Tumblr – users want more control

This was a comment on Rob’s blog that I decided to turn into a post…

Good products are simple for the majority of users with more complex features for those who need it. I’ve always believed this.

And in this I see the fundamental drawback with Tumblr.

It has a wonderful UI and is easy to use. But it is so because of the limits they have put on it. Adding widgets is hard. Plugins couldn’t exist till recently. Good in some ways… but truly good UI is the ability for the user to customize. Simple is the default, but you have to be able to make it more customized (or complex) as needed. And this last part is what Tumblr is missing. Big time. It is a huge issue (for me, anyway).

Reblogging is such a great idea. But it is only available within Tumblr blogs. Could Tumblr figure out a way to let you reblog from any blog? Sure they could – they are smart folks. But it wouldn’t be as easy or as pretty. So no one can have it. That’s an issue. Why not make the standard reblog easy and as it is and then why not offer an option in the dashboard that more advanced users can turn on that will allow reblogging from anywhere?

The exact same thing is true with your suggestion, Rob – the ability to see any blog in your dashboard rather than just Tumblr blogs. Is it possible? Sure it is – just grab the site’s RSS and present it nicely in the dashboard. For the basic user, they can only see Tumblr blogs they follow, for the advanced user, an option should exist to see other blogs.

Tumblr’s biggest drawback is that it mandates how users will use it. Dictating how your users can use something by not enabling customization is not a great way to ensure simplicity. Open does not have to be complex and ugly. And the smart people at Tumblr can figure it out.

These are just two examples of how users would like to see more out of Tumblr. Other users will have their own pet requests. For each of these examples, I know Tumblr can give us a great reason why they don’t enable it. But… their users want it – isn’t that what’s important? Tumblr needs to allow the users to have more control in how they use the platform.

I’ve been wanting to write this post on Tumblr for a while and your post prompted this long comment!

Originally posted as a comment by Shripriya on Why Didn’t I Think of That? using Disqus.