There are a great number of debates on this subject already, and I could agree with any of the first 10 hits in a Google search of “wordpress vs tumblr” for either side, as there are certainly advantages and disadvantages to each. Here is my take.
Overall: WordPress is more powerful but more bulky; Tumblr is more simple but more limited. (Also, I’m referring in this post to WordPress.com hosted WordPress. If you don’t know what I meant by that, ignore it.) Feature sets are as of mid-2010.
When you create a Tumblr, you can basically start blogging immediately, with little adapt-time. On your Dashboard, you click this giant button for Text Post and it leads you to a nice, basic text editor. You type in a couple messages, click Create Post, and in no time you’ve created your first post!
You’ll find, however, that what I listed above is about all you can do. There are slight variations, such as posting pictures, quotes, audio, and short videos, (and a little more, but are all expected of a blogging software) but that’s it. Going further, you can “follow” other people so their posts will show up on your Dashboard, very similarly to friends’ statuses in Facebook’s “News Feed.” After that, you can “like” posts, also similar to Facebook, and you can “reblog,” which basically copies a post into your own post and lets you comment or reply to it. Your response, however, will only appear on your own blog. This makes Tumblr a poor choice for discussion—there is NO built-in comment system. For me, that alone made Tumblr out of the question.
When you create a WordPress, things are different. On your Dashboard, you see a zillion things on the left-hand menu, and a perhaps-intimidating grid of information in the center. In fact, it might not be obvious at first how to make your first post!
After a little while of getting used to it, however, you find that it virtually lets you do anything you want. You can include almost anything in posts. You can put categories or tags on your posts, for archival purposes or for ease of access. Speaking of archives, Tumblr’s post archiving system is unique, but rather disorganized—it looks nice, but it’s incredibly hard to find a certain kind of post. On WordPress, if you can narrow down the category or month, it can become much easier. You can also comment, which makes WordPress infinitely better for discussion; it has automatically included anti-spam as well. WordPress comes with a built-in stat tracking system, which is very nice, telling you how many times posts were viewed, which ones, from what links, etc. It also LOOKS more professional. The themes are very well designed, and there are lots of them. You can post attachments which don’t have to appear in any post. Plus, WordPress is de facto more than just blogging—it lets you create a website, with pages which are not posts, and which can be as many in number and can have as many sub-pages as needed. And each of these features is customizable.
It might seem above that I am saying that WordPress is unequivocally better. But that is is not my point. Whether you should choose WordPress or Tumblr (assuming you have narrowed down your choice of blog to these two, though there ARE other nice blogging sites) will depend on how you plan to use your blog. If you want your audience to be a group of close friends, and you don’t feel too serious about blogging, then I would recommend Tumblr, as it’s easy to set up, easy to connect.
But if you want to reach out to a world audience, and are somewhat serious about blogging, then I urge you to use WordPress. It takes more time to get used to, but it gives you so many more features.
Here are a screenshot of Tumblr and of WordPress respectively. Click an image to view at full size.
Plain and simple.
That’s a heck of a lot more customization, but also a heck of a lot more to learn.
You’ve seen them, you decide.