Why Tumblr is kicking Posterous’s ass

January 19, 2010

Tumblr and Posterous are the two most prominent “tumblogging” sites, i.e. sites that make blogging more straightforward by making it easier to post media. Both were launched within six months. (Actually, Posterous was started later than Tumblr.)

But now Tumblr has been an Alexa Top 100 site for a while and is still growing strong. Meanwhile Posterous has about 4 times less uniques. Yet Posterous has everything to win: it’s a Y Combinator company with top-tier investors like Chris Sacca and Mitch Kapor. Its founders are experienced software engineers with computer science degrees from Stanford. How come it’s eating dust from a small startup started by a high school dropout?

The answer is as easy as it is counter-intuitive: Tumblr is a New York company and Posterous is a Silicon Valley company.

Or, to put it another way: Posterous is an engineered product, while Tumblr is a designed product.

Posterous is extremely well engineered. There’s nothing wrong with it. Every single thing about it is well thought out. But it’s not just that it’s less pretty (though it is). It’s just not designed as well as Tumblr is.

Look at Tumblr’s landing page:

That’s it. Sign up is dead simple. Can you imagine the conversion rates they get out of that page? Moreover, they have one of the best taglines of any service: the easiest way to blog. What else is there to explain? They don’t brag about features like “like”, “reblog” or (ugh) “tumblarity.” Tumblr is the easiest way to blog. Anyone, your mother included, can understand that.

Meanwhile, look at Posterous.

Oh sure, it’s a nice landing page. But, “the dead simple way to post everything”? Sure, it sounds nice, but it’s hard to say what that really is. Is that like Facebook, where you can share all sorts of stuff (videos, links, pictures) with your friends? Is that like Twitter? Or is it like a blog. The “just email us” pun is nice, since all you need to do to sign up is to send an email, but to a distracted user it’s like “What? I have to email them to get an account?”. Then you read all the stuff after that. There’s so much stuff there! A step-by-step explanation, a “who’s it for” (if you have to explain, you’re not doing the right job), a bunch of links and pictures.

In fact, that sign-up-via-email feature: engineering feature. When Posterous came out, that was the thing that set it apart: it’s so simple you don’t need to sign up, just send something via email! Cool! Except — who really does that? Very long signups can discourage users, but if you have only a few forms to fill, is there a single person who wants to sign up for a service, can’t be bothered to fill out a three-item form, but by God, pulling up their email client, finding a picture or a video to post, attaching it, and emailing it to post@posterous.com (or is it new@posterous.com? posterous@posterous.com?), that’s easier! It’s exactly the kind of thing where an engineer thinks “Oh, nobody does that, I’ll do that, that’ll be cool!” but in real life it’s useless. I mean, posting by email is a nice feature. But it’s not a killer feature.

I will give 5-to-1 odds to anyone that Tumblr has higher conversion rates on their homepage than Posterous and 1-to-1 that they’re twice as high.

In fact, everything about Posterous is nice. It’s very nice. I’m not here to bash Posterous, I think it’s a tremendous product and I wish them the best of luck.

But everything about Tumblr is better designed. I used the landing page as one example, but there are tons of features where Tumblr shines by its gorgeous design.

Meanwhile Posterous is typical of the Silicon Valley engineering mindset where everything is measured, ranked, weighted. It’s like Google. And having terrible design like Google is great if you have a technology edge. But if you’re in a market where what matters is design edge, that’s not enough. There needs to be great design, by which I don’t mean looks (though they’re important), but how it works for the end user.

Meanwhile, Tumblr is typical of the new New York startups, that have great engineering talent, but care about design, UI and UX.

Again, I don’t mean to bash Posterous, but to me Tumblr and Posterous are just picture-perfect examples of two very important trends.

The first is that New York has truly come of age as a startup hub, with its own “style”, its own way of doing things, its own mindset, which can sometimes — not always, but sometimes — kick Silicon Valley’s ass.

The second is that for consumer web apps today, design matters more than technology. Much has been written about how the cloud, accessible web frameworks, etc. have dramatically lowered the cost of getting a startup to market, and that’s certainly true, but it also means that since everyone is on EC2 and Ruby on Rails, technology is no longer what differentiates most consumer web apps. What does is design. UI/UX design. Social design. Business model design as well (Groupon and Gilt Groupe, the two tremendous e-commerce success of the past two years, are in Chicago and New York respectively). To be sure, technology is and always will be very important. I don’t want to go back to the startup where the MBA bosses around engineers. And some of the best designers will be engineers (like David Karp, or Mark Zuckerberg). But you can’t just engineer anymore. You have to design.

Tumblr’s success shows that.

EDIT: It’s been pointed out to me in the (interesting) comments at Hacker News that Posterous has been growing faster than Tumblr. While that’s true, Posterous is growing from a smaller base and Tumblr is still much, much bigger, and their growth has barely slowed, so I think unless something unexpected happens, Tumblr is still going to maintain a strong lead over Posterous.


165 Responses to “Why Tumblr is kicking Posterous’s ass”

  1. I’m not sure if I agree that this is the reason Posterous hasn’t beaten Tumblr.. but it reminded me of this quote from Jobs nonetheless:

    “Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. People think it’s this veneer — that the designers are handed this box and told, ‘Make it look good!’ That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” — Steve Jobs

  2. pegontech Says:

    That’s absolutely the quote I had in mind when I was writing this.

