WordPress.com or .org?? What’s the Difference?


More and more of my clients are requesting that they have the ability to maintain their websites post launch. If this is the case, most of the time, I’ll propose a website using WordPress.

Why? WordPress has become the most exposed, diverse in template creativity, and plugin availability, as well as having a very user friendly front end interface for people with no coding experience in order to maintain their websites without the use of yours truly or a hosting provider. Additionally, it’s cheaper than paying a licensing fee for Adobe Contribute if I were to build a custom website (since I use Dreamweaver to build all of my custom websites). A software license for Adobe Contribute would typically charge the client around $300.00.

The main question that arises when deciding to use WordPress is whether the client should go with WordPress.com or WordPress.org. You would think that these two organizations are one and the same, but they are completely two different entities catering to two different types of target audiences.

Breaking Down the WordPress  “Nutshell”

For WordPress.com, there are several advantages:

  • You don’t need a host provider since your site will be hosted on WordPress.com’s servers.
  • It’s Free! Although I recommend getting the domain name upgrade for $17 a year so you don’t have the wordpress extension in your url.
  • Everything is taken care of:  Setup, upgrades, spam, backups, security, etc.
  • Your blog/site is on hundreds of servers, so it’s highly unlikely it will go down due to traffic
  • Your posts are backed up automatically
  • You get extra traffic from blogs of the day and tags
  • You can find like-minded bloggers using these tags and gain a wider audience
  • Your login is secure (SSL) so no one can get into your account if you use wifi

There are also WordPress.com  disadvantages:

  • They provide 100 plus themes (and adding more every day), but you don’t get exposure to all of them.
  • You can’t upload plugins. They give you a few, depending on the template you choose, but you do not have the freedom to pick and choose any of the thousands of plugins that are readily available thru WordPress.org.

Using WordPress.com is good for blogging. I don’t recommend it for a website, unless the website is relatively small, informational only, and with limited web visitor interactivity. 

For WordPress.ORG:

There are alot of advantages to using WordPress.org:

  • You have the ability to upload themes (thousands of them) Note: I only download themes from WordPress.org. There are hundreds of other sources out there that offer free WordPress themes, howevever be careful on what you choose since there may be some extraneous code within the theme you may not be familiar with, or quite possibly it doesn’t work on all browsers. WordPress themes are tested on all browsers for compatability before they are put online.
  • You have the ability to upload plugins (thousands of those too)
  • Great community with forums
  • Complete control to change code if you know your way around code

WordPress.org disadvantages:

  • You need a good web host. This is where WordPress.com and WordPress.org are quite different. With WordPress.com, you didn’t need to shop for a hosting provider because WordPress.com hosts your site for you. WordPress.org requires a web host because it will be your responsibility (or your web designer’s responsibility), to download the WordPress.org software required onto your hosting space in order for your site to work. Requirements for your web space are: PHP 4.3 or higher, MySQL 4.0 or higher, Apache or Nginx recommended.
  • Requires more technical knowledge to set up, run and maintain
  • You’re responsible for stopping spam (or your host provider)
  • You have to handle backups (or your host provider)
  • You must upgrade the software manually when a new version comes out (your host provider may do this, but you would have to check with them to see what the fee would be).

Now, I wouldn’t say that the above are necessarily disadvantages. They are just more labor intensive and require more technological skill. However, the steps required pay off for websites that want true interactivity and a pleasant web visitor experience. Plus, the plugins are AWESOME!

I hope that clears up some of the confusion between WordPress.com and WordPress.org.

Have a great week!


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