In the world of web design, blogging has become a staple for most businesses looking to carve out a place of their own from which they can reach their intended audience to grow and stabilize their business. Many of them turn to us, the designers and coders, to determine what the best course of action is is for their businesses needs. For the most part, it seems a large part of the community tends to steer them towards WordPress. But is that always the way to go?
The Basic Rundown
There is no doubt that WordPress is a powerful content management system that can handle virtually anything we throw at it. But often times, it is this same quality that causes WordPress to not necessarily be the right option for all occasions. It can handle so much because it is an extremely complex and in-depth system, perhaps more than the client needs or can manage. This is where Tumblr can be a effective solution to this problem.
Tumblr offers a completely different approach to the tackling the blogosphere and using its reach to connect the clients business with an audience. A much simpler solution on multiple fronts for all the parties involved. Naturally, Tumblr is not as comprehensive as WordPress, lacking its depth and more, but admittedly there are times when the client does not need all of that extra oomph. Most of the time we go with what we know and what is popular, so we give them the fully loaded SUV, when all they really need is a basic package subcompact car.
WordPress is standing at an impressive seven years and counting. Even more impressive is its reach with over 25 million users, which may just give it the edge in this contest. It certainly boasts a large community surrounding it, though there is not an inherent connection that brings them all together. We will get to functionality later, but we know that WordPress carries a lot of weight behind it in no matter the task. Now that is a lot to take on.
Tumblr comes in at a scrappy count of about three years and nine months. Now the commanding reach of its opponent does somewhat dwarf that of Tumblr who has just under 10 million users. Just like WP, Tumblr does have a large community just not as large as its opponent, however there is more of a tie that connects all of them with ease. Once again functionality, will be covered later, but this is another area that at first glance, Tumblr comes up short again. But never count out an underdog.
After the weigh in, WordPress supporters have to be feeling pretty good about this competition, as it clearly has the advantage. When it comes to blogging, WordPress seems to have the superior stats going in to the actual match. Making this feel like a mismatched bout between a heavyweight and a welterweight. But do not count Tumblr out so fast. Because the web is a dynamic and wonderful place with niches that are crying to be filled and sometimes the best solution is the one that fits the best. It is not always about bells and whistles.
In the blue corner we have that powerhouse platform that is generally favored to come out ahead in most match-ups that it is entered into, and with good reason. It is a resourceful and flexible fighter with an accessible license. So lets take a look at the full rundown.
WordPress is a completely open source CMS which has opened it up to being improved upon by any and everyone who is willing to take the time to work on it. This also opens the door for the community to develop and design for this versatile platform. A market has sprung up around this area of WordPress, that thousands have responded to developing plugins and designing themes. This allows WP to easily handle a seemingly endless number of your clients needs. It is not just about the blogging with WordPress, even though that is usually what it is thought of as.
WordPress is also fully customizable, so again, the possibilities it offers your clients continues to fulfill their desires. No matter what your clients business provides, WordPress not only gives them the ability to present it in creative and stylish ways, but it allows them to be able to update their site and information with relative ease. There is a bit of a learning angle, much more than a curve, but it can be managed. The community has also seen to covering this angle with plenty of helpful tutorials and forums for handling any issues that users have getting started with this powerful tool.
The learning angle is somewhat accentuated by the vast and complex backend, though it does have a very user friendly interface with a fairly clear navigation system to ease new users into it. Now the relative ease of updating gets upgraded as the users knowledge base widens so that is not an issue for long. As for the coding it takes to pull together, WP starts to slip a little in favor here by comparison. Though it is open, it is in-depth and takes some time and expertise to make it fit for your different clients.
Though there is a community aspect to WordPress, it does not often extend to connecting the audiences with the various sites using this platform to build on. Once your client launches and begins using the site it is up to them to find ways to find and draw in their audience. If they are not necessarily adept at reaching out through the cyber channels and social media networks then they are going to have a difficult road ahead of them to get established with the online community they are trying to access.
All in all, there is a reason that WordPress has grown into one of the most popular content management systems around the interwebs, but we do have to consider its downsides when assessing our clients abilities and needs. WP may not always be the balanced approach they need, instead it could be seen as a Swiss army knife solution. Virtual overkill.
In the slightly different shade of blue corner is that feisty underdog with what some would call a rabid following that is gaining in popularity near daily, Tumblr. This platform finds itself less flexible than its opponent, but since we are talking about tackling blogging, Tumblr cannot be counted out. It is specifically tailored for this arena and it fits in nicely. Heres the rundown.
Tumblr is not open source, so it is not as accessible to the community to be expanded, but given its simple nature, said expansion could potentially compromise that simplicity, so it does not lose many points for this less than accessible license. Though there is a market that the community is responding to, it does not have the numbers that WP does or the capabilities granted by the open development aspect. Which also means that Tumblr does not have the plugin library available to enhance and tweak it to your clients specific blogging needs like WP does.
So it may not have the all the bells and whistles of its opponent, but it does have them. And it can be an awesome niche filler in the blogosphere with its ease of uploading and sharing information, images, audio and video and more. Speaking of its community, the audience that your client is looking to connect with is waiting right at the click of a trackable tag for any and all of their content so long as they include the keywords when posting. So the user does not have to have a lot of know how when it comes to navigating the social media circuits that would otherwise be required to reach their audience. This can lead to a much more expedited establishment of their business online.
Speaking of the clients know how, the learning curve with Tumblr is a lot easier to conquer for the less than savvy user than WP. The simple interface is preferred for some on both ends of the spectrum. Clients have less to confuse them, and the designers or developers have less to explain to them. Speaking of the learning curve, designing and coding for Tumblr sites is a complete breeze in comparison. With simple calls and bare basic variables used in the HTML, Tumblr takes this round. Though there is a lack of customization when compared to WP. Not much beyond the plugins, but it is there.
One area that acts as a sort of double edged sword for Tumblr in this contest is the hosting aspect. Normally a somewhat costly concern that your client is responsible for once you have handed the project over to them, is completely handled here. Tumblr hosts everything on the blog, but this is not without its downsides. And its downtimes, which is the first main drawback to this approach. Not to mention that there are somewhat strict daily upload limits imposed on user that would not be there if they could host the site elsewhere. So that is not always a practical solution for everyone.
All in all, Tumblr can allow your clients to explore various aspects of blogging, and can allow them experiment with approaches for their content that maximize all that this platform has to offer with little instruction, but it does have its limitations. It cannot meet all of the needs certain clients may demand of their site, but that does not mean it does not have its strengths.
Both platforms have their pros and their cons, which make them uniquely suited for different clients and their requirements. In this contest it becomes less a matter of which is the better system, as much as it is all about which is the better fit for the project at hand with all things considered. Have you worked with both platforms as either a designer or developer, and if you have, which do you prefer? Have you ever steered a client towards one of these two blogging platforms, only to recognize now they could have been better off having gone with the other?