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WordPress vs Tumblr: Comparing Two Of The Most Popular Blogging Platforms

Posted on August 3, 2014 by in Editorial | 40 comments

WordPress vs Tumblr: Comparing Two Of The Most Popular Blogging Platforms

Deciding to write a blog in today’s world is no easy feat. There are many decisions to make even before you land on the platform you will use to publish your articles. Deciding what to write about is half the battle, though once you do there are a number of platforms to choose from.

In an upcoming group of blog posts, we will be writing about how WordPress compares to other popular blogging platforms. Both the advantages and disadvantages will be discussed, as well as strengths in each corner of the ring.

This isn’t a series of posts that is meant to argue against using other blogging platforms but rather it is more of an informative comparison between them. It is also a way for you to discover what else is out there and how they compare. Features, cost, maintenance, compatibility and more will all be topics of discussion.

Today we embark on the comparison between WordPress and Tumblr.

WordPress

WordPress offers two flavors for its large audience. WordPress.com and WordPress.org.

WordPress.com

The .com platform is a freely hosted service that offers no initial setup by its users. With the free service you get a blog with a plethora of themes to choose from. Some themes are free while others will cost you a pretty penny.

If you’re seeking more features than the free option that Automattic (the creators of WordPress) offers, then a premium package for $99 per year is also available. Users who subscribe to this plan receive:

  • A custom domain name of which allows you to ditch the wordpress.com extension to your existing WordPress.com website.
  • The ability to upload HD videos directly to your blog with VideoPress. No ads, no time limits, no watermarks — just your video.
  • The ability to choose custom fonts and colors with Custom Design, or go under the hood with the CSS editor.
  • The No Ads upgrade makes sure ads will never show up on your blog.
  • An extra 10GB of storage space will give you ample room for images, audio and video.
wp.com-premium

WordPress.com offers a premium services for $99

WordPress.org

WordPress.org differs from WordPress.com in the sense that it is an open sourced software available to use at your own will. Your WordPress installation can become anything you can imagine, especially when modified or expanded on by the plethora of plugins and themes available from the community.

The core software was built by hundreds of volunteers and has a huge collection of plugins, widgets, and customized themes available for any user.

Many users who take this approach will typically install their own software on their website and install a completely custom theme, which may be one they created or designed themselves.

Advantages to Using WordPress

WordPress remains the most popular blogging software. Advantages to using it over other blogging platforms include but are not limited to:

  • A huge developer community to offer support or contributions.
  • Probably the biggest list of plugins available for a website software package.
  • Completely Customizable.
  • Support for Multiple Sites within one installation using WordPress Multisite.
  • Offers one of the most complete documentations available (WordPress Codex).
  • Expandable to be a social platform (BuddyPress) or an eCommerce CMS.
  • Comment functionality built inside software.
  • Allowance for Multiple Users with different roles.

Interface

The WordPress admin dashboard is the go to place to create, edit, and delete content that goes onto your website. At it’s current version (3.9.1), the interface looks like this:

dashboard

WordPress 3.9.1 Dashboard

Within the WordPress dashboard you can:

  • Create posts
  • Create pages
  • Edit, approve or remove comments depending on your settings
  • Adjust site-wide settings
  • Install plugins
  • Install widgets
  • Customize code
  • Add, edit, or delete menus
  • Maintain a gallery of media items include photos, audio, video, and even common file types.
  • Export and import settings
  • Change or apply a new theme
  • Update plugins and even WordPress itself
  • Even more…
wp-plugins

The WordPress plugin repo has thousands of options available making WordPress so widely used by so many people.

Having all of these features available makes updating or changing your WordPress website a breeze. Whether you develop your own theme or use a custom built theme from Elegant Themes, WordPress allows you to tailor fit it to your specific needs.

How It’s Built

WordPress uses PHP and MySQL as its main operating languages. Aside from those two, within any webpage there’s likely always HTML, CSS, and some JavaScript. PHP allows for the dynamic aspect of WordPress we all know and love to take place while MySQL serves as its database, filling them with content such as posts, comments, media, and more. This content is stored and redly available when we need it using WordPress’s archiving schema.