    Thanks for your comment.

    • ravi Says:

      You know, I too used to love repeating that quote, but after three mighty mouses (mice?) that failed within two years of purcahse due to roller ball clogging (yes I tried with limited success the various helpful ideas on YouTube and elsewhere to solve this problem), two mini-DVI to VGA adaptors, a Cinema display that has developed a whitish streak across the bottom, etc, I have come to believe quite the opposite is true when it comes to Apple (at least the hardware). It is made to look good, but that seems to be at the cost of great complexity in the internals (taking apart a Mighty Mouse will be illustrative). I remain a fanboy, but a jaded one.

      What does all this have to do with Tumblr vs Posterous? Nothing I guess. So I better write something about it. Or point to something I wrote a while ago, FWIW: http://ahren.org/code/bit/posterous-a-critical-look, which is a review of Posterous with a mention of Tumblr. I do not entirely disagree with your characterisation of NY vs Valley UX philosophy, despite my description of some of Tumblr’s appeal as “superficially hip”. I do think Tumblr’s advantage in attractiveness disproportionately favours its adoption (w.r.t other features that a disinterested user/reviewer would rank equally important).

  3. […] full post on Hacker News If you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing it! Tagged with: kicking […]

  4. No wonder I love Posterous very much.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Matt Zuckerberg, really?

  6. Catalin Istratoiu Says:

    I use both posterous and tumblr. tumblr can stand on it’s own on two feet, by setting up a domain and actually working, but it has a couple of rocks attached to it’s neck: 1. it has no commenting system and 2. it doesn’t play nice with google indexing.

    posterous is a very nice tool, as you say, and it actually plays very nice with google indexing, but the own domain setup is kinda tricky and it uses redirects, witch doesn’t play nice with other services like digg/reddit. I actually use posterous for it’s AUTOPOSTING FEATURES: 1. post by email is very simple and nice – converts almoast anything; and 2. post by bookmarklet – I find the posterous bookmarklet much simpler and nicer then tumblr bookmarklet.

    • Norman Says:

      The no-comments thing bothered me for a while, but only because I was used to traditional blogging platforms and the structures for blogging that they created.

      I finally embraced and appreciated the no-comments thing when I realized the possibility of community building and social networking through Tumblr via reblogs and likes. The idea is instant: I know what content people who come to my site are really into, and the reblogs allow for a wider conversation. It’s unorthodox, but once you allow it to work, it works.

      • pegontech Says:

        That’s a very good point. But I still appreciate having comments on my Tumblr and feel frustrated when I can’t leave a comment on another Tumblr.

      • mled Says:

        The latest featured Tumblr themes include fields to input a Disqus shortname as a way to enable post comments. This works now that Tumblr has added booleans (see http://www.tumblr.com/docs/custom_themes#booleans ) – I call this clever engineering. Disqus is far better than the inbuilt Posterous comment system.

        I have a Posterous blog and a Tumblr blog. I find the Posterous account useful for adding extra snippets to conversation on other platforms (like Twitter). My Tumblr blog features my Likes and is mostly content that’s part of a conversation taking place there inside the Tumblr community.

    • Google indexing has nothing to do with tumblr and everything to do with how you design your site.

    • Mike Says:

      I use disquis no problem on my tumblr blog for comments.

  7. pegontech Says:

    @Anonymous: Hah! Fixed.

    @Catalin: It’s really straightforward to install Disqus on your Tumblr; as for Google indexing, I didn’t know that, that’s interesting.

    Tumblr is not flawless by any means. But it’s clealry kicking Posterous’s ass in the marketplace.

  8. Agree with the article and Michael Whalen, Tumblr uses both simple UX, compelling messaging, and engaging visuals in concert to pull people in.

    Though clearly I take issue with this being a NY vs Silicon Valley issue. If your organization has smart design/UX advocates at or near the top, then this will be the result.

    • pegontech Says:


      “If your organization has smart design/UX advocates at or near the top, then this will be the result.”

      This is obviously true. My point is more that there’s a mindset associated with Silicon Valley that the engineering mindset solves everything and is the one true road to success, whereas I think the past few years show it only takes you so far. Meanwhile New York startups have built a distinctive design aesthetic and ethos that has worked really well for them and that Silicon Valley could learn from.

  9. […] app sales How to unlock and root a Nexus One World Cup 2010 Promotions to Use Augmented Reality Why Tumblr is kicking Posterous’s ass Google Looks Beyond Review Sites: Now Aggregates Posts from Local Blogs on Place Pages […]

  10. Leon Says:

    Posterous isn’t that well engineered. The HTML it spits out is horrible. Tumblr is slightly better in this regard.

    I do agree with the general sentiment, though. And Tumblr has been using that huge sign–up form for years, before it became fashionable.

    But I find Tumblr very slow.

    WordPress.com all the way for me: better engineering and good design (although I appreciate it’s a different type of blogging).

  11. koroshiya Says:

    I think you’re kinda missing the point when you compare signing up on Tumblr and sending an email to Posterous: you’re not signing up by email, you’re sending content by email. So there is no sign up at all.

    I think both products are actually very well designed, although in different directions. It’s not an “Apple vs Microsoft” case.

  12. rikin Says:

    I know that better design plays a factor in Tumblr’s experience over Posterous but what about the networking aspect of it?

