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Alexandra Lange

The Naive Tumblr


Newsweek reblogged Bijan and praised Tumblr.

David Karp, Tumblr’s founder and ceo, said that while the Tumblr Dashboard has gained a tremendous amount of functionality over the past three years, many of the newer features are simply unnecessary for first time users.

For example, things like number of followers, or number of “likes”, messages or even Radar don’t mean much for day 1 users.

So they are trying out something different.

Now when first time users sign up for Tumblr, they don’t see many of the newer things. They get a focused Tumblr dashboard that gets them engaged. Then after a few posts the social features start to elegantly appear.

I think that’s brilliant and not intuitive.

Last night I was at small gathering in nyc. One of the entrepreneurs for a cool local startup said out loud that he thought Tumblr’s onboarding was the best out there.

I think he’s probably right. And I love the new approach that they are taking to balance keeping things simple while adding new functionality.

I would have reblogged too, except every time I try to do that it looks crazy on my blog. Which is the point of my reblog: Tumblr looks great, but after that smooth “onboarding” (new vocab!) it can be rocky to add features if you have no coding skills. What Tumblr wants me to do and what I want to do are not the same things. The palette seems directed at a fairly specific user who is not me.

For example, now that I am Tumbling along, and I do have followers, I would like to have a list of topics along one side of the page. I get a lot of new visitors, and I want them to be able to find everything about Alexander Girard, or my forthcoming book, or the critics I like to criticize. My tag cloud is out of control, as well as dropping off the bottom of my page.

I would also like to add my Twitter feed.

And a proper About section. With links.

I have searched the templates for one that might work better, but most are really not intended for text. (I am also deathly afraid I’ll lose the whole thing.)

There is now one Premium theme, Rank & File, that seems to offer some of what I need. But are premium themes for suckers? If that is how the nice gentlemen at Tumblr want to make money, they need to give me more options: looks, colors, features, mix and match. A template is a template, isn’t it? The little notched flag is dorky. Doesn’t anyone else write on this thing? What about a slideshow option? If this is the platform for aesthetes I think they could take it much further, without making people like me feel dumb. Or just naive.



Posted in: Internet

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Alexandra Lange Alexandra Lange is an architecture and design critic, and author of Writing about Architecture: Mastering the Language of Buildings and Cities. (Princeton Architectural Press, 2012). Her work has appeared in The Architect’s Newspaper, Architectural Record, Dwell, Metropolis, Print, New York Magazine and The New York Times.

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