Tumblr vs WordPress, the (only somewhat recent) age-old debate.
Knowing which one to use ultimately comes down to the purpose of your site, but knowing the benefits of each platform can help you make that decision. For this post, we’re going to compare Tumblr vs WordPress using the following five criteria: usability, flexibility, shareability, searchability, and security.
Got it? Well let’s get started then.
Tumblr vs WordPress: Usability
Both Tumblr and WordPress are “CMS”s, aka Content Management Systems. They are ways of organizing webpages in a way that’s a lot more intuitive than the old standard of just having a bunch of HTML files.
I think both are pretty easy to use. Tumblr will get you setup straight away and it gives straight-forward prompts of what you can do (do you want to post a picture, a link, text, etc).
WordPress is also relatively straight forward but with more options right out of the gate–do you want to write a page or a post? They’ve also added options similar to tumblr but it’s not quite as straight forward.
Winner: Tumblr edges out WordPress. It’s more intuitive but that does come at a price, which leads me to…
Tumblr vs WordPress: Flexibility
The challenge for all web developers is balancing keeping things simple versus giving users flexibility to do whatever they want. It’s similar to the Mac vs PC (or iPhone vs Android) debate that has been going on for years.
Apple is all about making things simple and intuitive, but they do it at the cost of restricting their users from truly being able to manage their device how they want. PCs (and Androids) on the other hand are setup to give you a lot more control over what you can do, but at the cost of being a little harder to learn.
Tumblr is Apple and WordPress is PCs/Android. Tumblr is a intuitive and elegant–for the simple things. You can quickly and easily share or write a post and there are some custom themes you can use to add some personality to your page. Beyond that? Things get a little tougher.
WordPress, on the other hand, is designed for customization. There are countless themes out there and they are easier to tweak. In addition, and perhaps WordPress’ greatest strength, is the ability to install plugins. These are packaged solutions for all sorts of great web features: there are plugins for making fancy galleries, adding social media buttons, embedding videos, processing payments, and thousands-upon-thousands more.
Winner: WordPress (and it’s not even close).
Tumblr vs WordPress: Shareability
If WordPress’ greatest strength is flexibility, Tumblr’s greatest strength is shareability.
Tumblr is designed to be shared. There are reblog buttons on every page, the ability to “like” your favorite posts, and follow your favorite sites. And all of that shows up in your activity feed. And when you post/like/reblog something, all of the people who follow you can easily see it and then share it to the people who follow them, and on it and on it goes.
WordPress doesn’t have any that. Sure you can connect WordPress to Facebook or Twitter (just as you can with Tumblr), but there is no built-in community for liking or reblogging. And if you want to follow someone, you do it privately via RSS or good-ol-fashioned page stalking.
Winner: Tumblr by miles.
Tumblr vs WordPress: Searchability
But yet again, one of Tumblr’s strengths is also the reason for one of its downfalls–in particular: search.
If you want your website to rank well for search, you’re going to have an easier time doing it via WordPress. Why? Partially because there are a number of great plugins to help with important search settings such as Meta tags and sitemap files, but mostly because of how Tumblr is set up.
Search engines like, among others, 2 things: original content and specific content. First, original content is key. Google doesn’t want to show you 10 different pages with the exact same content on it; you only care to see it once. And yet Tumblr is designed specifically to have duplicate content out there–if you reblog a post, that’s the same content in two spots, which can impact search results.
Second, Google tries to find the best pages for the search that was entered by the user. One way they determine how close a specific page is to matching your query is through the URL (in addition to things like keywords, anchor text, and more). So when the URL of your post matches what people typed, that’s a good thing.
The problem with Tumblr is that every post URL contains a random string of numbers in it (to uniquely identify the post). That’s great for Tumblr’s back-end, but not great for search. After all, who includes a random string of numbers in their searches (well, maybe if you’re trying to guess someone’s phone number).
Does that mean you’ll never show up in Google results using Tumblr? No. But it won’t be as easy as if you were using WordPress.
Tumblr vs WordPress: Security
The last category we’ll talk about is security, an important factor for any website, but particularly for any site that will gain a lot of views or be used for business.
This is where WordPress’ flexibility can be a bad thing, as a WordPress site is only as secure as its weakest plugin. All it takes is one plugin to get exploited and it can bring your entire site down or turn it into a spam-sending crapbag.
Tumblr doesn’t have this concern. All of their features are locked down and you can’t run your own scripts, so the only security concern is your username and password.
But don’t let that scare you, there are a number of things you can do to improve WordPress security, but as you can read about in one of my other posts, just know that it’s no fun to clean up after a WordPress hack.
So which one should you use? Well if you simply did a count, you’d assume Tumblr (three is bigger than two), but you’re smart enough to know that it’s not that simple. Why? Because it depends on what you want to do with your site.
So how do you choose? Well that will be the topic of the next post. Stay tuned.