The True Cost of Skuid Development vs. Lightning Development

Today’s innovative organizations are investing the time and money into developing custom software applications built on modern cloud-based platforms like Salesforce, AWS, Azure, etc.  As these organizations undertake digital transformations, they empower themselves to innovate, grow, and achieve outcomes more efficiently.  Yet when confronting those digital transformations, they are faced with the question of how to develop these custom software applications in the most cost-effective manner.  So we arrive at a critical question – to code or not to code?

In working with clients over the years, we have been asked many, many times about the costs/benefits of developing an application through Skuid’s no-code platform vs. undertaking a code-based project in Salesforce (i.e. Lightning).  This has always been a tricky question to answer.  Let’s compare the costs and benefits of each to understand why this is so difficult to analyze.

Skuid Development:

“With Skuid’s no-code platform, anyone can design, develop, and deploy beautiful applications that people love to use and that fit exact business needs —all without writing code.” – Skuid


  • “No-code” development (i.e. point-and-click, drag-and-drop toolkit)
  • Faster development timelines
  • Better end-user productivity
  • Less staff training
  • Better user adoption (less resistance to change)
  • Future changes are fast, easy and can be made by anyone


  • Annual subscription costs for each user accessing Skuid pages

Salesforce Lightning Development:

“From no-code builders to pro-code tools, the Lightning Platform’s enterprise services and metadata-driven, multi-tenant cloud architecture means that you can focus on what makes your business better from the competition.” – Salesforce


  • No annual subscription costs.


  • Code-based development (i.e. Apex, Visualforce, SLDS)
  • Longer development timelines
  • Less user-friendly solutions
  • More staff training
  • User resistance upon implementation
  • Future changes must be made by a high-cost developer

Analysis: Skuid Development vs. Lightning Development

As you can see, it’s hard to compare the cost differences, because you’re not comparing apples-to-apples.  Skuid comes with an annual subscription cost, and Lightning does not.

However, the costs of Lightning are hidden.  Custom code changes are hard to make and can take a long time (and a lot of money).  They must be made by a high-cost developer, and typically you’ll have to go back to the original developer that built your application.

This means there is a huge motivation for development/consulting firms to be less than forthcoming about the cost of developing and maintaining your custom software solutions through Lightning (i.e. code-based development).

Over the long-term, making changes and building upon code-based solutions can come with an endless cycle of high-cost development projects, leaving you dependent on those high-cost developer(s).

Breaking Down the True Costs of Development

To truly understand what it costs to develop your solution through Skuid versus Lightning, you would need get separate quotes, one from a Skuid developer and another from a Lightning developer.

We did just that. We requested and compared quotes for a couple of projects from two different firms.  One firm specializes in Lightning-based development, and the other in Skuid development (hint hint, that’s us).

We found that developing projects through Skuid cost 50%-75% less than developing those same projects through Lightning.  Surprisingly…those savings were gained even after paying for the full price of Skuid licenses.

Let that sink in for a minute.  Even after paying for the annual costs of Skuid licenses, the savings of going with Skuid were 50-75% less than developing a project through a code-based Lightning solution.


Also consider that Skuid provides indirect cost savings (that we could not measure in our analysis), such as greater user productivity, faster user adoption, and less staff training by developing projects through Skuid.

Don’t want to take our word for it? Click here to read the Forrester Study that explains how Skuid provides:

  • 365% ROI
  • 1 month payback period
  • 74% faster development cycles
  • 65 hours in annual time savings per user
  • 62% decrease in staff training time
  • Additional savings on maintaining legacy systems

Altogether, the average organization interviewed for this study saved millions of dollars by going with Skuid (remember, those cost savings are AFTER paying for annual subscription costs).

Yes, it’s true you can accomplish the same solutions through Skuid or Lightning, but developing custom solutions through Skuid (annual subscription + project development expenses) will still cost far less than developing, maintaining, and updating your custom solution through code.

P.S. You can have both. Now that’s a win-win.

It turns out that Skuid can run on top of Salesforce’s Lightning Platform.  That means you can build your no-code Skuid solution on top of the security and stability of Salesforce’s world-class Lightning Platform. With Skuid + Salesforce, anyone can build 100% no-code applications from the ground up.

Let’s start a conversation today to get your organization setup on Skuid + Salesforce

Help, there are too many apps!

Nonprofit Software – Choose Carefully

The right nonprofit software can improve upon many processes, including communication, record keeping, marketing, fundraising, financial reporting and more. However, choosing a software solution that can help solve cross-functional needs with a limited budget is no easy task.


