Twitter, the blog site for people who like to say a little about a lot, recently acquired posterous.com. Perhaps in an attempt to reach those who can hold more than 140 characters of thoughts in their head at once. So, we decided to give the site a go to see if Posterous can compete with the major-league of WordPress, Blogger and Weebly.
Signing up for Posterous at least is easy. We would have been up and running in seconds, had it not been for the usual 10 minutes of trying to decipher the Captcha code – which in an attempt to keep up with ever more advanced bots have now become practically impossible to get past unless you have a degree in Egyptology. Still; at least none of that horrible “sign up with Twitter, Facebook, Google, Yahoo” crap. Well done, Posterous.
The dashboard is as simple as a Tata Nano. Click to post, click to log out. There are some other buttons here and there, but nothing that actually adds any features of value. If you can’t figure out how to use Posterous, you won’t be able to turn on your PC anyway.
The dashboard also shows how many “views”, “likes” and “comments” each of your posts have. Very Facebookish, very simple. Nothing revolutionary but at least the information is easily accessible.
There is also something called “spaces” which we couldn’t really figure out what was. Apparently we weren’t the only ones since Google immediately suggested “what is posterous spaces” when we started to type our search. The first hit looked like a Posterous FAQ but since we were logged in to our Posterous account we were immediately taken back to our own, empty Spaces page. So we lost interest and moved on.
We later did do a bit of research on the subject and found that apparently Posterous Spaces is a sort of blog management area where you can select various layouts and publish content to selected audiences. Somehow this is meant to compete with Facebook. We think not. If your users don’t immediately understand what a function is for, it isn’t worth having – and I predict that Spaces will have about the same appeal to the great masses as a morning game of Jai Alai.
Publishing our first post was as easy as it gets. If by “easy” you mean something that an idiot can do. Title, content, publish. Then we wanted to get really advanced and add a picture. Which you can. Sort of. You can upload a picture, but unlike blogs for grown-ups you can’t set alignment, size or caption (unless you want to manually fiddle with the HTML or CSS code). In fact all you can do is upload it. Again; very Tata Nano.
It does say a lot about the audience Posterous is trying to target when the tab function brings you from the “post title” field to the Posterous logo, on to 9 different parts of the main menu and then finally to the “post content” field. Posterous is not targeting users who know what the tab key is for. It may not sound like a big deal that the tab key isn’t working, but to me this is the sort of thing that separates a “simple blog for the people” from a “blog for simple people”. Posterous’ users are a bit, eh… Well, let’s just say they have a disproportionate number of members who played triangle and tambourine in the school orchestra.
We thought it was an extra nice little touch from the Posterous designers that if you click refresh on your own dashboard, the number of “views” increases by one every time. For a while we were thinking “wow, these test posts seem really popular”, but when we started to hold F5 down to refresh constantly and got 200 views in about 30 seconds, followed by no more views until we were back from lunch an hour later, we became a bit doubtful. We suspect that most Posterous users are not by nature as suspicious as we are, though, and that there are quite a lot of users that have to be dragged away from their computer by nurses and guardians after hours and days. “And another one, and another one, and another one, and another one. I am a blogging God! And another one, and another one, and another one”. Well done again, Posterous. Know your target group – and then suck them in, stupid little mongs. Should keep them away from the tambourine for a while at least.
At this point in our reviews we usually move on to the more advanced features. With Posterous, however, that was a problem. You can click “press” to read the latest press releases from the Posterous team, but we suspect that may have only a limited appeal. You can also click “have a question” to go to the knowledge base, but we suspect most Posterous users will be baffled by the statement and simply go “do I?” There is also a “help” button, but since that too takes you to the knowledge base, it doesn’t really count as a feature. It does however again illustrate how much faith Posterous have in their own customers. In fact there is even a “FAQ” button that also takes you to the knowledge base. Someone at Posterous was definitely thinking it would be a good idea to make the site accessible to disabled people. And we are not talking about a missing leg here. Tambourine time again. Other than that we couldn’t really find much to do. So that is Posterous for you: title, content, post.
To be fair, you can sort of make menus and also “pages”, which Posterous helpfully explains “are like posts where you can write what you want”. If a page is really like a post, why have a separate function for it? These features are so hopelessly laid out and so basic we won’t even bother to review them further here.
We were hardly impressed by Posterous. There are more advanced blogging systems on the walls of public toilets even in the shabbiest parts of town. But we are perhaps forgetting here that Posterous is owned by Twitter. And if your repertoire of communication is limited to 140 characters of “Wow, cool shit here man http://li.ly/dsjdsa”, then Posterous is obviously a big step forward. We appreciate Posterous in the same way we appreciate disabled ramps. It makes us feel warm and fuzzy inside to know that we live in a society that looks after those less fortunate than ourselves. But we prefer to take the stairs.
EDIT: Even Posterous now apparently subscribes to our views and are closing down posterous.com on 30th April 2013.