WordPress is the most popular CMS out there, used by over a third of all websites worldwide. But there might be one confusing factor when using WordPress: the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. In this article, I will compare WordPress.com vs WordPress.org.
If you’re new to WordPress, you already may know that WordPress is a so-called content management system (What is WordPress anyway?), abbreviated as CMS. With a CMS, it’s easy to create a website yourself and edit the content and change the looks of the website.
This CMS is both available on WordPress.com and WordPress.org. But what are the differences?
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org: the differences
It’s a question newcomers ask often, but even if you’re already using WordPress, you may find it confusing that you both have WordPress.com and WordPress.org.
As a newcomer, you probably related WordPress to a blog on WordPress.com, usually found on domains such as someblogname.wordpress.com. Probably you also have seen one of these Youtube videos that recommend a certain hosting company, or already use WordPress at one of your favourite webhosting companies.
But WordPress.com has more uses. Let’s dive into the use cases for both WordPress.com and WordPress.org.
On WordPress.com, you can have your own WordPress website hosted with additional services. It is WordPress as a service, or more generally, software as a service. Some delicate features:
- WordPress.com manages the hosting and updates of WordPress
- Paid plans offer the possibility for custom domains
- Limited selection of supported plugins and themes
However, WordPress.com is limited in what you can do with it unless you have a paid plan. Free plans do not cover a custom domain but are limited to yourdomain.wordpress.com.
Moreover, WordPress uses Themes and Plugins to add lay-out and extra functionalities to a website. The selection of these themes and plugins is limited and you can’t add custom Plugins.
Only from the business plan, starting at $25 dollars a month, you are able to add custom plugins and more.
Especially the paid plans from Business and up do provide some good functionalities to have a great, and versatile website with WordPress.
In many cases, it may be cheaper and more convenient to host a website using a hosting party of your preference. And that brings us to WordPress.org
WordPress.org, on the other hand, is the place where you can download the software behind WordPress and place it on your own servers, or any web hosting company. In other words, this is called self-hosted WordPress.
You will be responsible for updating and managing WordPress yourself. But you also have many possibilities to customize WordPress and add anything of your own liking.
You can extent self-hosted WordPress with any WordPress theme or plugin of your liking. If you’re a developer, you can easily write new software and just place it in your WordPress hosting account. And personally, I like the usability of self-hosted WordPress much more. It’s just easier and less cumbersome to use.
But why is WordPress.org separated from WordPress.com? In essence, it is the foundation behind the WordPress Software, which is open-source and can actually be used freely by anyone.
This piece of software is also used by many WordPress hosting companies, who provide ways to automatically install WordPress on their servers. That makes sense, as download WordPress from WordPress.org and manually installing it to your hosting takes some effort.
WordPress.org also provides a lot of information for WordPress professionals, so they can build their own functionalities with WordPress. Or create WordPress Themes and Plugins for other people to use.
That, in a nutshell, is the difference of WordPress.com and WordPress.org.