I’ve been asked this question quite a bit in the past and with WordPress becoming so popular I thought it would be a good time to revisit the distinction. Both can be used to leverage the powerful WordPress content management system but there are some very important differences. So let’s get into it…What’s the Difference Between wordpress.org & wordpress.com?
The .com version of WordPress is a hosted platform which means that you don’t have to pay a dime for your domain name or hosting. If you aren’t sure what those terms mean you can check out the FAQ for some general information. In a nutshell, wordpress.com is completely free to use and getting started is a breeze because you don’t have anything to install or setup. The way that it works is through the use of WordPress Multi Site which allows every hosted blog to run off of just one application of WordPress. Pretty cool huh? If you choose to use wordpress.com for your blog, you will have to settle for a domain name such as http://ift.tt/1lthCjq where the “yourblogname” is the name of your blog. You will have to keep the wordpress.com part because that is where your blog would be stored.
Some other considerations when using wordpress.com include limitations when it comes to advertising. If you plan on including ads on your website such as Google AdSense or any other third-party ad service which uses banner ads you will need to consider another option for your blog or website.
In addition you are not able to use premium themes and also are limited to the included plugins that are available by default with your install. If you want to use another plugin, you can request it be added to the list for future development of the base package. For a complete list of the plugins available on wordpress.com, click here.
WordPress.org uses the exact same foundational framework but you must install it on a hosting server in order to use it. For example, you would need to pay a hosting provider such as Host Gator, Go Daddy, etc. in order to use it. Once you have it installed on your server, there are no limitations. You can include advertisements, use premium themes with full customization, add unlimited plug-ins and more.
For someone who is just starting out blogging, this cost might be prohibitive. There can also be a bit of a learning curve for someone who hasn’t ever done anything with web servers or FTP (the way files get from your computer to your server/website). However, most hosting companies these days offer one click installation for WordPress because of it’s popularity and also offer excellent customer service to help walk you through any difficult areas.
Which one is the right one?
For those of you who are looking to start a site, which one should you be using?
If you are just getting started and haven’t ever used WordPress in the past you should definitely create an account on wordpress.com and see what it’s all about. Check out the interface and ease of use. Create a blog post or two to see how it works and then if you really like it…absolutely go with a wordpress.org setup. If you are serious at all about your blog/website, you will not want to have to move everything over down the road if you start out using wordpress.com instead of wordpress.org.
If you haven’t tried WordPress, I seriously recommend you give it a spin. If you haven’t tinkered with website building for a while you’ll be truly amazed at how much you can do without a single line of code.
For more information…why not check out the source? This page on wordpress.com has a great table which visually outlines the difference between the .org and .com versions of WordPress.