Ah, the age old rivalries: Coke vs. Pepsi, Apple vs. Microsoft, WordPress.Org vs. WordPress.Com. If you’re new to the world of WordPress, you may be confused about the two versions of WordPress.
If you’re anything like me, you arrived at WordPress.com ready to set up your blog, and ended up confused. You’d heard so much about WordPress’ customization and flexibility, but WordPress.com seemed rather rigid. Then you heard there’s another version of WordPress, one that you can download, and now you’re even more confused.
Why are there two versions and which one do you need? Let’s look at the different versions of WordPress and why to choose one or the other.
Although both versions of WordPress.com are free to use, WordPress.com is the hosted version. This means that there’s no need to secure a web host or purchase a domain name. All you need to do is sign up for a WordPress.com account, choose a name for your blog, and WordPress.com does the rest. Within about five minutes, you’ll be up and running with an established WordPress blog.
With WordPress.com, you will receive 3 GB of space to media files for your blog.
Why Choose WordPress.Com?
WordPress.com is get for the beginner. If you’re new to blogging, WordPress.com offers a great entry point. You’ll be able to create a professional looking blog without being a web designer. You can blog, build up a community of followers, and engage them with your WordPress.Com blog.
There’s no risk in trying it out because it’s free. However, there’s always a catch to free and, in this case, free means ad-supported. But not your ads. The basic version of WordPress.com does not allow you to sell your own ad space on your blog. You can, however, apply to WordAds. This allows WordPress to place ads on your site and share the ad revenue with you. There’s a lot of hoops to jump through to be accepted into the WordAds program, though.
Another drawback to WordPress.com is the lack of customization. You’re tethered to the meager options they present you for themes or functionality. Compared to WordPress.org, WordPress.com is toothless. You can only choose from a small pool of themes (website designs), and you have no way to add plugins or widgets to improve your site’s look or user experience.
WordPress.Org is like WordPress.Com’s older sibling– more erudite, more sophisticated, simply more. WordPress.org is the self-hosted version of the same software, which means that you need to download the software and host your blog yourself. Although you can technically host your blog from your own computer, most choose to rent server space from a web host and host their blog from the web host’s computer, or server. You’ll also need to secure a domain name, such as www.yoursite.com. You can receive hosting for $3 to $15 dollars per month, and a domain name for around $10 per year.
Why Choose WordPress.Org?
WordPress.Org is infinitely more customizable than WordPress.Com. There’s an ever expanding library of WordPress themes, and there’s just as many widgets or plugins to improve how your site functions.
Another benefit to WordPress.Org is that you own your site. WordPress cannot arbitrarily take down your site one day, because it’s not hosted on their site. Owning your site means also that you can monetize it with ads– your own ads– and there’s no need to split revenue with WordPress.
The biggest drawback to WordPress.Org is its overwhelming flexibility. It’s so robust that it can take a while to learn it all. A lot of beginners especially feel frustrated with the learning curve involved in a self-hosted WordPress site. Installed unsupported themes can be a nightmare for a newbie. It can feel like getting thrown into the deep end.
Which Is Better?
The answer to this question is totally subjective and depends on your needs. If you only need your WordPress site for light blogging, and not much else, I’d suggest a WordPress.com site. On the other hand, if you need to create a stronger business presence, prefer increased design flexibility and user experience, or simply want more autonomy, go for WordPress.org. It may be more to learn, but that’s what we’re here for. Let us help you learn WordPress for free here on Web Design Ledger.
Do you have a WordPress topic you’d like for us to discuss? Let us know in the comments below.