiently iterate on many ideas, quickly test and launch, and easily make post-launch content updates without having to deal with any code. Aside from staff time, the only incurred costs were the kiosk hardware and small subscription charges for the platform and hosting. Overall, the kiosks were a huge success and were enjoyed daily by Museum visitors, especially kids and families (Figure 3).

[caption id="attachment_13562" align="alignnone" width="800"]An image on the left of a parent and child using a touchscreen kiosk and an image on the left of a small child using the same kiosk. Figure 3: Visitors use the Art and Nature Kiosk.[/caption]

An exhibition microsite

Another project that the Brandywine Museum of Art used exclusively no-code tools on was a microsite for the exhibition Votes for Women: A Visual History. This remarkable exhibition opened in February 2020, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which granted women the right to vote. Like most museums, Brandywine had to temporarily close in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which abruptly shutdown this new exhibition just a few short weeks into its run. It quickly became apparent that pivoting to a digital offering was needed in order to engage the Museum’s audience at home and enable them to virtually experience this landmark exhibition.

[caption id="attachment_13563" align="alignnone" width="800"]Mock-up of a webpage on 3 devices: an Apple desktop display, iPad, and iPhone. Figure 4. Screenshot of Votes for Women exhibition microsite.[/caption]

There was almost no budget and a timeline of only 2–3 weeks to get something launched, so it made sense to turn to another no-code website builder called Readymag. As a visual tool for creating online publications, Readymag could easily translate the look and feel of the physical exhibition onto a series of web pages. Within a few days, Brandywine staff filmed videos, gathered photos of the objects and adapted the wall text for web use. In record time and at minimal cost, the Museum launched the exhibition microsite so that its audience could tour the Votes for Women exhibition from their homes (Figure 4). In this instance, no-code software was a lifesaver. Building the exhibition website on Drupal, the Museum’s main website platform, would have taken months and incurred high costs from using outside developers.

[caption id="attachment_13565" align="alignnone" width="800"]Screenshot of a web-based editor. Figure 5: Readymag editor screen.[/caption]

A digital guide

The no-code tool Readymag also came in handy when the Brandywine Museum of Art recently needed to make an accessible digital guide for an exhibition. This guide is another example of a quick digital project that used repurposed content and had minimal staff resources and budget available to produce. The guide accompanied Brandywine’s 2022 exhibition Fragile Earth, The Naturalist in Contemporary Art. The installation of the artwork in Fragile Earth was complex and utilized a printed field guide instead of traditional wall labels to guide the viewer through the exhibition (Figure 5). When Brandywine learned that some of the audience preferred a digital version of the guide to view on their phones as they navigated the gallery, it used what was learned from the Votes for Women website to spin up another no-code site quickly. This digital guide involved reusing previously developed text and images in the blank Readymag canvas, applying custom graphic styles, and adding light boxes for label text. Building the digital guide using no-code tools took only a few days instead of the weeks or months it would have taken to hand-code it.

[caption id="attachment_13566" align="alignnone" width="301"]An image of an iPhone with an example screen from a digital guide displaying artwork and captions. Figure 6: Digital field guide for the exhibition Fragile Earth.[/caption]

A survey of no-code platforms


Beyond the examples of Readymag and Webydo that were used in the projects above, there are numerous no-code tools to develop websites, from WordPress to Webflow to Wix’s Editor X (and many more that don’t start with a “W”). Framer is a top-notch website builder with a very intuitive interface that feels like developing within a design tool like Figma. Carrd is a very easy-to-use app and is an excellent option for building simple landing pages with limited features.

Mobile Apps

The ability to prototype, build, launch and host mobile apps is all possible with a variety of no-code software. There has been a recent explosion of growth in this area, and it still feels like the early days for no-code mobile app platforms. Bubble is probably the most popular of these platforms and is essentially a blank canvas for building any type of app. It is a full-stack platform with no need for coding and has a large community around it and many tutorials available. Another well-known app builder with many resources and tutorials available is Glide. For designers already working in Adobe XD or Figma, Bravo is a no-code platform that connects those design files with various backend options. For beginners, Softr is a platform with a clean interface and is a great place to test out no-code development.