The WordPress loop is the heart and soul of the software. These few lines of code brought WordPress to life when it first gained popularity. The loop is defined as:

<?php if ( have_posts() ) : while ( have_posts() ): the_post(); ?>
<?php endwhile; else: ?></p>

<?php _e('Sorry, no posts matched your criteria.'); ?></p>
<?php endif; ?>

The loop essentially displays all your blog posts dynamically. There are alterations you can make to your code to alter what posts are displayed, but at its core the WordPress loop works extremely well.

Learning the Ins and Outs

The best way to get familiar with WordPress is to experiment with the interface. Add new posts, pages, or plugins and experiment with them. Try to make your site “you”. If you become interested in developing your own themes, you can start the same way by dissecting the code after you download it. Look at the files that make WordPress function and change code around until it fits your needs. Don’t be afraid to break things. That is how you learn.

Compatibility

WordPress software runs on just about any Apache-based host. You can even go as far as to install it locally on any machine. Currently WordPress works and plays well on all operating systems as long as the correct environment is supplied. A good up to date browser will always provide a better experience for anything web related. Be sure to check for updates regularly.

Useful WordPress Resources

Download WordPress

http://wordpress.org/

WordPress Plugins

WordPress Plugins

WordPress Themes

WordPress Themes
Elegant Themes
WordPress Showcase

WordPress Support

WordPress Codex
WordPress Forums

Tumblr

Tumblr is a different type of blogging platform. Many people who use it are fans of photography, music, and video. The blogging aspect is a little more in focus than with WordPress since WordPress has become more of a Content Management System. Tumblr takes a simpler approach with its user interface, post types, and options.

tumblr-login

Tumblr’s home page is strikingly minimal.

Cost

Tumblr is free. There are a number of premium themes you can purchase and some plugins you can buy as well, but currently there is no premium service offered like on WordPress.com

Interface

The Tumblr dashboard is a fairly minimal one. You’ll notice a bold blue background with a section of icons in the middle which are links to post different types of media.

tumblr-dashboard

The tumblr dashboard.

Within the Tumblr dashboard you can:

  • Create Text posts
  • Create Photo posts
  • Create Quote posts
  • Create Link posts
  • Create Chat posts
  • Create Audio Posts
  • Create Video Posts
  • Customize Your Account and Add even more blogs
  • Customize Your Theme or Develop Your Own
  • Send Messages To Your Followers
  • Follow Other Blogs
  • View Your Followers
  • Even more…

Creating a post offers a very clean interface. The focus is on the content rather than having a lot of tools or options. Here you see a WYSIWYG editor as well as an HTML editor for embedding HTML code.

tumblr-post

A tumblr post and the user interface.

Users can customize their theme’s HTML or create their own. By clicking on Customize within the dashboard area, you are redirected to a new page where customizations can be made. Here you can select from free and premium themes, or copy and paste a theme you made yourself within the HTML panel.

tumblr-edit-theme

Tumlbr themes can be edited while live.

If you don’t find a theme you like, then there a many more at tumblr.com/themes.

Here you can download and try free or premium themes. Prices will vary depending on the complexity of the design. Some themes are even fully responsive and include categories such as: minimal, good for text, two column, single column and more.

tumblr-themes

Tumblr has a vast array of themes. Be sure to check our themes out here.

How It’s Built

Tumblr uses a hybrid style of code similar to a cross between handlebars.js and Liquid. Think of the code provided as a placeholder for content that gets generated by Tumblr. The code that gets generated looks to these custom tags and outputs between regular HTML tags.

Some examples look like below:

<html>
    <head>
        <title>{Title} <!-- A dynamic title tag--></title>
    </head>
    <body>
        ...
    </body>
</html>

or

<html>
    <body>
        <ol id="posts">
            {block:Posts}
              <li>
                <div class="post">
                {block:Text}
                   <li class="post text">
                      {block:Title}
                        <h3><a href="{Permalink}">{Title}</a></h3>
                      {/block:Title}{Body}
                        </li>
                    {/block:Text}
                </div>
              </li>
              {/block:Posts}
        </ol>
    </body>
</html>

The language itself has a bit of a learning curve if you’re new to it, but it reads pretty easily and is built around regular HTML. If you decide to create your own theme, Tumblr offers a good starting point on their website. I have also created a theme to start with which you can find at http://tumbleplate.com.

