Some hosting companies distinguish themselves on price. Others differentiate themselves from the competition using bleeding-edge technological hardware.
Then there are companies like Jimdo. Its primary selling point is its most remarkable feature: not one, but two robust site-building apps that make creating and launching a website just about as easy as it can possibly be.
All About Dolphin, Jimdo’s Super-Easy Site Builder
The first Jimdo site-builder tool we want to look at is a super-simple app called Dolphin. It can integrate with Facebook when you sign up with Jimdo, and even asks for permission to access a list of the Pages your account manages to simplify integration with your Jimdo account.
You can use Dolphin to create a personal or business site. The tool is structured on a chat-based call-and-response, point-and-click model. Dolphin will ask you first to specify the name of your business or site.
Next, you’ll select an industry from several choices: health and wellness, services, art and design, restaurant, photography, sports, portfolio site, music, community, cars and transportation, architecture, and home and garden. If none of these really work for you, you can specify your own label.
Next, you’ll narrow down your choice by selecting the specific focus of your niche. For example, in art and design you can choose graphic design, agency, or fine art, or again you can specify your own.
Finally, the app will prompt you to select a design style — modern, playful, elegant, minimal, or fancy. You can browse through available templates to get a sense for the overall aesthetic. Unlike many site-builder tools that are template-based, these seem relatively clean, modern, and fresh. The templates are all responsively designed and mobile-friendly, and you can change your template at any time.
The app will finally prompt you to select a domain and register it through Jimdo. Alternatively, you can decline and get a second-tier domain name — for example, mysite.jimdo.com.
As soon as you’ve completed the preliminary process, you’ll be taken to your draft site. When your site populates, you’ll see that it comes with suggested text and images. You can keep any part of those pieces of content or swap them out for your own. And when you’re done, a one-click publish button lets you make it live.
You can swap out the pre-selected images for other stock images (but that means you run the risk of someone else having a very similar or identical looking site). Or you can upload your own images (as long as you have copyright or license to publish, of course).
Dolphin also prompts you to connect your Instagram account to use your shared images on your site. It also gives you a handy grid overlay to help you position and perfect your chosen image.
You can add text blocks and buttons that you can also customize. You can also add contact forms, bulleted lists, a portfolio widget, and columns for a different page layout. You can customize through images, colors, fonts, backgrounds and more. The site builder can also add functionality such as an online shopping cart/storefront and a blog.
Dolphin’s main selling point is that it offers a simple process that results not only in a template with placeholder text but with usable images and actual copy. Absolutely no coding knowledge or skill is required. There doesn’t even seem to be any way to access the underlying HTML, which is admittedly a disadvantage for those with HTML skills.
In addition to Dolphin, Jimdo offers access to Jimdo Creator, a site-building tool with enhanced functionality.
Whereas Dolphin is somewhat limited in its customization but trades off that control for ridiculously user-friendly tools, Jimdo Creator reverses that approach. It’s still relatively easy to use, but you’ll enjoy the ability to create your site from the foundation up, with a much finer degree of customization and control.
Jimdo Creator adds a number of helpful features for bloggers in particular, including the ability to create and manage categories for content, specify varied blog page layouts for each post, customize date formats, and more.
To enjoy Dolphin, you’ll have to choose from among three, tiered plans, each offering incremental levels of basic features.
The basic, entry-level plan is free “now and forever.” With that plan, you’ll enjoy 500 MB of storage and 2 GB of bandwidth. In addition, you’ll get limited access to basic search engine optimization (SEO) tools, including access to customize your homepage meta title and description tags. You’ll also be able to preview your Google listing.
The free plan does not include a free domain, as the top two plans do. It also excludes the ability to connect your own domain, create email accounts for a domain, create forwarding aliases for other email accounts, remove ads, or create a custom footer. The free plan does not include access to any website analytics and is supported by ads which will display on your site, over which you’ll have no control.
The mid-level plan includes all the features of the free plan but increases your storage access to 5 GB and bandwidth to 10 GB. You’ll get one email account and access to basic site analytics. Ads are removed, and you’ll also get access to enhanced SEO features
Mobile & Social Media Tools
Jimdo’s plans include access to native tools to help you build your site audience through social media.
Sharing buttons for numerous social networks, plus controls to help integrate Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and Twitter with your site, help you connect your brand’s social media accounts and increase traffic to your site through content promotion.
And Jimdo also makes it easy for busy site developers to keep their sites updated on the go. The Jimdo app is available for both iOS and Android devices from their respective app stores. You can use the Jimdo app to add new images, edit text-based content, write new blog posts and more while you’re out and about.
E-commerce for Jimdo Sites
No matter which of the three available plans you choose, you can add an e-commerce storefront to your Jimdo site. However, not all features will be accessible at every level.
All three plans enable payment through PayPal with no individual transaction fees. You can set up test orders for your items to ensure things are running as they should, and you can set a maximum shipping cost. You can even offer free shipping, should you choose.
The free plan does have some e-commerce limitations you should be aware of. For example, it only allows a maximum of five products. Additionally, the free account does not allow for discount codes, weight- or tag-based shipping, or any payment processing other than PayPal.
The mid-level plan includes all the features of the free account and also permits up to 15 products plus some additional payment methods. The top-level plan permits unlimited products, discount codes, weight- and tag-based shipping calculations, and custom order confirmations.
Jimdo is Right For…
Jimdo is right for people with zero HTML knowledge, skills, or expertise, or for those who may know HTML but simply want a faster, simpler way to put up a site. While there are many providers offering free website-building tools to customers, they often don’t possess such clean, modern-looking templates.
Jimdo Isn’t the Right Choice If…
If you really just don’t care for any of Jimdo’s templates, even with color and image tweaking, then Jimdo may not be the best choice for you.
Also, if the free entry-level plan isn’t sufficient for you, you’ll need to pay for either one or two years in advance, as there is no monthly invoicing option. If your budget doesn’t support that advance payment, you may want to look elsewhere.
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