More and more often website creators and owners aren’t “shopping” for web hosts at all. With so many platforms out there like WordPress which offers a truly simple DIY solution that just about anyone (even Luddites!) can manage, it’s a truly all in one package. However, you may have noticed that WordPress, the most popular platform of its kind in the US, offers two versions: .com and .org. What’s the difference and does it really matter which you choose? The answer is yes. (Spoiler alert: .org is almost always the winner).
There are different limits, maintenance, development guarantees and costs between the two. But wait, isn’t WordPress free? Yes, there is a limited free option which for many website owners is more than sophisticated enough. However, you may benefit from paying a little in order to reap more benefits. Let’s start with dissection their .org option.
WordPress.org is an open source CMS software and blogging tool that actually powers over 20 percent of all content on the web. Simply download installation files as necessary (including complimentary plugins and themes) in a community-driven environment. You’ll also find support forums, news and related information at the .org site. If you get serious about coding, translation, mobile apps and the like, .org is also where you can contribute.
This is the commercial side of WordPress. Most people host sites for free here, or they may opt to pay a nominal yearly fee in order to be totally restriction-free. However, it uses the exact same software as the .org site. In case it comes up at your next trivia night, the co-creator of WordPress software, Matt Mullenweg, founded Automatic which is the company that backs WordPress.com.
The .com is a hosted service, so it’s the only one where you don’t seek out a web host yourself. There’s no comparison shopping, no downloading, no software installation—zilch. It’s truly a one stop shopping experience. So why not just go with this easier approach? Let’s dig a little deeper.
The Best Things in Life are Free(?)
Yes, WordPress itself is free, but hosting isn’t necessarily. You need to host your domain in order for it to run. Once a site is ready to go live, you’ll likely want to choose a theme (some are free on WordPress and some aren’t) and plugins (the same free/not free rule applies). Free themes are great for many small websites (especially personal ones) but they don’t have the features necessary to run a more complicated and/or ecommerce site.
With the .com, you can choose from a variety of packages including Basic (free) where you get a domain name like example.wordpress.com, a blog and very simple customization. For $99 per year you can get Basic Premium which has advanced customization. For $299 you get to add 50+ premium theme access, ecommerce options, unlimited video storage, no ads, no space limits and live chat help. Key upgrades are also available a la carte. It doesn’t take much for .com to get costly.
Decisions for Businesses
With .org, it’s “your own” site that you’re hosting and have chosen a web host that fits your needs. You can get any plugin, any theme, use whatever file editing your host offers, optimize performance by hand and enjoy no ads. Basically, .org gives you total control over your site. You’re just using WordPress to “build” your site, but paying for a domain and web host separately.
Casual bloggers and others who don’t have big maintenance, security of customization issues can get by with .com. However, for personalization and more options, nothing beats .org.