Duda, a straightforward however succesful web site builder was based by a few programmers who foresaw the big affect that the unique iPhone would have on net looking. Thus, the product produces websites that change to suit each massive desktop screens and small cell screens. The corporate additionally gives a device that may take an ordinary desktop web site and convert it to a cell web site. Nevertheless it’s now not nearly cell: Duda additionally permits you to construct extremely purposeful, fine-looking web sites for viewing on desktops. Internet retailer capabilities make Duda a full web site commerce answer, too, and its site-builder interface makes DIY web site constructing simpler than ever.
Pricing and Getting Began
Like Weebly and Wix, Duda permits you to create an internet presence without spending a dime. Duda would not restrict the variety of free websites or pages you may create, nevertheless, nor the bandwidth of free websites—that is fairly beneficiant. Not like another web site builders, reminiscent of Weebly, Duda even lets free accounts promote as much as 10 merchandise, although free websites embrace Duda advertisements.
The service’s paid tiers are Enterprise+ (from $14.25 per thirty days), and Enterprise+eCommerce (beginning at $22.50 per thirty days). The premium accounts add e mail assist, customized domains, web site backup, HTTPS safety, and deeper web site analytics. Enterprise+ additionally provides device-specific enhancing, a full developer mode, zero advertisements, and using Duda’s InSite personalization characteristic—extra on this beneath. When you pay $299, you get the Enterprise Website for Life plan.
To start out a brand new web site, you select one among 94 enticing, fashionable templates, sorted into classes reminiscent of Enterprise, Portfolio, and Restaurant.
If you click on a template thumbnail, a panel exhibits you the way its look adjustments for telephone and pill viewing. You’ll be able to even see how the template seems to be on all three gadget varieties—desktop, smartphone, and pill—directly. That is higher than what many web site builders do. Strikingly, for instance, solely exhibits one preview, although you may shrink the browser window to see the way it will look on smaller screens.
When you select a template in your Duda web site and begin customizing, you may’t swap templates later, as you may with Squarespace or Simvoly. It’s because Duda websites, although they match the major search engines’ standards for cell presentation, aren’t responsive in the strictest sense, meaning they don’t stretch and compress all elements as you resize the browser window. Duda uses the term responsive when describing sites it builds—not incorrectly—to mean that the presentation reformats based on whether it’s being viewed in a desktop browser, tablet, or smartphone. Duda’s approach, however, means you get a lot more control over your site design and can tweak it to look different on mobile.
Next, you build your own site using the selected template, which is prepopulated with dummy content, by replacing that with your own assets. You can pull images and so on directly from an existing site or a Facebook page. For testing, I started with the Toy Store template.
Web Design Tools
The site builder interface features an intuitive left sidebar, in which you find tools for managing and designing your site. These let you customize your theme colors, text, and navigation, as well as adding and managing pages and site settings from choices on the left panel. An arrow lets you collapse this sidebar for a full view of the page, which can be helpful. Also helpful are Undo and Redo buttons that work no matter what you’re doing on the site. Ctrl-Z works, too. Furthermore, you can always get help by clicking a chat bubble icon at bottom right—very handy.
The basic page elements—images, text boxes, buttons, dividers—appear when you click the Widgets button. This was a bit confusing at first for me, since I consider widgets to be third-party goodies rather than these basic site elements. You drag the elements onto your webpage as with Weebly and other competitors. You can only drop elements in allowed areas, but it’s not hard to add columns or change spacing to customize the layout to your taste. In fact, I love how you can choose Add Row or Add Column right from a page’s Row button, which appears when you hover over any section.
Third-party items such as Facebook and Disqus comment modules are included in the Widgets group, but Duda lacks a large catalog of third-party integrations like those found in Wix. Duda also integrates with services like Yelp, vCita online scheduling, OpenTable, and PayPal. You can also incorporate social sharing buttons, including Facebook Likes, comments, and albums; a Twitter feed; and a WordPress feed. When I added the Click-to-Call feature to my test site, it merely displayed my number, which works on mobiles or PCs with the Skype or a similar plug-in installed.
