Citizen Developer


Citizen developers are business users with little to no coding experience who build applications with IT-approved technology.

The concept of end-users creating their own solutions is not new. However, it is a fairly new idea for organizations to understand the potential impact of empowering citizen developers with more powerful tools.

The term “citizen developer” was first coined by Gartner.

Characteristics of a Citizen Developer

A citizen developer is someone with little to no experience in formal coding, IT, or computer science.

Anyone can become a citizen developer, although it’s not for everyone. The most successful citizen developers are problem solvers, tech enthusiasts, and team players. To become a citizen developer, you also need to be resourceful with a DIY mentality and strong collaboration skills.  

Tools and Platforms for Citizen Developers

Enterprises are exploring citizen development to expand the pool of people who can build new business processes, applications, and other solutions. 

Low-code development platforms are popular with citizen developers because they can quickly and easily create enterprise solutions in a visual, model-driven environment. Low-code platforms also include tools to accelerate the development lifecycle, like pre-built components, AI-assisted development, and one-click deployment.

Benefits of Citizen Development

Citizen development empowers business users and helps enterprises realize:

  • Faster development: IT is often overwhelmed with requests to build or update applications. But citizen development helps lighten the load since non-IT team members can build and deploy solutions on their own. 
  • Increased agility: With citizen developers building and deploying applications, they can also handle making updates and adding new features to stay agile. 
  • Cost savings: Citizen development saves costs and time. By sharing resources, tools, and technical know-how, citizen developers help reduce the need for IT involvement. 
  • More innovation: With less of a burden on IT, professional developers have more freedom to focus on innovating new solutions and optimizing existing processes.

How to Become a Citizen Developer

Learning how to become a citizen developer will depend on the technology you’re using. The vendor you choose should offer tailored training resources—like how-to videos, tutorials, or virtual classes—to help you increase your technical prowess.

Low-code platforms offer a bevy of resources to help novice developers learn how to build applications. For example, Mendix provides online learning paths via Mendix Academy, as well as certification programs so citizen developers can test their skills. You can also find support and engage with other developers in the Mendix Community

Over the past few years, citizen developers have learned how to use pre-built components and other introductory-level tools. But as technology evolves, so will the capabilities of citizen developers. 

Low-code platforms release new features and software updates all the time, which means citizen developers always have something to keep them on their toes.

In the future, advanced technology—like integrating AI and machine learning, increasing automation, and collaborating in real-time—will become ingrained into every citizen development project. Enterprises will also look to expand their pools of citizen developers as the software developer shortage continues.