If the Election Was Just on Tumblr, Obama Still Would Have Won

tumblr logoWhile the 2012 election has been over for more than 6 months, the candidates’ Tumblr blogs remain active. Tumblr as a blogging platform creates something of an online time capsule, and Mitt Romney’s and Barack Obama’s Tumblr blogs fall squarely into this category. Each reflects its respective candidate during the campaign period. While we here at CEM don’t like to get too political, there are some valuable web design and branding lessons to be learned from this match up.

The content of each is designed to cater to the followers of their respective parties, but what’s just as important is each blog’s layout. All political leanings aside, Romney’s Tumblr blog pales in comparison with Obama’s. Let’s talk about why.

Design Elements

Barack Obama

Obama already had his Tumblr well under control before Mitt Romney hopped on the bandwagon. You can still look at the design elements: simple and straightforward, with links to relevant social media and his official website. The Obama brand is prominently displayed at the top of the page. There is plenty of white space and breathing room in between posts. Overall, it’s a clean and modest blog without any major embellishments – a great route to take for a presidential candidate. The President obviously did his homework, or at least hired the right people to do it for him.

Mitt Romney

When Romney’s Tumblr blog started up, it was a design disaster from the beginning. It’s clear that an attempt has been made, however. The candidate’s photo is displayed at the top of the page, and so is the presidential logo. There are links to Romney’s social media presences prominently featured.

But just take a look at the layout. From the overall design to the nit-pickiest elements, Romney’s Tumblr is, quite frankly, a mess. Let’s start at the top, with the brand. Romney’s name and tagline are featured up top, but the image is low quality and low-resolution – not a good idea for anybody who wants to look professional.

Check out the alignment and the font. It employs the use of basic HTML coding – barely. The images and text are squashed up right against the left margin, leaving no breathing room whatsoever for the viewer. The font is basic Times New Roman, and the hyperlinks are default blue, which shows that little to no thought was actually put into the design of this blog, ultimately not a very good approach for such a high-profile political figure.

The Takeaway

Don’t just take this blogger’s word for it. The stats show how it all panned out. Obama’s Tumblr presence was huge, garnering tens of thousands of reblogs for many of his posts. His posts averaged a couple of thousands notes, while Romney’s show a modest few hundred.

Romney’s blog, while a layout disaster, would actually have been a simple fix if the former presidential candidate hadn’t abandoned it after his campaign was over. The blog was fairly consistently curated, updated with images, videos, and information about the campaign, but remains visually all over the place. The default Tumblr theme would have been better for Romney than what he ended up with.

Does your business use Tumblr? What does your  web design say about your brand?

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Tree is a somewhat nomadic graduate student pursuing an MFA in Poetry and Literary Translation from Drew University. A self-identified “diplobrat,” she spent over 16 years living as an expat in countries like Guatemala, Bolivia, and Tanzania. Tree graduated from Smith College in 2012 with a degree in Spanish Language and Literature, a minor in Studio Art, and a concentration in Landscape Studies. In between writing poetry for school and content for CEM, she dabbles in goat herding and freelancing. Other interests include reading, watercolor painting, gardening, and traveling.

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