WordPress.com vs WordPress.org: What’s the difference?
The short answer is; WordPress.com is a service and WordPress.org is software.
Both do the exact same thing and they do it exceptionally well, however they each deliver the same set of tools in significantly different way.
The official WordPress website sums it up pretty well and uses a comparison table when talking about the two versions:
Focus on your beautiful content, and let us handle the rest.
Get your hands dirty, and host your website yourself.
|Premium hosting, security, and backups are included. You can even upgrade to a custom domain, like YourGroovyDomain.com.||You’ll need to find a host, and perform backups and maintenance yourself. We offer VaultPress for security and backups.|
|Choose from hundreds of beautiful themes. Make it your own with Custom Design.||Install custom themes. Build your own with PHP and CSS.|
|Integrate your site with Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and other social networks.||Install a plugin, like Jetpack, to enable sharing functionality on your site.|
|Popular features like sharing, stats, comments, and polls are included. There’s no need to install plugins.||Install plugins to extend your site’s functionality.|
|Personal support and the WordPress.com forums are always available.||Visit the WordPress.org support forums for assistance.|
|You must register for an account on WordPress.com and abide by our Terms of Service.||No registration with WordPress.org is required.|
The above table is useful, but it doesn’t help a user’s laymen understanding of WordPress.com vs WordPress.org. Using the above table, I’ve somewhat modified the information into something a little bit more relatable and user specific.
“I just want to post and blog about cool stuff. I don’t care how it looks.”
“I want a cool website and I want control over every aspect.”
|Aimed at a less-tech savvy user who want to hit the floor running with content.||Aimed at more skilled users who probably know a few things or two about creating a website.|
|I don’t want to pay a cent and I want somebody to host the website for me.||I will host my own website which I don’t mind paying a monthly fee for.|
|I just want to choose a pretty layout and not make one.||I want to code my own style, with maximum customizability.|
|I don’t care much for plugins. Mostly because I don’t know what they do.||I want to tweak my website with fancy or niche features and the way I want it.|
|If I get stuck, I want to have it fixed quickly with minimal effort.||I am probably going to get stuck while working out my website and don’t mind spending some time fixing it.|
|I don’t mind registering with WordPress.||Thanks for the software WordPress, but you won’t know a thing about me!|
Soccer moms, Dads who want to blog about parenthood or your little brother who loves anime.
Web developers, geeks or tech enthusiasts looking to create something impressive.
3 / 10
8 / 10
At the end of the day, if content is your primary focus, which it should be, both iterations of WordPress are going to serve you well. One is just going to give you more control over the one than the other in terms of flexibility, but at the cost of technical know how.
Personal advice: Go with WordPress.org. Download the source code, setup XAMPP on your machine and go the more technical route. It may be a bit more tricky to grasp, especially if you’re still starting out in the world of website development, but it’s so much more rewarding.