Obstacles

Unlike WordPress, with Tumblr you can’t actually download the software. You can customize your theme and account settings, but you can’t change the platform Tumblr exists on. With all of this said, and even though Tumblr is extremely customizable, you can’t always build it around your specific needs. Tumblr is not a CMS nor was it intended to be.

eCommerce or other content management requirements are not possible with Tumblr.

Seeing how you can’t actually download the software Tumblr, you can’t work locally and all changes you make must happen live. There is a ways to password protect a blog before you launch it, but it’s not necessarily the most graceful process.

Useful Resources

Tumblr Themes
Tumblr Themes
Elegant Themes – Tumblr themes

Documentation
Tumblr Development Docs

Support
Tumblr Help

Customization
Tumblr Blog Managment
Tumblr Blog Customization
Tumblr Custom Themes
Tumbleplate | Boilerplate Tumblr Theme

Conclusion

WordPress and Tumblr are a lot a like. In the end your decision lies within how you plan to use your blog/website. Do you plan to expand your site and build some sort of application out of it? If so, then maybe WordPress is for you. If you plan on strictly blogging and aren’t interested in custom tailoring your website’s experience, then maybe Tumblr is for you. In the end, use what you prefer but just remember to investigate your options.

download divi

40 Comments

  1. And what about Blogspot? In Europe it’s probably the most common blogging platform 🙂

    • Dear Anna,
      have you read this article from the begining?

      Sure not, because if so, you would know that this is the first of a number of blog/articles comparing “different” blog and CMS platforms…
      This is just the first!
      : )

      • That’s true, I haven’t read the introduction and went straight to the comparison! Thank you for pointing that out.

        • Ha! i did the same thing lol

  2. I prefer wordpress over everything else. It just has the most potential in my eyes.

    • WordPress is simply the best thing that ever happened for bloggers

  3. Thanks for the overview. I’ve heard about Tumblr but never took the time to find out what it really is. Now I know it’s not an option for me most of the time, and thus not worth the effort to learn when I can do everything with WordPress that one can do with Tumblr.

  4. Great piece! I really love WordPress and if you’re going to business route (to where you want to sell product like a course/book) it’s easily the best way to go.

  5. I am curious as to why someone would choose tumblr over wordpress.com. They seem to be equally footed, and wordpress is more customizable.

    I know 90% of our partners use wordpress.

    • Hi J.Duncan,

      Someone would choose Tumblr over WordPress for many reasons. For example, we chose Tumblr for its simplicity, for the easiness of the publishing, for the easy way we can connect with our followers, but especially for the fact that our blog is heavily based on images and Tumblr provides an easy way for us to share content with our followers. I respectfully disagree with what the author said above, that the two platforms are a lot alike.

      Think at Tumblr as a blogging social media platform. Is pretty similar with Twitter, but for blogs. When you share something, your followers can immediately repost on their blog your content. Of course, this is not everyone, for example an author wouldn’t want its articles to be reposted by thousands of other blogs. This could be because of copyright infringement, duplicate content problems or other SEO issues (where Tumblr is not so good). On the other hand, for a photographer Tumblr is probably exactly what is looking for: a platform where everyone else will see, like and reblog the images he publishes, therefore increasing its visibility on the web.

      If you’re looking for a SEO friendly blogging platform, then Tumblr should definitely not be your choice, but if you’re looking for the platform with the most engaged users, that will like and repost your content, then you should give it a try.

      We’ve been on Tumblr for 3 years and we couldn’t be more happy with this choice.

    • Think of WordPress like a Ferrari. Giving a Ferrari to a monkey ends with the thing getting smashed up and ditched on the side of the road with an angry monkey throwing feces at you. You should determine if you are dealing with a monkey in advance before handing them something with hundreds of bells and whistles. This is why you may opt to go with Tumblr or blogger from time to time.

      From experience, some people want to blog, some people want websites. If all you want to do is Blog and not worry about contact forms or website pages and sliders, then opt use Blogger or Tumblr platforms.

