WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org – Which One Is Right for You?

Continuing our series on Why You Should Use WordPress to Power Your Small Business Website, today we’ll explore the differences between WordPress.org and WordPress.com in order for you to choose which version of the popular blogging software is right for your small business website.

WordPress.com

WordPress.com

WordPress is open source blogging software, and if you’re looking to get a website or blog up and running as quickly and easily as possible, there’s little better way than by using WordPress.com.

WordPress.com is a multi-user version of WordPress that hosts thousands of blogs and allows users to sign up and create a website or blog in a matter of minutes, for free.

WordPress.com Pros:

  • Fastest and easiest way to get your blog up and running
     
  • Choose from over 100 free and customizable designs (called themes)
     
  • Setup and hosting is free (however, there is a $17/year fee to use your own domain name, i.e. mywebsite.com)

WordPress.com Cons:

The main disadvantages of using WordPress.com are that:

  • You must choose from one of the design themes they offer (you cannot upload your own) and you cannot customize the designs they provide
     
  • You cannot install additional plug-ins to extend the functionality of your site, which is critically important if you want to optimize your site for search engines, run advertisements, except payments online, etc.
     
  • WordPress.com will occasionally display advertisements on your site (although you can pay an additional $29.97/year to disable these ads)

Given these benefits and limitations, I believe WordPress.com is a great way to start a hobby or special interest blog. However, if you’re looking to create a website for your small businesses, having control of the overall design and functionality of your site is vital to your success, which is where WordPress.org comes into play…

WordPress.org

WordPress.org

WordPress.org offers free downloads of the WordPress software, as well as numerous design templates (known as themes) and plug-ins that allow you to extend the functionality of your site. WordPress.org also contains all of the step-by-step instructions and support pages you need to download, install and configure the WordPress software to run on your own website hosting account or server.

WordPress.org Pros:

The main advantages of downloading and installing the WordPress software on your own hosting account are:

  • You can use any of the thousands upon thousands of design themes available from around the net and customize them however you’d like in order to create a truly unique website that you have complete control over
     
  • You can install any of the thousands upon thousands of WordPress plug-ins available to extend the functionality of your website (in my opinion, given the countless things these plug-ins can allow you to do with your site, this is reason enough alone to go with WordPress.org for your small business website)

WordPress.org Cons:

Unfortunately, in order to get full use of the WordPress software and all of the benefits it provides, you have to:

  • Have an account with a website hosting company that provides FTP access and MySQL databases (fortunately, you can find great hosting providers like HostGator that offer everything you need and a whole lot more for as little as $7-10/month)
     
  • Have a basic knowledge of how to FTP files from one computer to another and how to create MySQL databases (fortunately, hosting providers such as HostGator offer “one-click” WordPress installations that handle all of this for you)
     
  • Manage your own website backups (thankfully, there are free WordPress plug-ins that make this an incredibly easy, set-it-and-forget-it process)

I know this route may seem like a lot more work than simply going with WordPress.com, but most hosting providers offer push-button, automated systems so you really don’t need to know how to do any of this…

The Third Way…
The Best Solution for Your Small Business Website

To reiterate, most hosting providers offer easy-to-use, “push-button” WordPress installations, which eliminate any need for you to download the WordPress software, learn how to use FTP programs, configure files, or create and manage databases.

Needless to say, this third way makes getting started with WordPress almost as easy as using WordPress.com, while still offering you the freedom and flexibility to customize your site however and whenever circumstances dictate. And given this balance between ease-of-use and customization, this is the solution I recommend most business owners use.

Here’s an example of a real business using WordPress for their website, Jason Esswein’s Professional Counseling and Therapy Services in San Jose. You’ll notice that the site doesn’t look anything like a typical blog and there’s almost no way to tell it’s running on WordPress. The design uses a modified WordPress theme and, because the site is based on the WordPress software, the site’s content can be easily updated and changed.

Professional Counseling and Therapy Services in San Jose

Here’s another example WordPress site that doesn’t look anything like a typical blog – Mary-Stone Bowers’ Marriage, Family and Child Counseling in San Jose.

Marriage, Family and Child Counseling in San Jose

What about you? Do you already have a website or blog? If not, are you going to go with WordPress.com or host your own site using WordPress?

Let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment or question below…

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  1. [...] software on your own hosting provider. This distinction is an important one, and we’ll cover what you need to know about these two WordPress options in a future [...]

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