Launched about 11 years ago, in 2006, when the industry wasn’t so saturated, DoodleKit quickly became a popular solution for DIY website creation. At last count the company has over 50,000 sites hosted on their servers, including 2,000 non-profit sites provided on a ‘pro bono’ basis, and about 100 sign-ups every day. There have been over 2 M sites created on Doodlekit since they launched, with nine million pageviews per month.
Today, when the competition is fierce, DoodleKit seems to lose ground to more aggressive rivals. So let’s see how it works.
1. Ease of Use
DoodleKit’s interface looks a bit outdated. However, behind the old interface, DoodleKit is a quite easy-to-use builder. It is well structured and requires no special skills. You’ll be doing a lot of visual editing including WYSIWYG and drag-and-drop operations.
2. Feature Set and Flexibility
DoodleKit is one of the rare website builders that support user management. In other words, you can add users with different access permissions (Admin, Privileged, User), as well as create full-fledged forums.
DoodleKit has its own blogging system and native eCommerce solution. You can add product options (model, color, size you name it) and provide users with exhaustive product descriptions (including audio files, videos, tables, albums and custom HTML).
If you have a product that requires customization you can add a text form to your product form so that your buyers can specify their names or anything else required for creating a bespoke product. All in all, DoodleKit offers a decent, versatile feature set.
In terms of designs, DoodleKit provides two options: you can choose a ready theme from the official library or use a template wizard to put up your site. The wizard will guide you through the following steps: background type > layout > page style > section style > colors & options.
Similar to the control panel, DoodleKit themes are a bit outdated. I failed to find any modern designs in their library. Luckily, all these themes are customizable. Users can change the core design options including background style and layout, body settings (border size, shadow color, top border effects etc.), make changes to the header and footer, as well as make such minor changes like item price color customization. You can export your theme in .JSON.
For advanced users, DoodleKit offers the Advanced CSS Editor where you can enter CSS rules to override your current code. Should you decide to use this editor, the company is no longer responsible for maintaining browser compatibility.
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It’s a mobile world, so I can’t help but mention that DoodleKit doesn’t offer any mobile-friendly solutions. According to the DoodleKit blog, the builder is taking its first steps in making the entire platform mobile-friendly. Thus, the new editor works in mobile browsers and is also designed to create mobile-friendly content.
4. Customer Support
DoodleKit users go to the Support Forums to find answers, post comments and make suggestions, or help others. For more specific queries, you can get in touch with one of their experts over email.
5. Pricing Policy
You can create an account and work on your website for free as long as you need without having to upgrade your account. If you want to make your website public, you’ll have to add a valid credit card to your DoodleKit account to confirm your identity. On one hand, this can be annoying, but on the other – such policy helps prevent malicious, harmful and/or spam sites from being created. Important note: your credit card won’t be charged.
DoodleKit follows the standard freemium business model offering the following plans:
Since last year, instead of entering your credit card data, you can use your cell phone to verify your website. This will send a 4-digit code, which you’ll need to enter to finish publishing your site.
DoodleKit themes look outdated and aren’t optimized for mobile viewing. You have to enter your credit card details or verify your phone number in order to publish your free site.
DoodleKit offers a great feature set and easy-to-navigate control panel. It has its own blogging, forum and eCommerce platforms. However, DoodleKit loses some steam when you are looking at their themes – they’re neat, but very old-fashioned.
I really hope that their Team will address these pain points and please their existing and future customers with new themes and system updates in the coming months.