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Difference between wordpress.com and wordpress.org

December 23rd, 2014 | | Tags:

We’ve written this because people still get confused between the two different types of WordPress.

Have you been asked to find out about using WordPress to build your website? Are you confused about the difference between WordPress.com or WordPress.org? We’ve written a comparison of the two versions and provided an explanation of the more technical terms.

What is WordPress?

WordPress is web software that enables you to create your own website, and blogs, without being a computer programmer. It’s a free, open source content management system made up of WordPress core (main software files and database), theme (look and feel of your site) and plugins (add features and functionality beyond the core installation). You need the WordPress core and a theme for WordPress to work but plugins are not required. WordPress works using a dashboard system which takes a while to get used to but soon becomes second nature; you can create new pages, blogs, add menus, change the appearance of your page, and add different photos or logos to the header.

WordPress.com = supermarket bread

  • WordPress.com is a company which develops, maintains and supports the WordPress.com platform on their own servers
  • As you share this platform, with other users of WordPress.com, you can’t use plugins (because of security risks), have access to a limited range of themes and must adhere to terms and conditions to keep WordPress.com acceptable to everyone
  • Can’t add plug-ins or additional functionality
  • Paid upgrades are available
  • Your website is supported for free and all updates, backups and security are taken care of


WordPress.org = home baked bread

  • Can be used to create membership directories, business websites, support websites, ecommerce sites, real estate, car dealerships, newspaper style layout and more…
  • Works on three levels;  core level is the content, themes determine the look of site and plugins totally customise it to what you want
  • You have full ownership of building your site traffic up and backing up/maintaining, your site
  • Using WordPress.org means you self-host your site and this takes some technical knowledge
  • The main benefit is that you can totally customise your website to look and feel how you want it, using over 20,000 themes and installing various plugins
  • Features and functions guide a search engine through the posts, pages, and categories to help the search engine crawl your site and gather the information it needs to include your site within its database.
  • Comes with built in search optimization tools; use .htaccess to create static URLs called permalinks, blogrolling and pinging. Download plugins for search engine optimization (SEO).
  • You need to purchase a domain name and buy a monthly hosting package
  • Your WordPress files will be stored on your account at the web hosting site and you use FTP to transfer files, from your computer, to and fro.

You’ll have to solve any problems by asking your web master or WordPress.org support forum

Table of differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?

WordPress.com WordPress.org
WordPress takes care of software installation, updates and blog backups You are responsible for software installation, updates and blog backups
Limited control; no custom plugins (30 available if you go for Premium option), limited to 200 WordPress.com themes (can’t customise your own) and no FTP access to your files for security reasons 100% control; you can use over 20,000 free or commercial plugins, install 1,500+ themes, add and edit files via FTP, tweak WordPress and server settings to improve performance
Takes about 5 minutes to set up online Set up requires some technical knowledge
The basic package is free and Premium membership costs £99/year which offers direct email support and advanced customisation You need to purchase a domain name and pay about £60 a year for web hosting service
Your domain name will sound unprofessional   eg. yourcompanyname.wordpress.com(you can buy your own domain name and map it across to WordPress system) You can choose a catchy domain name that reflects the nature of your business
You can’t get revenue from advertising or sponsored posts. WordPress may show adverts on your site (you can pay £70/year to remove) You have freedom to get revenue through advertising or sponsored posts. No WordPress adverts.
Cannot input javascripts so you’ll be unable to analyse site performance You can input javascripts eg. Google Analytics.You can optimise site friendliness towards search engines spiders and crawlers and use .htaccess to create apparently static URLs called permalinks, blogrolling and pinging
You can sell any work you’ve created yourself and pay to install a PayPal Buy Now button You can sell anything online and build an ecommerce site with basket checkout. Much better option if you’re using your website primarily for selling
Storage space is limited to 3GB with no videos (unless you pay for Premium which gives you 10GB extra storage and videos) Depends on your hosting company, usually unlimited
Blog will remain visible in high spikes of traffic A huge traffic spike could cause your site to crash
Benefits of being in WordPress.com community (extra traffic, WordPress reader) No wordpress.org community or reader

Helpful Magic


Support forum for WordPress.com


Compares the two versions of WordPress using tables and graphics


Gives tips on how to maintain optimal friendliness towards search engine spiders and crawlers


Wickedest Wizardry


Let’s you take advantage of the blogger’s steep learning curve and shows you screen shots for 12 of the most searched for plugins for social media, SEO, forum, membership, calendar and more…


Blogroll is a list of other blogs that a blogger might recommend by providing links to them

Content management system (CMS) is a tool that enables you to create, edit, manage and publish the content of your website

Crawler (or spider) is software that search engines use to update indexes of other sites’ web content

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) is a style sheet language used to describe the presentation of a document and how it will look on screen or paper

Domain name is the address for your website eg. whizzontheweb.com

FTP program provides a way to upload files to and from your site eg. FileZilla

Open source means the code for your website (not the content) is openly shared and available for anyone to work with; the online community develop, support and maintain it

Permalink is URL that points to a specific blog after it has passed from front page to the archives

PHP is the open source scripting language used to create dynamic web pages

Ping is where a weblog notifies a server that its content has been updated

Platform is the basic hardware (computer) and software (operating system) on which software applications can be run

Plugin is a tool to extend the functionality of WordPress

Reader is a go-to space on the Internet for your daily and regular feeds and a place to discover finds

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website in a search engine’s natural (unpaid) search results.

Self-host is when you take full responsibility for maintaining and backing up your site

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website in a search engine’s unpaid (natural or organic) search results

Support forum is made up of WordPress.org users who are willing to share their knowledge

Web host is a company that will host your site and store your files