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WordPress.com vs WordPress.org

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org: 10 Big Differences

WordPress is a web application that creates websites quickly. For this reason, it is so famous that we can get a super professional website quickly and without programming knowledge. If you have surfed the Internet searching for information, you have probably noticed “two versions”: WordPress.com and WordPress.org.

Although the two tools serve the same purpose, creating a website, the process is different with each one. In this post, I will show the main differences, similarities, and their comparison so you can decide which is better.

Let’s start the journey!

What are WordPress.org and WordPress.com?

First of all, you must to know what WordPress is. It is a content management system (CMS), a program for making web pages. You can make a website using code or using these content managers.

To make it with code, you must have a lot of knowledge in programming, and that is why, so that everyone could create a website, tools like this emerged, in which, in no more than an hour, we can have everything ready to start designing our website.

In addition, this design can be done using the drag and drop method, almost like when you create a PowerPoint presentation, thanks to the plugins, which we will go into more detail later. This is precisely why it has become so famous, and it is estimated that around 40% of websites worldwide are created with this CMS.

Why this differentiation?

With Both, you can create from an online store that sells thousands of products to a personal blog. But what is the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org? The fact that they have almost the same name creates a lot of confusion, but even though they are pages about the same program or tool, they are very different.

WordPress.org is a free and open-source software, meaning anyone can use it without paying a single dollar. We follow this process: hire a hosting service, download the program, and install it on it. Once it is installed, we can start designing our website. On the other hand, WordPress.com is an online platform from which you can create a website on its servers. In this case, we will not have to hire a hosting service since the platform does this.

From WordPress.com, you don’t have to do anything, but the significant disadvantage is that our possibilities are much more limited than with WordPress.org. It is much more complex than what we have just seen, and that is why we will break down the differences so you can get a better idea.

What do both versions of WordPress share?

Although there are many differences between the two applications, we also find some similarities. Once we have “hands-on” designing our website, the application has the same user interface in both WordPress.com and WordPress.org but is configured differently depending on the WordPress.com plan we have contracted.

versions of WordPress

Several themes (also called design templates) are the same in both versions. A theme is a pre-designed template that we download in our CMS, and that applies that design to our website. Some of these themes are available on both WordPress.com and WordPress.org.

In the same way, WordPress.com preinstalled some plugins with basic functionality, such as forms, which are not found by default in WordPress.org, and we have to add them by downloading and activating plugins.

Main differences between WordPress.org and WordPress.com

Both share many things, such as the “drag and drop” method, some plugins and themes, or even user interface, but in this section, we focus on the main differences to see which one is better suited to our needs.

1. Differences in ease of use between WordPress.com and WordPress.org

One of the main differences that we find between the two applications is the implementation. As we saw before, WordPress.com is a system that is in the cloud, and we do not have to do practically anything to install it.

On the other hand, with WordPress.org, the process was a bit more technical since, being software that we download, we have to hire a hosting service and a domain and then install WordPress on this hosting. Currently, most hostings have WP installation wizards, with which the process is much easier and similar to WordPress.com, and this shortens the difference between the two applications.

As for the ease of use once you have installed WordPress.org or accessed WordPress.com, the way of working is similar since, as we saw before, the user interface is practically the same. Of course, you must remember that the WordPress.com version has many limitations in the most basic plans, as it does not allow you to install plugins or themes, which will complicate the basic tasks.

For example, there is a very famous plugin to work SEO called “Yoast SEO,” which on WordPress.org is free, but on WordPress.com, we can not use it until the Creator plan, which is $25 per month.

SEO is the set of techniques that help us to position our website on the Internet and appear on the first pages of browsers when someone makes a search related to the purpose of our website. When downloading an SEO plugin, the work is much smoother.

So even to install any plugin on WordPress.com, we will have to pay $25 per month for the Creator plan, while on WordPress.org, installing them is free.

