In the ever-expanding realm of CMS and DXP platforms, the category of “website builder” has long been an enigma. It’s not uncommon to have our readers ask us: how do I actually "create" a website using this tool?
And that’s the rub: content management systems have traditionally been designed to "manage content," while DXPs have evolved the stack by expanding the layers of data and optimization. But building an actual website? That’s another story. Or stories, to be more accurate.
Let’s provide a quick backdrop: with traditional CMS platforms, creating a website has often been a labor of technical love. In most cases, it requires the implementation of responsive HTML templates into a system by a trained developer or system integrator. While this model has given designers and coders greater control over the experience layer – and enabled content creators to preview rendered pages – it also comes with a much steeper learning curve and cost.
The rise of headless CMS has also changed the calculus. In this new omnichannel world, websites have become another endpoint in the experience landscape. This has shifted the thinking for marketers as they embrace new ways of distributing content and engaging with audiences via JAMstack libraries, custom apps, and other form factors.
Still, for many SMBs, a website is the center of their digital strategy. And with more demand at a do-it-yourself level, website building platforms have grown in popularity, giving way to more effective low-code/no-code tools with a myriad of drag-and-drop features. This includes purpose-built platforms like Squarespace but has now grown to include hosting ecosystems like GoDaddy and marketing automation services like MailChimp.
But if you’re a designer or an agency that’s focused on delivering a high-caliber customer experience – particularly in the bursting e-commerce sector – many do-it-yourself builder tools conjure a single word: compromise.
That’s where Duda has been expanding their niche as a best-of-breed professional web building platform. Their unique solution continues to gain ground with digital agencies and SaaS companies as the demand for digital commerce solutions grows exponentially.
Recently, the company announced that it has acquired Snipcart, an e-commerce solution that lets businesses add a shopping cart to any website. The acquisition news comes hot on the heels of a successful round of $50M in Series D Funding, bringing Duda’s total funding to $100M thus far.
Let's start with the basics: Duda is a platform that allows designers and agencies to rapidly create websites at scale with tools that automate the entire site-building process.
One of Duda’s key attributes is that it enables web professionals to achieve pixel-perfect designs without touching code. This has long been a challenge for nearly every website builder, but Duda seems to have to married simplicity with flexibility – allowing designers granular control to customize around their unique brand requirements. This reduces the headaches that many open source platforms like WordPress or enterprise CMSes create for web designers that want to focus on the experience and not the code.
Duda also provides a robust set of pre-built themes and templates that are free of charge, as well as a drag-and-drop builder that accelerates the design process. They also feature a library of widgets, as well as a nifty widget builder for coding your own functionality.
Duda claims to outperform other industry-leading tools by ensuring every site built on its platform ranks high on critical SEO factors. They also suggest that their platform can reduce the average website build time by 50% to 75% – which can be a huge advantage to businesses that need to pivot quickly.
It’s impossible to ignore the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on consumer habits. As people turned to digital and contactless solutions over the last 18 months, e-commerce has exploded – and the market is forecast to grow by 50% to an estimated $6.3 trillion by 2024.
According to Duda, the company has already seen a whopping 265% year-over-year increase in e-commerce sites built on its platform. This was the impetus for the Snipcart acquisition, which will enable the company to further accelerate its growth by providing customers with a flexible e-commerce solution that can make any data or inventory they have shoppable.
Snipcart’s dynamic team of experienced developers, marketers, and managers has built a state-of-the-art e-commerce platform used by thousands of customers worldwide. Their focus on flexibility and modern e-commerce store design is very much aligned with Duda’s product vision of providing its customers with beautiful and modular e-commerce solutions.
CMS Critic had a chance to connect with Duda’s CEO and co-founder, Itai Sadan. We discussed the Snipcart acquisition, how e-Commerce is changing the landscape, and what Duda is planning next.
CMS Critic (CC): It’s clear that digital agencies are a key focus for Duda. What other partner channels or vertical industries are emerging as opportunities? Is the enterprise becoming more of a target?
Itai Sadan (IS): Aside from digital agencies that have always been our focus, Duda has also been focused in the last two years on vertical SaaS platforms. These are typically SaaS solutions that serve a very specific industry (e.g. healthcare, professional services, real-estate) and want to expand into offering websites to their customers.
Duda has a very unique offering for this category as our website builder can be seamlessly embedded into their platform allowing them to automatically generate websites with their customers’ pre-populated data, giving their customers an amazing head start on their site builds and ensuring data is always in sync.
CC: What do Duda’s ideal SaaS customers look like? What in particular attracts them to Duda?
