WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org

Did you know that there are two versions of WordPress, WordPress.com, and WordPress.org?  Moreover, if you are aware that there are two versions, do you know the difference?  And really if you take it from the average user’s point of view, why should you?  After all, WordPress is only a tool for whatever business you are in.

I also want to clarify one other thing.  I have noticed that there seems to be a feeling that one version is better than the other.  This could be no further from the truth.  Both versions have their place.

Today we are going to look at the various aspect of both and why you might decide to choose one over the other.

The first and one of the biggest differences is where the two versions are hosted.  WordPress.com is hosted on WordPress servers and WordPress.org is hosted on any server that you choose and pay for.  This means that if you decide WordPress.com is for you, there is no need to go to GoDaddy, Blue Host or any one of the other countless hosting companies and have your site hosted.

Not only does this save you money because you don’t have to pay for hosting, but you don’t have to worry about uploading and downloading any files.  Since this version of WordPress is hosted by WordPress you never have to touch or pay anyone to touch any of the files that run the software.  Along with the fact that the basic version is free, this is probably the main reason people use WordPress.com  All of the setup and maintenance is done for you.

Reasons to Use WordPress.org

Now I know what you are thinking,”if WordPress.com makes everything so easy and I can get it for free, why would I want to use WordPress.org?  Well, WordPress.com has some drawbacks, and that is what we are going to look at next.

Although WordPress.com does have an entirely free version, like anything that is free you are only going to get the bare bones assuming that you choose that version.

For instance, with the WordPress.com free version you can choose whatever domain that you like assuming it is available, but you are going to have to take it as a .wordpress.com subdomain.  This means if you would like to use johndoe.com for example, you are going to have to use johndoe.wordpress.com.  Fortunately, WordPress.com does have several paid options and tiers so for a monthly charge you could still use this version of WordPress and get whatever domain you would like without the wordpress.com name attached to it.

Another drawback of the free version of wordpress.com is that you only get a limited amount of space for your site.  So if you are planning to have pictures and videos on your site, this could become a problem.

The free version also does not come with support.  This means that you are on your own should you have a question or an issue arise.

Along with no support and a subdomain extension, with the WordPress.com free version, you also are going to have to accept the fact that WordPress is going to show ads completely unrelated to you on your site.  I mean someone has to pay for your site, right?  And, what could look more unprofessional than advertising completely unrelated to what you are talking about on your site?

Now as I mentioned, there are paid tiers that include the features that the free version doesn’t have, but you need to pay for those things and then the question becomes is it worth it?
Reasons to Use WordPress.com

Now let’s have a look at WordPress.org.  Just like WordPress.com WordPress.org is entirely free! You are free to download and use the software, and it will not cost you a dime.  Sounds great, right?  Well, maybe‚Ķ
Sure, you can download and use the software, but you better know what to do with that software or have someone who knows what to do with it once you have it.  Often this includes hiring a developer, and that can run into big money depending on how sophisticated a site you want.  This cannot and should not be taken lightly!  If you are not a software developer, this can get very, very expensive.

If you are just starting out or need a simple site then you may be better off on WordPress.com,  You will get all of the functionality that you need and get up and running quickly and easily.  And for just a couple of extra bucks a month you can get your own domain name, all the space that you need, and even have the advertising removed. In fact, if you go with the top tier, WordPress will even include ways to monetize your site.

What WordPress.org gives you is a lot of flexibility and functionality over your site.  Because you have access to the files that contain the software, you are free to customize them any way that you choose.  Just keep in mind that if you are not a web developer this is going to cost money, often big money.
To add to that increased functionality, WordPress.org allows you to use any theme that you choose as well as plugins, small programs that allow you to change the functionality of your site even further.  However, we are going to leave talking about themes and plugins to future posts.

Which version of WordPress is right for you?  WordPress.com where all of the heavy lifting is handled for you or WordPress.org where you will get greater flexibility and functionality.