      • Funniest comparison ever!

      • funny but not accurate.

        Tumblr is a lot more robust than you give it credit for.

        but the power of Tumblr isn’t features – it’s the community.

        if you don’t care about building a community and followers, no reason to mess with Tumblr.

        if you want an active follower base and interaction with them, then Tumblr is great.

    • I chose Tumblr a few years ago because you could host your domain there for free. I’m sure they still do it, but that’s why I chose it over WordPress.

  6. I think WordPress is best platform then other else. WordPress is complete SEO friendly and every blogger give biggest priority to SEO. So more my point of view WordPress is best blogging platform.

  7. Compared to WordPress.org, it’s a no contest. But compared to WordPress.com, tumblr is a much better choice. Ability to modify theme and css, along with the use custom domain registered from other registrar are enough reasons to choose tumblr.

  8. I’m a wordpress geek, I’ve been blogging since 3 years but i found no platform which could compete with wordpress, wordpress is superb and it’s almost impossible for me to go with any other platform now.

  9. WordPress and tumblr haven’t the same fonction. For instance, tumblr is widely used to share GIF pictures. It’s a specific kind of communication. WordPress is more complete with important resources and somme awesome themes like Divi 😉

  10. Personally i only used wordpress and drupal… i was even more a fan of drupal as i found it offered more features back in 2008, but the themes were not as good as what wordpress designers could offer. Now seems i ended up with wordpress and i don’t regret my choice, as your divi theme provides all the features i could dream of.

  11. If you want to use a blogging system, it’s definitely WordPress, not Tumblr. I love and use Tumblr to share my blog posts etc. I see it as a social media platform, not a blog system.

  12. I would recommend WordPress over Tumblr every time for a client that wants to achieve more. Especially in regards to SEO.

    • I recommend you use WordPress because it is better SEO friendly and easy to use for newbies. I find it difficult to use Tumlr. So, my final choice is WordPress.com.

  13. “WordPress offers two flavors for it’s large audience.”

    Should be “its.”

    Sorry, but I just had to comment on this because I think such a nice post should also be free of spelling errors.

  14. I use and love WordPress–but honestly, I really do miss Apple’s iWeb. That was a beautiful system, and the pages were infinitely malleable. Want a photo in a certain spot? Plunk it down exactly where you want it. Want to tilt it? Go ahead, tilt it. Want to make the photo round or oval? Do it! Want a paragraph of text in another spot? Whap! Put it right where you want it. It was absolutely fun and beautiful.

    However, it is no longer supported, so it’s probably now easy to hack and not responsive to the smaller screens. Still, it was a beautiful system.

    I like WordPress, but do feel extremely restrained by its rigid framework: here’s your content area, photos can be aligned left, right, center, none (what does that mean?) and forget about styling them. Yes, WordPress is my favorite of the systems currently available, but iWeb is a sweet, rich, fond memory, FTP and all.

  15. I don’t know if it’s really fair to compare the two. Even for blogging they both have very different uses. I always consider Tumblr to be more geared towards Visual content rather than text copy.

  16. As others have noted, Tumblr and WordPress are not really meant for the same purpose. I am a WordPress blogger, I sell websites built exclusively in WordPress and am a WordPress-all-the-way kind of person when it comes to SEO.

    But I have a Tumblr blog now.

    I didn’t get rid of my WordPress blog at all.

    My reasons for using Tumblr are way different than my reasons for using WordPress.

    For me, I use WordPress in a business setting. You can get the format and ‘look’ of a Tumblr-style blog in WordPress rather easily, if that’s what you like about Tumblr. Also yes, your copyright is your own with WordPress. I wrote about this extensively here: http://managewp.com/wordpress-post-formats-blogging

    But Tumblr is where I would go to have fun 🙂 It’s where I can post things that don’t mean much to my WordPress audience, but are just neat to post in a public realm. Like when I share interesting YouTube videos on Facebook or Twitter.

