When you are considering a website for your business or starting a blog, you will likely hear a lot about WordPress.
WordPress is what’s known as a CMS, or a Content Management System. It helps you share information, images, video, links and also to sell products and services through its WooCommerce plugin.
Currently, WordPress is responsible for about 65% of all websites running on the internet. The closest competitors are Joomla at 6% and Drupal at 4%. Magento is also a player in the eCommerce space with 2.4% of all websites online. Surprisingly, the new kids on the block are less popular than you would expect: Squarespace is currently at 1.5%, and Shopify is at 1.8%.
Why do people love WordPress so much?
One word: flexibility.
It is very easy to change and edit and add content to a WordPress site. There are thousands of themes to help you make your site look great. And best of all, the huge pile of free and paid plugins can enable your website to work as an eCommerce platform.
The difference between WordPress.com and Wordpress.org
If you do a little digging on the web, you will notice that there are two versions of the platform. There is WordPress.com (company hosted) and also WordPress.org (self-hosted).
It might seem strange that there is more than one version of the WordPress platform. And if this seems confusing to you, don’t worry, you’re not alone.
The benefits and drawbacks of WordPress.com
Let’s start with WordPress.com, which is the hosted solution. It’s very similar to Medium, Blogger or Tumblr. The WordPress company will host your blog, and there is a free option if you use the blogname.wordpress.com URL setup.
The most significant benefit here is time-saving. You can have a wordpress.com website setup within a few hours, and be getting traffic to it.
Plus, if you spend a little money on a WordPress.com Premium plan (from $4 month up to $25 per month), you can add a lot of functionality. You can customize your domain name, and you can add a lot of Theme options as well. If you are willing to get the business plan at $300 per year, you can also add Google Analytics, which is excellent for tracking traffic to your site.
The biggest complaint many web developers have with WordPress.com is that it is difficult to customize. Of course, you can change basic fonts and colors, add widgets, etc.
However, adding unique pages or custom code is not an option for most of the predesigned WordPress.com themes. If all you need is a basic blog, or a portfolio site (to feature your business services or work), then it may make sense to stick with a WordPress.com site.
However, if you need extra functionality, and especially want to use your website for eCommerce, then you should look at a WordPress.org site for your business.
The advantages and disadvantages of WordPress.org
You can think of WordPress.org as a piece of software that you can download and host via your own web hosting. Of course, you will pay for the hosting, which is typically more expensive up front (starting at approx $300 or more per year). You will also need to purchase your domain name and a theme (unless you plan to hire a developer to build you a customer theme).
This is probably the biggest disadvantage of Worpress.org: the upfront cost and setup requirements.
If you aren’t very savvy with website development, it can make sense to work with a developer for the initial setup and maintenance of your Worpdress.org site.
Besides the plus of custom web pages, the other big advantages are that you can add Woocommerce, which is the world’s most popular eCommerce platform. If you need to have a platform to sell your products from, then WordPress.org can be a very wise choice. For enterprise level selling you may look at a Magento website as another option, but for the majority of small to medium business and WordPress.org with Woocommerce works just fine.
Hopefully, this guide makes a little more sense of why there are two types of WordPress sites, and which one may be better suited to your needs. As a rule remember that the more custom you need your site to be, the more likely a WordPress.org site will work for you. But if you needa quick setup and ease of use, then WordPress.com might be a better option.