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Customizing your Tumblr page for better branding and usability

May 12th, 2011 by | 9 Comments

Launched in 2007, Tumblr jumped from being one of those imaginative services spawned by the whole startup innovation roundup, to this rising superstar in the blogging field. Well, it doesn’t have Facebook’s massive user base [yet], but still, it’s hugely popular among nearly all kinds of Internet users—from casual microbloggers, to social media hounds with a serious meme appetite and content consumers with unchecked Web-enabled addictive personality disorders.

Like any social media platform, businesses eventually found their way to Tumblr Alley, looking to strengthen their online marketing muscles to proactively reach out to their demographic. Tumblr, as a content distribution channel, offers many ways for them to spread their word online and engage with people on many levels.


Image by Subnormal.pl

We’ll feature tips and best practices to help your brand find harmony amongst “Tumblrians” and thrive in its fun, virally-driven ecosystem. Let’s begin by customizing your Tumblr page for branding and site usability.

By personalizing your Tumblr page, you stake your claim over your own piece of Tumblr real estate and brands it with your business’ personality. Tumblr allows a fine array of personalization features to make your page an extension of your brand and its products and services.


URL


You can use a username.tumblr.com for your URL, or you can either purchase a custom domain name or assign a sub-domain under your existing Web site for a redirect. A custom .com, .net, .org, etc makes it a tad bit easier for your followers to remember, and keeps your Tumblr page within your brand’s Web site ecosystem.


User Pic


A user pic (aka Portrait Photo, as Tumblr refers to it), is an important element in branding, as this is the image readers will identify your brand and page with. It’s also one of the first images of you other people will see on reblog notes and follower lists. Obviously, individuals can use their pictures, and brands can use their logos though it would be best to use good quality images.


Page Lay-out



Image by Pen Waggener

There’s a wide variety of ready-made templates you can choose from; some free and others you can purchase. Placement of elements, navigation and additional features vary depending on the template, so it’s best if you take time to choose the right one for your page.  Most of the templates will even allow you to customize the background image and choose other colors for the on-page elements.

But if you want a truly unique Tumble page, you can design it yourself. The blogging service has even provided an easy-to-follow guide for coding your own theme. This gives you free reign not only over your page’s design, but also allows you to add and control features and capabilities Tumblr doesn’t offer.

Whether you choose a pre-designed template or design your own from scratch, make sure consider the following elements and characteristics:

- Select/design a page that’s easy to navigate through to let your visitors easily course through pages of posts, and archives. Some templates have straightforward interfaces, while others can get a little bit confusing for your average Internet user.

- Make sure to have a template that goes with your brand’s image with regard to page layout, and color choices, among others.

- Avoid autoplay music. Sure it sounds like a good idea at the onset, but really, nobody likes to be shocked by the sudden blaring of audios after loading. Also, it can cause a sluggish pageload which can be annoying for those using slower machines or Internet connections.

- Add a search box if your preset template doesn’t already have one. This helps your visitors find content within your site. A tag cloud can also help.

- Based on your design preferences, you can either use simple texts as a banner, or you can create an image to serve as one. The previous shows simplicity and hands over the Tumblr profile’s page with no frills. The latter is eye-catching and can be used to unify aesthetics.



Additional Pages


A standard Tumblr profile includes several pages including your landing page, and Ask Me Anything (which holds a Q&A functionality ala Formspring), among others. To be able to optimize your profile, Tumblr also allows you to add more pages as you see fit like a standard Web site. It will even let you specify the name of your page, the type of layout you want to use for it, and the URL. As for the contents of your additional pages, you get a standard blog text field to populate it, complete with an HTML view. This means you can put simple text, add links, multimedia elements, and have it aggregate feeds off other sources.

Perhaps you can add an About You for a more detailed bio and ways people can contact you, a page dedicated to a specific Tumblr tag, or maybe even a chat room using a tool like Tal.ki for more focused follower engagements.




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