No-Code Clones - The Good, The Bad and The Woolly

No-Code Clones - The Good, The Bad and The Woolly

Simon Jenner

Tuesday, 3 March 2020

No-Code allows us to clone existing websites in no time. The positive and negative implications are worth exploring.

Posted in:


I’ve seen enough sci-fi to know that cloning never ends well. Look at Jurassic Park, The Red Skull or Mini-me. Apparently even Dolly the Sheep could be a bit of a prima-donna from time to time. So, knowing how evil clones can become its quite scary how often No-code briefs start with “Can you build me a clone of…”

What’s a No-Code Clone?

No-code is easy. Really easy. You can develop a simple web-app from a template in a matter of hours and launch it to the general public. Platforms like our favourite pals provide a visual development tool that integrates the hosting, front end and workflows in one package. That means that building an application is about as complicated as writing a spreadsheet to track your expenses. 

It’s quite a common brag from no-coders that they managed to build a Twitter/AirBnb/Instagram clone in [insert remarkably short amount of time here]. Often the results are indistinguishable from the original. This is headline grabbing stuff and the implications are far reaching. 

Wow? Right?

Yep. It makes it easy for agencies like Million Labs to begin any project. You want to build messaging into your application? Sure, shall we copy WhatsApp for you? It’s great short-hand that helps us to shortcut detailed specification documents. 

It also means that we can stand on the shoulders of giants. You want a Facebook clone that also allows you to book taxis like Uber? That’ll take us no time to knock up. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. Got an even better idea? Great! Let’s borrow all the foundations like user sign up, messaging, navigation etc and add your idea on top. We’ll have it built in a “Reverse-Flash” (a reference for all you Barry Allen fans there). 

For the development of an MVP or for businesses who want to overcome internal challenges we look like speedy development ninjas. We can crib from the world wide web of everything invented before to deliver applications in no time. So it’s all happy jolly joy joy right? 

The Evil Clone

Here’s the thing. I taught my thirteen year old daughter to build apps in a day. She’s now delivering school projects as functioning applications rather than presentations (making her IT teacher green faced with jealousy). If she can do it… so can criminals. 

If I can clone Facebook I can clone Paypal, Revolut, HSBC anything. What’s more I can probably learn to do that in a matter of days for zero investment. 

“Pah! What’s new?” I hear you say! 

Crime, like any other business enterprise, has its own cost of entry. Sure a good web designer and developer could build a reasonable clone of a bank previously but it took time, money and a fair amount of skill. Now spotty teenagers can do it during their lunch break. It’s as easy as pranking the headmaster by filling his office with blown up Johnnies (actually easier - I’m asthmatic). 

When the cost of entry falls for legitimate business it falls for crime too. Sure building in No-Code means building on a platform that can be policed, but as applications proliferate in any ecosystem policing them will become far harder (see YouTube and Facebook trying to remove abusive content). 

When lovely Dicky Attenborough built his theme park full of dinosaurs he dreamt of a better outcome than Martin Ferrero being eaten by a Tyrannosaurus Rex, toilet and all. So I worry that one day I’m going to find my daughter and her friends giggling as they rip off gamblers through an 888 clone. 

All I’ll be able to say is “Clever Girl…” 

Launch Your Startup Fast and Affordably! Our no-code approach is perfect for non-tech founders. With a simple 3-step process: START, LAUNCH, GROW, join over 1400 startups we've successfully launched. Start your journey today!