Top 8 Duda Limitations
To analyze the efficacy of a website platform, you must understand it's strengths and weaknesses. Throughout 2 years of using Duda, I've compiled a list of its biggest limitations.
First, let me start by saying Duda is one of the best website platforms out there. I'm not the only one who thinks this. In 2021, Duda was ranked the #1 web content system.
As a website expert, it's my job to pick the right tool for the job. To effectively do this, I have to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the platforms I work with. This is no sweat for me as I have a knack for pushing platforms to their limits.
Having exposure to many different projects, and a yearning to learn a system inside out allows me to fully grasp what a system can and can't do. And, as a developer with years of experience, I often am able to craft solutions that extend these platforms' abilities. Duda is no exception.
Throughout the development of 20+ Duda websites, I have compiled a list of 8 things that bug me most about the platform.
Check out my video going over these or read ahead for the written version. If you're ready to learn Duda, dive into my Duda Website Builder Tutorial.
1. Changes all have to be published simultaneously
Update: Duda has released a new feature that allows individual pages to be published. This is no longer a limitation.
Clicking the "Publish" button in the top right is how you make your changes public.
Until clicking that button, changes you make are in a draft state. Pretty simple.
The limitation is that the publish button takes all changes across the entire site live. The repercussion is that if there are two or more pages that have changes going on simultaneously and only one of them is ready to be published, then it's an all-or-nothing deal. Either all pages get published, or none of them do.
The exception to this is if you are working on a page this is not live yet. You can publish all your changes but keep a draft page unpublished or not visible to your audience.
Also, blogs have their own publishing system. So this only applied to Pages.
This limitation won't affect most people, but it is something worth noting. When working on a Duda website, plan accordingly and this shouldn't impact you.
2. Connected data and templating limitations
A broad term for many website platforms is "content management systems" (CMS). When you have multiple pages of information that all share the same template, you need a system to manage it. For example, a blog has a title and a body and a template to display this information.
A more equipped CMS has the ability to create more types of content and create a layout or template for it.
Duda thankfully has a pretty slick system for this. They use "Collections" (the place you put your data) and templates where you "connect to data" (i.e., you make the title of the template show the title of your data in the Collection).
While this system is an effective solution, the templating options are a bit limited.
First, there are no conditions when displaying data in the template. That means there is no ability to say, "if this data isn't present, don't show this section of the page", or "if this then that" type of functionality.
This challenge is you have to ensure that EVERY field in your template is filled out. Take, for example, a locations template. There are rows of data that have the store name, location, and Facebook links. So, your template will respectively display these fields. But, if one store doesn't have a Facebook link, then the template will display a Facebook button that doesn't go anywhere. It would be beneficial if there was the functionality to hide the button if the Facebook link wasn't present.
It's essential to plan when creating the data model and template to ensure consistency across all items.
3. No access to backend
The "backend" I am referring to is the server-side code. Of course, you can use the UI backend to edit pages, update menus, etc.
There is a good reason for this.
Duda is "managed".
This means Duda manages their servers, the code, the updates - all the pain in the butt maintenance you must do if you are using WordPress or other self-managed systems.
The drawback to this is we don't have access to edit code. For most people this is acceptable, but as a developer I like to have the flexibility to make customizations at my client's request.
This also means there are no third-party apps or plugins. There are third-party widgets that are mainly frontend modifications.
Duda has a growing library of apps that are fully vetted and approved by Duda. This ensures quality and consistency as well as taking the maintenance requirement away from us.
4. Buggy editor
Duda's editor is very powerful.
It's provided a solution for SO many areas of web design and development, and it's packaged up into a very intuitive editor.
For the most part, it does exactly what you are trying to do. Dragging widgets into the right areas of the website is easy, for example.
However, such a powerful editor is destined to have bugs.
There are several minor bugs that disrupt the workflow of my web design and development. They are by no means showstoppers but a disruption while building websites.
5. Linking to blog posts, dynamic collections, and ecommerce store items
Duda makes it very simple to link to other pieces of content, emails, phone numbers, and files.
They DON'T make it easy to link to blog posts, dynamic data, and anything within the store.
Linking to all three of these types of content are requested features and items on Duda's backlog.
Technically it is possible to link to them, but you have to use the full URL and manually type it in.
The internal linking system Duda has makes it so you can search for the page you want, and it handles finding the URL, except for the types of content listed above.
6. Lack of keyboard shortcuts
As a keyboard shortcut and efficiency junkie, I'm saddened to see the lack of keyboard shortcuts. Duda has some shortcuts but beyond copying and pasting, there aren't many useful ones.
I'd love to see keyboard shortcuts that allow you to duplicate widgets, center widgets, and add widgets without having to click around.
7. Grid system
Update: Duda has released this feature and it's no longer a limitation. It woks well and unleashes many design capabilities. Thanks Duda!
Duda's grid system, or ability to layout content in rows and columns, is a bit limited. It can suffice for most designs, but in some instances, I'd like a greater level of flexibility.
As a developer, I have preferred using the Flexbox CSS layout system.
Note: I first learned this syntax using a very handy online game called Flexbox Froggy. Check it out if you are interested in learning more!
8. Data queries
Update: Duda has released this feature to everyone. This is no longer a limitation!
The last item, and the most significant limitation in my opinion, is the ability to query/filter and sort items in a dynamic collection.
The great news is that Duda has this feature in beta at the time of writing this (March 2021) and my company has beta tested it. It's awesome!
It allows you to filter by any of your custom fields.
For example, if you have a list of locations that are in various states and want to create a state overview page of your locations in that state, you can now do so by using the filter.
Prior to this feature, good luck...
Duda is an amazing platform that is my main go-to for the projects I work on. The limitations mentioned above are in no way a discouragement to use the platform, but rather helping you understand its strengths and weaknesses. No platform is perfect, but Duda is pretty close.