Unarguably, WordPress is the most widely used platform for building professional websites, regardless of whether it’s a blog, e-commerce store, or business website. It accounts for nearly half of all the websites available on the internet today.
Even so, several users are unaware of the differences between WordPress.org and WordPress.com. Many people may not even know they are two separate platforms because they rank at #1 and #2 when you search for “WordPress.”
If you’re a beginner web design professional or just someone who wants to start a hobby blog, you may not be aware of the differences between the two platforms either. Don’t worry – you’re not alone, and we’re here to help!
Let’s dive right into the differences between WordPress.org and WordPress.com before looking at how to decide which is the best platform for you.
The key differentiator between the two platforms is who hosts your website.
With WordPress.org, you host your website by purchasing a web hosting service and installing WordPress on the hosted server.
With WordPress.com, WordPress hosts your website for you. All you have to do is sign up and start creating your website.
Most web designers would recommend choosing WordPress.org because while it may not be as simple as its counterpart, it allows you far greater design and development freedom that the .com platform does not.
This is the second most important deciding factor when you’re trying to determine which WordPress platform is better for you.
WordPress.com has a free variant that can get you started as soon as you sign up without even having to register a credit card. However, this free version comes with a set of limitations that you may not want in a professional website:
- The .wordpress.com subdomain suffixed to your website name
- Limited disk space (only 3 GB)
- WordPress ads and branding that you cannot remove from your website
- You cannot install external plugins and themes that aren’t available on the WordPress platform
- You cannot monetize the website
You will be able to do all of this if you upgrade to a paid plan, but this can easily cost you at least $111 per year, even if you upgrade to a basic commercial plan. It includes hosting and a domain name. To build a fully-loaded website where you can install themes and plugins, you would have to shell out around $300 to $400 per year.
With WordPress.org, on the other hand, you can build a full-featured website at as low as $35 for the first year, depending on what you pay for hosting. With a hosting provider offering low pricing, you can probably have a fully functional website with themes, plugins, your domain name, and the option to monetize it at as low as $50 per year.
Website maintenance, security, and backups
The third crucial factor in deciding which platform to choose is who takes care of the maintenance, security, and backups for your website. With the .com counterpart, all of this is included, regardless of whether you use the free or paid version.
With the .org counterpart, you have to look into all of this yourself since it’s a self-hosted website, and WordPress is neither responsible for the hosting server (which determines security functions) nor the data you upload.
It goes similarly in terms of website maintenance which includes updates to the WordPress platform or functions, the themes, and the plugins you install. Maintenance is included with all plans of the .com version, while you have to take care of it yourself with the .org platform.
Which is the better alternative?
While it may seem that you have to do everything yourself with WordPress.org, it’s worth the effort in the long run. You will be able to customize, monetize, and grow your website the way you want. You can access external themes or plugins that may be necessary to create a beautiful and functional website for your business.
You will require some initial funds to start a .org website to pay for your hosting service, the domain name (which you can purchase from your hosting provider), and security (which also is available with most hosting providers). It also comes with a bit of a learning curve since you will be managing every aspect of the website along with its content. But even so, using the .org platform comes highly recommended by all web designing experts.
The WordPress.com platform may be ideal for you if you wish to start a hobby blog or a website that you don’t expect to grow exponentially, such as a work portfolio. It’s simpler to set up and doesn’t require you to learn anything.
Tracy is the Design Manager here at Redwood Creative. She’s been designing amazing graphics and web layouts for large and small businesses for upwards of 7 years.