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

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


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.

WordPress.com offers a premium services for $99


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.


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:


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…

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.


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


WordPress Plugins

WordPress Plugins

WordPress Themes

WordPress Themes
Elegant Themes
WordPress Showcase

WordPress Support

WordPress Codex
WordPress Forums


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’s home page is strikingly minimal.


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


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.


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.


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.


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 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:

        <title>{Title} <!-- A dynamic title tag--></title>


        <ol id="posts">
                <div class="post">
                   <li class="post text">
                        <h3><a href="{Permalink}">{Title}</a></h3>

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.


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

Tumblr Development Docs

Tumblr Help

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


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.

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