WordPress may refer to one of two things: WordPress.com, the blogging platform similar to Blogspot; or WordPress.org, the open-source format Content Management System that 30% of all websites run on.
Both versions of WordPress have their place online, but when it comes to your business, I will always recommend WordPress.org. Not only is it clearly the industry standard now, but it is highly customisable meaning websites can be easily tailored to the needs of the owner.
But first: how do you know whether you’re on dot com or dot org?
The answer is simple - do you go to wordpress.com to sign into your website? Then you’re on dot com! If you go to www.yourdomain.com/wp-admin to log in, then you’re on dot org.
Second up: what’s the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?
So in short, dot org is a blank slate. Your website is hosted by a third party such as Siteground or Bluehost, which you will then install the WordPress software on. This also means your website is completely owned by you. This is the version commonly referred to as self-hosted, since it can be hosted by any hosting service! It is a highly customisable platform where you get to make any choices you like about your website. You can choose from a wide range of themes, both free and premium which can then be fully customised to your exact requirements through plugins, HTML changes or custom CSS. There are endless plugins available (again, both free and premium) to help turn your website into whatever you need it to be: a shop, a learning portal, a photography portfolio or an interactive forum to share your love of Star Wars. WordPress dot org is anything you want it to be.
Alternatively, WordPress dot com is a website platform that is based on the WordPress software. There is no need to purchase separate hosting, so you can sign up and have a working website very quickly and easily. There are perfectly legitimate reasons to choose dot com over dot org, but it does depend on your ultimate goals for your website. If you’re after an easy to use, simple platform to host some basic information about your business, then it’s perfectly adequate. The full Business package as outlined on their price list will provide you with most of the features that can be found on WordPress.org, but it is definitely pricey. Take a look at the pricing list here.
If you’re a blogger who has no interest in monetising your content, then the free version is actually perfect. Keep in mind two things though: firstly, if you decide later you want to add more functionality to your website, or remove things like WordPress branding or advertising, you will have to pay for it. Unlike with dot org, where everything is within your reach if you can just figure it out, dot com has specific limitations designed to be profitable for the owners of WordPress. We’re all out here trying to run a business, after all! Secondly, as per the Terms of Service of WordPress dot com, some of your content can be reused by WordPress third parties for their own purposes. Your content also needs to comply with the Terms of Service outlined in the link above. Again, neither of these things may be a problem for you, but it’s worth having all the information, especially where your business is involved.
Basically, if you want full control over your website, it's appearance and it's content, it's best to go with WordPress.org. If you want a website that is basic and easy to launch, and you aren't fussed about the bells and whistles, WordPress.com may be suitable!
This is just an overview of the difference between the two WordPress platforms, but hopefully it will help you to make a decision about which direction to go in. Bottom line is that starting a website is an investment, both in time and money, so it's important to do your research!
If you need some help or advice on how to launch your website, check out my website management options.
Cheers, Laura x
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