By Neil on March 19, 2014
Difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com
Like a lot of people I use WordPress as the platform to build my websites, but did you know there are two versions, namely WordPress.org and WordPress.com. If you did do you know how they differ?
WordPress is a content management system (aka CMS) that people use to build great websites. Primarily it was a blogging system but now it has evolved to support all kinds of websites, with major companies using it as their CMS of choice. So WordPress.org and WordPress.com, what’s the deal with that? Both offer great looking websites and similar backend dashboards (i.e. where you add new posts and pages etc.), but the amount of freedom and potential ease of use does differ between the two.
Simply, WordPress.org is comparable to owning your own house, while WordPress.com is like renting a house or apartment within a complex. Owning your own house means you have freedom to modify and decorate it, add new features like a loft conversion, but you also get the problems such as fixing the boiler or getting extra security locks on all the windows. WordPress.com is comparable to renting. You pay a monthly fee and someone else looks after the repairs and security and gives you a nice house or apartment to live in. However, you cannot renovate or drill holes in walls for new plug sockets, and ultimately you do not own the house. This is a simple way to look at the differences between WordPress.org and WordPress.com.
In website terms, plugins (add-ons that let your site do new things), code tweaks, feature additions (e.g. ecommerce integration, discussion forums, 3rd party themes/designs) are all available to you if you have a self-hosted WordPress.org website. You will however need to arrange your own hosting and set all of this up yourself, and you will be responsible for software updates, online security, and site backups.
If you choose WordPress.com all the hosting, updates, security, and backups are taken care for you, and if you have the no-frills option it is free – but you have to include the WordPress name in your web address (e.g. www.your-site-name.wordpress.com) and have adverts on your site. You can however pay and get your own dedicated domain, as well as pay for more features, ad free sites etc. One major restriction however that some may find off-putting is that you cannot get into the code and modify the website functions and styling, and you cannot use 3rd party plugins and themes. Also, adding features such as ecommerce functionality and integrated discussion forums is not possible.
I personally use a self-hosted WordPress.org website. I like to have full control over what I do and having access to plugins makes things a lot easier. For example I use special custom post types plugins, forms, email management plugins, and many more. You can see what I use here!
I hope this has not muddied the waters for you, but I wanted to talk about WordPress because it is integral to what I do and I recommend you use it to build your websites. Most hosting companies have a one-click WordPress install, so setting up a self-hosted WordPress website is pretty straight forward.
Any question? Just leave a comment below.