WordPress.org or WordPress.com is typically one of the first questions asked by people who are new to WordPress. If you’ve been using it for awhile now, chances are you know which version works for your site. But for those who are just coming into the world of WordPress (welcome by the way, glad you could join us), this decision can often times shape how a new user feels about WordPress.

In this article we will compare:

  • Costs associated with both versions
  • Limitations
  • Maintenance

But first, we need to find out what we are working with with each version

What is WordPress.com?

Screenshot of WordPress.com home page

WordPress.com is a commercial website where you can host your own website.While it is free, there are some limitations,which we will discuss throughout this article. Your site will always be free with some upgrades available at additional cost.

All you need to do is sign up, pick one of the themes and you’re off and running with your blog site.Simple as that.

What is WordPress.org?

Screenshot of WordPress.org homepage

WordPress.org is where you can download a copy of WordPress for free. With this version, you are responsible for finding website hosting and installing the software. But fear not, most hosting providers these days have a one click installer that takes all the work out of uploading and installing WordPress into your hosting space.

 

So What Are The Differences?

The first obvious difference between the two different types of WordPress is the hosting. We know that WordPress.com provides the hosting for you, while WordPress.org requires you to purchase a hosting package from a provider.

Domain names

When you first sign up for a domain name with WordPress.com, your site URL will look something like this: mynewwebsite.wordpress.com. Now this is good for some sites, but you may want something that looks a little more professional like mynewwebsite.com. If you’re on WordPress.com, you can buy a domain name for $18 USD a year. If you’re on a self hosted version of WordPress ( wordpress.org version) , you can typically expect to pay around $10 USDĀ  per year. As well, many hosting providers give you a free domain name when you sign up for their service.

Hosting

As mentioned previously WordPress.com websites provide the hosting for free and with it look after things like updating WordPress, backups of your site and gives you the peace of mind that your site will always be up (barring a catastrophe of course). With self hosted versions of WordPress, you assume responsibility for making sure your site is up to date with the latest version of WordPress, and making sure you have an up to date backup of your site. Again, many hosting providers now offer these kinds of services and is something you should be looking for if you’re not technically inclined or just want the assurances that your site is being looked after.

Costs

While the .com version of WordPress is free, there are a number of upgrades you can purchase either alone or as part of different bundles. You can find more details here. For WordPress.org users, you immediately have the cost of hosting and a domain name as mentioned previously, but that’s the base cost. Any other than that is an option you can choose to pay for or not ( plugins, backup services, etc.).

Limitations

One of the best things about WordPress in either version, is the ability to build whatever type of site you like. The main hurdle you will face comes with the different limitations between the two versions

The first major limitation is that WordPress.com doesn’t allow you to add plugins. Now the reason for this makes sense from a technical perspective, as the platform used for hosting must be very strict when it comes to what individual site owners can add to their sites in order to maintain the integrity of the platform itself. Because WordPress.com hosts many (hundreds of ) thousands of sites, they can’t take a chance that something one person adds to their site compromises every other site on that platform.

With WordPress.org, you have no limitations as to what you add to your site from either a functionality (plugins) or themes point of view. But remember, you or your web developer are responsible for fixing it if it breaks.

The same goes for themes as you can only use the themes provided by WordPress.com (both free and paid premium themes), where with the self hosted version, you can create a completely custom theme or choose one from any number of theme shops or from WordPress itself.

Maintenance

One of the cool things about WordPress is that it is constantly being worked on by a group of volunteer developers that number in the thousands. Now with this constant development comes the responsibility of updating your site. WordPress.com looks after all of that for you, making sure you have the latest version of WordPress. WordPress.org users on the other hand are responsible for making sure all aspects of their WordPress sites are kept up to date.

Conclusion

This article has highlighted some of the major differences between the two different types of WordPress. Hopefully it has shed some light as to which version is right for you and your project. Feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions or have a favorite feature of either version not mentioned here.