Can’t decide which WordPress platform to choose? You are not alone.
In this post, I will discuss everything you need to know. First, I will give a brief description of ‘WordPress‘ which is essential to understand the two platforms (WordPress.com and WordPress.org).
Second, there is the separate description for each platform (What is WordPress.com? and What is WordPress.org?).
Third, what is the difference between the two WordPress platforms (WordPress.com VS WordPress.org)? This also includes the pros and cons of both platforms in points.
Fourth, I will discuss which platform is appropriate for you (WordPress.com or WordPress.org?).
Then, fifth is Cost Comparison (Which one is cheaper?) and our say on which platform to choose.
Finally, it’s YOU who should decide. So, read to the end and start your website with the right platform.
What is WordPress?
WordPress is an open source software based on PHP and MySQL. It is a free content management system (CMS) with which you can create blogs and websites. You can download the software for free, install, use and also modify it as is open source software.
Initiated as a blogging platform, WordPress is now widely used for various types of non-blogging websites including eCommerce sites. Doubtlessly, WordPress is the king of CMS market today that powers 27% of all websites online.
So if you want to create a WordPress-based website, you have two options to choose from; WordPress.com or WordPress.org.
It is often confusing as people fail to make clear distinctions between them. So, let’s alienate and discuss each platform first.
What is WordPress.com?
Let’s make it simple. WordPress.com is an online platform where you can start a blog or build a website for FREE. It is quite a similar platform like Blogger or Tumblr where you can create your own blog and publish content.
WordPress.com is a fully hosted platform backed by the company called Automattic. Automattic uses the ‘WordPress software’ to power WordPress.com. It ensures high-quality, spam-free and secure hosting of your website forever for FREE of cost. It means that you are away from the worry of finding a hosting provider if you choose WordPress.com. Additionally, it takes care of your website security, maintenance, backup and software updates.
At WordPress.com, you don’t have to download and install the software, pay for hosting and domain name. So, free hosted WordPress.com is the easiest platform to build a WordPress-based website. However, there are some limitations.
What is WordPress.org?
WordPress.org is the home to open source software WordPress. This is where you can download the WordPress software and install on any web host to create a website. When people just say ‘WordPress’, they often intend to say ‘WordPress.org’, not ‘WordPress.com’.
It is a self-hosted platform which means that you need to find a hosting company on your own along with a domain name. Website performance, security and overall aspects of your website are all of your responsibilities which mostly depend on the quality of web host you use. You will have enough freedom and customization possibilities on this platform. WordPress software is FREE but you need to spend money on the hosting.
At WordPress.org platform, if you want to build a WordPress-based website, you have to download and install the software, find a host which demands both time and money. So, choosing WordPress.org platform means making your hands dirty.
WordPress.com VS WordPress.org – What’s the difference?
WordPress.com and WordPress.org both are for creating WordPress-based websites but they are fundamentally different.
The key difference between these two WordPress flavors is ‘Hosting‘ or who hosts your website. WordPress.com is fully hosted platform while WordPress.org is self-hosted platform allowing you to host WordPress installation on your own server.
Other major differences are about customization ability, maintenance, and security etc.
Take a look at the comparison table below to find all the differences in the points.
WordPress.com VS WordPress.com: The WordPress War
|1. Fully hosted platform – Let WordPress.com host your blog for FREE. Website space is limited to 3GB.||1. Self-hosted platform – Find a web hosting company yourself and pay for hosting. Website space depends on the type of the hosting you buy.|
|2. WordPress.com subdomain – You will get a free subdomain. Your website URL looks like mysite.wordpress.com. You need to upgrade to the premium plan if you want a custom domain.||2. Custom domain – You need to get a custom domain yourself. You may need to pay additional money for domain name depending on the hosting provider.|
|3. Basic Security, Backups, and Maintenance – WordPress.com takes care of them all with some built-in WordPress plugins.||3. Security, Backups, and Maintenance – You need to take care of these aspects yourself. You can take help of VaultPress or other third party hosting, security services and you are free to install any security plugin.|
|4. WordPress.com Themes – You can use any theme from over 150 Free themes and 200+ Premium themes at WordPress.com. You cannot use custom themes.||4. Unlimited Themes – You can install any custom theme from WordPress.org theme repository or from any other third party WP theme provider like ThemesHive. There are over 4000 free WordPress themes at WordPress.org theme repo alone.|
|5. Design Customization – You can make basic customization in the design of your website. You need to upgrade to paid version for more customization options.||5. Unlimited Design customization – You have complete control over the design of your website. You can install any theme and customize any way you want or build your own theme with PHP and CSS.|
|6. Limited Built-in Plugins – There are some built-in plugins by default for features like sharing, stats, comments etc. But if you need more functionality, you cannot install third-party plugins.||7. Unlimited Plugins – Install any free or premium WordPress plugin you like and extend the site’s functionality as much as you like.|
|8. No Advertisement – You cannot add your own ads on your free WordPress.com website but they display ‘WordPress.com ads‘ on your site. If you don’t want them, you need to upgrade to its premium plan. Premium plan additionally lets you add your own ads using WordAds. Ads from third party ads like Google AdSense, OpenX, and BuySellAds are not allowed.||8. Advertise and monetize – Display as many advertisements you want from any advertising network and earn money. Having ads from third party ads like Google AdSense, OpenX, and BuySellAds are perfectly okay. You won’t be bothered by any default ad like in WordPress.com; nobody else can add any ad without your consent.|
From the above table, it’s clear that major differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org are hosting, security and maintenance, design and customization, and monetization capabilities.
