WordPress is an open source content management system.

Overview #

WordPress.org is the website where the free WordPress software can be downloaded. The software can then be uploaded to a server provided by your web host. Some hosts have a one-click install process. At WordPress.com, which is owned by Automattic, your blog will be hosted for you.

Each has its advantages and disadvantages and hopefully this page will help you to decide which is for you.

By hosting WordPress yourself, you can install themes and plugins, run advertisements, edit the database and even modify the PHP code that powers your site. Anyone can download the software for free from http://wordpress.org, but it must be installed on a web server before it will work.

Hosting your own WordPress software is fun and rewarding. You’ll learn a whole lot about building websites, being a webmaster and a web publisher. You may even enjoy it so much that you want to get involved with building WordPress yourself – you can contribute with code but it’s not the only way to get involved; you could write docs, support other WordPress users, or translate WordPress.

But first, let’s get back to WordPress.org and WordPress.com.

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WordPress.org (self-hosted) #

WordPress.org is the website where the free WordPress software can be downloaded.

For no charge, WordPress.org provides downloadable website software, community mailing lists, community support forums, documentation, and free themes and plugins.

Benefits #

  • WordPress is free, as in freedom
  • It’s free (as in beer) and super easy to set up
  • A large development community is always working to make WordPress better
  • Install custom themes (there are more than 1,500 free Themes in the WordPress Theme Directory, and you can install custom and commercial ones)
  • Install plugins (there are more than 20,000 free Plugin in the WordPress Plugin Directory, and you can install custom and commercial ones)
  • You don’t have to pay for any upgrades that are hosted on WordPress.org
  • Complete control to change code
  • Complete control to include advertisements and monetize your website.

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Cons #

  • You’ll need to install the software yourself (it’s not hard though – promise!)
  • You’ll need more technical knowledge (but using WordPress is a great way to expand your skills)
  • You’re responsible for creating and maintaining backups of your site
  • You’re responsible for updating the WordPress software when new versions are released
  • You’re responsible for keeping your website safe and secure

Installing WordPress yourself means more power, ergo more responsibility. But luckily there are loads of helpful volunteers at the support forum, and thousands of experienced WordPress developers who can help you out.

If you’re looking for a WordPress-savvy web design or software development firm, check out the CodePoet Directory, a directory of consultants who specialize in building beautiful and efficient WordPress sites.

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WordPress.com (managed hosting) #

WordPress.com is a hosting platform that makes it easy for anyone to publish online. The software is hosted and maintained by the team at Automattic.

Some of the guys who work at Automattic also work on the open source software that you can download at WordPress.org. However, Automattic does not own or control WordPress the software.

Benefits #

  • It’s free
  • All of the technical maintenance work is taken care of — setup, upgrades, spam, backups, security, etc.
  • Your blog is on hundreds of servers, so it’ll always remain available, even under high traffic
  • You can find like-minded bloggers using search and the reader
  • You have access to social tools that let you interact with other WordPress.com users
  • Your dashboard is secure (SSL) making it even safer to log in on shared networks

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Cons #

  • While WordPress.com does provide Themes, you cannot upload a custom Theme.
  • You can’t modify the PHP code behind your blog
  • You can’t upload plugins
  • You can’t have any third-party advertising on your blog
  • You have to pay for premium upgrades such as additional file space, video embedding and to have your own domain

WordPress.com is a commercial enterprise owned by Automattic, a company started by the co-founding developer of WordPress and staffed by full-time developers, designers and happiness engineers. Developments sponsored by Automattic are regularly contributed back into the WordPress software so the community can benefit.

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In a Nutshell #

  • WordPress.org is the home of WordPress, the open source software that you can download for free and use to build your website.
  • WordPress.com is a commercial blog network built using WordPress.