Some people get confused when first learning about WordPress. There is a big difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. Both are brought to you by Automattic, but they serve different purposes. Below you will find the important feature differences:
You will have to download the software and find a server to install it in. Self hosting means you can choose any hosting company to store your files so you can make it available on the world wide web.
|Hosted by Automattic|
No need to find a hosting company because Automattic will store all your files for you in their server.
When you install WordPress on your own host, a good analogy for this is like saying that you can own your home rather than…
…renting a home.
Because you have to find a hosting company, this means you have expenses. Hosting with a shared server can be as cheap as $6 a month.
Without hosting fees, you can build a website or blog for free.
The small expenses to pay is completely worthwhile because you get full control of your website! You can manipulate, add, edit whatever you need because it is a free open source software.
Since it isn’t self-hosted, Automattic has full control of the back-end. If you aren’t a developer, you may think this isn’t important, but when you experience having full control of your own website, you will realize that you just opened the doors to all types of possibilities. With this revelation and depending on your needs, you may not find much use for WordPress.com.
|Full theme support and access|
A theme is a design you install for your website. Talented developers all around the world have created thousands of themes that you can choose from. You have the opportunity to install any of these themes! If you have development experience yourself, then you can create your own theme(s). You have full control whether you are experienced with web development or not.
You only have access to a limited number of themes. Although there are hundreds of themes available to choose from their database, it’s still a drawback for those who wish to be very creative or unique. As a developer, you can not design a theme and upload it here.
|All plugins allowed|
Just like the access you have with themes, you have full access to the thousands of plugins that have been created. Plugins can extend your site to do almost anything you can imagine. They can range from tools to remove functionality or it can add functionality. Again, if you are a developer, you can create your own plugins.
|No plugin upload|
Just like the limited access to themes, you have limited access to plugins. If you have an open mind and/or needs that you want to add to your website, you may find that you can not do so because of the limitations.
|Ability to sell ads|
If you are a business, you have no choice, but to use WordPress.org. You can advertise whatever you please.
|No ads allowed|
This drawback alone is enough for ANY business to choose WordPress.org. You can not advertise anything. WordPress.com is limited to blogs only, whereas WordPress.org you can create a website that is much more than just a blog.
|Your own brand|
Again, WordPress.org is perfect for creating a website for your business. As you can see, WordPress is much more than a blogging platform. Many talented developers and web design companies around the world have adopted or converted to only using WordPress because it is a smart and powerful software.
|Not for brands|
If you only want to blog, or if you’re not selling or advertising anything, and you do not care about the limitations, then WordPress.com is perfect for you!
With full control comes the inevitable maintenance. Some people see this as a very small price to pay and it is worth the “hassle”. Others see site maintenance as a chore. Quite frankly, if you’re a business and this turns you off… I’m not sure why you have a business anyway? 🙂 Depending on your needs, site maintenance can actually be very easy and cheap (if not free). WordPress is always working hard to improve so updates come pretty frequently. How easy is it to update the software? It’s so easy that it takes about 2-3 clicks of a button. While you may find little problems most of the time after updating, you have to beware that the mixture of certain themes and plugins can cause your site to break. Each case/website is unique, so consult with your trusted web designer if you have questions.
You don’t ever have to worry about keeping your site updated because Automattic will automatically do it for you. 🙂 You don’t ever have to worry if your theme or plugins are compatible with the update and this is perfect if all you want to do is write blogs!