WordPress.com and WordPress.org – Similarities and Differences

As WordPress specialists, we are often asked to explain the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. Because the names are so similar, they are easily confused.

A closely related question is the difference between a hosted and a self-hosted website. For more on that, read our article Hosted vs Self Hosted Websites.

What WordPress.com and WordPress.org Have In Common

WordPress.com and WordPress.org both use the WordPress content management software, but that is where most of their similarities end.

WordPress.com Is Hosted

Simply put, WordPress.com is a fully managed, hosted solution. Everything is taken care of for you. WordPress.com provides the software to build the site and the servers to host it. They can even provide a free domain name. There’s nothing to download, no hosting company to hire, no software to maintain. You can get all this for free, or for a monthly fee, depending on your needs.

So what’s the catch?

As with any fully managed solution, there are restrictions on what site owners can do. Users of the free plan have several hundred themes to choose from, but those themes have limited customization. Also, your free domain name will contain the word “wordpress.” So, if your company name is “Big Tree Nursery,” then your free domain name might be “bigtreenursery.wordpress.com.” Finally, the free plans are ad-supported, so visitors will see third-party ads on your website.

Note: there are paid plans available with fewer restrictions. They range from an inexpensive plan that removes the ads and allows the use of a custom domain name through to high end plans aimed at enterprise customers.

WordPress.org Is Self-Hosted

WordPress.org is another way of referring to self-hosted WordPress. The WordPress software is open source, which means there are people all over the world working on it. It is free to use and is constantly being updated, improved, and expanded upon.

Unlike WordPress.com, which is managed (and owned) by Automattic, with WordPress.org you are in full control of your website. WordPress.org provides the content management system software and nothing more. You choose a custom domain name, your hosting plan, and provider. What you get in return is an almost unlimited selection of themes and plugins, and the freedom to customize your site any way you want. The only limitations are your imagination and your budget.

As much as we love WordPress.org, there are some disadvantages over WordPress.com.

  1. It isn’t free. Although the WordPress software is free, you have to register your own domain name and hire a hosting company to host your website.
  2. Maintenance. Just like the software on your computer, the WordPress software must be kept up to date, and you must keep up-to-date backups. You may be able to do this yourself, but many of our clients prefer to have us do it for them.

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org: Which Is Better?

There is no definitive answer to which is better, WordPress.com or WordPress.org. It depends on your budget for time and money, as well as your requirements for customization of appearance and functionality. We’ve tried to cover the basic differences here, but if you have any further questions, please feel free to email us or leave a comment below.

For more information about our WordPress services, please visit the Web Services page of our website.

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