When deciding which WordPress software is right for you, WordPress.com or WordPress.org begin by considering your needs. Because both platforms have their own set of benefits and drawbacks, and since it’s not easy to change later, it’s important to have a thorough understanding of both before building your website.
Although both platforms are based on the same software, they are very different. WordPress.com runs the software on its own servers and manages all of its updates for you. WordPress.org on the other hand, is a self-hosted platform, which means that you will need to find your own hosting provider and manage all of the software updates yourself along with any customizations that you would like to make.
And it’s because of these differences that one is better for some situations while the other version is better for others. I will get into all this in a minute, but first, I would like to take a quick overall look at WordPress, just in case you aren’t already familiar with this excellent website building software. No matter which version you decide to use.
What is WordPress?
WordPress is a content management system (CMS) that enables you to create a website or blog from scratch. In fact, over 40% of all websites on the internet, today use WordPress, which means WordPress likely powers more than one in every three websites you visit.
The software has been around since 2003 and since then has become one of the most popular website creation tools available. It is loved by users for its simplicity and flexibility, and it’s free, at least to start.
As a result, businesses and bloggers alike use it for everything from a basic blog to a fully-fledged e-commerce site. And it’s not just small businesses using WordPress – many large organizations such as The Guardian, Forbes, and The New York Times also use it to power their websites.
But, Don’t Be Intimidated
Although any website creation software may seem intimidating to someone who has never used it before, WordPress is quite easy to use. It is often praised for its simplicity and once you get the hang of using it, creating and customizing content on a website is a breeze. In fact, once you begin, you will find that it is so easy to use, that you’ll be updating and making changes to your website in no time!
So as you can see, WordPress is the perfect place to start when building a website for your small business. So now let’s discuss the two versions and which one is the right one for you.
As I mentioned before, one of the biggest differences is where the two versions are hosted or where the files are located on the internet. WordPress.com is hosted on WordPress servers, but WordPress.org software is hosted on any hosting platform that you choose and pay for. This means that if you decide WordPress.com is for you, there is no need to go to WP Engine, Site Ground, or any one of the other countless hosting providers and have your site hosted.
Not only can WordPress.com save you money because you don’t have to pay for hosting, but you also don’t have to worry about uploading and downloading any files.
And since WordPress hosts this version, you never have to touch or pay anyone to touch any of the files that run the software. Along with the fact that the basic version is free, this is probably the main reason people use WordPress.com, as all of the setup and maintenance is done for you.
Now I know what you are thinking, ” If WordPress.com (Hosted WordPress) makes everything so easy and I can get it for free and don’t have to worry about getting or paying for a hosting plan, why would I want to use WordPress.org?” Well, WordPress.com has some drawbacks, and that is what we are going to look at next.
Although WordPress.com does have a free plan, like anything else that is free, you are only going to get the bare bones unless you choose the premium version.
For instance, with WordPress.com, you can choose whatever domain name you like assuming it is available, but you are going to have to take it as a WordPress.com subdomain. This means if you would like to use johndoe.com, for example, you are going to have to use johndoe.wordpress.com.
Fortunately, WordPress.com offers a paid plan, so for a monthly charge, you could still use this version of WordPress and get whatever domain name you want without the WordPress.com part attached to it.
Another drawback of WordPress.com is that you only get a limited amount of space for your site. So if you plan to have many pictures and videos on your site, this could become a problem.
WordPress.com also does not come with support. This means that you are on your own should you have any technical issues or questions arise.
Along with no support, limited space, and the subdomain extension, with the WordPress.com free version, you also are going to have to accept the fact that WordPress is going to show ads on your site completely unrelated to your subject. I mean, someone has to pay for your site, right? And, what could look more unprofessional than advertising completely unrelated to the subject matter of your website?
Now, as I mentioned, there are paid tiers that include the features that the free version doesn’t have, but you need to pay for those things, and then the question becomes, is it worth it?
In most instances, WordPress.com is best for those who need a website for a very simple project and aren’t concerned with having much functionality. This would include writers and anyone looking to start a personal blog.
Now let’s have a look at a WordPress.org site, also known as self-host WordPress. Just like WordPress.com, WordPress.org is entirely free, at least the software is! It is known as open-source software, meaning it is free to download and use, so it will not cost you a dime. Sounds great, right? Well, maybe…
Sure, you can download and use the software, but you better know what to do with that software or have someone who knows what to do with it once you have it. Often this includes hiring a developer, and that can run into money depending on how sophisticated a site you want. This cannot and should not be taken lightly!
If you are just starting out or need a simple blog or website, then you may be better off on WordPress.com. You will get all the functionality you need and get up and running quickly and easily. And for just a couple of extra bucks a month, you can get a premium plan with a custom domain name, all the space that you need for pictures, and even have the advertising removed. Business plan users even get monetization options to make additional money from their sites.
What WordPress.org gives you is a self-hosted WordPress site with additional flexibility and functionality. This is why people choose to use it over WordPress.com, the hosted version. And because you have access to the files that contain the software, you are free to customize them any way that you choose. Just keep in mind that if you are not a skilled developer, you are going to have to hire someone to do it for you.
But, it’s the increased functionality that allows you to design your website any way that you desire. You can even upload plugins, small programs that will allow you to change the functionality of your site even further. However, for now, we are going to leave talking about themes and plugins to future posts.
In most instances, small businesses and e-commerce sites will find that WordPress.org is the better platform for them. Although you will need a hosting service, between the increased functionality and the ability to customize their site, it allows small businesses the capability to create just what they need for the perfect website.
WordPress is a great content management system (CMS) that allows you to easily create and manage your website or blog. However, there are two versions, and while one version is better for some circumstances, the other version is better for others. The question of WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org has been long debated. So before you choose which one to use, you should know the difference.
Essentially, WordPress.com is a WordPress hosted version, while WordPress.org is a self-hosted version of WordPress. WordPress.com is a good choice for those who want an easy-to-use platform that includes minimal setup and maintenance with little or no extra costs. However, you are limited in terms of customization and control.
On the other hand, WordPress.org is a good choice for those who want a more flexible and powerful platform. Yet, it requires more technical knowledge and can be more difficult to use.
So, which one should you choose? It ultimately depends on your needs and preferences. If you need a simple platform that is easy to use and requires little maintenance, then WordPress.com is a good choice.
However, if you want complete control and advanced features that are more flexible with more customization options, then WordPress.org, which gives you a self-hosted site, is the better choice.
Most small businesses will find that they prefer the functionality of a self-hosted website, WordPress.org.
Which version of WordPress do you think would be right for you? WordPress.com, where all of the heavy lifting is handled for you, or WordPress.org, where you will get greater flexibility and functionality.
I hope this article has helped clear up any confusion you may have had about the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org
I have been working with WordPress since 2008 and have helped hundreds of small businesses, artists, and bloggers build their online presence. I am passionate about helping people not just build a website but also in teaching them to optimize so it will be found in the SERP’s and get traffic.