In a Nutshell
- Fully hosted solution
- Same features as the WordPress script
- Very easy to connect domain
- Plugins allowed, but only on Business Plan
- Select WordPress plugins are not compatible
What is the Difference Between WordPress.com and WordPress?
What’s the difference between WordPress.com and ‘WordPress’, you might be wondering? ‘WordPress’ is an open source script for creating websites. Users need to download it and install it on their own servers and are responsible for keeping it (the WordPress core) updated. WordPress.com is the same software offered as a hosted service. WordPress.com takes care of the hosting and all users need to do is build their websites. In exchange for a few advanced feature restrictions, this makes the process of building a site easier.
WordPress.com is Best for...
WordPress.com is the go-to solution for those that want to develop websites using WordPress but want everything needed to make the site work under one roof. By building on WordPress.com, you can buy a domain or use an existing one if you have it. All of the WordPress.com plans (even their free offering!) include hosting—so you don’t need to worry about finding a web host.
Why Go With WordPress.com?
With WordPress.com, you get most of the benefits of building a site on WordPress. However, by cutting out the requirement to find a host for the site, you simplify the process of getting and keeping the site on the internet. Paid WordPress.com customers (Business plan or above) are able to access almost the full WordPress plugin library which consists of nearly 50,000 plugins
WordPress now sports a convenient block builder which lets users quickly add in blocks of content according to predefined uses. These can also be bundled into groups. For instance, users could add a block of text or split out part of the page into a 3-column layout. There’s a block for adding HTML so users can add in embed objects or custom code. Additionally, there’s a shortcode block which makes it easy to integrate plugin widgets to the page layout. As with previous versions of WordPress, users can easily switch between visual and code layout—allowing users to manually edit the HTML to achieve exactly the layout they want.
Domain and Hosting
WordPress.com can act as both a domain register and a host. All plans are automatically hosted by WordPress.com. Those on the free (unpaid) tier have to use a WordPress.com subdomain (ex: yoursite.wordpress.com). Those on paid plans get to connect their own domain to WordPress.com (ex: yoursite.com). Users can purchase a domain name during the setup process. Those that already have domain names through different registrars can point their domains to WordPress.com by simply updating the DNS nameservers. The change takes a few seconds to make, although the propagation time could be longer.
Although the easiest way to work on a WordPress.com site is by editing it directly on the internet, WordPress.com also offers desktop and mobile apps for users that prefer to work on sites that way. Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS are currently supported.
It’s vital that webmasters keep track of how many people are visiting their websites as well as other important information like the average time spent per page. These cues can help webmasters implement fixes and customizations to boost conversion rates and improve site performance. While users of the WordPress script typically need to add a plugin to embed a Google Analytics tracking code (or another analytics program), WordPress.com features statistics as part of its built in Jetpack module. Without needing to add anything to their sites, users can get real time information about impressions and views as well as cross-site engagement through comment counts. Still want Google Analytics? You can easily add it on Premium and Business Plans.
WordPress.com is available as a free tier but this doesn’t allow a custom domain. To use that vital functionality, users will need to opt for one of the company’s 4 paid plans: Personal, Premium, Business, and eCommerce.
The plans differ in a few important respects. Firstly, the higher the tier, the more storage users get. The Business and eCommerce tiers both afford 200GB of disk storage while Premium only offers 13GB. Additionally, in order to install plugins and themes users will need to either be on the Business or eCommerce plans. For power users, SFTP access is only possible on the Business Plan or above.
Plugin and Theme Library
One of the main benefits of using WordPress is the fact that the content management system (CMS) is wildly popular: these days, the platform powers more than one third of the top 10 million sites on the internet. As a result of WordPress’s widespread adoption, an enormous community library of plugins, paid and free, has been developed. These expand upon the script’s basic functionalities. The same is true for patterns, formerly known as themes, which allow users to expand upon basic blog-centric designs.
Paid WordPress.com customers (Business plan or above) are able to access almost 50,000 WordPress plugins. The company maintains a list of those WordPress community plugins that do not work on WordPress.com. These include plugins for caching, backup, database, and those which place heavy loads on SQL databases, and plugins that risk site security. However, the majority of WordPress’s considerable plugin ecosystem can be leveraged by those designing sites on WordPress.com. This allows webmasters to roll out impressive functionalities not offered by the core builder.
How Do I Accept Payments on my WordPress.com Site?
Selling products and services is possible on WordPress.com sites via the WooCommerce plugin. WordPress.com also offers an eCommerce version which is designed to provide eCommerce functionalities right out of the box. This plan includes features such as payment gateway integration, subscriber only content, and recurring billing management. It is suitable for use by merchants selling both physical and digital inventory.
WordPress.com SEO Tools
WordPress.com sites include a few basic SEO optimization tools that it recently rolled out as part of the platform. To access these, users don’t need to add additional plugins—although there are many excellent SEO plugins for WordPress including Yoast and the All in One SEO Pack. WordPress’s SEO tools give users the ability to write their own meta descriptions and titles. In addition, users can preview how their posts will look when shared on Google and social media sites.
WordPress.com Customer Support Services
Unlimited email support is available on all paid plans. Live chat support is available on Premium plans and higher. 24/7 priority live chat support is available on Business and higher, and two complementary personalized expert support sessions are available to eCommerce plan customers.
WordPress.com Review in Short
WordPress.com makes it simple to take advantage of WordPress’s CMS, which is one of the most popular tools on the internet for building and maintaining websites. Users can point or buy domains through WordPress and the plans all include hosting—although the disk space and functionalities offered differ by tier.
Automattic is the owner of WordPress.com, which is a hosted version of the open source WordPress software with added features for security, speed and support. Automatic has more than 1,000 employees worldwide and has a headquarters in San Francisco.