2. Features

In WordPress.org and WordPress.com, we find very different features since in WordPress.com, we have most of these capped in the cheaper plans. It does not happen in WordPress.org, from where, as we have just seen, you can download the plugins you want, modify everything to your liking, and do and undo what you want for free.

It would help if you only remembered to choose the right hosting to hire. Because, in poor quality hosting, our website will be slow and can cause problems in the medium term.

The advantage of having a specialized support service is that it allows us to receive help on any related issue. In contrast, the average hosting support is limited to queries and problems related to servers and domains, but not the WP application.

3. Flexibility

In terms of flexibility, WordPress.org once again comes out on top. WordPress.com has few themes available in the basic plans, compared to tens of thousands in the .org version.

It is a huge advantage, and choosing the template you want to work with can save you time and effort. The same goes for plugins. We cannot download any plugins in WordPress.com until the Creator plan, which is 25$ per month.

There is something very negative about WordPress.com since we can only use the essential functions, while with WordPress.org, we can download the plugins we want from minute zero and only for the cost of hosting.

Finally, it is essential to consider if you want to integrate your website with third-party applications in the future. From WordPress.com, it is minimal, even in the highest plans. In contrast, on WordPress.org, you can connect with other applications.

4. SEO potential in the two versions of WordPress

Although this CMS is one of the most “SEO friendly” platforms, the .com version fails again in this aspect for several reasons. We will not go into depth on the subject, but keep in mind what we have seen, for example, the impossibility of downloading plugins until the Creator plan ($25) with WordPress.com, while in WordPress.org, we can download the one we want at any time. One of the most famous plugins for SEO is Yoast SEO. Using a plugin like this is very important to be able to control critical elements in good SEO work in the United States.

For example, the title of the page (<title> tag), the text of the meta-description (which is what you see in Google results), have a sitemap (sitemap for Google), to control which pages Google should index and which not, etc.

5. Differences in Security

An essential part of your work on your website has to go towards controlling and securing your website online. It basically revolves around two pillars:

  • Your website is secure to the public, with the hiring of SSL and HTTPS certificates (the little green padlock in the upper left corner).
  • The operation of your website is ensured with software updates, plugins, relevant themes, and automatic backups.

Again, we are facing a scenario in which WordPress.com does everything, and in WordPress.org, we have to do it ourselves, although, in most hosting services, the technical support team does it (or they help you greatly).

The problem with WordPress.com is that to access backups and automatic updates, you must access the Creator plan, paying 25$ per month, compared to less than 10$, for which you can hire a good hosting service. Therefore, it is a matter of choosing the hosting that includes more excellent coverage in its technical service and choosing, again, the WordPress.org option.

6. Blogging and personal branding

It is a much more subjective point than others since you prefer ease over functionality if you want to have a personal blog. From WordPress.com, you can have an excellent blog for free, but the design possibilities are much more significant in WordPress.com. It is also essential to think about the scalability of your idea.

Maybe right now, you want to have a small blog as a hobby that doesn’t need a lot of care and work, and you don’t want to reach many people but think that it can get better and better to receive many visits per month because people like what you write.

At that point, you will want to monetize your blog or grow your website. If you started your project on WordPress.com, it will be more complicated to do so, while if you start from WordPress.org, you can grow from day one.

Still, both platforms are fine for creating a personal blog!

7. Monetization with advertising and affiliation in WordPress.com vs WordPress.org

The program for WordPress.com advertising is WordAds; with it, we can display ads from Google, Facebook, AOL, etc. The problem is that if you want to earn income on your WordPress.com site through ads, you must have hired the Creator or eCommerce plan and have a custom domain, at least $25 per month.

You can add third-party advertising such as Google AdSense, OpenX, Lijit, BuySellAds, and Vibrant Media. If your plan is Explorer (8$ per month), you can only use sponsored posts (posts to advertise a service or product directly), affiliate links, and WordAds. And finally, in the Free and Starter (4$ per month) WordPress.com plans, you can use affiliate links or sponsored posts.