Project Management

Beyond the obvious choices of Google Sheets or Trello, many no-code tools can be used to track and manage projects. Airtable is a powerful and scalable spreadsheet tool widely adopted by organizations of all sizes. It is an easy-to-use platform for creating and sharing relational databases without knowing SQL. Notion is another good option with countless use cases varying from very simple to complex. Notion markets itself as an all-in-one workspace to write, plan, collaborate and organize. It is far more than a note-taking app, though, and allows for custom workflows thanks to an active community that makes it easy to get started with templates and other resources.


Integration & automation apps can help any organization work faster and more efficiently in various ways. There are many apps that use intuitive, visual workflow builders to connect two or more data sources, the most notable being Zapier. Another popular no-code app for general automation is IFTTT. There are also specialized tools available, one of which is Checkbox, an app that can help an organization streamline hiring and onboarding or create self-service knowledge bases.


Marketing is a department that needs to be agile and move fast. No-code tools can help speed up projects and campaigns by lessening the Marketing team’s dependence on IT staff or external developers. Many no-code tools were built specifically with marketing functions in mind, an area in which these platforms often excel. Most museum marketing teams are already using some of the popular no-code tools like Mailchimp and ConvertKit. However, there is an abundance of other solutions to explore. Hubspot is another popular platform that many museums already use, and it is worth considering for its breadth as an all-in-one marketing no-code tool. Marketers would also appreciate the drag-and-drop analytics and robust integrations of the no-code tool Databox for creating dashboards.

Form building

Form builders can gather user information, surveys, quizzes or even process payments. Aside from Wufoo, which was mentioned earlier, Typeform is a highly-rated, flexible tool that integrates well with other platforms. Tally is another simple no-code form builder that has a robust free plan.


A less obvious use-case for no-code software, but one that could be useful for museums is creating audience portals to connect with visitors, members and donors. These portals can be accomplished with app builders like Bubble and Softr, but there are also more dedicated tools for this use. Stacker is one such tool that has limited functionality compared to other apps but is specifically geared toward creating self-service portals with powerful integrations.

The list above is just a starting point, and with new platforms coming out each day and integrating new features like AI, we expect the marketplace for no-code tools to continue to evolve rapidly. It is also worth noting that many of these products offer non-profit and educational discounts for qualifying organizations.

The benefits and drawbacks of using no-code

The benefits

Helps build and launch projects faster

No-code allows organizations to turn projects around in a fraction of the time it would take with traditional development. The tools allow for fast workflows and agile processes, empowering a team to spin up a new website or app quickly and easily. Additionally, no-code automation apps like Zapier can speed up processes with its many integrations.

Democratizes development

The accessibility and transparency of no-code platforms can bridge communication gaps between departments by empowering non-technical employees to self-serve many needs to add features or fix issues. For museums that employ few or no developers, this will help widen the pool of employees that can be involved with digital projects. Using no-code platforms can lead to better cross-departmental collaboration for larger museums with in-house developers and engineers. It can also allow technical staff to spend more time on high-value work and less working on common functionalities.

Promotes Innovation

No-code environments allow for fast prototypes and rapid experimentation, which results in more innovation. The platforms can also empower frontline workers to be more directly involved in building digital products, allowing them to change a website or app—even with limited technical knowledge. This shift can empower staff who interact directly with visitors and understand them best to be hands-on with the project, allowing the user’s voice to be better reflected in the final product.

Lower overall costs

Traditional development methods can take a toll on an organization’s resources and funds. Whether hiring developers or outsourcing the work, there are also expenses involved with future legacy maintenance. With no-code development, the coding is outsourced to the platform, and there is no need to maintain legacy code. However, fully featured no-code tools are not free and generally involve subscription fees with varying plans that correspond with the size and scope of each project. The costs of using traditional development methods are typically higher than the no-code platform subscription fees.

