jimdo.jpgGermany’s Jimdo is one of a growing number of do-it-yourself website creation tools, but its combination of simplicity and flexibility separate it from the pack. As of today, people versed in basic HTML and CSS can use Jimdo to “borrow” the design of any site that suits their fancies.

This is a competitive space, and Jimdo competitors Weebly, SiteKreator and Synthasite all have their strengths. Weebly is dead simple, and anyone can use it to get a quick and dirty site up in a matter of minutes. SiteKreator’s interface is relatively slow and clunky, but ultimately gives you more control (see our coverage here). Synthasite, which is still in alpha, shows promise on both of these fronts, but we’ll have to wait for its beta to know if it can pull it off. None of these services, however, offer the ability to quickly import a template from another site and then add your own touches (or just rip the whole thing off).

For the record, we don’t endorse rip-offs of other peoples’ works; it’s lazy and an insult to the original designers who put in real effort to produce something that looks good. Our stomach churned a bit when we saw this Jimdo-clone of VentureBeat but here goes:

Creating a clone site takes a few steps. First, you copy the HTML from the site that inspires you, paste it into Jimdo, and press a button. This clears out everything besides the structure of the layout and replaces it with the code for Jimdo’s site-creation tools. You then copy and paste the source site’s CSS. Of course, all of this assumes you know have a rudimentary understanding of HTLM and CSS, and you’ll probably have to make some minor adjustments to the code to adjust the positioning of various elements. (see video below)

Once that is done, you’re free to use Jimdo’s AJAX interface to customize the rest of the site. You can easily add widgets of all types, text, and photographs. The free version gives you 500MB of storage and a hosted website; it’ll cost you $6 per month to get 5GB and use your own domain.

The company, based in Hamburg, has versions in English, German, and Chinese. Some might want to throw Jimdo into the “German clone” bucket with Verwandt, Frazr, and the like, but its look and feel are differentiated enough to avoid that label. It has raised only a small angel round of an undisclosed amount.

We’re interested in your thoughts on this, folks. Is this thing legit?

[Update: Jimdo’s founders wrote to say that they do not support design theft, and created this import function to let designers use their own templates with Jimdo’s service.]

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