September 12, 2018
WordPress is the go-to option for people looking to build a new website. The open-source content management system (CMS) is used by more than 75 million websites on the internet.
Why WordPress is best? Why is it the most popular CMS? Well, from its ease of use, plugin versatility and stability, multi-site option, to themes there are several reasons responsible for its widespread popularity.
While you might be all set to start building your new website on WordPress, what if I tell you that WordPress has two different platforms? Yes, you heard it right! WordPress.com and WordPress.org are two different platforms.
You might have already compared the pros and cons of all the different CMS platforms before selecting WordPress but you probably might have not come across the difference between the two WordPress platforms.
This is one of the most common mistakes among people new to WordPress. And this confusion often leads them to select the wrong platform.
So, why are there two platforms? What are the differences between the two? How will you select one that is right for your website? Continue reading to find answers to these questions.
What is WordPress.org?
If you want to build a website on WordPress and have read all the amazing benefits of this CMS platform, you’re talking about WordPress.org. Also known as the real WordPress, it is a 100% free, open-source platform that can be used for building amazing websites.
As soon as you have registered a domain and web hosting, your website can go live on the internet with WordPress.org. Note that you purchase a 3rd party hosting plan when you’re using WordPress.org.
What is WordPress.com?
Matt Mullenweg, the co-founder of WordPress, has created WordPress.com for providing hosting service. Due to the almost similar name, beginners often get confused between the two.
WordPress.com currently offers 4 different hosting plans to ensure that beginners, intermediate as well as professionals have multiple hosting plans to choose from as per their requirement. Out of the 75 million+ websites powered by WordPress, more than 35 million are hosted on WordPress.com.
Basically, if you want to create your website on WordPress, you’ll be using WordPress.org. If you’re looking for WordPress hosting plans, you’re talking about WordPress.com.
The Main Difference Between WordPress.com and WordPress.org
As mentioned above, WordPress.org is the free, open-source CMS that you can use to create your website. You go to WordPress.org for installing the WordPress software on a web server, and this is the main difference between the two.
If you’ve downloaded WordPress software from WordPress.org, you’ll be required to host it. You’ll have to set it up with the help of a 3rd party hosting service provider. This is the reason why WordPress.org is also known as self-hosted WordPress.
WordPress.com can be defined as a website/blog platform which relies on WordPress software. It eliminates the need for you to download and install the WordPress software on a web server.
This means that you do not need a 3rd party hosting provider to host your website. WordPress.com provides hosting service. Simply sign-up for a WordPress.com account, select a plan and start building your website.
Now that you’ve understood the key difference between the two, let us have a look at some other major differences to help you select the right platform.
1. Cost of Using the Platforms
If you’re planning to build a website, the cost of creating and running one would definitely be an important concern for you. Here is how both the platforms fare when it comes to the cost
With WordPress.com, you get to choose from 4 different plans for creating and hosting your website. There is also an option to start your website for free. However, the free website will have a sub-domain. For instance, your website’s name would be something like “ABC.wordpress.com”. By purchasing a plan, you can convert this into your own domain name say “ABC.com”.
WordPress.org, the platform from where you can download WordPress software is completely free to use. However, you’ll be required to spend money on registering your domain name and buying a hosting package to make your website go live. The cost varies on the basis of the domain name and hosting plan you select. Most of the hosting providers now offer 1-click WordPress installation.
2. Setup and Management of Website
No matter if you go with WordPress.org or WordPress.com, your website will be using the same WordPress software. However, there are some considerable differences between the two versions with regards to the setup and management of your website.
If you want to create a website with WordPress.com, all you need to is to register for an account and select a plan. If you’ve ever created an account on any of the social media platforms, there shouldn’t be any difficulty for you to start with WordPress.com.
From hosting, FTP server, database, to hosting control panel, everything is taken care of with WordPress.com. Simply register and start building your website. If you don’t want to spend money, you can also build a free website with a sub-domain.
But with WordPress.org, you’ll be self-hosting your website. If you’re new to WordPress, you might actually need to hire a WordPress development firm, especially if you want to create a business website with custom features
With WordPress.org, you’ll be required to first register a domain name, buy a hosting plan, and then download the WordPress software to start building your website. As compared to WordPress.com, the whole process is more complex and time-consuming with WordPress.org.
Apart from setting up your website, there are also things like website management, database cleanup, speed of the website, etc. that you need to take care of when you host the website on your own.
3. Security of Your Website
With the rising instances of cyber attacks, it is very important for website owners to take a proactive approach towards the security of their website. While WordPress is known as one of the most secure platforms, there are still a lot of things that you need to take care of, especially on the basis of the WordPress platform you select.
As discussed above, all the technicalities of your website are handled for you when you use WordPress.com. This also includes the security of your website.
Security, protection from hacks and spams, site optimization, backups, and updates are some of the most important things that’d be automatically taken care of on your behalf with WordPress.com. You simply need to focus on creating an amazing website. This makes WordPress.com a great option for people who are new to building a website.
When you use WordPress.org or host the website yourself, it is your responsibility to manage the security of your website. While important security updates are automatically applied by WordPress on all of its websites, you’re mostly on your own with other security issues.
So, you’ll be required to select a reliable hosting provider to make sure that the servers remain protected. Moreover, updating the plugins and themes, fighting hacks and spams, backups, and performance of your website are some of the things you’ll have to take care of with WordPress.org. You might probably have to look for WordPress developers for hire if you are new and want to use WordPress.org.
4. Control Options and Customizability
You might have already spent a considerable amount of time on how your website should look like. For this, you need a platform that is highly flexible and offers a host of customization option. This is something that WordPress is known to offer in abundance. However, the customization and control option vary considerably between the two versions of WordPress.
WordPress.com has several built-in features and plugins. From social media, backup, forms, spam protection, to statistics, and security, the platform is full of great features. However, the features are limited with lower-tier plans.
The same is true for external services and premium themes. While you do get some of the services and themes with lower-tier plans, you’ll have to upgrade to a premium plan to get more options.
WordPress.org wins when it comes to customization and control options. As you’re hosting your website yourself, there are no limitations to the plugins, themes, external services or features you can use. You can use any free, custom-made, or paid plugin or theme when you use WordPress.org.
Even with premium plans on WordPress.com, you only get to select from a limited number of options. But such limits do not exist with WordPress.org. There are literally thousands of themes and plugins that you can use. You can hire WooCommerce specialists or professional developers to design custom plugins with WordPress.org.
What Should You Select?
Now that you’ve understood the differences between the two, it shouldn’t be difficult for you to make a decision.
WordPress.com eliminates the need for you to purchase a hosting plan. Most of the technicalities of your website are handled for you so that you can focus on building your website. You can start using WordPress.com for free and then there are paid plans as well.
So, WordPress.com is mostly used by people who are new to building websites and do not want to get themselves into the complex security and maintenance needs of a website. If you’re a beginner, WordPress.com is a great option.
However, if you want your website to be more than the limitations set by WordPress.com, WordPress.org is for you. While it is more complex in terms of its technicalities, things are not as difficult as you’d imagine. However, you do need a bit of website building and maintenance experience with WordPress.org.
You’ll be required to register a domain, purchase a hosting plan, build a website and manage the security, updates, themes, and plugins yourself. But if you’re ready to do the needful, you’ll also get more flexibility and customization in return. Moreover, you can also hire a WordPress development firm to help you build and maintain a website with WordPress.org.
The decision between WordPress.com and WordPress.org ultimately depends on what you’re looking for. Both the platforms have their pros and cons and it is you who needs to decide what your requirements are. Understand the differences between the two platforms thoroughly and you’re sure to make the right decision.