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Someone told you that you should build your website on WordPress. You sit down at your computer, beaming with the excitement of starting a project and then find yourself at an unexpected crossroad:

WordPress.com or WordPress.org

Basic Differences

WordPress.org represents the organization that created the WordPress platform. Years ago, WordPress was created to make it easier for people to blog. WordPress made it simple to publish quickly and organize content in a logical way.

WordPress.org manages the WordPress platform and you can download the platform from this website. Think of it as a DIY kit. They give you the tool to create a website, but you have to build everything.

WordPress.com represents the for-profit side of the organization. They found there were many people who didn’t want to have to put the thing together from a kit, but that still wanted to have the advantages of using WordPress.

Hosting

The biggest difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com is where your content is hosted. WordPress websites need to be hosted. By using WordPress.org to download the WordPress platform, you will need to provide hosting or get hosting through a provider like Formada Social.

WordPress.com provides hosting for you as part of their monthly fee. You are given server space and they will handle anything related to hosting.

Domain

Both WordPress.org and WordPress.com allow you to use your own custom domain. WordPress.com websites come with a subdomain until they are connected to your own domain (e.g. mycoolwebsite.wordpress.com). Websites built with the WordPress platform from WordPress.org do not give you a subdomain and will require you to purchase a domain.

Customization

WordPress.org is by far the most customizable. Because it is an open platform, you can:

  • Upload any plugin or your own plugins to add functionality
  • Customize any of the code on your website
  • Create or add custom themes

WordPress.com allows you to add plugins, but only those approved by the platform. You are permitted basic code customization, but not full the full editor. You are also only able to select from approved themes.

Cost

WordPress.org provides the WordPress platform for free. It doesn’t cost anything to download it and set it up. However, in order to host and launch your website, you will need to pay for website hosting and a domain.

WordPress.com provides the WordPress platform for a monthly fee. This fee will cover your hosting and access to the platform.

Which should I use?

As always, it depends on your goals. Nearly every business on the WordPress platform uses it through WordPress.org. They download the platform, customize it, and then host it. This means they own and control every aspect of the website.

We typically only recommend WordPress.com for small blogs, hobby blogs, portfolios, or one-person operations. This gives you the ability to publish quickly, get familiar with the WordPress platform, but without the headache of learning how to set up hosting or manage a server.

Don’t be scared

We know that this process can be scary. If building a website sounds intimidating, talk to us about your project! We offer affordable website design for small businesses and ongoing website management.