It’s a pretty common point of confusion – what is the difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com. This is generally one of the first choices you’ll make when starting out making a website or blog, so it’s important to know the difference.
To fully understand the difference between the two, a deeper analysis is required.
WordPress.com is a hosting service which is powered by WordPress.org software.
WordPress is an attractive option for those who want to have a website, but don’t quite have the programming or coding experience needed when you build a website yourself. WordPress will host the service for you. Essentially, all you need to do is sign up and you’re ready to start producing content. This is a great choice for those who don’t have a lot of technical experience and will need the support WordPress offers.
WordPress.org is an open source content management system. This is the most used website platform on the internet.
With WordPress.org, you have more control over your website. You can use themes and plugins to alter the aesthetic and functions of your website. While there’s more customising options, there’s also less support, and you’ll essentially need to handle everything yourself. You will need to purchase a domain and web hosting, and have little support. You’ll also need to manually update the website and be responsible for backups, a feature WordPress.com completes automatically. If you’re not a tech whizz, then this option can be a bit overwhelming and confusing.
Here are a few factors to consider before deciding whether you should create a website with WordPress.org or WordPress.com.
WordPress.com is completely free to sign up to, and doesn’t have to cost any extra if you’re happy to publish your website under the wordpress.com sub domain. However, the free option is pretty limiting, and really not sustainable for most serious businesses. It doesn’t really look too professional to have your URL as “yourwebsitename.wordpress.com.”
Personal plans are $3.99 per month, premium are $10.75 per month, and business is $33.25 per month. Every plan is billed annually.
WordPress.org is free to download. However, there are extra costs to consider, including having to pay for hosting and a domain name. You’ll have to do your own research and decide which hosting and domain name is the right choice for you.
It’s also important to consider how much you’re willing to pay for premium plugins and themes. While there are thousands that are available to download for free, the high end plugins and themes will cost you. These can range from $45 to $100 per plugin. Suddenly, the costs start to add up.
Plugins and themes are only available on WordPress.org. If you’re using WordPress.com and want to add them, there’s an option, but just be warned it’s not cheap. To use plugins, you have to join WordPress.com’s VIP program. Prices for the VIP Cloud Hosting starts at $5000 per month, with the enterprise option costing a whopping $25,000 per month. (This will get you features such as support from WordPress engineers, code reviews and 24/7 support).
If you’re running a business, then it’s important to ensure you’ve got your website hosted on a proper business domain. It is one of the key components to running a successful website, but is often overlooked. If you’re using WordPress.com, you will have to purchase hosting. If you choose a poor host, it will negatively impact your SEO and sales.
WordPress.org suggests using one of the these three services for hosting:
Using these recommended services has some benefits, including the compatibility with your WordPress website, are easy to set up, have cheaper costs and special features not generally offered elsewhere. If you need help setting up hosting for your WordPress website, don’t hesitate to contact a Matter Solutions specialist.
The biggest difference between the two is the amount of control you’ll have over your website.
When using WordPress.org, you are the one who owns and controls all of the content. Its up to you what theme the website has, how you customise it, what plugins to use. You can choose which advertising networks can feature on your website. If you’re a business or online store, WordPress.org is the only option, as it allows customers to purchase products.
Meanwhile, WordPress.com still has high control over what you can publish and modify. If your business grows and you want to alter your website, you’ll find you won’t be able to change the layout. Furthermore, WordPress.com holds the right to delete your website without prior warning (don’t panic too much – this is only if you fail to stick to their terms of service).
You’ll also have third party advertisements on your website. If you don’t want visitors to see these advertisements, there is an option to keep it ad-free. Of course, this isn’t free, and costs $29.97 per year. If you want to sell ads on the website, you need to ensure you receive 25,000 page views per month. If you do, you can use a feature called Ad control. On the plus side, this feature is free, but on the downside you have to split your revenue 50/50 with them.
So which one should I pick?
Unfortunately, you’ll have to make that decision for yourself. It all comes down to personal preference and your technical experience.
If you’re needing a lot of assistance, and don’t really need a completely customised website, then WordPress.com is the option for you.
On the other hand, if you’re running a professional website that needs to be personalised, you want complete control over the aestetic and features, and you’re selling products, then WordPress.org is the better option.
Don’t worry if you’re reading this and regretting your choice of WordPress.com – it’s entirely possible to migrate your website to a self hosted WordPress.org at any time.