Potential to help with shadow IT issues

It is common for organizations to deal with the problem of shadow IT, which is when staff use technology systems and software without IT department knowledge or approval. Shadow IT is a serious problem that can introduce security risks for any organization. One of the main reasons employees engage in shadow IT is simply the need to work more efficiently. Properly vetting and using predefined no-code tools provides an opportunity for organizations to empower all employees to engage with digital platforms that can increase organizational efficiency and lessen the need for employees to turn to unauthorized systems.

The drawbacks

Security that is less transparent

While no-code applications are generally safe, they lack the level of control that custom software development offers. Additionally, if the software gets hacked, the organization will be at the mercy of its developers to sort it out. Lack of transparent security is less of an issue for simple applications that are limited in complexity. On the flip side, it may be helpful to have the security outsourced for smaller organizations that do not have the means to maintain security patches.

Limited ability to customize solutions

Some no-code solutions provide robust features and act as a blank canvas for creativity; others may rely on rigid templates and have more design limitations. However, using an off-the-shelf solution for a project will always be more limiting than custom development. A visual editor may be more intuitive to use, but it lacks the level of control that a code editor has. There are also the inevitable edge cases where workarounds and plugins may be needed to build a planned feature.

Scalability could be an issue

Most no-code applications work on a subscription model, which can be a potential issue when considering future scalability. The proprietary software requires subscriptions or licenses, and unfortunately, there are currently limited no-code options that are open-source. It is worth spending time early in the process evaluating whether the selected platform will keep pace with future plans to scale.

Questions about long-term use

Other questions arise when considering the future needs to migrate to or integrate with a new platform. Pre-built applications will always have interconnected code that could be difficult to deal with when migrating. Organizations may also find modifying the out-of-the-box functionality of a no-code solution to be challenging as business needs change. The no-code vendor could be the biggest bottleneck for enhancing an application if they are slow to integrate the latest features into their platform.

Learn more about no-code

With the recent proliferation of no-code tools, many resources are available online to learn more about them. is a comprehensive platform with no-code tutorials, explainers and courses. Makerpad is another excellent resource for learning about the variety of existing tools and is an example of a site made using only no-code methods. Another website that is full of tutorials and information on no-code tools is Code or No Code. Apps Without Code is an online school run by Tara Reed, who helped popularize no-code app development. The school is geared more toward entrepreneurs, but their YouTube and other channels have information that any industry can use.


“It is essential to have good tools, but it is also essential that the tools should be used in the right way.” –Wallace D. Wattles, author

The best place for any organization to begin using no-code tools is in prototyping and proof of concept work and expand into other workflows as it makes sense. A 2021 article in the Harvard Business Review by Chris Johannessen and Thomas H. Davenport recommends using a hybrid no-code development model in which non-technical staff develop 80% and then hand it off to the developer for polishing and to connect it to any needed data or transactional system (Johannessen & Davenport, 2021). As with any new software used throughout an organization, the web and IT teams should be involved early on, record that it exists and establish proper oversight. 

No-code is not just marketing hype—it is a valuable framework that is here to stay. Organizations can find many ways to leverage the tools to support their mission and connect with their audiences by building everything from websites and apps, donation and event forms, project and grant management systems, or visitor and donor databases. While no-code methods are not a magic bullet for digital solutions, they can still be useful to museums, empowering organizations with limited resources—including time, staff and money—to be able to compete and stay current with ever-changing digital needs.


One Further. (2022). The Cultural Content Report 2022. Consulted February 2023.

Johannessen, C., & Davenport, T. (2021). When low-code/no-code development works – and when it doesn’t. Harvard Business Review. Consulted February 2023.

Knight Foundation. (2020). Digital Readiness And Innovation in Museums. Consulted February 2023.

McKendrick, J. (2022). Low-code, no-code market keeps growing, and that means shifts in technology roles. ZDNET. Consulted February 2023.

Nichols, A., & Wedler, J. (2020). ‘No code’ will define the next generation of software. TechCrunch. Consulted February 2023.

Zapier Editorial Team. (2022). Zapier Data Report: The rise of no-code. Zapier. Consulted February 2023.

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