Navigating between WordPress.com and WordPress.org can often create confusion for new website developers. Both sites share the same name and offer what appears to be the same service at first glance; however, each website is affiliated with a distinct company that differentiates itself in many ways. Here are some of the significant differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org that set the sites apart.
One Site Hosts, One Distributes
WordPress.com is a commercial service running the WordPress platform that allows you to host and run a website for free, whereas WordPress.org is the developer of that open source platform and is the distributor of those files. The benefit of using WordPress.com to put your site online is that they take care of setting up all of the functions, ensuring the site’s security, and backing up your data to their server. If you were to utilize WordPress.org to download the files and host the site yourself, you would be responsible for finding a hosting company, keeping your site updated, and regularly performing backups. Therefore, WordPress.org can be a little trickier and requires a little extra work to get started.
WordPress.org Appears More Professional
If you choose to host with the .com, in exchange for the free hosting, they will place advertisements on your website and give you a domain name starting along the lines of “yoursite.wordpress.com.” Advertisements and a branded domain name is the tradeoff for having the convenience of using their services and getting everything set up for you. Chances are that visitors will be less likely to trust you and your service if there are advertisements running that you are unable to control and if your domain name is not one of your own.
You can pay a fee of $30 per year to remove ads and for an additional price on top of that, obtain your own custom domain name. Or, you can choose to go with the .org service and make the site more personal.
WordPress.org Has More Bells and Whistles
The .com service is tightly controlled and does not have the features and 3rd party plugins available to .org users. One of the extraordinary aspects of using WordPress is that so many add-ons are available to spruce up your site and give it a little extra style. There are plug-ins available to the .com service, but the vast quantity available is nowhere near their .org counterpart.
Another important function of WordPress is the ability to use themes to customize the look of your site. With the open source platform of .org, you are able to manipulate whatever you want and customize the internal files to mimic the look of your ideal site. WordPress.com is limited in terms of custom themes. As with the plugins, the service will give you a list of your available options and you will be expected to choose what you want based on those pre-approved choices.