Most WordPress platform`s newcomers are confused with the existence of two similar names: WordPress.org and WordPress.com. Despite of similar names, these platforms are very different in their essence, features and opportunities. It is crucial for any WordPress admin to know the difference and to make the right choice from the first steps.
Today we will make the detailed analytics of these two platforms and provide you with the important information for your choice. This article is the “must-read” for any new WordPress website owner. So, if you have a friend or a client who is in the position of a WordPress newcomer, then you should share this article with this person for his or her good.
Key Difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com
The key difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com lies in the money issue. WordPress.org is the original free platform for websites and blogs. WordPress.com is mostly paid service, which also has free plan but very limited in features and options for development.
If you are looking for the original WordPress platform, then you should choose WordPress.org.
But WordPress.com is not just a swindler that uses the good name of WordPress. This platform has its own benefits. That is why today we consider the pros and cons of WordPress.org and WordPress.com in details. This analysis will be held within the most important features for any website owner: themes, plugins, advertisement and monetization, payed and free services available. After the detailed analysis we will provide you with the summary table of the most important features on both platforms.
WordPress.org provides the unlimited access for both free and premium (paid) themes and web pages` templates. You can download a wide variety of free themes just inside your WordPress admin panel. Moreover, you are free to customize all theme`s files with the help of visual editors or directly inside the CSS and PHP files (if you have enough knowledge or try to raise your web development and design skills). Premium themes have different prices but all of them can also be customized without limitations.
WordPress.com with free plan has very limited rules on using themes and templates. You can only use the limited repository of free themes inside WordPress.com and you have no right to customize any part of their design. Third-party themes can not be downloaded to your website within WordPress.com platform.
WordPress.com with paid plan has more freedom for themes` customization. Premium plan ($99 per year) determines the right to change CSS of the themes and choose from a wider variety of existing within WordPress.com templates. Business plan ($299 per year) gives the freedom that WordPress.org users have for free: you can download third-party themes and customize any template you want without limitations.
WordPress.org is known mostly for its opportunity to install tons of different plugins for any purpose you can imagine (and sometimes even for those purposes you could not imagine). Some of these tools are free, some are paid services. Most of the premium plugins also have free versions with their basic features. Websites on WordPress.org also have unlimited hosting storage that allows you to download and install as many plugins as you want.
WordPress.com with free plan does not allow an administrator to download or install any additional plugins. On the other hand, there are lots of features inside WordPress.com platform which can work like WordPress.org plugins. Still, you can not choose the set of tools you need, only work with the existing one. Only business plan ($299 per year) within the WordPress.com allows an admin to download and install third-party plugins.
Monetization and Branding Features
WordPress.org has absolute freedom for website monetization. It means you can place your own ads or participate on Google AdSense program without limitations. The branding WordPress.org backlink usually called “Powered by” can be easily removed by any administrator through the dashboard.
WordPress.com does not allow users with free plan to place ads on their websites. Instead of this, WordPress.com places its own advertisement on your website and keep the earnings to itself. Only website owners with more than 25,000 page views per month can apply for advertising campaign where they will get a share (not the full earnings) from advertisements. Premium and Business plan users can participate in WordAds monetization program to earn money within their websites.
WordPress.com also does not allow free plan users to remove branding backlink (Powered by) to the corresponding main domain of the platform. Only Business plan users can remove this backlink manually. Premium plan users can also remove the ads placed by WordPress.com platform to their website.
SEO and Analytics
WordPress.org bring you unlimited access to SEO tools and analytics due to the freedom of third-party plugins` installation. You can easily install Yoast SEO plugin for full control over all SEO features (and lots of useful tips too). And you are free to connect your website with the most powerful analytics tool — Google Analytics. All these unlimited features are free of charge, which is very important for any new WordPress website owner.
WordPress.com with free plan has no SEO tools. It does not allow you to install third-party plugins, as we have mentioned earlier. WordPress.com provides its admins with the built-in analytics, but it can not be compared with unlimited Google Analytics` features. Again, Business plan users can install third-party plugins and use more powerful services. But WordPress.org users can get the same for free.
Ecommerce and Membership Websites
WordPress.org puts no limitations for the website type you wish to create. With all the themes and plugins you have within WordPress.org, you can create your own online store and sell any type or product or service. Membership websites with thought-out level of access are also very simple to create within WordPress.org.
WordPress.com has severe limitations on admin`s control over the website. With this limitations you can not create neither an online store, nor membership website of a full value. The WordPress.com platform itself advices users to change for WordPress.org if they want to create an online store or membership project. This time, even Business plan would not help you to get what you want within WordPress.com platform.
WordPress.org is totally free, but it does not provide you with web hosting and a domain name, which you need to create your website. Taking it to account, you need to pay for the domain name and web hosting by yourself. This expenses can vary in a very wide range. Usually you will have to pay $50-$100 per year for this maintenance issues.
WordPress.org also does not make the updates and backups automatically. Although you do not need to write your own code to update and backup your website. Just click on corresponding button to update your WordPress website to the latest version. And backup can be perfectly handled by additional free plugins.
WordPress.com provides you with web hosting and domain name for free. This is very convenient, especially for novice website owners, who are scared of buying hosting and domain name by themselves. All updates and backups will be performed automatically within the WordPress.com platform.
Summary Table: WordPress.org vs WordPress.com
|WordPress.org||WordPress.com (Free)||WordPress.com (Premium)||WordPress.com (Business)|
|Basic Cost||Free||Free||$99 per year||$299 per year|
|Maintenance Cost||~ $50-$100||Free||$99 per year||$299 per year|
|Hosting Storage||Unlimited||3 Gb||13 Gb||Unlimited|
|Control of SEO||✔||✘||✘||✔|