Doodle review: to tell it short and sweet
Doodle is one of the earliest, most popular online meeting schedulers in the market. Being the earliest in the market, they had a monopoly. However, there are more than 80 players in the market now. When comparing Doodle with some of the newer products, I felt that they are falling short.
Doodle has polls, surveys and bookable calendars. Polls are good when you have to find the best time to meet with a group.
Surveys are good when you want to discover the option that is best wanted by a group of people.
Bookable calendar is useful for you to share your availability with anyone and let them book a time with you.
Doodle also syncs with your Google and Microsoft contacts
Doodle offers SSO, mobile apps, dedicated success manager, 99.9% uptime SLA, training and priority support if you need that. These features have helped them penetrate larger organizations like universities.
Who will find Doodle limiting?
Doodle has many limitations compared to the competition.
- There is no option to embed your availability on a web page
- The UI is aged. I found some pop-up screens to be very clunky.
- Design is subjective but they could do better on that front.
- Custom questions on booking form have only single line fields. You cannot use the form for any sort of qualification about the booker.
- No easy access links to share meetings – It was difficult to locate
- Email notifications are not customizable
- No SMS reminders
- There is no reference to Zapier or Outlook add-in even though the website mentions them.
- Doodle takes separate permissions for connecting to Google calendar and Google contacts even though we sign up with a Google account.
- The survey and the poll page are visible to all participants. One can vote with their name alone. Others can see it – not an ideal way if the participants do not want to know each other.
- The booking confirmation page is not customizable. You cannot redirect people to your website.
- Cancelling an event was a struggle as it is not easy to locate the cancel button
Who will find Doodle useful?
Doodle is good if your meetings are predominantly collaborative in nature and with people you already know. It is understandable that the largest audience set of Doodle is from the education industry.
The free plan is extremely popular among freelancers and for non-business get togethers and meetings. People use to organize bachelor parties, barbeques and so on.
What is their business model?
Doodle tries to onboard large institutions and organizations who need a meeting tool for individual and team meetings. They bank upon their enterprise capabilities. Since they are one of the earliest in the meeting scheduler space, they have established themselves as a key player in the education and non-profit industry. Their pricing and billing structure are also reflective of the desire to acquire larger clients. Though there is a one-user plan which is ideal for freelancers and solopreneurs, the annual billing can be hard for them.
Doodle also tries to monetize their free plan by showing paid ads.
Viability of the company
Doodle has been in the market from 2007. They claim 30M users worldwide. The Swiss media form Tamedia owns Doodle. The company is financially strong.
What bothers me about Doodle is the lack of depth and breadth in its features. New features are updates are lesser compared to competition. The focus appears to be on retaining customers, selling more ads and penetrating their strongest market – education.
Doodle review: how do they fare on the basic features of a scheduler?
- Calendar sync – Doodle syncs with Google, O365 and Outlook.com calendars. You can add iCS feed to another calendar. You can connect multiple calendars and choose one of them as the primary to add new meetings.
- Setting the availability – In Doodle, you can create a bookable calendar for polls. Doodle has a built-in calendar. You can sync external calendars with it. For meeting types like 1:1 meeting and group meeting, you have to pick slots from the calendar that you want to show as available for those meetings.There are settings to avoid last-minute bookings and advance bookings, and add buffer times.
- Meetings – You can do 1:1 meetings, group meetings, meeting polls and conduct surveys. Doodle has integration with Zoom.
- Sharing it with customers – Doodle does not offer an embed code to add the booking calendar to your website. However, each meeting gets its booking calendar and URL. Doodle has a slack bot which is useful for organizing meetings.
- Post-appointment actions – Doodle sends confirmation emails for meetings. However, they are not customizable. There are no SMS reminders. There is no direct integration with a CRM or a ATS or a marketing automation software. You have to use Zapier.
- Online meeting – Doodle has direct integration with Zoom and with other online meeting tools via Zapier.
Doodle review: what are the differentiating features?
Doodle’s enterprise features, dedicated account manager and training are features that differentiate them from other meeting schedulers in the market.
Doodle review: what are the niche features?
Doodle offers Surveys which is a unique feature when compared to other meeting schedulers. This is a replica of the meeting poll. However, the feature will be useful when it comes to collaboration. For ex. f you want to do a survey after a meeting or before a meeting.
I could not find any API related documentation on Doodle’s website
Ease of use
Doodle is a simple tool without many settings. It is easy to find your way. However, if you are a user of popular SaaS tools, you will find the Doodle experience underwhelming. Modern tools understand the context of the user’s interaction with a product page and are ready for the next user interaction on the page. Also, they try to reduce the friction on the UI. Doodle appears to be sleeping on this front. One of the examples… I asked for a upgrade to their team plan as part of my evaluation. They did it for me. I checked my Doodle window and it was not upgraded. I did a reload with no change. By then I had cracked the Doodle code. I logged out and logged in. The plan upgrade happened. Isn’t that pushing the product experience a decade back?
Help and support
Doodle has good help documentation that answers many of the questions that you might have.
However, I did not find it sufficient. The relevant results for my search queries were less even when I searched with exact feature names.
There is no chat support, or an email ID to contact the support team. I tried to contact the support team via a form. I did get a reply. Overall, I felt that Doodle’s help and support could be better considering their large user base and popularity in the market.
I did not come across any bugs when I used the product.
Doodle review: Pricing model
Doodle’s pricing is different from the competition. The biggest surprise is that they do not have monthly billing. You have to pay for a year. This can be intimidating when you want to evaluate and upgrade.
In the single user plans – starter and pro – you cannot add more users. You have to move to a team plan which bills you for 5 users. You can add users only in the multiples of five. So, if you just need 2 users, you will end up paying for 5.
If we do the math, you have to pay $360 if you need Doodle for 2 people whereas the average monthly billing for 2 users with the competition will be $16 to $24.Once again, the pricing structure indicates that Doodle wants to onboard institutions who have many users and need an org-wide implementation. Such customers will not mind the pricing.
Total cost of ownership
As discussed in the previous section, Doodle’s pricing can be intimidating for smaller companies. The total cost will be the sum of subscription costs for Doodle and the apps you need to integrate with it.
Summary of other Doodle reviews
Doodle users have a lot to complain about. The two primary areas are the user experience (UX) and the lack of integrations.
It appears that Doodle has not made an effort to improve the UX after 2007 when it was launched.
Many users have expressed frustration over the horizontal scroll bar on the bookable calendar. People have to scroll horizontally to select multiple date options during polls and to see poll results from large groups.
The lack of features like recurring appointments and buffer times is another concern expressed in the reviews. There are issues reported about calendar syncing and the lack of notifications for certain events.
When pitted against the segment leader – comparison page and table
Doodle is the segment leader. Here is the review of a popular alternative – Vyte.
Doodle is a good tool but they are slowing down. Competitors are catching up. If you are a small team or business and want more features at lesser price go for Doodle alternatives. If you are a large company and need enterprise security, go for Doodle.
Long term review
Often, you will find that the product that you started using with full conviction is not the one you need now, after a few years. The reasons could be that it is not able to scale, or the total cost of ownership is enormous, the support is bad, and there are no updates.
Our long term review is a way to observe how a product and the company behind it behaved in the last year. This is an important read if you are buying the product for a longer term. Read our long term review about Doodle.