Are the two of them the same? When should you use WordPress.org over WordPress.com, and vice versa?
12 Main Differences: WordPress.org vs. WordPress.com
At the very core, the main difference between the two lies in who is hosting your website:
- WordPress.org: You host your own website
- WordPress.com: They host your website for you
The table below summarizes 12 key differences to help you choose the best one for your needs:
- Web hosting: Self-hosted (you choose your own hosting provider — e.g., BlueHost, SiteGround, etc.).
- Pricing: Software is free to download; pricing will depend on the hosting provider you’ve chosen.
- Custom domain: Yes, you choose your domain registrar or can come together with your hosting service.
- SSL certificate: Not pre-installed (you can purchase through your hosting provider or domain registrar).
- Customization: 100% customizable. Can use free, commercial, or your own custom themes.
- Plugin installation: Yes, full support for third-party plugin installation. Free to access backend, database, and files.
- E-commerce support: Yes, accommodates scalability of your site.
- Branding: Freedom to brand your site as you please.
- Monetization: Freedom to monetize your site however you want; Google AdSense support.
- SEO: Supports all SEO features through third-party plugins; more hands-on SEO control.
- Analytics: Google Analytics support; support for other powerful analytics tools.
- Maintenance: You are responsible for maintenance. Can have external support from your hosting provider or other developers.
- Web hosting: Provided by the platform itself.
- Pricing: Offers free plan. Paid plans start at $3/month.
- Custom domain: No, for free plan — e.g., nameofyoursite.wordpress.com. Yes, for paid plans.
- SSL certificate: Yes (pre-installed).
- Customization: Limited customization. Can only use free themes for the free plan. Upgrade to Premium Plan to use commercial themes.
- Plugin installation: Plugin installation is only for Business and E-commerce Plans. Access to built-in plugin-like features in WordPress.com.
- E-commerce support: E-commerce and payment options only for their E-commerce Plan.
- Branding: Has “Powered by WordPress.com” branding and WP ads. Limited branding freedom; must upgrade to paid plans.
- Monetization: Cannot monetize with free plan. Limited monetization option for paid plans.
- SEO: SEO tools only available for Business and E-commerce Plans. Limited SEO control.
- Analytics: Analytics only for Premium plans. Limited analytics.
- Maintenance: In-house maintenance.
Should You Use WordPress.org or WordPress.com?
WordPress.org is best if you’re:
- A business owner who would like e-commerce capability
- A website owner, whether an e-commerce store or not, who desires scalability
- A website owner who would like to have more monetization options and more freedom to customize your site
- An advanced web user who is capable of setting up, maintaining, and taking care of the technical stuff for your website
WordPress.com is best if you’re:
- New to blogging and would like to dabble in it first before making a huge investment
- A website owner who is happy with a basic website and/or blogging features; willing to upgrade for more advanced features
- A website owner who doesn’t mind the limitations when it comes to customization, monetization, SEO, and analytics
- Someone who has limited skills, knowledge, and/or budget for maintaining or creating a website
Wrapping it up
Both WordPress.org and WordPress.com have their own sets of strengths and weaknesses. When it comes to business websites, however, the obvious choice is WordPress.org.
The good news is that even if you’re a beginner, companies like Ilfusion can help you create and maintain a WordPress website that’s tailored for your business’ unique needs.
If you’d like to know more about web development and design, head on to our blog at https://www.ilfusion.com/blog.