Understanding WordPress: The Key Differences Between .com and .org

Choosing WordPrress.com vs WordPress.org

Differences in WordPress.com and WordPress.org

Choosing the right platform for a new website can be confusing if you are new to building websites. You’ve probably heard of WordPress – maybe someone who has built their site with the content management system software has recommended it and you are considering it for your project. If you don’t know the technical details of how their site is built you may not know if they are using WordPress.com or WordPress.org. While they sound similar, they cater to very different needs and offer unique features. This post will explain these platforms to help you make an informed decision for your small business website or personal startup project.

What is WordPress?

In simple terms, both versions of WordPress are popular website building software that makes it easy to create, manage, and update your website content without needing to know how to code HTML. This type of software is called a content management system (CMS) . It separates the content from the code, storing all of your website data in a database. You create website pages and posts within the WordPress dashboard using an intuitive visual editor. WordPress handles the process of building the HTML web page to display the content in a web browser when a user requests the page.

WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org:  What’s Different

A major difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org is where the software is hosted.

WordPress.com: Hosted Solution

WordPress.com is a hosted platform. This means that the website code runs on WordPress’s web servers, and you don’t have to worry about buying hosting or managing a server. It’s an all-in-one website building solution that includes hosting, security, backups, and maintenance. This can be particularly appealing if you’re not tech-savvy, or prefer a hands-off approach. But, it also means that WordPress.com has full control over your website.

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WordPress.org:  Self-Hosted Solution

WordPress.org  is open source software and completely free to download. You decide where you want to host your website code. This self-hosted option gives you full control over your website, allowing you to customize it to your heart’s content. The downside is, you need to manage and maintain your web hosting service and code.  This requires some technical knowledge.

Another Difference is Control and Ownership

This is very important to consider for the long term of your website.

WordPress.com: Less Control and Ownership

With WordPress.com you do NOT own the website code, nor do you have the ability to customize it beyond the features built in to the software to meet your project needs.
You do not own the website code and can not take the website to host it somewhere else.  You do own the content that you add to the website.
Free versions are limited in features and requirements.  WordPress may place their ads on your site, do not allow you to put ads on the website, do not allow you to track traffic…

WordPress.com: Full Control and Ownership

You have full control over the code and can add any custom functionality that you want.
You can move the code to any host you want.
You can add any tracking, ads or third party code that you want to integrate.
There are no upgrade or add on fees, since WordPress.org code is free to use. Granted if you choose to purchase plugins, or hire a WordPress developer to code or customize your site, that is your choice.
A downside of WordPress.org is that it requires ongoing code maintenance. If you do not have the technical background, you should probably pay for a WordPress maintenance plan to keep the site updated and secured from getting hacked.

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Which Should You Choose?

If you’re new to website building or want a simple blog or small website without the hassle of technical maintenance, WordPress.com offers a convenient, though somewhat limited, starting point.

  • Its to use if you want to DIY: Setting up a website is straightforward, with no technical maintenance required.
  • Security and updates: WordPress.com handles security, updates, and backups for you.
  • Free option available: You can start with a basic website for free (but free comes with significant limitations)

If you’re planning to build a site to represent your business, need full customization, or intend to monetize your site, WordPress.org provides the flexibility and control needed to expand and tailor your website to your specific needs. Unless you have time to learn how to build websites, you probably will need to hire a WordPress professional to build and maintain and/or manage your site.

  • You need a WordPress developer: to properly install, configure and secure WordPress
  • You need a WordPress developer: to design and build what the website will look like and how it will function.
  • You need a WordPress developer:  to maintain the technical side of code updates, upgrades and security vulnerabilities.

The choice between WordPress.com and WordPress.org depends on your needs, technical comfort level, and long-term vision for your site. By understanding the differences, you can select the platform that best supports your journey to establishing a successful online presence.

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