When building a deck, you want to build it both structurally sound and esthetically pleasing.  

Choosing not to get a building permit, would be your first mistake. If your home is in a new residential area, the building inspector will be in your area often to inspect other projects in the development. The inspector will notice building materials in your yard and will take note of them. The inspector will be back at your new home to do the the first year and the second year annual inspections. If they discover a deck, shed, or an interior renovation has been completed without a permit, they might have you dismantle the project. If this happens you would have to get a permit and start over. Some inspectors wait until your project is complete before they intercede, just to make the error that much more painful. 

There are many products out on the market that do not meet building code standards. For example, bench/railing kits are only to be used when a railing is not required by building code. (If your deck is not greater then 24” above final grade.) Keep in mind that you or a child could still fall off a 23” high deck and seriously injure them selves. By adding a bench/railing kit, you just gave a small child the ability to climb up onto the bench, climb the back of the bench,  and fall of height greater then 5 feet. 

If you choose to build your deck without proper footings, there are products available. There called "DECK BLOCKS", not fence spikes. When pouring a concrete footing to support a post, the concrete should be in a smooth walled tube for concrete i.e.; Sonotube, or be entirely below the frost level, 48” below grade. Which brings me to another point. Before you build your deck, that you think is less then 24” above grade, make sure  the final grading has been approved by the inspector. The grading can change the height of the entire deck.

                                                If you're going to build it,   BUILD IT RIGHT!