Along the top is an ever-present toolbar that lets you switch pages, undo your last edit, save your work, preview your site, publish your site, and view your site in the three different screen sizes. The toolbar also offers access to your Dashboard page, from which you can access all the sites you manage or are building through Duda, start new ones, and connect them to a personal domain. Note that the latter requires a paid account. Duda offers specific integrated help for using a custom domain obtained from the major domain name registrars.
If you don’t choose a custom domain, Duda assigns your site a URL such as mysite4036.dudaone.com; you can pick another prefix if it’s not already taken. If you’ve built some pages but aren’t ready to publish, you can save your edits for later publication. Duda doesn’t, however, let you schedule publication at a specific date and time, as Weebly does.
Whenever you hover over any item on your site, you see a button offering relevant edit options. I also really like the builder’s right-click support, which provides an easy way to edit, align, or remove content. You can fairly easily move elements around the page and resize them, though as with most mobile-friendly site builders, where you move stuff is limited. For a paragraph object, the context menu lets you pull content from another site, edit the text, format it, and hide it on a selected device type. The last ability is only available in paid accounts. Clicking a page navigation link in the site designer takes you to that page on your site; you don’t have to select it from a page menu as in some other site builders, though there’s also a dropdown menu for switching among your pages.
Every option dialog for every Duda site element includes a Settings tab that lets you edit spacing in pixels, the CSS code, and—for premium accounts—the actual HTML code for the element. But it’s not just standard HTML. While the code looks fairly simple and standard, you need to familiarize yourself with the proprietary DMLE (DudaMobile Markup Language Extension) to work with it effectively.
In the end, building a site with Duda is a pleasure: The interface is mostly quick, unlike some builders (I’m thinking of 1&1 MyWebsite in particular) that take forever and a day to load modules. As with most such services, moving objects around can be finicky, but in my testing of Duda I always managed to get the result I wanted in the end.
Mobile Site Design
You can switch the site builder view among designing for desktop, tablet, and smartphone browsers. Wix and Weebly only offer the first two, and GoDaddy GoCentral doesn’t offer mobile customization at all, instead restricting its templates to designs that work well on mobile as well as desktop. My test Duda site looked as good and felt just as comfortable to navigate on an iPhone as it did in a PC web browser. A cool option lets you hide any image on a device of your choice—desktop, tablet, or phone. Some content doesn’t work well in the smaller formats, so this is a valuable option.
Managing and Adding Pages
The Manage Pages panel is simple and clear, with SEO and navigation options available under a gear icon. It also lets you import images and site info from an existing site. To add a new page to my site, I simply tapped the +New page button. There’s a selection of 10 page types to choose from, including Blank, URL, About, Contact, Photo Gallery, List, and Complex Page. Hovering over a page type’s thumbnail shows its layout on the three device sizes. You can also add a page from an existing site.
Duda now has a very serviceable blogging tool. This lets you save and preview posts that you can format and add images to taste. Though it does keep track of your customers (see Making Money, below), Duda trails competitors like Wix in terms of site membership and email marketing.
Working With Images
To add images on your site, you can either choose from the stock photography included, drag and drop photos from computer folders, or import them from online sources like Flickr, Facebook, Instagram, or Dropbox. The included stock photography selection has improved since my last test, turning up plenty of clothing rack shots when I searched for “thrift shop,” for example. You can even enter an image’s URL or perform a web image search to find the picture you want. Uploading multiple images at once? Not a problem, regardless of whether it’s a whole folder or multiple selected images within a folder. But uploading digital photos isn’t always quick, since Duda performs some processing after upload.
You can crop, resize, and even open an embedded version of Aviary for some online photo editing and effects. I was able to add a clickable link and tooltip and to change the Alt text in the image-editing dialog in testing. If you need more control, a gear icon gives access to CSS and HTML code.
