Which WordPress platform should I use?
So, you’ve weighed up all of the other options to make a decision on which is the best website platform for your business… and you have chosen ‘WordPress’. Good for you! You are about to join a global community of around 75 million others currently using WordPress – Lady Business included.
You’re now ready to dive in and start building your WordPress website… and realize that there are two separate platforms!
…What the? There is a WordPress.org AND WordPress.com? Gah! Why are these life choices so hard!?
While they are kinda the same thing…
they really are TOTALLY different in what they offer you.
It’s important that you make the decision which platform you want to use, BEFORE you build your website. Although the .ORG and the .COM versions both use the same underlying code, it is actually very tricky (near impossible) to move a website built in WordPress.org over to the WordPress.com platform and vice versa. Reasons for this are explained in the pros and cons list below.
What is WordPress.org?
Created in 2003, WordPress.org is “Open Source” software – meaning it (the code) is 100% FREE for anyone to download, use, customise and pretty much change to make it their own. Because the code was (and still is) offered for free, the world went CRAZY over WordPress – which is why now, according to Wikipedia, over 60% of the world’s websites are currently made using WordPress.
As its ‘open source’, outside developers were easily able to create their own custom code to integrate with WordPress, to change the sites layout and functionality. Fast forward to today, there is a HUGE amount of third-party themes and plugin options available to make a WordPress site look unique and do any manner of cool things. No matter what kind of website you are building, from a basic website through to full eCommerce with membership portals and re-occurring payments, a web developer can easily find a third party theme or plugin solution for it, without spending much time on code (which costs you more money). WordPress.org really paved the way for websites to be achievable for everyone.
There are loads of UPSIDES to using WordPress.og as outlined below, BUT there are downsides – because it is open source (free).
Pros and Cons of WordPress.ORG
- 100% Free to Download and use.
- Easy to find developers to help you now and into the future.
- SO many third party themes available to change the way the site looks & performs
- Multitude of third party plugins available, to add extra functionality .
- Unlimited potential for customization, which is why developers love it.
- Free updates, sent directly from WordPress.org
- Scalable for your business. Add extra functionality whenever you need it.
- Very difficult to set up, customize and maintain if you are a beginner
- Completely DIY set up! From downloading and installing the code to your own web server, to the domain configuration, to installing a theme, adding pages and plugins.
- You have to arrange and pay for website hosting with a separate company.
- You are responsible for managing the website updates & plugin updates
- You are responsible for security maintenance. Open Source software is more susceptible to hackers.
What is WordPress.com?
WordPress.com is the solution to the ‘cons’ of the WordPress.org list. WordPress.com uses the same WordPress code, but is delivered in an easy to use platform. There is no code installation, no messing around creating parent/child themes or installing third party plugins or other themes to change the layout. To make life easy, you also host the website within the WordPress.com platform – for a very reasonable monthly fee.
Sounds great right? But of course, there are some limitations causing the .com version to be far less customization than the original .org version.
Pros and Cons of WordPress.COM
- Easy to set up – no coding or installation required.
- Beginner friendly as the platform is easy to navigate and edit.
- No coding or knowledge of web servers and configuring of cPanels needed.
- Free to use to get started. You can upgrade your plan whenever you need to.
- Website hosting included in (reasonable) monthly fee.
- Good for beginners who are building basic websites.
- Monthly Fee increase to use extra features and customization.
- Can not install .org third-party themes or plugin options.
- Limited themes to choose from compared to .org
- Themes can only be purchased through the platform (no external developer code)
- Can not control and customize anywhere near as much as .org
So… Which do you choose?
Web developers love WordPress.org because of its ability to be customized to do ANYTHING they want. The third party themes and plugins save so much time in custom coding and with such a huge array of options, you can easily find a solution for any functionality request. This makes WordPress.org the perfect solution for a business that will potentially grow and diversify. (Just like Lady Business – with the possibility of adding eCommerce, a members portal and integrating an online course) WordPress.org is hands down the best platform to choose – because of its diversity, but if you are not tech savvy and totally new to WordPress, you will find it totally overwhelming to build yourself. My recommendation if you can’t afford to hire a website developer to build your entire site for (newbies) to choose a theme and then hire a developer to at least install it for you. This will save you a lot of time and frustration!
HOWEVER, if you are a total beginner to websites and are planning to build your site yourself, WordPress.com is far easier to build and manage that the .org version. WordPress.com is perfect for small business DIY websites that aren’t too complex and aren’t expecting a huge amount of traffic all at once.