No-brainer way to pick a time to meet that works for everyone. Easy, simple, highly utilitarian. Can connect with your existing calendar. Mobile apps available.
Unclear time-zone options.
- Bottom Line
Doodle is the best online scheduling tool for finding a date and time for many people to get together.
By Jill Duffy
Doodle is a scheduling app and website that makes it easy to find a time when a group of people can get together—simple as that. If that's not going boost your productivity by cutting down on needless emails and schedule-juggling, I don't know what will. Doodle has long been one of my favorite productivity apps thanks to its simplicity and utility. It's free to use, though bonus features in the premium subscription tiers are a joy for business users. The biggest drawback to Doodle is that more people don't use it. Doodle is a PCMag Editors' Choice productivity app.
Pricing and Plans
Doodle is a freemium tool. That means that app is free to download, and there's no charge to use the service. If you upgrade to a Private or Business account, however, you get additional perks.
The free account gives you all the basics you need to schedule a get-together with a group of people. You can create polls, invite others to participate in them, edit them, see the results, and so forth. There are no limits on how many polls you can create, either. Nothing major is missing from the free version. You can even connect your personal calendar to Doodle for free, allowing you to see when you have conflicts as you schedule. Note that I've also tested the Doodle Android app, which is excellent, and there's an iPhone version, too.
With a free account, you also get a feature called MeetMe. MeetMe is an online calendar from which people can request meetings with you, based on your availability. You give them a link to the calendar, and they can see when you're busy or free. They cannot, however, see the details of what you're doing when you're not busy. The person requesting the meeting suggests times and dates to meet that will work for you based on your availability, and you confirm whatever meetings you like.
The $39 per year Private account removes ads and throws in a few bonuses, such as the ability to see who hasn't answered a poll yet of the people you've invited. With a paid account, Doodle can also send reminders to those people automatically. Private users get end-to-end SSL encryption, too.
Business accounts are designed for teams, and they start at $69 per year for one person. As a team, however, it seems highly likely that you'll have at least a few people on board. There are various options depending on team size, with volume discounts. A five-person account runs $169 per year, a ten-person team costs $299, and so on. This plan includes everything that's in the Private account, plus custom domains and designs if you want them, as well as user-management features.
When you sign up for a free account on Doodle.com, you can get started by scheduling an event right away. The whole point of Doodle is to make it easy for a group of people to choose a time to get together, whether it's a business meeting or a family dinner.
Within one minute, you can set up a poll to find a date and time for an event. When you're finished, the poll becomes be available online for your colleagues or friends to visit and vote on. You can invite people to respond to your poll by entering their email addresses, or by copying the link to the poll and pasting it wherever you like.
People who respond to the poll do not need to sign up for a Doodle account to do so. They simply see a space to enter their names and tick boxes to check off their availability, based on the given options. People who respond can also leave a comment on the poll.
As people respond, Doodle tallies the results and tells you which date and time works best for everyone, or at least which option got the most votes. It's simple and fast.
Doodle saves all your polls, even ones that are finished, and you can reuse them later as a sort of template if necessary. From your account, you can close a poll, change the link, edit the details, and so forth. Being able to create an account and administer polls after you set them up is something missing from a similar and competing service called Rallly.co (yes, three 'l's and no 'm').
Doodle recently got a redesign, which was long overdue. It's really just a new skin, however, as the functionality is virtually unchanged.
The Little Things
When you're selecting dates and times to offer as options for a poll, you can switch to a calendar view, which might not sound like something to write home about, but it's the little things that make Doodle so useful.
The calendar view is even better when you connect your Doodle account to another calendar that already has all your appointments and other obligations blocked off. Google Calendar, iCloud, Microsoft Office 365, Outlook.com, Outlook, and an ICS feed are all supported. When you connect a calendar and then respond to Doodle polls from other people, you can see which dates and times conflict with existing appointments. These details are only visible to you. On the MeetMe side, you can hide the details of your appointments so that people only see when you're free or busy.
Another tiny detail that makes the service smooth to use is that when you suggest times for the event or meeting, you can type them any way you want. Typing 18:00 or 6 p.m. gets you the same result.
You can customize your poll a little, but not too much, which is probably for the best in terms of keeping the experience simple, easy, and quick. For example, poll options are always Yes or No by default, but you can add an If Need Be choice if you want.
Another option is to create a hidden poll, meaning only you, the poll administrator, can see the replies. The default is an open poll, in which everyone sees all the participants' names and preferred options. I like that any participants in an open poll can request to receive an email whenever any new activity occurs.
While there is support for different time zones, it's tough to find, and I wish it were more prominently displayed. Converting time zones is important for anyone who manages multiparty video conferencing calls with people around the world.
Doodle for All
I've used Doodle for years, and my biggest complaint is that not enough other people use it. I'm all in favor of getting rid of needless email threads and online discussions about whether a particular time and date works for everyone you'd like to see or get on the phone. Doodle is an excellent productivity tool, and it's a PCMag Editors' Choice.
Jill Duffy is a contributing editor, specializing in productivity apps and software, as well as technologies for health and fitness. She writes the weekly Get Organized column, with tips on how to lead a better digital life. Her first book, Get Organized: How to Clean Up Your Messy Digital Life is available for Kindle, iPad, and other digital formats. She is also the creator and author of ProductivityReport.org. Before joining PCMag.com, she was senior editor at the Association for Computing Machinery, a non-profit membership organization for… More »
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