Nanostructured ZnO thin films with different concentrations of Ni2+ doping (0, 1, 5, 10 and 15 wt.%) are prepared by the sol-gel method for the first time. The thin films are prepared from zinc acetate, 2-methoxyethanol and monoethanolamine on glass substrates by using dip coating method. The films comprise of ZnO nanocrystallites with hexagonal crystal structure, as revealed by X-ray diffraction. The film surface is with characteristic ganglia-like structure as observed by Scanning Electron Microscopy. Furthermore, the Ni-doped films are tested with respect to the photocatalysis in aqueous solutions of malachite green upon UV-light illumination, visible light and in darkness. The initial concentration of malachite green and the amount of catalyst are varied during the experiments. It is found that increasing of the amount of Ni2+ ions with respect to ZnO generally lowers the photocatalytic activity in comparison with the pure ZnO films. Nevertheless, all films exhibit a substantial activity under both, UV and visible light and in darkness as well, which is promising for the development of new ZnO photocatalysts by the sol-gel method.