By Tara Lane, Staff Writer
Though Tumblr is a bit of an underdog in the blogging world, the people behind this powerful platform are continually finding new ways to make blogging even easier for their 2.5 million users. This week, the Tumblr team announced a slew of new features that will do just that – make blogging easier, and give users more control over their content than ever before.
The upgrades to Tumblr’s user experience include an integrated Twitter-client compatible API for blogging on-the-go, foreign language versions of Tumblr in Japanese and German, and a back-up tool that enables users to save their entire content history to their own hard drive, as often as they’d like.
Though they may seem minor, these new additions have big implications for the future of Tumblr. First and foremost, integration with Twitter opens up a whole new audience of users, especially ones that may not be tied down to a computer all day, but want to take part in the blogging trend. The new feature also keeps with Tumblr’s social networking features, allowing users to interact via Twitter and Tumblr at the same time.
By supporting foreign languages, Tumblr has shown its response to feedback and user input. Though Tumblr is used by people around the world, up until now they’ve had to rely on Google’s translation tool in order to view others’ content. Now, they’ll have it provided in their native language without the need for a go-between tool. Japanese and German are the first languages being tested, but the Tumblr staff hopes to expand these choices in the near future to cover many other languages.
With the addition of the backup application, bloggers can rest assured that their content has a third home – on their blog, on Tumblr’s servers, and right on their own computer (or a data CD, to keep it that much safer). For users who have all of their information and content hosted on Tumblr, this tool can be invaluable.
Tumblr has prided itself on being one of the most simple and easy ways to blog, and these new features only enhance that. While the service is geared toward shorter, microblog-type posts and for sharing found items from the Web, there are plenty of users who use Tumblr as their main platform for blogging. Among the top blogging services, few offer as many features as Tumblr. Let’s take a look at how three of these platforms stack up to Tumblr.
WordPress – Offers XML backup for content, but the process isn’t user-friendly, especially for inexperienced or new bloggers. WordPress offers free themes, but customizing can also be difficult for those not well-versed in coding. The free publishing platform was the first blogging service to integrate Twitter posting (shortly followed by Tumblr).
Blogger – One of the most user-friendly platforms, Blogger leaves a lot to be desired — particularly when it comes to features found in other platforms like Tumblr. Blogger does not offer a backup application, nor does it integrate easily with Twitter. All of the platform’s non-basic applications are developed by third parties, making them unpredictable and sometimes not user-friendly. Though iPhone users can post to Blogger from their devices, other Smartphones do not supported the platform. Comparatively, Tumblr users have the ability to post from any mobile phone, Smartphone or not.
TypePad – Similar to Tumblr, TypePad is geared toward microblogging, but offers a paid, professional option as well. TypePad has similar features to Tumblr and WordPress, including mobile blogging, theme galleries, and SEO support. TypePad can also integrate with Twitter and Facebook by updating a status about a new post, but lacks the interaction of being able to reply, reblog or comment, like the Tumblr client offers.
What ultimately makes Tumblr stand out is the control granted to users over their content, and how they publish it. Like Google Reader’s “Share on Reader” toolbar button, Tumblr has a similar button for publishing right from the Web for easy browser integration.
A few months ago, Tumblr enabled a tagging feature to make sharing and searching even easier for users. Another plus on the developer end is that creating themes for the platform is extremely easy to do, and users can install them with little-to-no help at all. Combined with its innovative and user-friendly publishing features (you can telephone in your post!) and streamlined dashboard, Tumblr is turning itself into the go-to blogging platform.
Essentially, Tumblr is a mashup of popular social networking sites – users can bookmark favorite blogs and entries (think Digg), easily share photos (think Flikr), reblog new finds to share with others (think Twitter), and connect with networks of friends (think Facebook). The Tumblr team has worked hard to make their platform into a supportive community, where the talents of others are highlighted by their peers, and embraced by all – something that is not available on more individual-focused platforms like WordPress and Blogger.
Other social networks are beginning to take note of “community of social networks,” too. Brazen Careerist’s founder Ryan Paugh said, “Though Brazen Careerist is a social networking site in and of itself, we have a symbiotic relationship with other social networking sites … Conversations are happening out there and if we don’t become a part of them, we’re missing out.”
More than any other online network, Tumblr recognizes the need for this kind of environment, especially among designers and creatives, who make up the majority of Tumblr users. It’s clear that Tumblr is constantly innovating its service, enabling users’ blogs to really stand out and be noticed. Though it’s user-base is small compared to WordPress and Blogger, it won’t be like that for long.
Image by nobru92 from Stock.Xchng