If you’ve just landed on this page, it’s quite likely that you’ve just found out that there are two versions of WordPress – WordPress.org and WordPress.com.
This might have come as a surprise, and you may not be sure what they are and how they’re different. In this article, we explore what the key differences are and why you would choose one over the other.
One of them, (WordPress.com) is an entirely online hosted solution aimed at DIY-ers and bloggers. The other (WordPress.org) is a more comprehensive standalone CMS (Content Management System) that is used by businesses and web professionals to design and build websites.
If you’ve not heard of WordPress before, check out our What is WordPress blog.
Free to set up and use, WordPress.com is an online portal that allows you to design a basic website or blog from any device by simply logging in. With WordPress.com, you don’t have to worry about hosting, and the only thing you need to do is choose a name and a category to get started. You don’t need to have a technical background or any knowledge of coding, so it’s great for those with limited experience who want to set up a website quickly and easily.
The free service allows you to see fundamental insights about how your website performs and it also allows you to easily manage content and make simple customisation changes like adding a logo and images, changing fonts and choosing colours. If you want additional styling options and the ability to add a custom domain name, you’ll need to upgrade to one of the paid versions of the platform.
Unfortunately, with WordPress.com, you can’t use plugins unless you upgrade to the Business plan for £20 a month. Plugins allow you to boost functionality, including SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), social integrations, features like Live Chat, enhanced security, and more.
*All prices are per month, billed annually as of October 2020
Also free to use, WordPress.org is aimed at the professional developer community and requires users to download the CMS source files and seek a hosting provider to ‘host’ their website. The only upfront costs are for the domain name and hosting, but other than this, it’s completely free, and you don’t need to upgrade to a higher package to have access to more functionality or customisations.
WordPress.org is very scalable and gives you the ability to build a website as elaborate or as simple as you like. Third-party plugins and themes are available, many without any additional costs (although some plugins have subscriptions fees) meaning you can get a site up and running and enhance the features and functionality pretty quickly.
If you choose to work with an experienced web agency for your website, then many of these cons can be overcome, making the experience much easier and less daunting.
If you’re a small business or individual looking to start up a basic website or blog and you’re not worried about having a custom domain name or any design functionality, then WordPress.com would be the ideal solution. You could also use the platform if you’re willing to pay a small fee each month for some more advanced features, but you’ll need to be comfortable with the constraints of the system and the lack of advanced customisation.
If you’re a small to medium-sized (or bigger) company are looking for something more custom and tailored to your specific needs, or you require more advanced features and functionality that WordPress.com can’t offer, then we would suggest WordPress.org. If scalability, customisation and security are concerns for you, then working with a web agency to build your website is the best option. They’ll be able to take care of all the nitty-gritty details and give you a fully functioning website that’s still easy for you to edit and update.
Overall, neither one is better than the other. Both run on the same core WordPress software, and it all comes down to your individual needs and what you’re planning on achieving in the long run.