Jimdo Emerges as My New Web Tool of Choice

After spending more time than was probably good for me, I've slogged through a couple dozen tools for creating Web sites that met two specific criteria I'd developed and emerged out the other side deciding to pin my hopes on Jimdo. I thought someone else might benefit from my analysis, so I'm sharing it here. (Actually, this is just a very quick summary of my reasoning, but it hits the highlights.)

The two criteria I had were based in large part on issues I kept running into while using WordPress as my tool of choice for the past couple of years. I had decided that if I was going to find a new tool, it would have to have these two basic characteristics to make the first cut:

  1. Minimizing the need for me to know or use PHP and/or master relatively complex file hierarchies to do even fairly simple stuff.
  2. Allowing my clients to edit their sites without having to understand much, if anything, about how they were structured or how to use a sometimes bewildering Dashboard.
I started out by asking a question on LinkedIn. The thread that emerged was very helpful and I've struck up longer conversations with several of the participants outside the thread. I also made direct inquiries of a number of colleagues. I also found a great site that specializes in evaluating Web Site creation tools and spent a good bit of time there.

Filtering all that content down based on my two key criteria, I narrowed the initial list to (in no particular order):

  • Basekit
  • Jimdo
  • concrete5
  • Squarespace
  • Interspire Web Publisher
  • Weebly
  • Yola
I actually built a sample site — or part one a site — in all of those tools except Interspire and Yola, the former because even though it looked pretty decent, it didn't fully meet my second criterion and its price ($395) combined with a good bit of Nettlebut about a slow and non-responsive development cycle and inadequate support didn't feel right, and the latter because it proved to be either too inflexible or non-intuitive.

Of the remaining five tools, I gradually eliminated the following for the reasons indicated:

concrete5 because: (a) although the tool is free and even open source, almost every add-on for it were priced higher than I thought was fair and would have made it a costly investment; (b) the self-hosted solution wasn't available as a one-click install on any of my hosting services even though to of them were advertised as being good hosts to use. (It turned out that in one case the problem wasn't concrete5 but rather the hosting service.)

Squarespace because the templates it offers are pretty simple and plain,which would be fine except that even minor customization requires using CSS and HTML and because simple tasks like centering images required me to set CSS properties for padding and border rather than just clicking a "center" button.

Weebly because, of all things, it does not support sidebars or any other notion of shared content across pages outside the header and footer. I was incredulous, assuming I was just missing something, but an email exchange with support confirmed it. Copy-paste maintenance of content I want on multiple pages is not going to cut it for me or my clients.

Basekit because I ended up having to make a trade-off decision between it and Jimdo. Basekit is a great tool. But it lacks a blog component, which was essential to one of my three new clients for whom I was doing this evaluation. Jimdo has a blog but doesn't support customized forms. I decided it would be easier to use something like Wufoo to create and embed a custom form into a site than to kludge inclusion of another blogging tool without losing the seamless functionality I was seeking. But I could have gone either way. I'm hoping the Jimdo guys will get to the custom form stuff at some point soon.

So I'm off to dive into Jimdo by building the first and simplest of the three new projects. I expect you'll hear from me more on this subject here over time.

10 comments for “Jimdo Emerges as My New Web Tool of Choice

  1. webtooltester
    March 16, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    Hi Dan, so glad you mentioned our site here. Did you see the improvements on Jimdo’s form builder? I don’t think you need to integrate Wufoo anymore, Jimdo’s solution is pretty powerful.Many thanks,Robert

  2. revsteve
    March 16, 2012 at 6:48 pm
  3. revsteve
    March 16, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    Thanks, Dan…Good info! It looks like one has to have Jimdo host the site if one wants to use their webdesign solution — is that correct? Or, can one design with Jimdo and host the site on another ISP?Could you point us to an example of a website that you’ve done with Jimdo?We’ve been learning the ropes with WordPress, but we find it very “clunky” and temperamental to use. We’ve been using the Builder Theme from iThemes and have to say that their support is exceptionally good….without it, we’d have thrown up our hands long ago and shouted, “Whale-Sxxt!”Thanks

  4. Dan Shafer
    March 18, 2012 at 9:20 pm

    Robert, I can’t find anything about the form improvements and I can’t see any such changes either. Can you provide a pointer?

  5. Dan Shafer
    March 18, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    @revsteve….Thanks for the post. Yes, Jimdo is a hosted solution. When I started my search, I intended to rule out any solution I couldn’t self-host but I uiltimately decided the tradeoff between a hosted solution’s convenience and a self-hosted solution’s sense of independence weighed heavily in favor of convenience for me. If self-hosted is a major feature requirement, I’d recommend concrete5. I had in fact decided to adopt it before I tan into hosting and installation issues with Dreamhost and Bluehost both of whom used to provide one-click install support and neither of which does any longer. I figure there’s something there that I don’t need to learn. 🙂

  6. revsteve
    March 18, 2012 at 11:20 pm

    Thanks, Dan…FYI, we’ve been using InMotionHosting.com for our self-hosted ISP for about the last 6 months and they have been quite reliable with excellent support.This web stuff is interesting, but more so is possible of a Manning to Manningham combo for the ‘9ers!  I know you think Smith is a good QB, but I hope he becomes a “Fish” while the 49ers hit “Pey-dirt”. ;-DSteve

  7. webtooltester
    March 22, 2012 at 9:02 am

    Hi Dan, here’s Jimdo’s blog post about the new form builder: http://www.jimdo.com/2012/02/27/the-form-element-gets-a-makeover/It should be active in your account as well!

  8. Dan Shafer
    March 22, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    Yep I found the entry, and have already implemented the new form component on my site. Very cool. So far I’m finding Jimdo to be a very productive environment for the way I like to work on Web sites.

  9. Deevy
    February 5, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    Great choice Dan. Like yourself I’ve tried many editors but have ended up disappointed and frustrated by all of them except Jimdo. It’s a powerful tool and the very few bells and whistles it doesn’t have are easily added from external sources. It’s perfect if you don’t know any code and would appear to suit coders too, as the code is easily accessible and editable. Jimdo’s web app. is excellent – It’s simply a responsive version of your main site and can even be edited on ipad and iphone, but most importantly, you only have to update one site. I can’t praise Jimdo enough and genuinely feel that it’s streets ahead of the competition.

    • Dan Shafer
      February 5, 2014 at 6:20 pm

      Deevy, thanks for writing! I have continued to use Jimdo for about 2 years now I think and I continue to be very satisfied with it. I’ve lately begun to think they need a serious upgrade in the template department and I’m about to tackle creating my own to make the design a bit more modern, but I got over my prejudice against wide-open freely programmable tools when I realized 90% of my needs are met just fine in Jimdo. And as you say, adding new stuff and tweaking are not too difficult.