“Low-Cost”, High Stakes

There are many different apps available for non-profits, and many of them are free.  Free or “low-cost” can sometimes be great, however “low-cost” software solutions can be also be their own worst enemy. They prevent the organization from gathering the specific data you need, cause workplace inefficiencies, and can be difficult to use and burdensome for staff members. Short-term thinking that is focused solely on the bottom line can lead to long-term administrative complexities.  Be aware that free or “low-cost” solutions often come with:

  • Unexpected bugs or unanticipated technical limitations, forcing staff to spend excessive amounts of time finding workarounds to technical limitations
  • Poor customer support or no customer support at all, requiring staff to spend tons of time troubleshooting issues


Real-Life Example

A small non-profit that provides after-school leadership education skills to middle and high school youth is always looking to save on costs.  The budget is tight, and when searching for a fundraising platform, the Executive Director chooses the lowest-cost solution and finds a part-time freelancer to set it up.  Fast forward a few months, and the board is complaining to the Executive Director about how antiquated their donations webpages look.  “People don’t trust giving their money to something that looks like it was built in the 90s.”  The Executive Director goes into crisis management mode, and quickly finds a platform that is sleek and intuitive. However, the new platform costs $1,000 per month.  By initially going for the cheapest option, the CEO lost trust with board members, which lead to an overreaction that put him on one of the most expensive donation platforms.

How to Choose the Right Software

You can set your organization up for long-term success by undertaking a thorough software discovery and evaluation process before selecting software.  Focusing less on up-front cost, and more on developing solutions that can meet all of your goals across multiple functions within the organization is a nonprofit’s best bet for successful long-term results and will end up saving on budget over the long-term.

How do you choose?  My advice is to work with an experienced software consultant who can help you fully understand the needs of all your users for the system, plan out a realistic budget, and assign an internal champion to oversee the implementation project. Having those pieces in place before you begin will ensure you save money, create efficiencies, and implement the most suitable solution for your organization.


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Why User Experience (UX) Design is Crucial for Non-Profits

“We spend so much time entering data into many different software systems. It takes away from the time we can spend with our clients, and it doesn’t help us improve the services we provide.”  

Sound familiar?  Sadly, this is a very common complaint we hear from social workers within the human services industry.

In 2015, 41% of nonprofits replaced software. This indicates that many products are failing to meet non-profit needs. In fact, 52% of non-profit software buyers were using general-purpose software, such as Microsoft Excel or Google Drive. (View Source

Many social workers view software as a burden, but software solutions that are truly useful should:

  • Be fast and easy to use
  • Allow social workers to gain useful insights into the needs of clients
  • Help workers be more efficient in their day-to-day responsibilities

User experience design for non-profit software makes this possible.

User experience design is a greatly overlooked priority within the non-profit industry.  When reviewing and selecting software, budget is always tough to secure, and user experience and efficiency is often overshadowed by administrators or who are looking to save on expenses. When this happens, end-users are often left out of the conversation. When it comes time for training and implementation, users will be skeptical and resistant to the new software.

Looking at how nonprofits have traditionally used software, a shift in mindset (and money) needs to happen. Instead of simply acting as a database to generate reports that funders want to see, more emphasis needs to be placed on how easy and beneficial software will be for end-users.

When this shift happens and software is designed to help social workers, the benefits become readily apparent:

    1. Less Staff Training:  Software that is intuitive and easy to use will require less training, which translates into direct cost savings
    2. Faster User Adoption:  Social workers will be eager (not resistant) to using new software when they see the value it provides for them
    3. Lower Employee Turnover:  Social workers will be happier, which creates indirect cost savings over the long-term
    4. Improved Services, and more of them:  When software is easy-to-use, workers can provide services more efficiently. This means more time with clients, and more services. This means an organization can grow its services without hiring new employees, a direct cost benefit to the organization.
    5. Better Client Care:  Software that is accessible and easy-to-understand for non-technical users will help them to better understand their clients needs, so they can improve the care they provide
    6. Easier Fundraising:  Major donors are usually savvy business people. They understand the value of strategic investments/expenses that improve organizational efficiency and client care. Non-profits can use key performance indicators gathered through new software to demonstrate how donor dollars are being efficiently used. Fundraising is easier with great data.

4 Key Steps to Get Started on User Experience Design for non-profit Software

  • Fully understand the needs and goals for the system from all users (not just IT administrators and funders, but also end-users)
  • Set and secure a realistic budget and timeline
  • Assign someone to internally manage the implementation project
  • Work with an experienced non-profit software consultant to understand your software needs and help you design, build, and implement a solution suitable for your organization

Having those pieces in place before you begin will ensure you save money, create efficiencies, and build the best user-friendly software solution for your non-profit.

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