You’re probably familiar with the term WordPress, but what you might not know is that there are two different “types” of WordPress that, collectively, power more than 41% of the websites on the internet. Our goal with this article is to clearly highlight the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org .
WordPress.com and WordPress.org are very much related to each other; both are powerful tools that help you create a managed WordPress hosting website or online store easily. But there are important differences between the two, and knowing the difference will help you select which option is best for your needs.
What Is WordPress.org?
WordPress.org is where you find and download the free, open-source WordPress software to create a blog, website, or online store on the web hosting provider of your choice. WordPress.org also provides access to a library of website themes and plugins that help you design, customize, and extend what WordPress can do.
What Is WordPress.com?
WordPress.com offers the open-source WordPress software in a for-profit format with hosting provided by Automattic’s data network. Basically, it provides all the great features we talked about above, but with additional design tools and hosting included. This hosting platform is one of the best in the world and is supported by a team of top-notch WordPress experts.
NOTE: Pressable – also an Automattic venture – uses this very same global data infrastructure for our managed WordPress hosting services.
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org – Key Differences
While WordPress.com and WordPress.org are very similar on a lot of levels, knowing the differences – and more importantly how they impact your project – will make deciding which option is best for you much easier.
WordPress.org delivers WordPress as a general public license (GPL), meaning it is free to use without restrictions and offers the freedom to run, modify, and share the software without restriction. You can customize this version of WordPress on any computer and host it however you wish.
WordPress.com is owned by Automattic, whose CEO, Matt Mullenweg, was one of the original founders of the open-source version of WordPress. He launched WordPress.com in 2005 as a quick and easy way for individuals to get online with their own blog. However, over the years it has grown into a powerful website development and publishing platform.
This is where you start to see some differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. As mentioned earlier, both WordPress.org and WordPress.com use open-source WordPress software. But, how you use each to develop and deploy your website are very different:
If you were to download WordPress from WordPress.org, you need to:
- Install it on the host of your choice (costs may be associated)
- Purchase and assign a domain name from your choice of domain provider (costs associated)
- Download approved/compatible plugins and themes (free, freemium, and paid options)
- Customize your website with almost no limitations
If you were to use WordPress.com:
- You would select a plan (free and paid options available)
- Purchase and assign a domain name (may be purchased through WordPress.com) or use the free option (the name of your site and a ‘wordpress.com’ extension)
- Your website is created and installed on WordPress.com’s powerful hosting platform (costs depend upon the plan you choose)
- Within minutes you can have a website ready to get started without having to do much work at all (limitations on themes and plugins based on the plan you choose)
The main differences here to note are the work involved in developing and deploying a WordPress.org site versus the ease of WordPress.com, as well as certain feature limitations and the costs associated with each option.
Ultimately, both WordPress.org and WordPress.com are great options. Let’s discuss how much they cost to help weigh the pros and cons:
Costs of WordPress.org:
- WordPress Installs – free
- WordPress hosting – can range from $5 to $35 per month, per site
- Domain name – can range from $10 to $20 per year
- Themes and Plugins – most are free, but some paid themes are $60 to $80, and some plugins have monthly subscriptions.
Cost of WordPress.com
- Plans – range from free to $45 per month
- WordPress hosting – included in the cost of your plan
- Domain name – your first domain name is free for the first year
- Themes and Plugins – included in the plan, but may be limited based on the plan you choose
When Should You Use Each Platform?
Both WordPress.com and WordPress.org are awesome – you can’t go wrong with either one. As a result, deciding between WordPress.org and WordPress.com will depend on your individual needs. Generally, WordPress.com is better for beginners, and WordPress.org is the right choice for those who have a better understanding of web design, development, and hosting. However, there are a few other factors that might impact your decision.
When WordPress.com Is the Right Choice
WordPress.com is ideal for users that value simplicity over flexibility. If you want to get a website up fast and not worry about finding a hosting provider for your site, this is the way to go.
However, it’s generally seen as a stepping stone for downloading WordPress from WordPress.org and selecting a powerful managed hosting platform for your site.
Many people use WordPress.com for security reasons as well. This makes sense since it comes fully equipped with top-notch data safety features on one of the best-performing platforms in the world. However, a good web hosting provider will provide you with the same benefits (and maybe more) if you choose WordPress.org.
When WordPress.org Is the Right Choice
If you value flexibility – which, let’s face it, everyone does – WordPress.org is the right choice. It can be the right platform for you once you get a feel for the fundamentals of using and managing your WordPress website. It gives you more control of your domains, it allows you to install third-party plugins and themes, and in conjunction with a premium hosting provider like Pressable, can open up settings and features you couldn’t access before.
Want to Host Your WordPress.org Website on the Powerful WordPress.com Network?
Choosing a hosting provider can be a daunting task since you’ll need to find one that fits your specific needs. Pressable’s managed WordPress hosting is built on the same robust platform as WordPress.com. This means you get the same performance, speed, reliability, and security you have noticed when we talked about WordPress.com, but with all of the freedom to customize and control your website that you get from WordPress.org.
We have a wide variety of plans to suit your goals – whether you have one website or e-commerce store, all the way up to enterprise-level with hundreds of websites and millions of pageviews. With Pressable, you get the best of both worlds!
Jessica serves as the Director of Operations for Pressable and spends her days focused on creating the best managed WordPress hosting experience possible. She's been using WordPress since 2008 and has been serving in WordPress-focused roles since 2010. When she's not working, you can find her spending time with her family, serving in her community, watching hilarious dog videos online, or brewing a pitcher of iced tea.