If you’re relatively new to WordPress, you may find it confusing to learn that there are two versions of WordPress, each with its own dedicated website: WordPress.com and WordPress.org. You might assume that the official website is WordPress.com, but that’s not exactly the case. So, in this video, we’ll take a quick look at the differences between these two 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, and even get involved in creating or improving the WordPress software.
You can download the latest version of the WordPress software from this site. But it’s important to note that WordPress is not a normal application like Microsoft Word.
That means it’s not designed to 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 Managed WordPress hosting companies who will not only install the WordPress software for you — but also manage your site for you, keeping the software up-to-date, creating backups every night, and even monitoring it for security issues.
And if you choose a Managed WordPress host, you don’t need to bother with downloading or installing the WordPress software on your web server. That part is done for you automatically.
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, 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, choose a Managed WordPress host. No matter which one you choose, they all use the same core WordPress software from WordPress.org.
WordPress.com, on the other hand, offers their own, proprietary version of WordPress that also includes hosting.
You can even start for free, but your website address will automatically include:
*.wordpress.com at the end of your website’s URL. If you want to use your own domain name, or remove the WordPress.com advertising that will automatically appear on your site, you’ll need to purchase one of their other plans.
And if you want the freedom to install premium themes and plugins, or to add eCommerce features to your site, you’ll need to purchase one of their top-tier hosting plans.
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 in 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 if you’d like to use a custom theme or plugin, 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 the dozens of other hosting companies who also install and manage WordPress for you.
Hopefully, this helps clear up some of the confusion about the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. And now you should be able to decide which one best serves your needs as you build your own WordPress website.