The Zeek Blog

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Nobody Should Feel The Need To Rent Their Web Presence

19 February

Simply put, it’s better to own your main web presence.

I was not surprised by the announcement that Posterous will turn off on April 30. Even before they were bought by Twitter a year ago, I was warning people of the danger involved in renting a web presence. If you don’t own it, you don’t really control it.

But the announcement did help to reinforce the concept in my own mind. Recently I’ve been flirting with the idea of recommending to a friend that they use Tumblr instead of WordPress for a personal wine blog. It seems like a perfect option for them. It’s easy to set up, easy to maintain, comes with a built in community, and the Tubmlr app makes it brain dead simple to add content. Except for the content part, it sounds like a description for a great apartment complex.

Owning is often too hard.

wordpress_vs_tumblrWe should be able to have the best of both worlds. I’ve been banging on this drum for several years to no avail. The promise of WordPress 3.1 was supposed to be “easy.” And it didn’t deliver. Here we are two years later and  the WordPress dashboard can still be a daunting place for a beginner. It’s frustrating for experienced users too. And it’s even more frustrating to see sites like Tumblr release tools that make publishing to WordPress look like rocket surgery. I find myself longing for the ease that these sites deliver.

For example, when I’m posting a photo to my photo blog, In The Viewfinder, using the WordPress app, it forces me to deal with the raw html code in the edit window and forces me to go to preview mode to see what it would look like if I add text. Compare that with the overall experience of the Tumblr app and you can see why people would want to use it instead. The app gets the code out of the way and makes it easy for the average person to attach a photo and know that it’s done. And Posterous was just as simple.

I think it’s long past time for the WordPress community to step up and build a better user experience for self-hosted blogs. This means removing the clutter from the online dashboard and improving the mobile app experience. There’s no reason the average user should have to deal with the distractions WordPress offers today. If we could make owning easier, renting wouldn’t seem like such an attractive option.

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