    Sometimes Gifs are funny, and other times I really just want to post an awesome quote somewhere, which I got from another blogger. And when I like someone’s post, I want to “reblog” it but still acknowledge where it came from. On Tumblr you’d want to encourage “reblogging” with your content much like you’d want to encourage “retweeting” on Twitter. It’s also kind of like Pinterest, only not focused on crafts and recipes, and doesn’t need an image to be pinned.

    Tumblr is a social platform. Don’t think of it like a ‘blog’ in the sense that you want to host extensive content and scale a business’s web presence.

    Celebrities in the social realm, namely YouTubers, will all have Tumblr accounts. They connect with their fans that way.

    But they can also have more ‘professional’ sites. They would, for example, use e-commerce to sell merchandise elsewhere.

    I hope that makes sense!

    Now you can follow me on Tumblr, lol 🙂 thoughtsofjoyce.tumblr.com

    • great info. serious. thanks.

  17. I’m using both of them and I love WordPress because I can easily set Homepage with useful + unique contents. I think Tumblr is little hard to set homepage contents especially for beginners who don’t know about coding.

  18. I’m looking at setting up a blog for a charity trip I’m doing. I would appreciate any advice anyone can give me on the best platform?
    I will be looking to include:
    * A twitter feed – some sort of applet where my latest twitter post automatically appears on the blog
    * A video feed from youtube or Vimeo
    * A space to blog
    * A space for photos to be uploaded
    I’ll be on the road in India, so it needs to be the easiest to maintain whilst travelling. Any ideas appreciated?
    Oh, and I’ll need some basic controls over the layout (so I can link a button to the charity I’m supporting etc…)

  19. Thanks for the post! Currently getting back into blogging & a bit confused with my choices. Your writing was clear & the photos and screenshots were easy to see & understand.

  20. How do you create a blog on wordpress.org?

    Thanks for the list by the way 🙂

  21. WordPress.org, was, is and will be the best blogging platform (and why not, a CMS).

    Of course, tumblr is ok for many people’s, because is simple and intuitive.

    WordPress.org is a Ferrari.
    Tumblr is like walking.

    First, is hard to drive, but is fun. Is powerfull. The second choice, is easy to do, but is boring.

  22. Thanks for your this great article. I have learn a lot from this post about tumblr. Tumblr is good but WordPress is the best blogging platform. I like WordPress because it is highly customize able. WordPress give you huge plugins, and huge themes.

  23. I’ve had a blog on Tumblr and have recently migrated to WordPress, haven’t regretted this decision for a minute! I was thinking about making a move for a while, but I was worried about the migration process itself and I thought I could mess it up and loose my content. But I have found this automated converter – cms2cms, it basically did all the job for me. So happy I did it! WordPress is like amazing!

  24. you can also use http://megasasta.com/blog.php for free bloging. This platform is free to create blog but it gives you the 100 percent revenue on advertisement as advertisement in the body of article will be controlled by writter.

  25. WordPress hands down is tons better for various reasons. Tumblr is fine if you do not post your own original content and stick to gifs or photos with little text.
    WordPress is a very clean, well organized platform which allows for a great deal of freedom to customize. Not to mention it’s catered towards writers.

    The WordPress community is also much less toxic than tumblr.
    Overall WordPress boasts a diverse community with a professionally designed blog useful for sharing ideas. Tumblr reminds me of a collage made by angry children.

  26. WordPress is a far better option for a novice to start blogging. Here are some its reason Why WordPress is better :-
    1. Ownership
    2. Control
    3. Appearance
    4. Portability
    5. Security
    6. Support
    7. Future

    Manager
    PixelCrayons

  27. I am considering trying Tumblr and I have accounts with Instagram, facebook and Pinterest but I feel like I need something that ties all three of those together I have the first two since I have family that uses those. Where people can comment and like my posting but I can somewhat make it my own without paying and some people just can’t use their money in that way due to financial reasons. It’s like making a choice between buying food or spending it online. I have tried Weebly to make a website, but I didn’t realize they try to convince you to go for the paid plan. I have seen blogs made by people and I like to try new things but I prefer a simple free Plan.Thanks for reading my post, any advice would help. There is so much information on the Internet! I’m concerned when my two young children reach that age! Thankfully they don’t use computers in grade 1 and daycare. Lol.

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