    I think Tumblr has quietly built a social network layer over the typical blogging platform. Also, the types of users that it has attracted are simply cooler (no there is no better way to describe it other than this). Maybe that’s a direct result of Tumblr’s design – good design attracts cooler people. Posterous has some networking features but not nearly as much as Tumblr has and I think that’s why the growth and user retention has been incredible.

    I do hope Tumblr comes up with a way to make money and I’m beginning to think they should charge or take donations like wiki. We’ll see.

    (Also, for the people who say that Tumblr doesn’t index well, it does. You just need to make sure you change the URLs and add in keywords manually.)

    • pegontech Says:

      You’re absolutely right about the social layer, but to me that’s an element of design. Blogging is inherently social, and the Tumblr guys understood that better, and built their service around that.

      • rikin Says:

        Hmmm sounds like a case of semantics. Either way interesting read and I for one am glad Tumblr is making in roads in a very cluttered space.

  13. I can’t help but imagine a portion of the success of Tumblr is due to being the Xanga/Livejournal of this current generation of teens.

    Also: PEG did you ever get your Founders Club schwag? I never got mine.

    • pegontech Says:

      Sure. But you don’t think Posterous would’ve liked being that Xanga/Livejournal? Also my anecdotal experience is that Tumblr’s core audience is more mid-twenties urban professional types than teens per se but that might just be selection bias on my part.

      You’re right — no, I did not!

  14. I think this “battle” should take into consideration that tumblr tumblr is a bit older then posterous. It’s normal, I think, that tumblr has more trafic then posterous, because it had more “hype”. Still many people don’t know about posterous and how it can be used.

    My 2c: posterous shouldn’t get into a battle with tumblr. Instead, posterous should concentrate at what they do best: “POSTING the easy way” (hey, maybe that’s a better motto) – so posterous should become a posting service and not a blogging service.

    • pegontech Says:

      You’re right that Tumblr has had a first-mover advantage vis-à-vis Posterous, but so far it doesn’t look like they’re catching up. Also, if they got hype, it has to be a reason. I’m sure Posterous is not actively fleeing from hype.

      You’re also ABSOLUTELY right that, as a general rule, startups should focus on executing and improving their product, instead of fixating on competitors. Doesn’t mean people like me can’t comment on why one is winning over the other.

      Finally, I’m not sure I get the distinction between a posting service and a blogging service.

  15. On the surface Posterous’ ‘post via email’ seems interesting and exciting. But for anyone who desires control over the structure of their content, it begins to sound scary.

    I have both a Tumblr and Posterous “blog” but haven’t decided which one to make my main, personal, non-web-dev blog. Tumblr has an iPhone app and MarsEdit (desktop blogging tool for the Mac) support, two places I’d imagine writing from.

    It’s interesting to hear the use-your-own-domain issues with posterous; that doesn’t sound engineered all that well…

    • pegontech Says:

      Good points all.

    • josh Says:

      you’re right. I tried Posterous’s supposedly simple signup and found it confusing. If I remember correctly, the automatically assign you a terrible URL based on your e-mail address? Then going back to change things around wasn’t entirely straightforward.

      • pegontech Says:

        I think I had a similar experience when I tried using Posterous.

        The post by email thing sounds nice but I can’t figure a real world use case where I would truly use it. The only one I can think of is posting a picture I took with my iPhone, but Tumblr’s iPhone app is pretty great at that as well.

  16. I use both and I totally agree with Tumblr being a lot easier to use, better designed and even a little more transportable than Posterous. However I do believe that Posterous in the better service as it will post your pics to Flickr and your “REAL” blog if you need it to. Funny enough, I have never felt the need to do that.

    • pegontech Says:

      I think that last sentence highlights the Posterous problem with “features that sound cool to a coder but aren’t so useful in the real world.”

  17. St. Ansel Says:

    It’s a shame tumbler’s handling of multiple blogs is so awful.

  18. […] very true. Via a comment on an interesting blog post comparing Tumblr to […]

  19. Mark Bell Says:

    I also use both services; so far I’ve hit quite a few glitches with Posterous, some to do with text formatting and a few ‘post not found’ errors when saving posts. Tumblr has been pretty much flawless.

    But, as has been mentioned already, Tumblr is a little bit more mature as a service, so I’m willing to give Posterous a chance—the built in commenting system and the flexibility of the different posting methods makes it worthwhile for me.

  20. B Says:

    I don’t use either service, but the first thing that struck me concerning posterous is of course the name. Preposterous..

  21. James Ray Says:

    Posterous is 3 syllables. Tumblr is one and a half.

    And Tumblr has all the porn.

  22. josh Says:

    Since I gave up on Posterous relatively quickly, I can’t tell if it has any of the social stuff that makes Tumblr so sticky. Followers/likes/reblogs/the dashboard (essentially a LJ style friends page) add a lot of value to an already easy-to-use, pretty to look at, customizable service.

  23. Ryan Graves Says:

    Great post, I use one to feed the other. Openness is a feature, and a necessary one.

  24. Do you think that Tumblr is more of a destination site where Posterous is a bridge to the destination?

    It has potential to be the destination, but its feature is POST TO EVERYWHERE ELSE (and Posterous too).

    I always felt Posterous was a way to blog to multiple platforms before being the blog itself.

  25. Stephanie Says:

    Um, Tumblr has been around for about 2+ years before Posterous so obviously it has more traction.

