WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org: Which is more suitable for your website?

The decision whether to opt for WordPress.com or .org depends mainly on your own requirements. While the .com variant is more user-friendly, the .org version has a lot more flexibility.

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WordPress.org vs. WordPress.com at a glance

 

WordPress.com

WordPress.org

Installation

Simple

More challenging

Operation

Simple

More challenging

Plugins and Themes

Limited choice

Large selection

Security

Automatic maintenance and updates

Manual maintenance and updates

Price

Various plans

Free

Hosting und Domain

Included

Not included

SEO

Limited

Free choice

Monetization

Limited

Free choice

E-Commerce

Corresponding plan

Free choice

WordPress.com or .org? How to find the right solution

Most people know what WordPress is because it’s the most popular CMS in the world and is used for numerous websites and online stores. However, there’s not just one version of WordPress. For users, the main question is whether you want to use WordPress.com or .org. Both are platforms that use the WP mechanism and help users create a website. To help find the right solution for you, we’ve put together a WordPress.com vs WordPress.org comparison.

What is WordPress.com?

WordPress.com is owned by Automattic, a San Francisco company that is also responsible for WooCommerce, Simplenote, Tumblr, and Jetpack. Automattic offers different pricing plans for WordPress.com as well as a free option. Depending on the model, you get a website builder, hosting, a domain, and automatic maintenance for it. Also updates and WordPress backups are taken care of so you don’t have to lift a finger. You control the whole thing via a dashboard, which allows you to keep an eye on everything if needed. In addition, you have the option to access both free and fee-based WordPress themes and WordPress plugins. The platform is based on WordPress.org software and since it is managed, it makes it very user-friendly.

The advantages of WordPress.com

  • Various plans and a free option
  • Easy operation
  • Automatic backup and maintenance
  • Hosting is integrated

The disadvantages of WordPress.com

  • Significantly fewer options for monetization
  • The free option offers only a few themes and plugins
  • In the free option, there is advertising which you have no control over and don’t profit from
  • Deeper analytics tools are available only in the paid options
  • Most suited for e-commerce and membership websites

What is WordPress.org?

WordPress.org is the older solution of the two and shares some of the same characteristics as WordPress.com. WordPress.org is free to use. As an open source platform, it allows users to download and modify software or release new programs themselves. The .org version offers numerous plugins and themes that can be used to individualize and optimize a website. Most of the work at WordPress.org, unlike WordPress.com, is done by the users themselves. This means you get a lot of independence, but it also requires you to have a much better knowledge of the processes. Hosting and domains cost extra.

The advantages of WordPress.org

  • Free and open source
  • Significantly more flexibility
  • More possibilities for monetization
  • Also suitable for e-commerce and membership websites

The disadvantages of WordPress.org

  • Higher workload
  • Domain and hosting are not included
  • Updates and backups must be installed manually
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Direct comparison of WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org

It’s worth noting that the winner of the WordPress.org vs. .com duel really depends on a variety of different factors. Both options have strengths and weaknesses, similarities and differences that make them suitable for different purposes. So whether WordPress.com or .org is the right choice for your needs can be worked out by comparing the two directly.

Installation

When it comes to installation, there is a clear winner in the WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org comparison: As mentioned, the .com variant impresses users with its particularly easy operation. This is clear right from the beginning ⁠— a few clicks is all it takes to set up your website and you’re guided through all necessary steps. It couldn’t be more different with WordPress.org. Here you not only have to install the software, but also buy the hosting and the domain. There are detailed guides for this option as well, but the effort is nevertheless significantly greater, especially for those that are creating their own website for the first time.

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User-friendliness

This .com favoritism continues as we move forward. Usability is a big advantage of WordPress.com. While the dashboards for both options are similar, the slightly smaller feature set of WordPress.com makes the platform a bit more user-friendly overall. Of course, the same goes for automated maintenance and backups. WordPress.org requires users to do more of their own work, but offers greater flexibility in return. Overall, however, both variants are relatively user-friendly in design.

Plugins and themes

When it comes to customization options, you might find it easier to choose WordPress.com or .org. There are thousands of themes and plugins available for the .org variant. Not all of them are free and there are also ones that aren’t really suitable, but the choice is still huge and allows you to fully tailor your website to your needs. This round of the WordPress.org vs WordPress.com duel clearly goes to the older option. WordPress.com does offer a few hundred free themes and more for purchase, but in the free version the selection is comparatively small. It’s a similar situation for plugins that are not pre-installed.

Security

In the past there were leaks at WordPress from time to time, mostly caused by outdated software. WordPress.com leaves users with a better feeling when it comes to security compared to WordPress.org. Since updates and backups are automated, the security risk is also lower. With the .org variant, you do have to take care of these tasks yourself, but you also receive reminders as soon as updates are available and can then usually take care of them with one click. Security mechanisms like HTTPS or SSL certificates are also something you have to take care of yourself; WordPress.com, on the other hand, takes care of this task for you.

Price

Even though WordPress.org itself is free, you have to invest money in the website and hosting as well as the domain name. The prices vary depending on the provider. In addition, you may be charged for themes or plugins if you do not exclusively use the free options. While WordPress.com also has a free plan, it offers very limited options and adds the WordPress branding to your site. There are also various paid plans, which can also become more expensive depending on their performance and purpose. Overall, WordPress.com is usually more costly compared to WordPress.org.

Tip

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WordPress Hosting E-Book

SEO

Search engine optimization is extremely important, especially for commercial websites. WordPress is basically a good solution for SEO, but the .org option may have pipped WordPress.com to the post since it allows numerous plugins and analysis tools such as Google Analytics to be used easily. This is only possible with WordPress.com if you opt for the more expensive premium variant. Although there are also pre-installed tools for SEO with the other plans, you only have full control with WordPress.org.

Monetization

WordPress.org also scores points when it comes to monetization as it’s more flexible than WordPress.com. There are no restrictions on ads or affiliate links. This is different with the .com variant because the free plan does not allow custom advertising, and the paid options are also much more regulated.

Tip

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E-Commerce

E-commerce options are offered by both competitors, but WordPress.com makes you pay for this option. With an e-commerce plan, you can also use plugins like WooCommerce or expand your store. WordPress.org offers all of that as well. However, here you have a good amount of choice between numerous free and commercial e-commerce plugins.

Conclusion: WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org has no clear winner

In the WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org direct comparison, the latter scores well in many categories. So is the winner obvious? No. Instead, it depends on what demands you place on a website. Flexibility and cost clearly speak for the .org variant, but in terms of user-friendliness, the .com version makes up significant ground. While the free plan from WordPress.com isn’t really suitable for professional websites, you get a secure and fully functional online presence via the commercial plans.

Tip

WordPress offers its users countless facets. In the Digital Guide we explain all the special features so you will learn how to create a WordPress site, make WordPress faster, reset WordPress, or check your WordPress version. You can also find suitable WordPress blog themes for numerous requirements. Also learn how WordPress fares in a CMS comparison.


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