Written by Jessica Ann on May 7th, 2014
What is the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?
If you have started researching how to get a new website built you will undoubtedly have heard of WordPress. It is the most popular website and blog building platform in the world and is the backbone of millions of websites. But there are two options and they are substantially different so this article will answer the question: what is the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?
To understand the difference you can compare them to a taxi and a normal car. WordPress.org is like owning your own car. It is more expensive than catching a taxi but it is also more flexible as you can go where you want, when you want. And when you buy a car you can choose the make, model, color and features. If you want one that is fast you can get one that is fast, and if you want a truck instead of a family saloon you can get that too.
A taxi on the other hand is cheaper and in many situations is a more practical option particularly if you don’t want to worry about expensive parking. Plus for most trips it will do exactly the same job – after all a taxi still a car. And you don’t need to know how to drive.
But you can’t choose the color or the style which means you have to take it or leave it as it comes. With a taxi you get what you are given. WordPress.com is the taxi.
So let’s get back to websites. WordPress.com and WordPress.org are built on the same infrastructure. The difference with WordPress.org is you take that infrastructure and do with it what you please.
That means you can install one of the thousands of themes that are available in order to get the design that you want. You can add features by installing one of the thousands of plugins that are available to give you the precise functionality that you need. And if you want more customization or you want things to work a bit differently you can get into the code to make your website look and perform exactly how you’d like.
So with WordPress.org you install the software on your own web host (you will need website hosting such as iPage) and then set up your website. You are in control.
This is not the case with WordPress.com. You cannot expand the functionality like on WordPress.org and you cannot manually change the code. There are also a limited number of themes, which restricts your control over design. Plus you will have an ugly website name (with .wordpress at the end) unless you upgrade to one of their premium packages so that you can get YourOwnName.com (or something similar).
But there are also benefits. With WordPress.org you are responsible for security on your site and making sure everything works properly which is easier said than done, particularly if you do not have much technical knowledge or experience. With WordPress.com this is all done for you as they keep everything up-to-date, secure and backed up. It is also cheaper to set up a website on WordPress.com primarily because the set up time is shorter.
So there are pros and cons with both options. If you don’t want to learn how to drive and are happy with basic design and functionality the “taxi” option of WordPress.com is ideal. You can set up your website in minutes without any technical knowledge and it is inexpensive.
But if you want more control over design and functionality you will need to buy your “own car” and get WordPress.org. It will take longer to set up but you will get what you want because of the almost limitless flexibility.
For those who are not technically inclined, or just very busy, new WordPress hosting solutions are now available. iPage has released the new WP Essential plan, which features integrated themes, plugins and a streamlined WordPress control panel. This allows website owners to focus on their content without the constant need to maintain the platform. This new offering will reduce the hassles associated with running a WordPress site and leave business owners or bloggers more time to focus on their web presence. This option tries to combine the benefits of the .org and .com and improve upon them with the new and unique Sandbox Testing Environment available in the WP Essential plan.