In today’s “gig economy,” more and more people are going it alone. Whether you’re a freelance web professional, startup entrepreneur, or a small web production agency, it can be difficult to ramp up your business as it grows. You need to solicit new clients to grow, but you can’t neglect your current clients either. Sometimes subcontracting can help eliminate a backlog, but ultimately you’re accountable for everything from design to copy, functionality, system administration, and customer support. Growing your business can sometimes feel like a no-win situation.
Consider, then, Duda and its pair of responsive and mobile sitebuilders. If you’re a web designer, developer, or writer — or some combination of all three — Duda can help your business grow. Its drag-and-drop, fully responsive sitebuilder allows you to get your customers’ websites up and running faster and easier than other Content Management Systems (CMSs), including WordPress.
- 1 About Duda
- 2 Duda’s Infrastructure
- 3 Duda’s Responsive Website Builder
- 4 E-commerce
- 5 Duda Responsive Site Builder Plans
- 6 Small Business and Agency Resources
- 7 DudaPro Reseller Program
- 8 Fulfillment Channel
- 9 E-mail Not Included
- 10 Support
- 11 Three Reasons to Choose Duda
- 12 Three Reasons Not to Choose Duda
- 13 Summary
Headquartered in Palo Alto, California, Duda hosts over 9 million websites. Launched in 2010 by a few college friends (“The Dudes”), Duda was founded as an easy-to-use platform for small business owners to use to create websites. Since then it’s evolved to also address the challenges faced by small web agencies in building mobile websites. Although the original mobile sitebuilder is still extant, its functionality grew from a mobile-only design platform into a broader sitebuilder that makes creating responsive websites that look great on any device incredibly easy.
What’s with the name, “Duda?” You Coen brothers fans will appreciate the origin of the service’s name. It’s a nod to the main character in the founders’ favorite film, The Big Lebowski. (Fortunately, they didn’t go with one of The Dude’s other nicknames — like “El Duderino.”)
Although Duda doesn’t provide the kind of specifics about their network or hardware infrastructure that full-featured web hosts provide, what they do share is more impressive than most sitebuilders, especially regarding page load speeds.
- Secure cloud hosting: All Duda sites are hosted by Amazon Web Services (AWS).
- Global Content Delivery Network: Duda’s global CDN hosts all bandwidth-intensive files like images, PDFs, and other documents.
- Dynamic serving: Duda’s servers optimize content served based on the type of device requesting the content. That means, for example, that when a mobile device requests a page, the faster-loading mobile version of the site is loaded rather than the slower-loading desktop version of the same page.
Google PageSpeed Preferred
Duda is the only website builder that’s preferred by Google PageSpeed. Preferred status is bestowed only upon sites that follow Google’s best practices for improving web page load times. Optimizing for speed happens automatically on all of Duda’s sites every time you publish or update a site.
Why is page load speed important? Google’s latest algorithms are built to favor faster-loading sites, especially those that are responsive or mobile-optimized. Google’s data backs up their stance: faster sites have longer visitor sessions, lower bounce rates, and more pageviews. For every second longer your site takes to load, your site gets an estimated 7% fewer conversions. Speed is related to your bottom line.
Duda’s paid plans come with both automatic and manual backups. You can revert back from up to 20 automated backups or from 10 stored manual backups.
Duda’s Responsive Website Builder
If you’re a freelancer or a small agency, time is worth a lot more than mere money. To grow your business, you need to create better websites with better design and functionality faster than your competition can do it. Duda’s Responsive Sitebuilder can give you that edge. You can build websites two different ways.
Import Information From Existing Sites
The easiest way to get started creating a Duda site is to import all the information contained on an already-existing website. So, if your client needs a replacement, getting their site information takes zero work on your part or your client’s. Just input the old site’s URL and Duda automatically imports the information to the right widgets and pages — all within the new theme you’ve chosen. The Sitebuilder can even detect and copy color schemes from the old site.
We tried the active site importer tool and found it easy to use. First, you pick a template and then indicate what devices you’d like to optimize for. When we imported our active site, the site builder picked up most of the important information (page structure, contact details, social information, and some text). However, it also made some strange choices for photos, seeming to choose them at random. The good news is that it’s extremely easy to fix these little hiccups and overall you do save a lot of time.
If your client doesn’t have an existing website and wants you to create something from scratch, Duda allows you to send a form-fill questionnaire asking for the pertinent information. The questionnaire is branded with your company’s name and logo so your client never needs to know that Duda exists. (More in later sections about Duda’s white label products.) The form also allows your customers to upload images for your use or reference.
Duda’s responsive website builder frees you from as much web coding and development as you like. You can stick with their widget-based modules to create WYSIWYG designs and functionality — or you can make use of your web development skills in customizing HTML and CSS coding via Developer Mode.