    And if you are such a believer in Tumblr and design then why are you using Word Press with an ugly theme? 🙂

    • pegontech Says:

      Tumblr has been around earlier than Posterous but not 2+ years.

      I use WordPress because it’s a full-featured blogging platform, and thank you but I think my theme ain’t that bad!

      • Dan Says:

        Tumblr launched almost 3 years ago. Posterous launched 1.5 years ago. So tumblr has been around twice as long as Posterous.

        Please fix your incorrect statement that “Both were launched within six months.”

      • pegontech Says:

        You’re right. I acknowledged it in the comments but I should change the post.

  26. biz Says:

    I too looked into Posterous for a few blogging projects, but you’re dead on when you say it’s an “engineered” project than a “designed” project.

    Im all about “zero friction to posting”, and Tumblr was easier to implement on a domain, design a theme, and for non-technical types to contribute content as easily as more experienced users, plus its interface is slick and, when the network is friendly, fast and reliable.

    Posterous seems like a tool used to blog by people who still read their email from a unix shell 🙂

  27. gary Says:

    I think you’re correct in your assumptions.

    – the whole emailing to start your blog, instead of just signing up, while it’s suppose to be easy, is actually confusing as hell, and I live on the internet. I can’t imagine explaining it to someone that doesn’t.

    – tumblr has many more themes. Supposedly you can use tumblr themes on posterous, I haven’t tried. to.

    – the whole email everything to posterous is great if you’re mobile, on many different computers/devices. Otherwise, it sounds nice but not that useful to me.

    – even the name ‘tumblr’ is better than ‘posterous’. One rolls off the tongue, the other sounds like a medical condition.

    All that said, I prefer Posterous, and I hope it makes it. It’s autopost features are great and overall it feels more powerful to me. But I can certainly see how for the majority tumblr clicks much quicker.

  28. kopfgeburt Says:

    You use “meanwhile” four times. Three times to start a paragraph.

  29. Raief Says:

    I use Tumbler and like it. It serves my needs. Posterous looked too complicated my first visit so I never really gave it a chance. Now I am going to have another look at it.

  30. Peter Says:

    For my personal blogs I started on wordpress, then decided to move to Posterous. One really nice feature with Posterous is that I was able to import all of my blog posts from WordPress.

    Also, Posterous seems to be very responsive when emailing problems and suggestions.

  31. Spinchange Says:

    I use both and totally agree with the premise that Tumblr is more appealing and requires less thought to sign up and start using.

    That being said, I think a previous commentor touched on something a lot more central to it’s success than simply design: it’s a social network.

    I am willing to bet the most active and prolific users (that urban mid-twenties set) seldom look at the destination URLs of the ones they follow- they engage through the dashboard or Tumblr’s ‘timeline.’

    That right there is a fundamental difference that’s more of feature than design element. I think people are using these sites in different ways. Posterous like a blog, Tumblr more like a social network akin to livejournal.

    • pegontech Says:

      Agreed about the importance of social feature — and to you as well as to the previous commenter, I say that integrating these is an element of design.

  32. You’re missing a technical detail that’s small but important: Posterous works seamlessly with Facebook via an app; Tumblr HAS a Facebook app but one that languished for months – and for all I know may still be unusable – while Tumblr users who wanted Facebook integration jumped ship to Posterous…

  33. Evan Says:

    According to the Wayback Machine, Tumblr launched around January 2007 and Posterous launched in April 2008. I don’t think calling that “six months” is fair or accurate.

    You position one as the “engineered” product and the other as “designed”. While Tumblr may have the edge in terms of visual design, Posterous clearly wins out in terms of Apple-esque simplicity and attention to making the experience as obvious as possible for non-technical users.

    And I think you give far too little credit to the “just email your first blog post” versus “set up another username/password” distinction. May not be a stumbling block for those of us who are tech-savvy early adopters who think nothing of creating yet another account someplace, but it’s a huge difference for folks who just want to try something new without anxiety or friction.

    • pegontech Says:

      Yes, I guesstimated six months based on the dates of their respective financings (what I found on CrunchBase) and that was off.

      While you may be right that Posterous is more “Apple-esque” in its simplicity and singing up by email is a killer feature for non-tech savvy users, Tumblr’s seemingly irresistible rise would seem to contradict that.

  34. Joe Clark Says:

    Dude, Tumblr’s code sucks and they refuse to fix it. Not “everything” about Tumblr is “nice.”

    You also haven’t discussed the class of entitled ignoramus, worse even than LiveJournallers, that is attracted to Tumblr and its built-in capacity for drive-by copyright infringement and defamation.

    • pegontech Says:

      the class of entitled ignoramus, worse even than LiveJournallers, that is attracted to Tumblr and its built-in capacity for drive-by copyright infringement and defamation.

      I seriously hope you never find out about 4chan.

      • Joe Clark Says:

        I heard Moot was gonna just swap over the whole site to Tumblr, the way idiot corporations trust their entire E-mail to Google.

  35. Tim Says:

    A few remarks:

    * tumblr does support commenting through 3rd party plugins. Give disqus a whirl and you’ll enable comments in “no-time”.

    * I use tumblr as a side-blog, everything that’s not “serious” enough to be posted on my main blog goes on tumblr.

