If you’re relatively new to WordPress, you may have found yourself confused by the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. If so, you’re not alone!
in the video below, we’ll take a quick look at the differences between these two related — but distinctively different — versions of WordPress.
As you probably know by now, WordPress is web publishing software you can use to create your own website or blog. You can download the WordPress software from the project’s website: WordPress.org — where you can also get help through the community support forum… view the official documentation for the software… and even get involved in creating or improving the WordPress software.
While you can download the latest version of the WordPress software from WordPress.org, it’s not an application like Microsoft Word. Which means it won’t run on a personal computer like other applications. Instead, it needs to be installed on a web server in order to work.
So, you’ll need a web hosting provider — and today there are dozens of excellent WordPress hosting companies who will not only install the WordPress software for you — but also maintain your site, even creating backups every night, and monitoring it for security issues.
Once your WordPress site is up and running, you’ll have complete control over your entire website, including the ability to customize your site’s theme or install plugins to add new features to your site, or even edit the underlying code to create a completely custom site.
If you plan to customize your site by installing a premium theme or plugin, or you want to ensure you’ll have the most flexibility down the road, you’ll want to use the self-hosted version of WordPress, available for download from WordPress.org.
WordPress.com, on the other hand, offers their own hosted version of WordPress that enables you to quickly start a free website or blog in just a couple of minutes.
During the signup process, you’ll choose a name for your site, which will then automatically include “.wordpress.com” at the end of your site’s web address. You can purchase an upgrade which will enable you to use your own domain name, without this xxx.wordpress.com portion.
During the signup process, you’ll choose a name for your site, and then answer a few brief questions about the type of site you’re building. Next, you’ll choose a domain name, which is the web address where visitors can find your website. Enter the name you want to use, and you’ll see a list of domain names you can purchase for an additional fee. Or, you can use the FREE address provided… which will automatically include “wordpress.com” at the end of your site’s web address.
Finally, you’ll choose a hosting plan. You can certainly start with the free plan, but if you want to use your own domain name, or remove WordPress.com advertising that will appear on your site, you’ll need to purchase one of the other plans. And if you want the freedom to install premium themes or plugins from third-party companies, you’ll need to purchase their top-tier hosting plan.
It’s also worth noting that while WordPress.com is powered by the same underlying WordPress software, they’ve created a completely unique administration panel, that looks nothing like the self-hosted WordPress software used everywhere else… including our tutorial videos. So, if you’re using WordPress.com, the dashboard and administration area will look completely different from the core WordPress software.
Still, if you’re looking for a free, and easy way to get started with a WordPress website, you might consider WordPress.com.
But, if you want complete control over your site’s design and content, or you’d like to customize your site with third-party themes and plugins, you’ll need to pay for their top-tier hosting plan. And if you’re considering that option, you should also shop around – and take a look at any of the dozens of other WordPress hosting companies who also install and manage WordPress for you.
Hopefully this helps clear up some of the confusion about the differences between WordPress.org and .com — and now you’re able to decide which one best serves your needs, as you build your own WordPress website.