- Editor is a strange mix of old and new.
- Lack of guidance and explanation.
By Ryan Clark · Updated
I really wanted this review to go differently. Jimdo, an already successful website builder with millions of sites to its credit, seemed poised to jump right into the discussion with Squarespace—if it could only fix the usability issues that plagued the product experience. Our review last year outlined numerous things that seemed rather unconsidered for a company of its size and business acumen, making the experience of using Jimdo far more frustrating than needed.
With a recent refresh in Fall 2014 there was a hope that these issues had been addressed and the editor had been reconsidered. Sadly it seems to have been mostly aesthetic, with the marketing site and some bits of UI getting an updated coat of paint and nothing more.
Jimdo’s Editor is really the tale of two editors—or what seems to be two editor versions. At first glance it’s easy to see what was updated last year and what wasn’t. Some parts of the UI—theme selection, styling, content editing—have a clean UI that feels modern. Other parts—the main sidebar, upgrade area, blog—feel archaic, with their non-retina icons and styling harkening back to an old version of Microsoft Word. Without even beginning to really dive into the content, a user gets a certain feeling of incoherence from the interface.
As for the specifics of building your site, Jimdo takes a standard drag and drop approach, so content and layout are both dealt with in tandem. Elements of the site can be selected and then edited inline or moved around the page. Aside from editing content, you can also change some high-level layout and styling options—general font size, column structure—right from the inline editor. Each site starts with dummy content filled into various sections of the site which helps to provide a sense of bearing and gives users a few examples of content to experiment with.
Adding new content is rather straightforward, with an Add Element modal that appears whenever you hover over a section of your site. All of the major content types are available—everything from galleries and forms to more niche options like Google Maps.
On the surface, adding content like this seems simple, but Jimdo still has some rough edges when it comes to content.
At one point I wanted to add space between two elements of my site, and quickly selected an element looking for spacing amongst the inline options. It wasn’t there. Only after clicking around for a while did I figure out that spacing is an element of its own, and has to be added just like text or images and then defined. This wasn’t very straightforward.
Elements also play a part in some confusion with implementing a Jimdo blog. The Blog area allows you to write and manage new posts, but doesn’t automatically add them to a page or generate a blog. Instead you have to add Blog Display as an element from the Add Element module. I found this incredibly frustrating to implement, leaving me to once again hunt for answers by trial and error.
A final example is the duplication of styling options between the Layout view and the separate Styling view. Many options are actually replicated in both areas with only slight variation—for example fonts are edited in the Styling view but size is available in both areas. For headlines generalized options are given in the Layout view but specific sizes can be chose in the Styling view. All of this leads to a lot of head-scratching while guessing what’s editable where.
It’s these types of issues that Jimdo really needs to address. Once you figure out the Editor things are much smoother, but there’s absolutely no guidance along the way. Instead users are left to fumble around in search of answers. When combined with the general lack of unity and replicated features among the editor’s different parts, Jimdo comes off as a product in the middle of a rather sloppy transitional period.
Customization happens at two levels on Jimdo. Templates set the overall tone for your site’s design and define high-level styling and layout options. The current offering of templates is broad, and even includes a totally blank template for those who want to start from scratch. Choosing a template post-signup featured about 3x more templates than were shown while signing up, which was an interesting note. Overall designs run the gamut of styling while maintaining a modern and clean feeling throughout.
As mentioned before, granular customization happens in the Styling view of the editor. Colors and fonts can all be edited with relative ease, and changes occur in a new Preview Mode that allows you to experiment without making changes on your live site. Options are accessed in the same inline manner as content is edited, which is a nice continuation of the mental model from the Layout view.
Features & Pricing
Jimdo offers all of the basics that should exist on any website builder—blogs, custom domains, and more. They do take the feature set one step forward in two areas: email and stores. Unlike a lot of other simpler website builders, Jimdo has fully integrated offerings for both of these features on with their Business plan.
The real question though, is whether they’re markedly better than any of the third-party applications—not to mention competitors implementations—you could use. That answer is no. Wrapped in the same dated UI as the older site elements, these complex features aren’t anything you’d want to navigate on a regular basis. There’s definitely better options out there.
With features, themes, and pricing that put it squarely in the range of the upper echelon of website builders, Jimdo could be so much more. Instead, it perfectly exemplifies the thing that makes products like Squarespace and Weebly so good—their usability. Any website builder can assemble the right pieces, but it’s the special ones that make the process of building your site seem like second nature. Jimdo fails at that charge. Although the latest refresh puts a new and fresh face forward, the product itself seems to lag much farther behind—sorely needing a reconsidered approach to onboarding and guiding users through the site creation process. Ultimately your money is better spent elsewhere.
Unfortunately Jimdo did not score high enough for us to recommend it. See all our website builder reviews to find one we do recommend.
Ryan Clark Former Product Manager and Creative Director of website builder Virb. Designer, illustrator, and typographer. Born and raised in the Heartland of America. I do what I love for a living.