The Great WordPress Debate: How to decide if WordPress.org or WordPress.com is right for you
That’s the crucial question facing those new to the juggernaut CMS. Truth is, the two platforms are very different, with each featuring a distinct set of features intended for specific use. But before we dive in, what is WordPress exactly and why has it proven to be such a winner in web development?
Essentially, WordPress hosts your website. The platform’s solid reputation has been built on, and nurtured by its free, simple and intuitive framework that almost anyone can use, regardless of where you are on the ‘tech-savvy’ barometer. These impressive statistics cement its internet domination:
- 34% of the internet is powered by WordPress, a 4% uptick from 2018.
- If you include CMS-constructed websites, then a staggering 60% of them are on WordPress.
- It’s estimated that nearly 64 million websites are powered by the platform.
- It has a 27.7% market share among online stores with it’s own eCommerce solution – WooCommerce.
Taking those figures into account, you and your website are in good hands and even better company with the platform. But back to the question — which should you be using and why?
Let’s get granular:
Difference #1: Hosting
The core differentiator is who’s hosting your website.
WordPress.org is 100% open source and lets you host your own website (something we highly recommend). It provides the user with full control of the website, meaning you can customise and rework it as you see fit. The benefits include:
- Though it requires a yearly domain registration fee, it’s otherwise free and incredibly easy to use.
- You can pick and choose from a seemingly endless amount of plugins and apps (both free and paid).
- It integrates with Google Analytics to provide effective tracking and accurate metrics.
- Your website and its data is yours.
WordPress.com is a hosting service created by Matt Mullenweg (the co-founder of WordPress) and takes most of the administration out of your hands. This platform is broken up into tiers, ranging from free to a VIP package. The benefits of using it are:
- You don’t need to worry about updates, backups and other operational admin.
- The free package extends to 3GB of space, but once you cross this threshold you’ll have to consider a paid plan for more.
Difference #2: SEO Features and Analytics
WordPress.org invites users to install third-party SEO-specific tools to tailor content and track its effectiveness across channels. Another notch in its belt is that you’re able to install any third-party analytics plugin into the backend. Additional benefits include:
- You can run as many ads and monetisation strategies as you like (in addition to selecting any ad service).
- You retain every last cent of your earnings.
On the other hand, WordPress.com’s SEO support is limited. This means that free users only get access to a standard, built-in analytics version for website stats. Unfortunately, users are also unable to choose which plugins to install on their website, making for a rather shallow customisation experience. To get around this, you’ll have to upgrade to the paid packages:
- You can install third-party plugins with the $25/m plan. With the other packages, your options are limited by a slim range of existing features.
- If it isn’t already provided by the default environment, you won’t be able to add any new features.
Difference #3: Themes
It goes without saying that WordPress has been a veritable goldmine for theme designers and developers. The platform is built for collaboration and lends itself to customisation, fostering a community of like-minded professionals that spans the world. With that said, however, there are a few notable differences between the two platforms when it comes to themes:
A comprehensive theme playground, WordPress.org offers the full spectrum of choice and customisation. Users are also able to safeguard their content with both commercial and custom offerings, as well as tailor existing themes to their tastes with full, lasting control.
If you select WordPress.com’s free package, however, your choice is limited to the free themes populating the library. These themes can’t be customised and users are prohibited from uploading any of their own themes either. If you’re after customisation options, you’ll have to pay $99 a year or choose the business version for comprehensive support and the facility to upload third-party themes.
So which WordPress is best for you?
Is for users who aren’t afraid to take on the configuration, administration and content creation of a website. In addition to offering full control of monetisation, ad spend, and plugins and app installation, WordPress.org has eCommerce functionality using it’s and supports lots of third-party vendors like PayPal, Payoneer, Stripe and lots more.
Final verdict: WordPress.org is ideal for professionals who want to create a business site or run a commercial project.
Offers quick, simple website build-out with a limited set of options (free plan), making it ideal for hobbyists who want to craft personal projects online, with zero commercial ambitions.
Final verdict: WordPress.com is for casual users who want to write blogs, create passion projects and get started with minimum hassle, as soon as possible (and don’t mind the limitations of WordPress.com’s framework).
A little bit about us
We hope this article has given you the information and inspiration you need to get started on your WordPress journey. Before you go, we’d like to offer you our support:
Since 2014, Kaira has poured our skill and passion into developing top-class WordPress themes and plugins that empower users to construct their own websites easily, without any coding knowledge. Our themes are listed on WordPress.org at the most competitive prices in the industry.
To see what we can offer you, have a look at our just-released theme, Overlay. If you’d like the latest WordPress and industry news, sign up to our newsletter at the bottom of the page.