When adding a photo gallery, you can choose either square or original aspect ratios and a background color, but you don’t get the selection of slideshow styles offered in Weebly. My test site’s photo gallery was attractive, despite this limitation, and I appreciate that it allows full-screen viewing. I also like that, once you add an associated Facebook page, any public images from that appear in the Duda images manager.
The Manage Images option didn’t let me edit my uploaded photos, even to rotate or crop them, which would really be great. But that’s not much of a problem, since you have access to the full-featured Aviary online photo editor any time you click on an image on your pages. Those tools are, however, only available for images you’ve already added to a page. One plus is that the original image as well as the edited one are both saved in the Manage Images area.
With Duda you can add social buttons that link to your accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and so on. As with Weebly, you get a selection of monochrome or color buttons in different size choices. An older-style Share bar also lets you add buttons, but these aren’t customizable in the way the buttons are, offering no choice of button designs or even which social networks are included. You’re better off sticking with the Social Icons option. You can also include an on-page Twitter feed, a Facebook Like button, and Facebook comments.
Duda includes a full sales system with shopping carts and checkout pages like those you get with Weebly, Wix, and Squarespace. You can also plug PayPal buy buttons onto any site page, and you can add coupons, letting your site visitor print out a discount offer. Any Duda user, even with a free account, can add a 10-page web store to their sites. The process is slick, clear, and guided.
When you click Add a Store, Duda builds a new page for your site with a demo catalog, and it displays a Help box explaining how to set it up. A tooltip tour explains your store page, shopping cart, search, and store management features. There’s a whole separate Store Control Panel page, where you add products and configure shipping and payment options. Credit card transactions use SSL security, but you can’t make your whole site use SSL, so users won’t see HTTPS in the browser address bar.
Another well-designed wizard takes you through the store-setup process. You can add images and formatted text, as well as assigning categories and SKU numbers to your products. You can also change localization for different currencies. Shipping options are integrated with UPS and FedEx, or you can set custom rates. You can use FirstData, PayPal, and Stripe as payment processing options. You can also import product lists in CSV, XCart, and LiteCommerce formats. Finally, you can sell digital downloads (which Duda calls “e-goods”), but only if you have the highest-level Business+eCommerce plan ($36.75 per month), which is also required if you want to create coupons for product discounts.
Duda offers deep and detailed site visitor statistics for paid users. From your Duda dashboard, you can click a graph icon next to any of your site entries to see its stats. You can show all visitor information, or just that for mobile and tablet. You can see not only site visits per day, but also the number of form submissions, clicks to call, and map clicks. You can track visits as well as views. The left option panel lets you drill even deeper, showing individual pages’ stats, including, time on page and bounce rate. If that’s not enough, you can see traffic sources, browsers and OSes used, and even geographic location. I haven’t seen any other easy site builder with nearly as impressive a level of traffic analysis.
For customers of its Business+ level, Duda offers another perk that goes beyond the standard site builder offering: InSite, which is found in the Personalize section of the main toolbar. InSite lets you customize your site based on where a viewer is located, time of day, whether they’re frequent visitors, and more. You can build special promotions, play intro videos for new visitors, or change the display based on what kind of device a visitor is using. InSite is wizard driven, and it’s not scary at all, considering what an advanced capability it is. To use it on my test site, I just chose a trigger, a site action and a result layout.
One limitation Duda shares with most online site builders is complete lack of site portability: You can’t get the code for your Duda site and host it on another server provider. The exceptions in this class of web hosting are Squarespace, which lets you export your site to WordPress format, and Weebly, which actually lets you download your site assets in a standard folder structure.
Duda is a highly capable and user-friendly website building service, offering many cool and impressive features. If site’s look and function on mobile devices is a priority, Duda should be a top choice. Its site traffic statistics provide more details than most site-building services, and its InSite triggered-customization feature is rare among easy site-builders. All this earns Duda a PCMag Editors’ Choice for website builders. Wix, our other Editors’ Choice, offers more in the way of promotion through email blasts, however, as well as site-membership abilities and more integration with third-party services.
For more on getting started building your site, read our primer, How to Build a Website.