What’s the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org? The most asked question about a website or a blog.

This post gives you the information based on my personal journey with WordPress. There is nothing more valuable than actual experience. We’re bombarded with information telling you what to do. What if you had the information that helps you based on real time experience?

You have to have this discussion before you start a website powered by WordPress.

This post is not the usual pros and cons and full of statistics to compare the different kinds of software you can use for a website. I’m biased because I’ve used, and enjoy using, WordPress since 2006. I don’t code… yet. I can open and close tags and operate the automatically generated code inside my website if I want to.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited with creating the abstract concept of the Web writes in his book Weaving The Web, “I never intended HTML source code (the stuff with the angle brackets) <href> to be seen by users. A browser/editor would let a user simply view or edit the language of a page or hypertext as if they were using a word processor.”

The WordPress end product is a word processing content management system intended for the user. The code working in the background compliments the software so you don’t have to keep changing the code as you use WordPress.

The developers of WordPress core work with the code.

Computer language is continuously improved and updated. The basic elements and commands of WordPress won’t change. Even with the update of technology moving into what is called JavaScript, the essential structure of WordPress as it exists has a solid base from which to grow and keep pace with new developments.

The developers keep pace with this change. The tech world can be finicky, some tech people are not as nice as others, but that’s life. Everyone has an ego and it’s the end result of the product that matters.

Take heart, the learning curve will always be there for everyone, developers, designers, and users.


An Explanation of WordPress.com

WordPress.com is a hosting platform. This means your website is one among many and is hosted on WordPress.com.

When you first start out with WordPress it’s no secret there is a learning curve with the software. The workings of WordPress are not difficult to master, they just require some time to get to know the command options inside the admin dashboard of the website, or blog.

WordPress.com offers you a free startup site. You can have a website or blog on this platform. You have use of free Themes offered within the platform. On a free platform there are restrictions. One of the restrictions is the placement of WordPress Ads on your website. Another is a restricted memory and technical service. Anytime something is free, it means upgrade to WordPress.com plans.

One of the major restrictions is you cannot use a premium Theme you purchased and import this Theme. You must use a Theme within the platform. Another example of a free platform is Blogger.com. Using this platform is within the Blogger environment and subject to restrictions. I started a hobby blog some time ago Meditations.solutions on Blogger. I own the domain so there are no advertisements on my blog. You can’t upload WordPress on Blogger… yet.

There is nothing wrong with hosting your blog on either of these platforms. What you have to do is decide what your needs are when it comes to having a website or a blog.

What kind of website or blog?

You know, we’re constantly being told what we need to know to do something. Since when? We are intelligent and can think for ourselves. In reality, the web has made everyone savvy. It’s been twenty-five years since the first proposal was submitted by Sir Tim Berners-Lee who gave us the World Wide Web. We use it all the time, and we’re just not that ignorant as some would have us believe.

WordPress.com is a hosting company and offers you various price ranges based on the future plans for your website or blog. You may not initially know how your business or hobby is going to expand.

The technology we use today is forward thinking and you have to move forward with it.

We’re seeing the startup and the slowdown as we ride the wave of fast paced software applications doing more for us on the Web.

When you start out on a free platform you’re going to want to expand at some stage. The platform does limit you still in what you can and cannot import into the platform, because this is the way the platform works. It’s no use wanting the platform to change, that’s not going to happen. You have to adjust to what are your needs for your website.

You can upgrade your free account and stay with WordPress.com then this becomes your Hosting company. Within the WordPress.com environment you are subject to what is specific to WordPress.com.


WordPress.org

WordPress is an open source software and it has become one of the most widely used software applications to power a website. WordPress.org is the information resource website. It is NOT a hosting company. WordPress.org recommends hosting companies that meet the requirements of WordPress.

WordPress.org provides the codex information. Codex is a library of information to help developers and designers with using code to build WordPress websites. The entire website uses this core software code to operate. Tech support is available in the forums of WordPress.org should you need it. 

One of the features of WordPress is the ability to load into the core software a Plugin. The Plugin is created by a developer who adds to the existing core code a specifically designed function to enhance the operation of your website.

As the word plug-in implies, you’re plugging into the website another set of code.

To give you an example there are many features you can add; you only have to choose from 44,000+ Plugins. This tells you how many things you can do with your website as you go on in your online journey to build a business, a service, or a hobby.

All the plugins are tested and have to pass through the top tier developers of WordPress core software. You can’t just develop a plugin and upload it into the WordPress.org Plugin Repository.

You DON’T download WordPress from WordPress.org unless:
You’re a developer and want to develop a WordPress website.
You’re a designer and want to build a Theme.

If you’re a user of WordPress not a developer or a designer?

Are you going to self-host your Website?

Self-hosting means having your own website on the server of your choice with a name for your website, a domain name. You’re independent from a platform and can use any WordPress Theme and operate your website without restrictions other than proprietary activity required of all websites.

Over 60 million people use WordPress, it’s the preferred software because it’s flexible, secure, and built for the user. The Hosting Company will have a WordPress install feature in the back panel. This is where the WordPress core software is imported into your website, from the WordPress.org repository, the official, updated WordPress core software.

The Hosting Company will send you the admin login information. When you log into your website you will be in the Dashboard of your website. At this point there is no active Theme. If you’ve chosen a Theme, then you’ll upload that Theme .zip folder from your computer to your host’s server.

Your choice of a Theme is vital to the launching of your idea for a website. It’s that important.

Why? Because at this stage of not being a developer or a designer, you’re not quite sure how the Theme works yet. You’re about to find out when you start working on your website or blog. If the developer of the Theme has a reputable company, and your Theme is compatible with the latest WordPress core update, which happens frequently, you’re not in trouble.

If you bought an outdated Theme, there will be compatibility issues with the existing code. Not all code works well together, this is because no two people approach something the same way. A designer of a Theme might override existing core code temporarily, and then WordPress core updates the problem and cancels out the designer’s existing code.

This is a common problem with code with all software for websites. In an ideal world we shouldn’t have these kinds of conflict. Well, we don’t live in a perfect world.


About WordPress Themes

They come with a GPL license, which means a general public license granted to you to use. Depending on the arrangement with the Theme developer, you may have to purchase an upgrade to continue to use the Theme, or worse, find another Theme.

Here’s where you have to do the research

  • Find out the facts about the company that produces the Theme
  • There are good companies and bad ones like anything else in this world
  • The Theme has to fit the kind of website you want
  • Is the Theme updated regularly?
  • Is there enough support documentation to guide you through learning how to use the Theme?

One thing I learned as a user of WordPress, follow the designer’s lead

The designer is the one who thoroughly understands the framework of WordPress as well as the design element to complement the content within your site. I found one such designer, Nick Roach. The lead designer at Elegant Themes. With each Theme I have used in their Theme repository, I find the element of clean, open design. From this vantage point you’re using the Theme for your website’s intended purpose

I’ve used Elegant Themes since 2010. Their service and Themes keep getting better. In 2015 I found out about Elegant Themes affiliate program (this is an affiliate link). I became an affiliate because I’m comfortable recommending them for their Themes and tech support based on my experience.

If you’re still not sure about your WordPress website decision process, get in touch with me.

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