Phil Simon


Is There a Difference Between Citizen Developers and Subject Matter Experts?

In this post, I answer this question.
Nov | 28 | 2022

Nov | 28 | 2022
🎧 Listen to an audio version of this article on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and beyond.


The future of software development will look quite a bit different than its past. In a sentence, that’s the premise of Low-Code/No-Code.

Of course, there’s quite a bit more happening in the world of software development. So says 40-year industry vet Richard Campbell in his excellent and expansive talk on the subject.

Campbell covers a great deal of ground in his fascinating talk, and I found myself agreeing with him most of the time. (I certainly learned a few things to boot.)

About 30 minutes in, he addresses the low-code/no-code movement. Interestingly, Campbell doesn’t like the term citizen developer. He prefers to label these folks as domain experts. Tomato, tom-ah-to, right?

Allow me to channel my inner Larry David.


Yes, many citizen developers:

  • Come from functional areas of the business. (More here.)
  • Have amassed a great deal of knowledge about their domains.

Until we invent a better term, I’m sticking with citizen developer.

No argument here. Still, it’s folly to assume that every lawyer, small business owner, marketing director, and other non-developer will start building his or her own apps. Plenty of subject matter experts don’t want to get their hands dirty—and that’s fine. The low-code/no-code po-po won’t come knocking on their door.

What’s more, as I discovered while researching the book, an increasing number of citizen developers lack deep domain expertise. (Here is my pod with two of them.) They just like building apps, improving broken processes, and automating manual tasks.

Since I like charts:

Simon Says

Until we invent a better term, I’m sticking with citizen developer.


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