IS: Duda’s typical SaaS customer is a back-office platform that SMBs use to manage their business. Many times it could be a CRM, ERP, or a marketing platform for a certain industry vertical.
The moment these SaaS platforms want to help their customers acquire more clients, they need to provide some form of web presence to capture leads. Often these SaaS platforms have widgets that live on a website – such as a bookings engine or a form. Through integration with Duda they can have these widgets pre-installed on the websites, providing their customers with a hassle-free experience.
Our customers also know that Duda has their back in terms of ensuring our websites are highly converting and have great SEO. Duda handles all of the ongoing Google Core Web Vitals, AMP, and PageSpeed optimizations so that their clients will have a revenue-generating website that will perform well.
Lastly, I think what our partners really like is that Duda makes it very clear that we’re not in competition with them. Our go-to-market is always through channels; we are completely white-label and will never reach out directly to their customers. There is a certain trust and confidence that comes with that where these SaaS platforms know that they are our customers and we are 100% dedicated to seeing them succeed. Our Support and Account Management teams have received multiple awards and have been heralded as one of the key reasons customers choose us.
CC: There’s no question that eCommerce is exploding, particularly with the pandemic driving more digital adoption and transformation. What has been the most important feature or capability in Duda’s current e-commerce toolbox that has given it an edge?
IS: One of Duda’s current e-commerce solution strengths is that users can set up their store once to easily sync and sell across their website, social media (Instagram, Facebook) and marketplaces (eBay, Amazon).
The existing e-commerce solution has a strong and loyal following, used by many of Duda’s customers to add website buying experiences and will stay in place for customers that prefer to keep using it. In addition, Duda will continue to support it and expand on its capabilities.”
CC: How quickly will Snipcart’s capabilities be woven into Duda’s offerings?
IS: The Snipcart and Duda team are deeply focused on the integration. We believe the first phase of the integration will be released in early 2022. Initially, it will be offered to customers building new e-commerce sites.
CC: Compliance and governance are becoming pinnacle concerns for digital businesses – particularly those transacting with e-commerce. How is Duda approaching issues like data privacy, ransomware, etc.?
IS: As a SaaS provider with hundreds of thousands of customers and users from around the world, Duda cares deeply about the privacy and security of the data owned by its customers and users, and takes it very seriously. Regarding privacy - Duda has appointed a Data Protection Officer (DPO) and developed and maintains a set of internal policies, guidelines, and procedures to make sure personal data is being stored and processed in accordance with data privacy laws such as GDPR and CCPA.
We also have an Information Security Program which was developed by the Head of Cybersecurity security at Duda. The program aims to manage and reduce the risks to Duda’s data assets via an interactive process of business assessment, asset mapping, identification of vulnerabilities, potential threats, and the implantation of mitigating measures (i.e controls).
The controls we implement include information security awareness, developing required policies and processes, and the usage of technical measures. In an external audit that was handled in May 2021, we received very high scores both in Information Security and Business Continuity. Duda believes that Information Security is a fundamental requirement for business growth, and makes significant investments to improve the overall security posture each year.
Ransomware has become quite a popular threat recently, this is only one of the cyber threats Duda is dealing with on a daily basis. We use a large set of security controls to mitigate such risks, which include but are not limited to, security awareness among employees, email filtering and protection, identity management and access control, network segmentation, WAF and Firewalls, backups, as well as many others.”
CC: Some competitive platforms in your space are offering native app builders or API integrations to expand their omnichannel capabilities. How is Duda positioning against these offerings – and what’s on the horizon that we can share with our readers?
IS: We don’t have any plans to develop a native app offering. We think that most SMBs will do well with a website as the main way consumers are finding them is through a Google search or social media platforms that drive visitors to a website. We think the barrier to get an app installed is prohibitive for most SMBs and they will not see the ROI of building an app (for more detail see my blog post about this topic).
[On the horizon] we are investing in other areas that can help agencies. First, we always invest in our core platform. Web design is constantly evolving and we want to make sure our website builder always stays at the forefront of technology. We recently released DudaFlex, a way to build pixel-perfect sites in a very flexible way without needing to code. We are releasing a new membership feature that is in high demand and coming out in Q4 with a client billing solution that would allow agencies to seamlessly invoice and collect payments from their clients.
Duda and Snipcart have already started working on their integration, which, as noted, is expected to be released in early 2022.
Along with Snipcart, Duda will continue to offer its existing e-commerce solution, which has a strong and loyal following amongst current users. They plan to support and expand these existing capabilities as well.
Duda also plans to invest heavily in growing the Snipcart team and adding more features to the core Snipcart platform. Additionally, Snipcart will continue to offer its product independently to customers, allowing Duda to grow their investment on multiple fronts.