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WordPress.com vs WordPress.org: Learn how the two flavors of the most popular content management platform in the world compare
Are you a novice to the WordPress Universe and have just heard that this content management system comes in two major forms? Wondering what the differences between these two editions are? Read this post to answer all your questions. We cover the main distinctions between WordPress with the com domain and WordPress with the org domain.
It’s WordPress again. We’ve published a ton of information about this great platform on our blog. Yet, we find new, interesting WordPress-related topics over and over. This time around, our focus is on WordPress.org vs WordPress.com.
We often receive questions from our prospective clients who want to start a website on WordPress regarding the differences between its two varieties. Those who have never had any experience in the web and web development before find this particularly puzzling.
That’s why we decided to write this post. It can serve as a helpful reference for everyone facing the WordPress.org vs WordPress.com dilemma now or in the future.
The first thing to note is that both the editions have their pros and cons. This means we can’t say that one tops the other in each and every aspect. It’s more important to know what benefits they can bring you as the owner of the site. That’s exactly how we’re going to structure our explanation, with a bias towards WordPress.org.
First, though, let’s take a bird’s eye view of WordPress.com and WordPress.org.
WordPress with the com Domain Extension: A Place to Start Your Web Adventure
WordPress.com is a web-based platform that has the old faithful WordPress under the hood, just like WordPress.org does. Using its basic package costs you nothing. All you have to do is start an account. That’s it. You get a domain name and can publish your content at once, be it a blog, a business card site, or something else.
One key difference between WordPress with the com extension and WordPress with the org extension lies in the location from which your site runs. WordPress.com keeps all your files on its own servers, letting you focus on your content and forget about the technical side of things.
It’s like your site is your car and WordPress.com is your personal service station. You drive the car wherever you want during the day and leave it at the service station at night. The mechanics check the tires and brakes, change the oil, make sure the instruments on the dashboard display correct values, and do all the other maintenance stuff. The next day, you start your car and go places again. Everything works perfectly. If it doesn’t, you know who to blame.
WordPress.org: More Heavy Lifting for Website Owners, but More Benefits
Continuing with the car analogy, there’s no default service station for your WordPress.org-based website. You purchase a car (download a WordPress software package to your local machine from the official site), and that’s it. Finding a place to store it safely (hosting) and keeping it in order (updating it, preventing hacker exploits, and so on) is your duty and nobody else’s.
Now, let’s take a look at the key benefits you get when you choose WordPress.org.
#1: With WordPress.org, Making Money from Your Site Is Much Easier
We’ll begin by discussing the most coveted benefit of all — earning from traffic. The platform with the org extension allows you to put any advertisements you want on your site. Thus, if you run a popular blog, you can expect to get quite handsome revenue by hosting ads on it.
WordPress.com is a different matter. If you’re on the free plan, you have no choice but to display ads from the platform itself. This brings you no money. In addition, you never know what exactly WP.com would decide to advertise tomorrow. What if it’s something that doesn’t fit your resource at all? Your reputation may suffer.
Can you get rid of the ads imposed on you? Yes, you can. Subscribe to the Personal Plan. This, however, still doesn’t allow you to run your own ads. For that, you need to upgrade to the Business plan, which means even more money to spend.
Back to the car analogy. Considering the money-making aspect of the WordPress.com vs WordPress.org dilemma, we can say that with the former you can only advertise the service station, while with the latter, you can put any stickers on your car for everyone to see.
#2: WordPress.org Allows You to Define the Look and Feel of Your Site without Any Limitations
The way a website looks can determine its fate. A dull, uninteresting, or unprofessional design may ruin your business. Both the platforms provide a choice of ready-cooked website templates you can install and tweak to meet your specific requirements.
There’s a caveat, though. Subscribers to the Free and low-cost Personal WP.com plans can take advantage of a hundred and fifty templates without having to spend a cent. Obtaining and installing templates from external sources is not allowed. To get access to advanced templates and more customization options, you need to pay extra.
If you go the org way, on the other hand, the sky’s the limit. This platform allows you to experiment with any templates, free or paid, from any source imaginable. You can also hire professional designers and front-end and WordPress development team to make a truly unique user interface for your website.
Taking the car example as related to the WordPress.org vs WordPress.com dilemma, we can say that the latter assigns a designer from the service station to paint your car for you, while the former platform allows you to engage any designer available on the market or do the painting on your own.
#3: With WordPress.org, You Can Have Any Features on Your Website
The look and feel of a website is not the only important aspect that determines if it will fail or succeed. Functionality is as or even more vital, especially for e-commerce websites. While WordPress’ core gets better with every new version, many add-ons are still required to achieve the desired functionality.
WordPress.com provides the most frequently used functions to its subscribers out of the box, starting from the free plan. There’s no need for any external software to be integrated into the platform. Want to share a post via Facebook? Send a promotional email? Find out how much traffic your website got last month? WordPress.com has got you covered.
That being said, once you need a feature that the hosted version lacks, get your money ready to pay for a more advanced WP.com edition. In general, the greater the range of functionality you need, the thicker is the bill.
The org platform imposes no restrictions on the number of features you can have. Multiple roads are open to you:
- Visit the official site to obtain any add-on, free or otherwise.
- Search for the right extension “in the wild’ — in the vast space of the Internet.
- Strike a partnership with a professional WordPress developer or agency — the best option, hands down.
The car analogy again. WordPress.com sells you a vehicle with an entry-level configuration. If you want more sophisticated features, pay the service station to upgrade your car. There’s no other way.
With WordPress.org, by contrast, you are free to add any new equipment obtained from any source and mounted by any mechanic.
#4: Using WordPress.org for Building Online Stores is Wiser and Cheaper
To be honest, selecting a specialized platform for setting up an online store (Shopify, BigCommerce, or Magento) would be a more sound approach. After all, WordPress was conceived as blogging software. It’s not particularly suited for selling things online.
If you do insist on a WordPress-powered e-commerce site, we recommend the org flavor. For better efficiency, you will need one of the numerous purpose-built add-ons, with WooCommerce leading the way. As with everything we have said previously, WordPress.org lets you own your ‘car’ without any restrictions.
WordPress.com also does, but only if you pay a massive fee for its E-commerce plan. At the moment of writing, it amounted to $45 per month, billed annually. This gives you an entire arsenal of features to launch an Internet store in the blink of an eye (inventory management, payment processing, delivery, and more).
It’s all about being your own boss again. With WordPress.org, you have a much tighter grasp on what you can do with your store. The com option still limits you in certain ways. For instance, you don’t set your own rules regarding your selling practices. WordPress.com dictates this to you.
The GetDevDone WordPress development team can assist you with any front-end or back-end task. We can customize a ready-made theme to satisfy your business requirements or build a completely new, unique theme based on your ideas or designs. We also have great expertise in optimizing the performance and security of WordPress.org-powered websites.
Talk to us. We’re committed to helping your business grow and succeed!