What’s the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?
WordPress is the largest, most used website CMS on the market. WordPress started out as a small blogging platform that was open source, could be installed anywhere and extended by anyone to do all sorts of things. Because of how open it is, people have managed to turn WordPress from a simple blogging platform, into the swiss army knife of CMS’s that it is today.
There are some key differences between WordPress.org and WordPress.com that many people just are not aware of when choosing a path for their new website build.
What is WordPress.org?
WordPress.org is the downloadable variant of WordPress. The idea here is your web developer will download WordPress and install it on a server of your choosing. This gives you full control over your website, so you can do whatever you please with it.
WordPress.org is 100% free to use and all you will need to get started is some basic hosting and a domain name.
- Completely free to use.
- You can add as many custom plugins as you please. Even ones you (or your web developer) built.
- You are allowed to upload custom built themes.
- You can run advertisements on the site (WordPress.com doesn’t allow this)
- You have complete control over how and where the site is hosted.
- Requires a little more technical knowledge to get up and running
What is WordPress.com
WordPress.com is the commercial side of WordPress, run by a company called Automattic who are the creators of WordPress.
WordPress.com provides a hosted version of WordPress which allows you to get a website just by signing up and clicking a few buttons. This has the benefit of being easier for a complete rookie to click together a website, but has a few drawbacks over a more traditional custom install with a WordPress.org download.
WordPress.com is free for up to 3GB of space. After that you will have to switch to a paid plan for more space. (Personal plan $48 /year gives you 6GB, Premium plan $96/year gives you 13GB storage, or Business plan for $300/year for 200 GB storage).
- Free – Very limited.
- Personal – $48 per year
- Premium – $96 per year
- Business – $300 per year
- Ecommerce – $540 per year
- VIP – starting at $5000 per month
- Can be completely free if you don’t mind ads being on your site
- Doesn’t require technical knowledge to get something basic.
- No uploaded plugins allowed
- No uploaded themes allowed
- Free tier is riddled with ads
- No Google analytics allowed
- WordPress.com does not offer any eCommerce features or integrated payment gateways unless you switch to the eCommerce plan.
- You cannot build membership websites with WordPress.com.
There are some key differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org, which I have hopefully cleared up.
Typically if you are just looking for a basic blog site with a standard out of the box theme and functionality, then WordPress.com would probably do you fine.
As soon as you require any sort of customizability without your website being plastered with unprofessional ads, then you will probably be looking to go the WordPress.org route, which will open you up to being able to do almost anything.