What Is The Difference Between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?

Photo by Horia Varlan

Some people have gone to their favorite search engine and typed in WordPress to learn more about it…and found out that you can have a WordPress site for free! The difference lies in WordPress.COM versus WordPress.ORG.

WordPress.COM

WordPress.COM is a site that allows you to set up a website/blog for free. They provide the domain name, the hosting and control what you can do with the site.

All WordPress.COM sites have a domain name in the form of “DonutLand.wordpress.com”. The “wordpress.com” indicates that this is a blog hosted at the WordPress site.

WordPress.COM sites are hosted by the folks who write the WordPress software. You do not pay for your hosting, but they do not guarantee up time, and they don’t do any backups.

WordPress.COM sites are limited. You can choose from a very limited amount of themes, thus your site is going to look like most other sites on the server. You are also not allowed to install any plugins to automate or expand your website functionality.

WordPress.COM sites are always the latest version of WordPress. That means you don’t have to worry about keeping your software up to date – the WordPress folks upgrade everyone at the same time.
Pros

  • Free hosting
  • Free domain name
  • Always up to date

Cons

  • No guarantees on server up time, or backups
  • Little theme customization
  • No full custom themes
  • Domain name will always be [something].wordpress.com
  • No plugins

WordPress.org

WordPress.ORG, on the other hand, is the source of the WordPress software. This awesome piece of software is free – and all you have to do is put it on a server somewhere to have a working website.

This is also known as the “self-hosted” form of WordPress, meaning that you have to find a host for your website.

By going with WordPress.ORG, you get to choose your domain name. That means you don’t have to worry about the “wordpress.com” being tacked on the end.

When you choose your own host, you get to investigate your support options, guaranteed up time, and other add-on services like shopping carts and forums.

When you have full control over your theme, you get to decide how your site looks, and where things will appear.

When you use plugins, these bits of software can help you do everything from dealing with spam, to providing a quick way to pin your site on Pinterest, to optimizing your site automatically for searches, to automatically backing up your files.

Pros

  • Full control over every aspect of your website

Cons

  • You must decide on and pay for domain names and hosting

Which One Should A Small Business Choose?

I recommend that small business looking to get their businesses on the web go for the WordPress.ORG option. The reasons are simple:

  • When your customers guess at your web address, they will not guess to put “wordpress” in the middle of it.
  • Plugins save you a lot of work by taking care of things like backups.
  • By choosing your domain name, you get to pick one your customers will remember.
  • By having control over your theme, you get to set yourself apart from your competition.

Don’t know where to start? I provide a full range of services, from finding and purchasing a domain name to getting a self-hosted site up and running with a custom theme.


Photo by Horia Varlan. Licensed under Creative Commons.