I logged into Tumblr this morning. I don’t know why, really. Anyway, I basically just have a dummy account on Tumblr, since I use this site (powered by WordPress of course) for my regular blogging. So I was just looking at my dashboard, with zero followers, and I realized I don’t even know how I’d find people to follow.
I certainly won’t just start clicking around randomly. So I found a place to lookup friends. That’s when I encountered this on the lookup page:
Seriously? No gmail, Twitter, even Facebook? I’m surprised this list didn’t include LiveJournal and Myspace.
To see if WordPress.com (the hosted version of WordPress – whereas I use self-hosted) was as bad, I logged into that account too. Even though it took far too long to find, as it’s not available straight from the dashboard, I eventually found the “Read blogs” tab on WordPress.com:
Obviously these choices are far more applicable to most users than Tumblr. I feel like there is such a social frenzy around Tumblr, but for a new user, is it really that easy? Do they not allow these options because they see themselves in the same light as a Facebook and Twitter? If so, that’s just dumb.
However, Automattic really should make the page to find friends and topics more easily accessible from the dashboard. Tumblr simply dominates Automattic in the KISS competition. I’m an advanced WordPress user, but I didn’t find the navigation of the dashboard to be very easy. At least for what I was looking for – how to find friends. However, the upsells were quite visible everywhere I went.
I don’t really foresee myself using either WordPress.com or Tumblr for blogging, as I’m extremely happy with my full level of control via WordPress.org. But I was surprised by the lack of ability to find friends on Tumblr.
I’ll also note that I think there are dozens of features worth comparing between the two, and I think they could learn from each other, as they both have big strengths and big weaknesses. I also know they aren’t trying to be the same product, but in the end, many people will choose one or the other, not both. And the ability to find your friends to engage with, quickly and easily, could be the small feature that makes or breaks the experience.