WordPress.com VS WordPress.org: Which is appropriate for you?
Rather than one being superior to another platform, WordPress.com and WordPress.org both can be the best/ most appropriate platform for you depending on your need and resourcefulness. They both have pros and cons.
So, let’s discuss which platform fits perfect for whom.
Why pick WordPress.com?
If you are a beginner creating your first website, WordPress.com is perfect for you. First of all, it’s super easy and super fast to set up a website. You don’t need to bother about WordPress installation, hosting, security, maintenance, and backup. You get them all for free.
Free website on WordPress.com comes with limitations, though. Say ‘YES‘ to WordPress.com, if you are okay with the following limitations:
- You don’t get a custom domain and limited website space.
- You cannot make custom design changes. Be happy with what’s already there.
- It doesn’t allow you to add your own ads and earn money. Instead, you have to tolerate ‘WordPress.com’ ads that are shown by default.
It doesn’t allow you to add your own ads and earn money. Instead, you have to tolerate ‘WordPress.com’ ads that are shown by default.
So, WordPress.com is better for beginners, content focused bloggers, anyone with little time, anyone willing to work less.
Why pick WordPress.org?
If you want to build a website of your own that is unique and stands out of the crowd, WordPress.org is the right platform for you. Find a suitable hosting plan, install WordPress, pick a beautiful theme and start building. If you are a layman without any knowledge of WordPress and how the web works, starting with WordPress.org platform through this process may sound quite difficult but what it all takes is little more time.
Most importantly of all, WordPress.org platform offers you full freedom, customization possibilities, monetization options. However, with great freedom comes great responsibility. Say ‘YES‘ to WordPress.org if you are okay with the conditions/ limitations below:
- You are ready to buy a hosting and get a domain. It doesn’t come for FREE.
- You are responsible for everything; security, maintenance, backup, and updates. You have enough time and resources to keep your site up and running.
Despite all, full freedom and complete control you get in WordPress.org are worth the responsibilities that come by.
So, WordPress.org is a better platform for anyone willing to create unique websites, and build a strong online identity or earn money, be it, beginners or experts.
WordPress.com VS WordPress.org: Which is cheaper?
A basic website with WordPress.com subdomain is completely free at WordPress.com while it costs you some dollars to start any website with WordPress.org. You need to purchase a web hosting plan and domain to launch your website in self-hosted WordPress.org platform.
But if you want a fully-featured business website with your own domain name, more storage, custom design, and no advertisements, WordPress .com will become more expensive than WordPress.org.
For example, let’s take the popular paid plan at WordPress.com ‘Premium’ which costs you $99 per year. It comes with 13GB website storage space.
On the other hand, you have multiple hosting plans from different hosting providers that range from low to high price. Let’s take SiteGround’s ‘GrowBig’ plan for example which comes with 20GB space. And the price is $71.4 per year which is the lower price than that of WordPress.com ‘Premium’ plan.
So, WordPress.org is the winner considering cost in the long run.
Our Pick: WordPress.org
Starting out with WordPress.org is getting your hands dirty and your hard work actually pays off. At the end of the day, your work will be rewarding.
You can create build your website any way you like. Get the full control over what feel or what design to give on your site. You are free to use any custom theme from thousands of free and premium WordPress themes. Add any free or premium WordPress plugin and extend any functionality needed on your site.
You get a custom domain name – an online brand identity. You can monetize your site and earn money.
Considering major differences freedom, control over the website, cost, customization and monetization options, WordPress.org is WINNER.