WordPress.com and WordPress.org: What’s the Difference?

WordPress.com and WordPress.org: What’s the Difference?

WordPress’s two related, yet essentially different incarnations available at WordPress.com and WordPress.org frequently represent a point of confusion for novice website owners. Although both are dedicated to revolutionizing the way we create and publish content online, these two resonate with two different audience groups.

WordPress.com and WordPress.org were both started by Matt Mullenweg with an aim of providing the online world with a simple online content management solution. Today, they count millions of active users and support some of the world’s biggest websites. When it comes to their differences, however, these mostly revolve around:

  • WordPress.com represents a commercial enterprise that helps you handle all the processes associated with website hosting, backups and security; while
  • WordPress.org is free software anyone can download and start building a website using their technical knowledge.

In order to choose the one that fits your need best, you need to understand how each of these solutions can actually support your online development. Namely, some more specific differences between these two are reflected in:

  • The sets of features they make available to users
  • The potential limitations for your blogging success
  • The costs associated with hosting and management

WordPress.com: handles the technical bits for you.

As suggested above, WordPress.com and WordPress.org partly share the history and are both intended to facilitate online content publication process. Among them, WordPress.com is the commercial product that largely functions like any other hosting service out there.

Namely, WordPress.com is owned by Automattic, a company created with a purpose of “democratizing publishing and development.” Blogging at WordPress.com brings you all the resources necessary for building a great personal or business website, including hosting, backup and security management, etc.

With WordPress.com, there are two options that you can utilize:

  • Free hosting with wordpress.com address. Enables you to choose a unique name for your blog and host it with a wordrpess.com suffix. Once you log in, you get the opportunity to choose a free or paid theme, customize widgets and menus, define your blog’s layout and start publishing. This means that the awesome guys at WordPress are in charge of managing your hosting, so you can focus on creating great content. However, since free WordPress.com gives you only 3GB of space, chances are you’ll soon outgrow it.
  • Premium and business hosting. At $99 and $299 per year, paid WordPress plans put even more storage and bandwidth resources at your disposal. They come with 13GB and unlimited space, respectively, and provide advanced customization options. More importantly, these plans let you choose a custom .com or .ME domain name, instead of a generic wordpress.com URL.

These options evidently offer a lot of opportunities for people who are not quite familiar with CSS and HTML. With minimum worries about the technical aspects, bloggers can dedicate more time to creating an active online community.

WordPress.com features breakdown:

  • Handles the technical parts such as hosting, security, backups
  • Premium hosting plans start at $99 per year
  • Thousands of free themes and availability of custom design (in premium versions)
  • Personal support

However, those who wish to have more control over their websites will probably be much happier with the amazing WordPress.org.

WordPress.org: both free and priceless at the same time

Probably the best way to describe WordPress.org is the title statement that suggests the platform is “both free and priceless at the same time.” As opposed to WordPress.com, WordPress.org is an open source project that started as a blogging system, but that shortly evolved into a full content management system. The software is distributed under the GNU (General Public License) and gathers a community of thousands of active WordPress developers.

Although WordPress.com does offer CSS upgrades in its premium and business versions, WordPress.org is still seen as the more powerful solution. This is mostly because it gives more freedom to developers, who can build their own custom themes and plugins. Moreover, with WordPress.org, you own your data and are in full control over it. This means you can add JavaScript or CSS blocks at your own will and edit the theme’s core files as you see fit.

To start with WordPress.org, you need to install the software on your machine and find a web host that meets minimum requirements. Afterward, it is up to you and your creativity to build a website that will enable you to expand your personal or business brand.

WordPress.org features breakdown:

  • Find a hosting service for your website
  • Manage backups and security on your own
  • Use custom PHP or CSS themes you built on your own
  • Use plugins to expand the website’s functionality

Evidently, WordPress.org requires more time and dedication, but this is the recipe for making an outstanding website. If you have an incredible idea and basic CSS skills, you’ll find WordPress.org a great solution for your online expansion.

Alternatives

Now, to start using WordPress, you don’t really have to go with these two options only. Most hosting providers today offer a free and relatively simple WordPress Integration via software solutions such as Softalicious, Installatron, Fantastico. These are intended to automate the process of migrating a WorPress.com website to another hosting provider, or simply add the CMS to cPanel. This way, you’ll be able to manage your contents within WordPress’s intuitive interface regardless of the web hosting provider you chose.

Conclusions

For novice bloggers who have little technical knowledge and plenty of great ideas, WordPress is typically the first step towards creating a successful online self. Everything about this CMS is simply made to be as intuitive as possible and this is why bloggers all over the world love working with it. However, website owners need to make sure they’ve chosen the right solution for their needs, whereupon understanding the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org is essential. Depending on your needs and growth plans, you can choose any of these two and rest assured they’ll meet your expectations.

Photo credit: DownloadsourceES / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Author:

Sarah Green

Sarah Green explores the latest web trends and covers stories related to technology, startups and digital life in general. Writing professionally since 2012, she has developed a sixth sense for trending topics in these fields.

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