TLDR – Business owner? Choose WordPress.org, trust me.
.com Vs .org – What’s all that about?
As I often harp on about, WordPress is the most widely used CMS platform globally. It now powers a staggering 40% of all sites on the internet.
But, if you’re new to the world of WordPress, it can be very easy to confuse WordPress.com with WordPress.org and believe it’s the same thing, the only difference being a slightly different domain name. However the two sites and the services they actually provide are very different. It’s extremely important to understand these differences from the outset as this allows you to make the right decision on which platform best suits the needs of your business.
In this post I’ll outline the fundamental differences between each of these services, allowing you to make an informed decision on the best option for you.
What is WordPress.com?
This version of WordPress is hosted, and similar to the likes of services such as Wix and Squarespace. Essentially you pay an annual subscription to reap the rewards of a self built website. The costs vary depending on the level of storage your website requires, and can cost anywhere from £35 per year for a single page site to over £390 per year for a more complex e-commerce build.
The benefit of a WordPress.com site is that anyone can create a website, with either minimal or no input from a web developer. There are free options, however these allow for advertising to feature on your site’s pages which will likely detract from your own content and will be unrelated to your brand. One of the paid services is required to remove these ads and to benefit from more complex features.
The greatest downside to a WordPress.com site is that should you wish to move away from the platform in the future you’ll have no access to back end code, database, or files from your own website. For this reason alone I would always steer clients away from opting for a WordPress.com website build.
In addition, WordPress.com is incredibly limiting, as no plugin or theme uploads are allowed and Google analytics is also unable to be installed, preventing you from tracking your site’s marketing reach and conversions. As a result you’re essentially prevented from being able to track the overall performance of your website.
WordPress.com is okay for someone looking to dabble in building their own website as a hobby, however for a business looking for growth it will almost definitely result in more of a headache.
What is WordPress.org?
In contrast, WordPress.org is the downloadable version of the WordPress software and is used by web developers attracted by its freedom and flexibility, as well as its highly customisable features. This is often referred to as self hosted WordPress.
This gives completely free-reign to make beautiful, fully functional websites, while providing you – the client – with complete control over your website’s content.
‘Okay that sounds more like it… how do I get started?’
All you need to start is a domain name for your site as well as a hosting plan. If you’re working with me on a build and you’re not sure what to be looking for in a domain name provider or good host, this is something I can happily help with – just ask!
Did I mention it’s completely free? There are no annual charges for a WordPress.org website and no tacky adverts distracting your users either. The only costs incurred would come from your chosen host and domain registrar.
In many instances a WordPress.org website can be much more profitable for your business from the outset. You may wish to start with a simple site when you’re first starting out, which then upgrades to something more complex once you start to see a return on your initial investment. Maybe in time you decide to grow the website into incorporating WooCommerce functionality for your business.
However your brand or business grows over time, self hosted WordPress can grow and adapt with you.
Which platform should you choose?
You’ll hopefully now have a good understanding of the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org, and be able to make a decision on which is the best for you.
As I mentioned, I always recommend that people opt for the self hosted option; WordPress.org. This is the platform I’ve been working with for years, and I love it. Not only does a self-hosted option give endless possibilities in terms of design and functionality, it also allows you to have full database access to all of your site’s content forevermore.