Web Marketing Today

Comparing WordPress.com and WordPress.org

The WordPress content management system powers nearly 1-in-4 websites worldwide and has earned a reputation for reliability, flexibility, and usability. Businesses considering WordPress soon learn that there are seemingly two versions: WordPress.com and WordPress.org.

Understanding the differences — and similarities — between WordPress.com and WordPress.org may help business owners and managers make a more informed decision about whether or not WordPress is the proper content management system (CMS) for their company’s specific needs.

WordPress the CMS

WordPress.org is devoted to the WordPress CMS — i.e., the software. It is the “self-hosted” version of WordPress.

This self-hosted version is a free and open source CMS built using PHP, an extremely popular general purpose scripting language that is particularly well suited for web applications, and MySQL, the world’s most used relational database management system.

For most businesses, the key point regarding WordPress’ reliance on PHP and MySQL is that both technologies are mainstream, well supported, and well documented. As a result, there are an abundance of tools built to work with PHP and MySQL, and there are a number of excellent developers available to write code for WordPress at competitive rates. Overall, these advantages mean that developing for WordPress can be relatively less expensive than developing for some other CMS solutions.

The self-hosted version of WordPress allows users to upload and use custom themes, which may be purchased or developed and custom plugins that extend or change how the CMS behaves. This version, if you will, of WordPress also allows for complete control over the CMS. If a developer had the time and the savvy, WordPress could be molded to suite nearly any need. In fact, it is not uncommon for WordPress to be used to support business sites, ecommerce sites, web applications, blogs, or even magazine and newspaper sites.

If a business chooses to use the self-hosted version of WordPress, there are some things that do need to be done.

First, the business will need a good web host. Although the WordPress software will be free, the hosting service will not. Using the self-hosted version of WordPress also requires some technical expertise, and may require the business to manage site performance, spam abatement, and system backups.

This solution will work for most businesses that have basic technical capabilities. The solution can also be very inexpensive.  Note that this website, WebMarketingToday.com, uses the self-hosted version of WordPress.

WordPress the Hosting Platform

WordPress.com is really a hosting platform for the WordPress CMS. The site and all of the websites it supports run on WordPress software maintained by Automattic, the company behind WordPress.

Creating a website with WordPress.com requires little or no technical expertise, and is, in many cases, free.

WordPress.com also automatically backups up site content and battles spam.

There are, however, some limiting factors. For example, WordPress.com limits the available themes and prohibits any custom themes or plugins, unless a business is paying for the VIP service that starts at around $3,750 per month.

WordPress.com then is, perhaps, best for very small businesses or as a blogging platform to associate with an existing business site. It can be very low cost, but is not as flexible as the self-hosted WordPress.

WordPress is a Solid Choice

Whether a business selects WordPress.org’s self-hosted software or WordPress.com’s hosted solution really depends on technical expertise, budget, and project demands.

Very small business could benefit from WordPress.com’s ease of use. Massive companies likewise may enjoy the WordPress.com’s VIP service with its managed hosting.

Businesses that want a custom solution may be able to get want they need with the self-hosted WordPress and spend very little — perhaps a few hundred dollars on a theme and even less on annual hosting fees and domain registration.

Put simply, WordPress is a solid choice for business.

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Armando Roggio
Armando Roggio
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