WordPress.org is a service which lets you download the free WordPress software, and a host of themes and plug ins. This software you can then install on your server and use it to build your website.
WordPress.com is a service which lets you build and run your website using the same WordPress software, but without having to download it, to buy server space, or anything else. It’s essentially a hosting service with WordPress software built in.
Should I use WordPress.org or WordPress.com?
If you’re sure you want to build your website in WordPress, then the question is less about how you get the WordPress software, and more about how you want to host your website. If you’re not sure what a server is, or hosting, we can use a simple metaphor. Imagine your sever is the building that your website lives in. Like choosing a home for yourself, you’ll find that many of the basic features are the same. Houses have walls and doors and a roof. Your hosting will have a control panel, email tools and security certificates. A nice house will have more space and extra features, and so will a better server. In general with hosting, as with housing, you want to compare the prices and features offered and choose the combination that works for you.
My own recommendation, after years of working with clients across all kinds of hosting platforms, is to host your website with SiteGround. You get 24/7 support, which you’ll probably never need. They offer a one-click WordPress installer to make thing easy for you. So although you’re using WordPress.org software, you never actually have to visit the site!
Price wise, you can get SiteGround for £2.95 + VAT per month for up to three years! WordPress has a personal plan for $4 per month, or a Premium plan at $8, which you’ll need if you want to take payments on your site.
In terms of the features you get, with SiteGround, you can choose any theme you want, or even install one that’s been designed for you. You can add payments through any merchant tool you like (WordPress only allows PayPal), and you can add SEO and performance enhancing plug ins to make sure your customers find your website and can use it quickly.
WordPress does have some great features built in, including Jetpack, which protects from spam, supports some SEO features, and lets you schedule social media posts to publish at the same time as your blog posts. If that’s the only thing swaying you however, you can install Jetpack on any WordPress site, and it has variable pricing depending on what you can afford.
WordPress.com allows you to register a domain name, if you haven’t already, as part of the price of your plan. Any additional domains are charged at $18 per year for a .co.uk website. SiteGround also offer domain registration, at around $14 a year for .co.uk domains. If you do need to register domains, however, there are cheaper options, and unlike hosting options, there’s not much difference in service between one provider and another. Namecheap.com offer the best value domain names that I’ve found, with prices around $7-10 for a .co.uk domain, so I’d recommend you check out their options before deciding where to buy.
The Final Word
I’m a huge fan of WordPress and genuinely think it’s the best tool around for building your website. WordPress.com is a great option if you’re nervous about setting up hosting and domains, and you don’t have a budget for additional support. However, I’d always opt to use the WordPress software, free from WordPress.org. If you’re comfortable setting up your hosting, or you can connect with a web developer or WordPress expert, you can really benefit from the additional flexibility, and set up a faster and more effective website for your business.
I will get a small commission if you purchase any SiteGround product through one of these links, but I’ve chosen to affiliate with them because I love their product so much!