    * tumblarity (currently disabled) is the lethal weapon of Tumblr. It’s a competition igniter. It encourages you to post daily, to keep it steady. Add to this national & worldwide rankings and you’ve got a winning combo.

    * I tried posterous the day it came out. It didn’t stick. Great product, but nothing addictive like Tumblr.

    * Posterous didn’t make the list : http://www.patrickmoberg.com/internet-vices/ must not be “hype” enough 😉

    * Tumblr is all about UI. Add a “?” to your title, and Tumblr automatically shows a text box with “let people answer this ?”. Best UX ever.

    While a generalization, I really like your NY vs SF argument.
    Great post.

  36. Worth mentioning is the fact that Tumblr sucks in a major department that Posterous rules: SEO.

    Yeah, the design makes a difference, but most businesses, even the most tech illiterate, know SEO and how important it is. And while we all know it’s increasingly less important in leiu of social media, there are many business who may yet jump on Posterous over Tumblr if they think there’s a benefit in doing so.

    The fact is, we’re talking here about regular users, but it’s important not to overlook marketers, small businesses, and everyone else who make up the majority of late adopters (and ultimately the user base)

    • pegontech Says:

      That’s a good point. There are contradicting views in the comments thread about whether Tumblr is in fact worse at SEO than Posterous. Posterous’s business model apparently revolves around charging companies to build branded sites with their technology. Meanwhile Tumblr’s also seen some adoption by pretty big companies for their marketing efforts. So we’ll see.

    • Joe Clark Says:

      For “SEO,” read “shitty code and semantics.” SEO per se is a form of fraud.

  37. Erik Says:

    Its the sign-up landing page that turned me away from Posterous – it felt like I wasn’t going to have an account that I could tweak and change themes.

  38. […] Posterous and something called “New York City design“. I agree with some, I disagree with some, but the conversation is interesting. [via] […]

  39. the teahead Says:

    Nice article! I’ve been playing with both of these for a while too, and agree that not only is the “post by email” thing a hassle, but it also didn’t work for me when I initially signed up for Posterous. Cumbersome and confusing.

    Comparing iPhone apps shows another area where Tumblr shines. With theirs, you can make any kind of post you could make through the website. With Posterous’ PicPosterous, you can only post photos. Still have to email in other types of posts. If I have an iPhone app for it, I certainly don’t want to have to fire up Mail to post text or whatever.

    That said, there is something I like about Posterous….but I think it was their initial barebones look, before they offered templates. The skeletal “here’s-your-content” thing really appealed to me. I’m still spending some time with both of them, but so far Tumblr is my go-to micro-blogging site.

  40. […] Why Tumblr is kicking Posterous’s ass « PEG on Tech: “The answer is as easy as it is counter-intuitive: Tumblr is a New York company and Posterous is a Silicon Valley company. […]

  41. Cs Says:

    I’ve choosen Tumblr instead of Posterous because of the non-tech people using it. T targets those tumbling for fun, P is focusing on geeks — and there are less geeks than people just having fun

  42. Ella Rose Says:

    Maybe tumblr is better because the guys that work there are pretty and therefore know what it’s like to make pretty things

  43. Design Says:

    […] read an interesting comment with a very cool quote recently: “Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it […]

  44. Jerico Says:

    Design is one. Engineered products are designed as well.

  45. […] Tumble via pegontech.wordpress.com […]

  46. Peg, while i agree with much what you’ve said in this post, and subscribe to a philosophy that places enormous emphasis on design and UI (I’m from new york too…perhaps that explains it), in Posterous’ defense I believe they are bigger than Tumblr was at the same stage in their development. Instead of thinking that Tumblr is kicking Posterous’ ass, I’ve been more impressed at how much ground Posterous has made up in a relatively short period of time. That said, I’d like to think that it’s soon going to be a 3 horse race.

  47. Robert Boyd Says:

    Nice post. Thanks.

    Have you seen the presentation Designing for Social Traction by @bokardo? I’ll link it here: http://www.slideshare.net/bokardo/designing-for-social-traction

    Interestingly, both Tumblr and Posterous have slides in this presentation. Posterous is actually praised for simplifying the signup (and crossing out the signup step on the landing page) while Tumblr is praised for “first steps” after signup.

    Tumblr: appears on slide 13
    Posterous: slide 31, 80
    Tumblr: slide 81-84

    I think it’s a little too early to bet against Posterous. I will say I think Tumblr has the stickier name.

    Cheers. @rboyd (http://twitter.com/rboyd)

  48. mscatmama Says:

    I agree with you about the landing page differences. I have a tumblr and a posterous but I far prefer posterous for the ease of cross posting to different sites. I really don’t like the re-blog feature over at tumblr just to add a comment to someone’s post.

  49. Dreamer Says:

    Tumblr was already well established when Posterous was launched. Not sure where you got the “launched within six months” from but it’s wrong, Tumblr started almost 3 years ago (see Tumblr about page) and Posterous in June 2008.

  50. Andy Hilal Says:

    Good discussion of the registration flows, taglines, etc. But you lost me when you started with the “engineering = Silicon Valley, design = New York.” Uh, what?

    • pegontech Says:

      It’s not so black and white, but the New York way (and there is a New York way now) is more focused on design, as opposed to engineering, than the Silicon Valley way.

  51. Harvey Says:

    >”It’s exactly the kind of thing where an engineer thinks “Oh, nobody >does that, I’ll do that, that’ll be cool!” but in real life it’s useless. I >mean, posting by email is a nice feature. But it’s not a killer feature.”

