WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org

Which WordPress should I sign up for WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org?

So you hear about this awesome thing called WordPress and you think, “hmm… I’m gonna try this awesomeness out!”

So you Google it, end up at WordPress.com sign up and get rolling. You may even get a little crazy and buy a url. You pick out a layout and then you go to install a plugin and you can’t find where to install a plugin or a theme! Everyone else using WordPress seems to have these features and you’re like, “where are they? I don’t see them anywhere!”

That’s when you get the bad news: those features are on WordPress.org…. and you’re on WordPress.com.

I know what you’re thinking- “What? 2 WordPresses? Why??” it’s ok- let me break it down for you.


What is WordPress.com?

WordPress.com it is built off of the platform/CMS of WordPress, but has limitations because it is hosted by WordPress.com are for security reasons certain types of customization options are a little more limited. (what is hosting?) I know it sounds confusing- but basically what it means is that whoever is the host- is the person in control. WordPress.com is the host and with that are some rules.

This is a good thing and a bad thing- it’s good because they do all the maintenance and keep your website safe. It can be a downside for your website if you have a specific theme or plugin you want to upload to your site. Think of it like when you go to rent an apartment and your landlord is responsible for all the maintenance to the property- but there are conditions to renting, you can’t remodel and tear down walls or there are restrictions to the types of pets you can have. Upside: You don’t have to deal with any of the maintenance, your landlord gets to handle all of those headaches  Bottom line: WordPress.com is great for people who are looking for ease of use and don’t have knowledge of web development. If you just need a platform for your website or to post blog posts- WordPress.com is right up your alley.  But if you need further customization, WordPress.org may be a better solution for you.

What is WordPress.org?

WordPress (also known as WordPress.org) is typically what I recommend for businesses that need a lot of customization, they know they want their theme to look a certain way or they know they have to be able to install a certain plugin. The difference is main difference is it’s hosted by you, not WordPress.com. This extra step gives you all the control. Compared to the hosting of WordPress.com it’s a little more expensive since you’re hosting it yourself ($7 a month over at HostMonster.com). Think of it like buying a house it’s a little more money- but gives you much more room to grow and make it your own.

Getting setup on hosting will take some knowledge of web development. Having WordPress installed on your own hosting account allows you to add themes, plugins, whatever your little heart desires. This is a good and bad thing. It’s good because you can customize it and really make it your own. It’s bad in that you’re responsible for the maintenance & security, which to be honest is a lot of work. Bottom line: WordPress.org is great for people who will be making a lot of customizations and either have knowledge of web development or is willing to hire a professional to handle the setup, security, and maintenance. But if you’re looking for ease of use and aren’t ready to take on the setup, security and maintance that comes with self-hosting then WordPress.com may be the best solution for you.

Which WordPress should you choose?

I’ve found that sometimes the best solution is starting small. Starting with a WordPress.com site will help you better understand the needs of your website and then if you find you’ll need more customization options and you’re prepared to take on the financial/time cost graduating over to WordPress.org.

How to transfer between WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org

Click here to read how to move from WordPress.com to WordPress.org

Click here to read how to move from WordPress.org to WordPress.com

Where to find support for WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org

When you google “WordPress” a lot of the support articles and videos are for WordPress.org. So out of the two, I would say there is a lot more written about WordPress.org since it’s usually about how to customize it or secure/maintain it. The reason behind this is because you host the site you’re in charge of it and there really is no one you can go to for help other than hiring a developer or googling the answer to your questions.

If you’re using WordPress.com  you have a lot of options for support. The best place to start looking for answers is this Support Search here also the forums answer a lot of questions specific to WordPress.com. In addition, the Happiness Engineer’s over at WordPress.com are really helpful as well!

Why are there 2 WordPresses?

WordPress is an open-sourced project. That means anyone can download the files and use it on their site and even contribute to the code of WordPress. One of the co-founder’s of WordPress founded another company Automattic, which is the company that offers the service of WordPress.com. Basically, WordPress.com is using the files from the open-sourced project and offering a hosting service/support. Both are WordPress, one is more for those with web development knowledge (WordPress.org) and another is for ease of use (WordPress.com).

Authored by: Tish Briseno