There’s a very important distinction to be made between WordPress.com and WordPress.org which results in a very different user experience.
Let’s start off by saying that in terms of a good vs bad platform, there is a right platform that you should be using depending on your needs and type of website that you’re designing but I’d even go as far as to say that one is actually superior to the other. (You’ll figure it out very soon!)
In this article we’ll talk about the biggest and most important difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org and what it mean for you on your journey to building your dream website.
The biggest difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org: Hosting.
The main difference between the two platforms is who is hosting your website. Your host is the server that stores the data from and on your site.
To break down the term even more, we could say that in order to publish a website online, you need a web host to actually allow your site to be accessible on the World Wide Web. Your host stores your data, including the actual pages of your website, your media, backups, etc and makes the front end of your site available to anyone who is connected to the internet.
WordPress.com is a website host as well as a builder, meaning that the platform allows you to build the website in the same place as it is hosted.
WordPress.org is a self hosted platform which means that you get to pick the best host for your site.
So most professional WordPress sites are built on WordPress.org. This is the one that most people mean when they say they have a (very good) WordPress website.
What are the benefits of being self hosted and of using WordPress.org?
- You have full control of your website with WordPress.org. WordPress.com is what we call a closed ecosystem, meaning that they retain a lot of control on what you can and cannot do with your site. With the .org platform, you have an open source platform from which you can do virtually anything including adding any third party themes and plugins.
- You actually own all of the data on your website with WordPress.org which is not the case with WordPress.com.
- With WordPress.org you can access thousands upon thousands of plugins and themes. With WordPress.com, you can’t upload any third party plugins and can only pick from their limited selection of compatible plugins. For example, you could never integrate Google Analytics into WordPress.com because it’s a third party tool.
- You have more freedom with the custom layout of the website on WordPress.org. You can purchase premium WordPress or third party themes or use a builder like Elementor to create a custom design. With WordPress.com you cannot upload any third party themes.
- You can run your own ads and retain all your revenue with WordPress.org. With wordpress.com, if you have a free account, they automatically place ads on your site and you aren’t able to run your own ads. With a free plan they also add a /wordpress at the end of your domain name.
- You can run e-commerce pages on your site and sell services and goods with an in built shop system that accepts payments. This isn’t possible with WordPress.com.
- You can create a membership site and run courses and programmes right from within WordPress.org. You can’t do this on WordPress.com.
- It’s free! The only thing you pay for is the host of your choice and you then work within your budget to instal theme and plugins. With wordpress.com, a business plan is $300 per year and that’s with all the limited features mentioned above that you don’t get to pick from to customise.
So, where to host your WordPress.org website?
Some of the more popular hosts used are Siteground, GoDaddy, Bluehost and HostGater (but there are lots of other ones out there as well but if you pick from the most popular ones then you get guaranteed security and quality of service.)
My personal recommendation is Siteground. Apart from it’s stellar hosting service, my favourite features have to be their awesome customer support, with their Live Chat experts always on top of helping you solve any SiteGround or WordPress related issue where they can.