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Blogging software review: Squarespace vs. Tumblr

30th October 2015

This week's blog platform review is between Squarespace and Tumblr. Squarespace is a free website builder, and Tumblr is what's known in the industry as a "micro-blogging" platform.

These two are not traditionally fully blown blogging platforms - Squarespace is more of a standard website builder, but has blogging capabilities, and Tumblr, as aforementioned, is a micro-blogging service. This means that most users traditionally don't share lengthy articles like traditional blogs - there's a lot more short, visual content.

Templates

Both sites have a great range of templates that the user can utilise. Squarespace has a variety of different template niches to help the user narrow down a choice for their organisation such as themes for restaurants, weddings or musicians. This is a really useful feature for the user so they do not have to trawl through all of the available options - something other platforms could learn from.

The Squarespace templates are extremely clean and professional and have no doubt been created by a very talented designer. A lot of them are very image-led which is a must for business websites in today's age. However, there aren't a huge number of templates that are specifically designed for bloggers. I found a handful of suitable themes - they were very aesthetically pleasing but there wasn't a lot of room for choice.

Tumblr, like WordPress, has a large community behind it who create templates. This means that everyone and anyone has the ability to submit their own template to give their blog a unique makeover, or if you are not that way inclined, you could use one of the premade templates like I did. There are a lot of layout customisation options on Tumblr such as the large blog header, masonry/grid layout, accent colours and more.

For the reasons above, Tumblr just pinches the win here - the larger number of template customisation options coupled with the ability to create your own is a win for the micro-blogging platform.

Ease of use for admins

After using these for an hour or so each, it because apparent that Tumblr was much simpler to use in terms of adding new content. Navigating to the 'dashboard' gives you the option to publish a new post, whether it be a standard text post, a photo, a quote, a link to a website, a chat/monologue, a song or music track and even a video. These are all managed from the same place with easy to understand icons.

Editing the style is pretty simple too - just selecting the customise option will open up a plethora of customisation features which you can apply easily.

On the other hand, I found Squarespace quite difficult to manage. It wasn't simple where to find how to add new content, and after a bit of digging I found you have to hover over a certain - and relatively small - area on the webite to enable a hover-state messgae to allow you to submit new content - not the most user friendly feature I must say.

However, once this has been realised, adding content to the site is simple enough, much like Tumblr. The customisation options are all neatly tucked away in the navigation under appropriate heading which makes it easy to change design and structural features to your blog.

Tumblr wins this round again - it's fairly easy to manage in all aspects and I felt let down by Squarespace's way of adding new content to the site - one of the key parts to any website. I can't help but feel like both platforms however could do with adopting a feature like WordPress' navigation where content can be added from wherever you are on the website.

Extra features

As Squarespace is more of a website builder, it comes with a variety of extra features built in. These vary from an e-commerce element to a built in analytics system. The latter is great for the not-so technically minded as sorting out a tracking code for Google Analytics can be tricky if you have not done it before. The ability to add domain names and e-mail addresses without having to have any prior technical knowledge is also a huge boost for the platform in this review.

As for Tumblr, it comes with the added of option of two-factor authentication for an extra layer of account security, as well as easy to use mobile applications. You can also enable your own domain name - you don't manage this through Tumblr however - you must register the domain name at a registrar of your chocie and change the nameservers yourself.

For these reasons, Squarespace wins this one mainly due to the built in analytics feature and the ability to sell products online.

In conclusion...

Overall, Tumblr wins this duel for us. We found it much easier to use which is going to be a huge factor for many users, and the larger number (and more customisable) templates is a huge bonus.

In this review, Squarespace scores a respectable 19/30 while Tumblr storms to the win with 21/30.

Check back next week for another platform review!