    I use Posterous precisely for this feature. I’m in China and when I’m somewhere where I can’t get around the Firewall, it’s the only way I can update my blog.

    • pegontech Says:

      That’s a great use case, and it’s great that Posterous allows you to do that, but I think you’ll agree it’s a bit narrow.

      • mandalay Says:

        but Tumblr does let you post by email….I do so all of the time, text and photos. Is there some other difference?

  52. […] » Why Tumblr is kicking Posterous’s ass « PEG on Tech […]

  53. Jake Says:

    I wish I could Like & Reblog this, and maybe even Follow you. Srsly. So easy. Along with some of the other reasons you mentioned, it’s why I’ll never be on Wordpuke, Preposterous, or other platforms. No offense to people who use them—I just really hate them.

  54. […] Why Tumblr is kicking Posterous’s ass This is precisely why I like Tumblr more than Posterous. (tags: tumblr posterous blogging blog post pegontech) […]

  55. Vikas SN Says:

    Having used both of them very extensively, I can clearly say it is actually Posterous that kicks Tumblr’s ass and not vice versa.

  56. alan Says:

    Wasn’t the guy from Tumblr shagging Julia Allison at one stage? It’s all about marketing man.. 😉

  57. Nish Says:

    that’s interesting. I personally use Posterous for it’s easy email posting.

    I don’t really see it as blogging, just an easy way to post pics, and some interesting links without too much fuss and bother.

    I don’t think either Tumblr or Posterous is for any serious blogging. I use WordPress for blogging and Posterous for light n easy stuff and cross-posting of course.

  58. […] year through to Jan 18th of this year.  tumblr continues to kill it.     I read this interesting post yesterday about how tumblr is leading in its  category through innovation and simple, effective, […]

  59. ciastek Says:

    The only reason I use Tumblr is that they was first and there was no gain in converting to Posterous.

  60. […] Shared Why Tumblr is kicking Posterous’s ass. […]

  61. […] Why Tumblr is kicking Posterous (YCS08)’s ass (pegontech.wordpress.com) […]

  62. mirrors Says:

    you can’t remove a posterous account. no way to expunge yourself.

    I think they do this to inflate user numbers.

  63. ravi Says:

    Dare I remind you that Apple, perhaps the one company that stands for design in the tech space over and above all others (and whose Steve Jobs you quote regarding design) is a solidly planted CA entity? 😉 One or more of the founders of Posterous is from Apple, fer cryin out loud!

    For sure Tumblr is slicker than Posterous, but its not so much UI (UX if you prefer) as it is promotion. Tumblr is intentionally hip. Posterous is intentionally utilitarian (as I see it).

    One thing that I have noticed however is that both of them have slowed down tremendously in terms of rate of addition of new features (ignoring a recent small burst of activity @ Tumblr). There are more than a few enhancements that each can support, and their platforms are not so complicated that adding them requires hundreds of human-hours… so I am a bit puzzled by this.

    An interesting data point would be to see what % of users of either service “grow out” of it… at what point (and to whom) does more control over layout of a post, etc, become important?

    Finally, IMHO you have to pay a lot more attention to Posterous’ email interface from the use case of group blogging.

  64. […] Why Tumblr is kicking Posterous (YCS08)’s ass (pegontech.wordpress.com) […]

  65. Nick Marx Says:

    I agree that Tumblr is a lot cooler than posterous. But what do you think about posterous earning revenue – from that Coca-Cola deal? Is Tumblr earning any yet?

  66. Aimee Says:

    wow. very interesting to read.

  67. […] Why Tumblr is kicking Posterous’s ass Tumblr and Posterous are the two most prominent “tumblogging” sites, i.e. sites that make blogging more […] […]

  68. […] Shared Why Tumblr is kicking Posterous’s ass « PEG on Tech. […]

  69. […] the social microblogging app, is kicking Posterous’s ass, according to a popular blog post on PEG on Tech right now. The crux of the article is that the visual and interaction design of Tumblr is better […]

  70. colin Says:

    posterous is better. it’s designed better. yes, designed. super simple. tublr has the stench of a blogging tool that’s been around so long that it may as well be facebook.

  71. […] Why Tumblr is kicking Posterous’s ass « PEG on Tech […]

  72. […] is awesome January 22, 2010 The other day I got a lot of attention for “bashing” Posterous, a Y Combinator company, for having in my view poorer design than its main competitor Tumblr, which […]

  73. […] Vaynerchuk: Why Tumblr is kicking Posterous’s ass. Design is how something […]

  74. […] and overall look (improve gui and user friendliness! Got inspired by Sir Rom’s link on Tumblr vs Posterous) of the projects polished and […]

  75. John Allspaw Says:

    Comparing sites is one thing. The declaration that it’s an east/west coast cause is just wrong. There are a good number of differences that can be talked about in terms of web companies on both coasts, but making a simple generalization (design influence) based on these two products is simplistic and short sighted.

  76. […] I’m biased, since I’m trying to do a start-up in New York, but everything about this rings true: Tumblr and Posterous are the two most prominent “tumblogging” sites, i.e. sites that make […]

  77. I tried tumblr for a while, and it was pretty poor. I often had to do things twice, like loading a page to do something. Posting was a nightmare too. Everything just felt broken. So UI and UX are good an all, but the software still has to work.