Duda’s site builder provides site templates, all of which are responsive, over 100 fonts, stock photos, parallax effects, and flat icons to choose from. You can even copy and paste elements in different parts of a site or across sites. Additionally, once you’ve created a site, you can clone it to a new site or create a template out of it.
Duda’s site builder offers an impressive array of widgets (blocks of pre-coded design or functional modules), including:
- Pop-ups and contact forms that can be integrated with your Mailchimp or Constant Contact mailing lists, or a Google Sheet
- Click-to-call and click-to-email buttons which are especially handy for mobile sites
- Appointment scheduling with vCita and OpenTable reservations
- Issue coupon codes
- Facebook or Disqus comments
- Upload files like pdfs or spreadsheets
- Accept PayPal donations
- Social sharing
- Twitter and Yelp feeds.
If you don’t see what you want among the ready-made widgets, you can create your own custom-made modules. Although the widget builder allows for customization, the site builder prevents your custom widgets from breaking the existing ones. You can even set the site’s permissions to allow your customers to change these custom widgets from their own dashboards. (More about customer roles and permissions below.)
Adding a blog is as easy as adding a new page to a site and it’s automatically added to your site’s top menu. You can import an existing blog from an RSS feed, including titles, formatting, videos, images, comments, as well as post author and date.
When you create a new blog, an initial “welcome to our blog” post is automatically generated.
The blog can be configured for multiple authors and it can report basic metrics like pageviews.
Dynamic Content and Personalization
One of the unique and most impressive features of Duda’s Sitebuilder is the ability to add dynamic content to any website — even on free plans. You can set personalized content to appear to a visitor based on a large number of triggers like actions, time of day, day of year, geolocation, and number of previous visits.
Triggers can then call up content and other actions — including displaying coupons, holiday-themed images, pop-ups of all kinds, feedback requests, and Facebook “Like” buttons. You can also create your own triggers and actions.
As a web producer, entrepreneur, or agency, the capability to add dynamic personalized content is a powerful differentiator for you versus your competitors.
Here are some additional features of Duda’s Sitebuilder plans:
- Image manipulation: In addition to adding free stock photos or your own images, Duda’s site builder allows for basic photo editing like cropping, rotating, and resizing. You can upload images from Dropbox, Google Drive, and Facebook. There are also widgets to create galleries and image sliders and Facebook albums. There are over 1,000 available icons, too.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Automatic sitemaps, Open Graph integration with Facebook and LinkedIn, customizable metadata, image alternate text, and support for 301 redirects come with most plans.
- Developer mode: Some site builders don’t allow you to add your own HTML or CSS coding, but Duda allows you control in addition to the drag-and-drop interface.
- Multi-language translation: Using Google Translate, Duda’s Sitebuilder makes it easy to create different versions of your site in 55+ languages. You can even edit these pages after they’re generated to make sure the translations are perfect.
- Custom domains: The top level paid plans allow for site creation on custom domain names. (The free version of site builder grants only a subdomain, like yoursite.dudamobile.com.)
- Customer permissions: You can give your customers access to a limited version of Duda’s sitebuilder dashboard. You can set and block what changes they’re allowed to make with granular permissions.
E-commerce sites can be complicated to replicate. Fortunately, Duda’s site builder allows you to easily set up an online store using the same WYSIWYG interface, even on the free plan. For top-tier plans, the e-commerce functionality is impressive, especially compared to other site builder hosts. The difference between plans comes down to the number of products and integrations. The e-commerce functionality is included in the site builder plan you choose. Also, since the storefront is part of the website, it inherits all the same design elements for consistency.
Here are some of Duda’s best e-commerce features:
- Payment options: Your site’s customers can use PayPal or Stripe (for credit cards) to buy items. Up to 30+ other payment options are enabled on the top tier plan. Unlike many site builder stores, Duda doesn’t take a percentage of your transactions. Every cent you earn is yours alone.
- Shipping and taxes: Online stores can automatically add taxes and shipping times and prices. Your client can choose shipping providers like FedEx, UPS, and USPS, as well as the delivery turnaround times offered. Duda allows your customer to choose flat-rate shipping or prices based on item weight.
- Store management: You and your client can create categories and customize product pages.
- Inventory management: Include multiple sizes and colors for your client’s products. Merchants can also monitor their monitor stock levels. You can configure the site to notify the merchant when stock dips below a set threshold.
- Digital inventory: Duda’s top tier plan allows for sales of downloadable digital products like video, audio, images, e-books, and more.
- Promotions: When your client discounts products, the website will display the full price as well as the discount. You can design coupon codes to be applicable to individual products or to an entire order.
- Store analytics: Track performance of your e-mail campaigns, affiliate links, and pay-per-click campaigns.
- Security: Free SSL encryption certificates can be requested. However, custom coding that loads insecurely from an HTTP server won’t work on an SSL site.
