Kristin Pruis • May 15, 2018
It may come as a surprise to some people that the popular blogging platform and CMS, WordPress, actually has two different websites: one at a .com address and the other at a .org. If you don’t pay close attention, you might think they are the same thing or you might just be thoroughly confused.
A few months ago, I had a client reach out to me asking what the difference between a WordPress.com vs WordPress.org website. To be honest, even though I’ve been designing websites for several years, I have never taken the time to really look into this. Instead of responding cluelessly, I decided to do a bit of investigating of my own and find out the answer. Here’s the gist of what I found.
WordPress.org (Self-Hosted) Website
A WordPress.org website is a self-hosted website. That means you download the open source software files available from WordPress.org and you upload them to your own server or host. To download the files themselves, it is completely free, however, you’ll need to pay a host to house your files somewhere on the internet so they can be publicly accessible.
A WordPress.org website is best for you if:
- You want maximum customization capabilities including creating custom themes
- You prefer to choose your own host
- You want to have more control over your site plugins, settings and maintenance
- You are more tech savvy or are having a designer/developer assist you with creating your website
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WordPress.com Hosted Website
A WordPress.com website is a website that comes with hosting built-in by WordPress itself. They offer several monthly plans including a free, personal and business plan. Depending on what you are willing to pay for various features, you can opt for more or less flexibility when it comes things like design customizations, theme options, site storage space, support and ability to show/hide ads.
A WordPress.com website is best for you if:
- You are looking for a simple, plug-and-play website option
- You want extra support for setting up and maintaining your site
- You don’t want to have to deal with the hassle of finding a host or backing up your website
Related Post: Custom Website Design vs Template Web Design
To sum things up, if you are creating your business website for yourself or your business and don’t feel completely comfortable with technical side of things, a WordPress.com website is probably the best choice for you. You’ll get tons of great features and options, but don’t have to deal with all that tech jargon, setup and maintenance, which can definitely be overwhelming if you are a newbie. The two downsides to having a WordPress.com site is that you may end up paying a bit more monthly in hosting than you would if you had a .org website and you may be more limited when it comes to design and functionality.
However, if you are needing more flexibility with your website and you feel you have the technical chops to get things setup, a WordPress.org website will ultimately be the best choice for you. You’ll get complete control over every aspect of your website and can take full advantage of everything WordPress has to offer without having to pay more for certain features. The downside to a WordPress.org site is that it is a bit more complex to implement and it doesn’t come with support built-in if you need help.
What do you think? Is a WordPress.com or a WordPress.org site better for you and your business? Let me know your preference or shoot me a question in the comments!