    I have had zero issues since I switched to Posterous for my other blog. It’s the bomb.

  78. Danica Says:

    Obviously, I heard of tumblr first, because it’s more popular. A lot of my friends had it, but it really annoyed me that most of the things they posted were never original — they were all things they reblogged from someone else. Why would I create a blogging account if I wasn’t going to post anything original?

    When I discovered Posterous and heard that it was “dead simple”, I thought I’d check it out. Listing all the features on the front page was easy enough — I didn’t have to click on a “24 reasons why you’ll love Posterous” link to see why it was amazing ’cause it was already on THAT PAGE. (My internet connection is slow; why would I want to load another page?)

    I did try tumblr for a while. But the bookmarklet was too difficult to figure out. Posterous, however, finds any media on the page, and you can just browse through them in the bookmarklet and choose whatever it is you wanted to blog.

    I’d go on and on about how much I prefer Posterous over tumblr, but I think I’ve written enough.


    I have tried both and I have to say, Posterous is the obvious choice for me. Tumblr may have a slicker landing page, but I wouldnt say that Posterous’ landing page is too bad either. I also have to disagree with the previous assertions that the email posting system that makes Posterous such an awesome service is too intimidating for new users. New users looking to blog will surely understand what Posterous means when it says “EMAIL US YOUR POST AND WE WILL DO THE REST.” That sounds pretty simple to me.

    Tumblr is not the easiest way to blog. That’s something a Tumblr user is bound to discover sooner or later (especially after hearing about the other side of the fence called Posterous). Tumblr may have the overtheming and the overreblogging and that may turn on some people, but the lack of smarts is a huge turnoff for me.

    Till now, not all Tumblr posts get to have a title, and A HOME BREWED COMMENTING SYSTEM is still freaking missing. Sure, you can install Disqus but that too huge a hassle for what is supposed to be “the easiest way to blog.”

    Tumblr obviously has the lead currently, but then again it has had a huge headstart. Yes, everyone’s on Tumblr, the community is ever growing, I get and acknowledge that. But Posterous I believe is gaining traction by word of mouth, even among Tumblr users.

    Remember MySpace? (Funny how MySpace used to be over-themed too.)

  80. skyllo Says:

    the f-ck yeah tumblrs are amusing. i don’t know about posterous though if they have “communities” like that.

  81. MichaelADeBose Says:

    I disagree with the geographic nature of your premise. Before I get to that I would add that as I explored both Posterous and Tumblr last week to see which I would start with, I made a note that user content for both made Tumblr seem more Myspace and Posterous more akin to Facebook. I like both Facebook and Myspace and have an account on each. However, the Facebook crowd isn’t into as much personalization and Myspace crowd is into nothing but personalization.

    In reading up I saw that Posterous didn’t do the theme thing either at all or to the extent that Tumblr did/does. This probably accounts for the marked busy appearance of Tumblr sites and the cleaner appearance of the ordinary Posterous site. That said either is fine for me, but for my intended audience I preferred the orderly appearance of what appears the average Posterous site.

    As for this geo inference you make, I don’t think so. Apple after all is a California company as is Google; both known for UI and UX innovation. Amazon (1-click patent) is also on the West Coast, so it is clear that the West Coast is paying attention to these considerations. However, given the economic turmoil and distress currently depressing the Advertising, Print & Fashion media, I would bet that there are probably a higher quality of creative consultants and visual professionals to be had in New York. Most in these fields dream job would be with the magazines and any thing more glamourous than working for/with a startup. The necessity of paying bills, would make any of these professionals extremely accessible to the tech industry of New York in ways that they might not have been previously. Any industry in New York is more likely to consider the importance of design and impact of the visual. Even if a tech firm didn’t initially see the need, this proposition would be an easier sell in New York than most anywhere else. After all, NY isn’t known for tech, it is for Advertising, Design and Fashion. These are important things and all coders should consider the import thereof to the natural conclusion. Jonathan Ives and Bruce Tognazzini, both demonstrate the importance great design and UI/X ideology can create and at the end of the day it starts and ends ideology.

    The no comments thing kind of derails your whole premise though. Saying its a pretty Social Media site that isn’t very social appears more as form over function. In the Social Media space, I am frustrated because people keep thinking numbers makes one property better than another. At that I’m not really sure the point you made is the one I got. Twitter wasn’t better than Rejaw or Jaiku it was just more popular. The best means of judging any site is to begin with an evaluation of what it was designed to do first, the ease with which it allows users to meet their objectives and finally how it looks. In the end the one that is best in all 3 categories is a winner, but core functionalities should get weighted the most.

    The heartbreak for Social Media coders is that best is like Best TV Show, Video, or Actor, in that at times, “best” is really “most popular”. What happens if you’re a coder or startup that doesn’t have the media contacts that other lesser services may have? You may get ignored while popular bloggers drive signups ‘across the net’ from you?! Then you get trounced and forgotten.

    They’re both great services and I have to agree that Tumblr has beautiful themes as my Posterous sites are rocking them. Whatever a person’s taste or audience, I recommend them both as a good step up from Twitter with out the bonafide though well rewarded effort required for WordPress or the money need for Expression Engine. For the uninitiated, signup aside, if your sites main job is to be a post repository or dissemination, Posterous is nearly a required utility.