As usual, with WordPress.org, you are entirely free to monetize your blog from the moment you want and without any extra expense, while as we have just seen, in WordPress.com, we have to make a monthly investment of at least $25 to start earning money by advertising passively.

8. Creation of online stores

In this CMS, you can set up an online store thanks to a famous plugin called “WooCommerce” of which you have surely heard some time. What this plugin does is to allow us to set up an online store completely free of charge, with the basis of a website.

Creation of online stores

That is, first we set up a website and then we download and activate this plugin to implement the online store. As we have just seen (in several points), in WordPress.com we cannot install plugins until the Creator plan, while in WordPress.org we can.

Therefore, with a few dollars a month (by hiring a hosting service) you can set up a powerful online store with WordPress.org and WooCommerce, in which you can sell the products you want, while to do it with WordPress.com the minimum investment is $25 per month.

Here I want to remind you the importance of choosing a good hosting because online stores are more demanding for the server than a normal website.

9. Website Pricing with WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org

With everything we have seen so far, the version that interests us most in terms of quality-price ratio is WordPress.org. It is mainly due to:

  • We cannot install plugins until the Creator plan, which is 25$ per month when in WordPress.org, we can have it from cheaper rates.
  • We cannot make automatic updates until the Creator plan, while in WordPress.org, we do it for free.

10. Support

It is one of the few cases where the two tools have no significant differences, and we find excellent service. Of course, in the case of WordPress.org, as we saw before, WordPress.org will depend on the hosting service you have contracted, but usually, the quality of the specific support for WordPress is high.

On the other hand, in WordPress.com, you have a very efficient technical service and, logically, are specialized in the theme.

At UX InfiniX, we can help you to create website in the United States with this CMS in both versions. So, contact us to get more information about our web design service!

Final Thoughts

Thus, the usual line of WordPress.com is to sacrifice flexibility for ease. On this platform, everything comes ready-made, even if we pay much more for it. To get the same features as in WordPress.org, we must hire at least the Creator plan, which is 25$ per month, compared to 5-10 dollars to hire hosting for WordPress.org.

Otherwise, with the most basic plans, Free and Starter, we do not have the option to install plugins, so the most basic tasks, such as site design or SEO work, will be much more arduous. If we opt for the latter option of WordPress.com, the differences that we will find are:

  • Easier installation in WordPress.com, although most hostings have automatic WordPress.org installers, so the tasks are very similar.
  • The platform manages the security of the site on WordPress.com. On WordPress.org, we have to do it ourselves, although we can ask for help from our hosting’s technical support.

Conclusion

Taking into account all the points mentioned above, at UX InfiniX, we think the following:

  • The free WordPress.com plan is not worth it for any website that is not a mere toy.
  • For modest projects (small website or personal blog), we could use the cheaper WordPress.com plans, although, for a user who is not afraid of the technical side of hosting, we recommend WordPress.org.
  • For professional projects (such as a website for a business), we recommend either the superior plans (Creator and Entrepreneur) of WordPress.com or WordPress.org with hosting. Regarding the price/performance ratio, WordPress.org is much more cost-effective and has a much longer service life.

Which one do you prefer to use?

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the difference between WordPress.com?

The main difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org is the hosting. The first is a fully hosted platform where your website is hosted on its servers, while the second provides the software you can download and install on your hosting server.

Can I switch from WordPress.com to org?

Yes, it is possible. You can export your content from WordPress.com and import it into a self-hosted WordPress.org site. However, the process may involve some technical steps and considerations.

Can you use WordPress.org without a host?

No, you cannot use WordPress.org without a host. It provides the software, but you need a hosting server to install and run the software. You can choose from various hosting providers to host your WordPress.org site.

Is WordPress.com hosting good?

The quality of hosting on WordPress.com is generally considered good. They provide reliable hosting infrastructure and take care of security and maintenance. However, the level of customization and control is limited compared to self-hosted WordPress.org, where you have more flexibility to choose your hosting provider and customize your site according to your needs.

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