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What is the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?

What is the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?

Posted: 7th May 2020

WordPress is the most popular content management system (CMS) for websites. Launched in 2003, it is no wonder that 34% of the top 1 million websites use this software. But do you know what is the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?

Each platform is designed for different uses, but the two often get confused. In this article, we will look at each platform individually. By highlighting their core differences, we can help you decide which platform will be best for your needs.

What is WordPress.org?

WordPress.org is open source and 100% free to use, all you need is a pre-existing domain name and web hosting. For this reason, it is also known as self-hosted WordPress. It allows you to choose the type of hosting that is right for the needs of your website. You have full control over every aspect of your website, from how it looks to how it functions.

When people say they have a WordPress website, they usually mean WordPress.org. The WordPress.org platform is preferred by businesses due to it being fully customisable and can make money from it.

Pros of WordPress.org

  • Being an open-source platform means that anyone has access to the code and can, with some restrictions, modify it. This leads to regular updates and new features being added. So, your website will get free updates and improvements for you to build upon.
  • You have complete control of your website and data. As long as everything you are doing is legal, your website does not need to adhere to a set of terms or services and will not be turned off.
  • You can install plugins. Plugins are little apps that can be installed onto your website to add different functions. From spam blockers and SEO helpers, to contact forms and even the ability for e-commerce functionality. With over 48,000 free plugins available for you to install, you are bound to find one to suit your business.
  • Your website is fully customisable. You can design it to look however you wish. WordPress has a range of free and premium themes for you to download. You can also customise the code and create a design of your own to fit in with your company branding.
  • WordPress.org allows you to run ads on your website. You can make money from your website without having to share the revenue with anyone.
  • Tools such as Google Analytics can be integrated with your website. This software will deliver customer analytics and tracking information about how your audience uses your website.
  • Using WordPress.org allows you to add e-commerce functionality to your website. Whether you sell physical products or digital downloads, WordPress.org offers secure payment options. This allows your customers to buy direct from your website, rather than a third-party vendor.
  • You even have the option of creating a member-only area of your website with special plugins. This feature lets your offer premium content to your audience, such as online courses.

Cons of WordPress.org

  • Even though you have a website, for it to exist on the Internet, you will need to pay for website hosting. The cost of website hosting varies depending on the type of hosting your website needs. You can find out more information on our managed website hosting service here.
  • Despite WordPress.org being open-source and regularly updated, you are responsible for installing those updates. However, updating your website is as simple as clicking the update button.
  • You are also responsible for backing up your website. Although you can set up automatic backups with certain plugins

With WordPress.org, the pros outweigh the cons. This platform is most popular with businesses due to its versatility. Your website can look however you wish. You can make it as simple or complex as your business need it to be. If you need an e-commerce store with hundreds of product pages, WordPress.org can do that. Even if you just need a simple one-page website to showcase your work, WordPress.org can work for you.

What is WordPress.com?

WordPress.com is a hosting service by the same founder of WordPress.org, Matt Mullenweg. Whilst you can still build a website on WordPress.com, you are very limited to what you can do. You must choose a plan that is billed yearly. Each plan allows you to do different things with your website.

  • Free – Limited use
  • Personal – Custom domain, some ability to customise, best for a personal blog, £3 a month
  • Premium – Build a unique site, access to custom CSS, Google Analytics support, best for freelancers, £7 a month
  • Business – Custom plugins and themes, 200 GB storage, access to 24/7 live chat, best for small businesses, £20 a month
  • eCommerce – Best for online stores, £36 a month

Pros of WordPress.com

  • The free version of WordPress.com is great for people who want to have a small blog as a hobby.
  • 3GB of free storage.
  • WordPress.com will automatically update and back-up your website.

Cons of WordPress.com

  • If you opt for the free version of WordPress.com you will have ads placed on your website. You do not get to control these ads or profit from them.
  • You cannot put your own ads on your website. This makes it difficult to monetise your site. You have to apply for WordAds, an advertising programme where you can claim some of the money back if you have high traffic levels.
  • You do not have access to any plugins on the free version. You can access a limited selection if you upgrade to the Business Plan. This severely limits what you can do with your website.
  • You cannot upload a custom theme to your website. If you are using the Free plan, you can only choose from their range of free themes. Business and Premium plan holders have a slightly wider choice of themes and the use of custom CSS. These limitations make it harder for you to design your website the way you want it to look.
  • Unless you opt for the Business plan, you cannot install Google Analytics. You only have access to the stats that WordPress.com provide you. These will not give you as much detail as Google Analytics.
  • If you only have the free plan, your domain will be branded as https://yourwebsitename.wordpress.com. In order to get a custom domain without WordPress branding, you will have to pay extra.
  • WordPress.com does not offer any e-commerce solutions unless you specifically opt for the e-commerce plan.
  • If WordPress.com believe that your website, or its contents, violate their terms of service, they will delete your website.

WordPress.com is very limited in its uses. Even if you pay for the Business plan, you do not have complete control of what your website can do. It is mainly only functional for someone who wants a small blog for a hobby. It is not suited to host a business website.

Summary

Hopefully, these points have helped show you what is the difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com. If you do not wish to make money from your website, then WordPress.com is the platform for you. However, for professional websites that give you full control, you are better off opting for WordPress.org. Even small e-commerce websites would be better off being built on WordPress.org than choosing the e-commerce plan on WordPress.com.

If you start with a WordPress.com website, you can move over to WordPress.org in the future. You do not need to know how to code to use WordPress.org. A simple to use CMS lets you easily upload and update content and images to your website. With thousands of useful features, it is no wonder that even big brands such as BBC America, The Walt Disney Company, and Vogue use WordPress.org to power their websites.

Find out more

If you would like more information on how our team of skilled WordPress website developers, can build you a new website, please get in touch via email on hello@prioritypixels.co.uk.

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