A year and some months ago I launched the first version of davegamache.com on Tumblr. At the time, it was the ideal publishing tool for me and has served me well, but I opted to move to Wordpress for my recent refresh. My original site was designed specifically for Tumblr, but this time around I had no CMS in mind. Deciding how to implement a design before starting a project will unavoidably result in artificial, creative limitations. This isn't always bad - limitations are an inherent and necessary part of design, but for my personal site I wanted to start with as much freedom as possible.
Fast forward a couple months, a few dozen discarded designs and a handful of late-night, doughnut-fueled coding sessions; I was ready to decide on a publishing tool and integrate my local, static prototype. I eventually settled on Wordpress - which I'll likely write about in the future - but I want to share the pros/cons of Tumblr I've experienced over the past year.
Tumblr Pros & Cons
- Pro: Active, engaged community with an easy "follow" system
- Pro: Simple, approachable publishing on both desktop and mobile devices
- Pro: Dead simple templating syntax
- Pro: Hosted solution meant I didn't have to worry about managing databases or version updates
- Con: Forced to publish code through the web interface, meaning no simple way to directly manage HTML/CSS in my preferred code editor
- Con: No way to implement custom, server-side functions
- Con: No control over mobile display of site (standard Tumblr theme gets served)
- Con: Creating/managing additional pages (outside the standard blog) is painful
- Con: Tumblr downtime has always been an issue (although it does seem to be getting better)
Ultimately, the inability to easily write, manage, and update code with Tumblr is what caused me to defect to the more robust and customizable Wordpress. My redesign required the ability to set a number of parameters depending on the post type, which just isn't possible with Tumblr. I was also tired of fumbling around in Tumblr's in-browser code editor - it's so much easier to launch Sublime Text 2, make edits and push to my server.
Tumblr is a solid blogging tool for those who want to get up and running quickly and don't feel the need to completely control the design and implementation of their site. Coding for Tumblr was rough at times, but writing and publishing were dead simple. Wordpress has proved to be more flexible thus far, but I'll report on how it fares over the coming months.