  82. […] Why Tumblr is kicking Posterous's ass " PEG on Tech (tags: webdesign marketing usability design strategy business technology microblogging blogging ux ui interface posterous tumblr) […]

  83. […] PEG on Tech has a great article on Posterous’ shortcomings. Specifically, he argues that in comparison to Tumblr, a designed product, Posterous is an engineered product. This rings pretty true in my experience. Posterous has some nice features, but someone didn’t really sit down to think through the process of using them. I used the post-by-email feature perhaps once, and that was supposedly the platform’s great strength. Most of the time, I stuck to sharing snippets through the bookmarklet, which ended up digging at me because it was too “dead simple.” […]

  84. […] a product, Google Buzz is clearly engineered, not designed, by nerds at the dance, as Mathew Ingram put it. With its current approach, the same web-savvy […]

  85. halfey Says:

    for me the tumblr landing site is still very much unfriendly to me, which had finally drive me away to using posterous quite recently. I mean all of my own posts in tumblr as well as the posts of the people who I follow are dumped in the same place. Why can’t they separate it or at least offer a list view like the one in posterous instead of showing full posts all the way? I followed many people and I HATE the idea of to keep clicking the ‘prev’ just to see the posts I’ve missed during my offline time.

  86. […] has been around the longest. And appears to be the market leader, with around three times the users of the other two. The different networks have a slightly […]

  87. […] that Tumblr is getting bigger and bigger every day and it’s kicking Posterous’s ass, now it’s the perfect moment to compile our first roundup of fresh premium Tumblr themes. […]

  88. […] Premium!catalin zorzini on 03 29 10 Now that Tumblr is getting bigger and bigger every day and it’s kicking Posterous’s ass, it’s the perfect moment to compile our first roundup of fresh premium Tumblr themes. Yup, […]

  89. […] vs Posterous Nice article about Tumblr vs […]

  90. […] In a recent comparison of microblogging giants, Tumblr & Posterous, the author says (about Tumblr’s popularity): “Or, to put it another way: Posterous is an engineered product, while Tumblr is a designed product.” […]

  91. mymnblosync Says:

    Как восстановить зрение – методика автора Афонина … http://o-zrenii.blogspot.com/ – Улучшение зрение – Ваша работа.

  92. Maxwell Says:

    Dude, great post!! I took Tumblr for a spin yesterday (before I even wrote this comment!) because I’ve seen some really KOOL sites using it. It just as a koolness factor that’s different from other social/blogging scripts. Just my 2 cents.
    My main reason though is that Twitter is frigging pissing me off with slooow updates when I press the “Tweet” button. It got me so mad yesterday that I Googled “Alternatives to Twitter” and I found numerous mentions of Tumblr. I’m about to ditch Twitter. Tumblr can do “this” and “that” real nice.

    Anyhow, I was very IMPRESSED with the the 3-field-1-page sign up. It totally floored me. Simplicity coupled with beautiful intuitive design kicks ass any Web day of the Millennium. lol!

    Now, I’m totally happy with my WordPress blog and I’ve set up lots for peeps while I’ve been exploring East Africa from Canada.

    1) What’s the limitation on pages and posts? I mean, how BIG can my blog get?? 200 MB, 500 MB, 1GB? When are they gonna slap my hands?
    2) Would you consider Tumblr as an ALTERNATIVE to WordPress for peeps (in my case artists & small business peeps down here in Africa who might find WP too heavy)? I clearly like the idea of running WP on my server or webhost and using Fantastico or SimpleScripts to install a new instance but I can create a site so QUICKLY with Tumblr for newbies. Damn!

    3) It’s now the end of April 2010, any new improvements in Tumblr that’s groundbreaking?
    4) How does Tumblr do with importing Blogger blogs? I’d like to import my old “Go Africa go!” blog to try it out: http://GoAfricaGo.BlogSpot.com
    5) Is the FaceBook integration working better?

    Again, great post. Gimme the Web any day of the week over the Idiot Box (er TV).

    – Max “The IT pro”

  93. Maxwell Says:

    BTW, I do hope Tumblr comes up with a way to make some money. Perhaps a shared revenue ad model? Maybe a 60-40% spilt of something like that. A service this good deserves some sort of compesation but I also feel that users should get something for their content. Hence the shared revenue win-win model.

    For image uploads in posts, what if I don’t want the full size of the image to be in the post? In WP I can choose medium, thumbnail or just resize to the size I want. Remember, I’m in Africa now…don’t want my users down here to have to load the full image EVERYTIME. Not kool!

  94. […] Here's PEG on Tech's take on this from 2 months ago: Why Tumblr is kicking Posterous’s ****January 19, 2010 […]

  95. If I had a nickel for every time I came here… Incredible article!

  96. Quick Says:

    Regrading google indexing, how do you add keywords and URLs properly?
    Regrading the agruement,
    tumblr wins.
    1. HTML editing
    2. Esay to use


  97. […] the simple look and feel of Tumblr, posterous’s direct competitor. Is this article written by Peg on Tech, one of the reasons for Tumblr’s popularity is the landing page is much less cluttered. Here […]

  98. […] very true. Via a comment on an interesting blog post comparing Tumblr to […]

  99. Tom Says:

    What I like about Tumblr is that they have support, they are fast to reply.

    The help page lacks info on what you can upload, fileypes, etc.

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