Duda Responsive Site Builder Plans
Duda keeps their pricing simple by only offering a few plans, which makes it easy for business owners, freelancers, consultants, and web producers to easily predict how much they’ll be able to afford.
You can try Duda for free without entering a credit card. All plans, including the free plan, come with:
- Responsive templates
- Site import capability
- Dynamic content/personalization capability
- A 10+ product store — even the free plan
- Support via knowledge base and tutorials
- Basic analytics
- Unlimited images
- Unlimited storage
- No store transaction fees
- Low stock notification.
If you stick with a free plan, your site will display ads, you won’t be able to request an SSL certificate for your store, and you won’t have access to backups of your site.
In addition to the features of the free plan, all paid plans also come with:
- No ads
- Backup and restore
- SSL certificates
- Full analytics
- Support via e-mail
- Online store integrated with your Facebook page
- Inventory tracking
- Support for over 30 payment methods
- Developer mode
- Multi-language site capability.
The most expensive plan includes these additional perks:
- Custom domains
- Discount coupons
- Automatic tax calculations on products
- A mobile app for store management.
Mobile-Only Site Builder Plan
Duda got its start as a mobile-only website builder. They’ve since expanded their functionality into a fully responsive sitebuilder for any device. Because of this legacy, Duda still offers a mobile-only plan. The best features included with the mobile-only plan are a click-to-call widget and a widget that provides directions from the end user’s current location.
It’s not clear why one would go with the Mobile Website Builder plan when Duda’s Responsive Website Builder includes that capability and then some.
Small Business and Agency Resources
Small web agencies and solo web producers might feel a little intimidated by the long list of features that Duda can provide to their clients. How can one communicate and sell these features and benefits in a way that’s compelling and clear? Fortunately, Duda recognizes that deer-in-the-headlights look and provides you with an organized and effective package to communicate in a winning way with clients.
- White label branding: You can use your brand on all materials and Duda’s website dashboards.
- Sales collateral: Duda has produced marketing materials you can use to sell your services more persuasively. You can select from handouts, infographics, and PowerPoint presentations.
- Landing pages: Duda provides pre-configured landing pages for your agency’s website to let clients know about your new website product offerings.
- E-books and case studies: Ready-made sales materials to give your clients.
- Webinars and workshops: Duda hosts ongoing webinars to help small businesses ramp up on their site builder tools. You’ll also get access to all previous webinar recordings. Onboarding workshops can even teach you Duda-specific sales pitches.
DudaPro Reseller Program
Duda’s reseller program is a bit meta. They allow you the ability to sell Duda to other web agencies via a separate plan. Hosting is provided free and without bandwidth or page limitations. Developers in the DudaPro reseller plans can access Duda’s API.
Resellers have access to the highest level of support if you need it, including phone hours, in a variety of languages. DudaPro comes with a free 30-day trial.
To get you started, Duda assigns a dedicated account manager who will walk you through everything you need to know and do before launch.
Duda’s Fulfillment Channel is a unique sitebuilder offering. The channel lets you get in touch with and hire specialists who can customize Duda’s sites. These specialists work like a subcontractor, behind the scenes.
You can hire specialists to help with:
- Commissioning entire websites
- Customized widgets
- API integration
- Customized CSS/HTML
- Site migrations
- Mobile-only sites.
E-mail Not Included
Even though Duda allows for custom domains, it doesn’t host e-mail accounts. Thus, you must go through another provider to implement custom e-mail capability.
The support channels Duda provides are tiered based on the plan you choose. The lower tier paid plans get support via e-mail and the most expensive plan adds phone support. The free plan must make use of the community forum or the existing tutorials in the knowledgebase.
Three Reasons to Choose Duda
- Web professionals who are trying to grow their business will benefit greatly from the easy way Duda allows you to design and publish websites.
- Dynamic content is a killer feature of Duda’s sitebuilder. If you’d like to personalize the websites you design, Duda will provide tools to trigger and act with a wide variety of dynamic content widgets.
- Duda’s site builder makes creating an online store incredibly easy.
Three Reasons Not to Choose Duda
- If you have advanced hosting needs — dedicated or VPS services, cloud hosting, or specific hardware and network needs — look elsewhere.
- Although Duda provides some integration functionality with Facebook, if you’re looking for a way to merge a client’s website with their Facebook page, Duda isn’t your best choice.
- If your clients need e-mail addresses with their custom domains, you’ll need to get an email plan from another host.
Duda makes it easy for the small business owner to create a website. They also offer many ways for website consultants or agencies to grow their business. Duda’s Responsive Website Builder can make it easier and faster to add more clients. You can also opt to become a Duda reseller or find subcontractors for your projects. Those who create websites for a living should seriously consider Duda and its wealth of tools for small businesses.