Last week we created this new site ‘Meeting In The Media’ as a free blog hosted by WordPress.COM.
WordPress.com is a website that acts as both the host for your website, and the website builder. The ‘website builder’ is the WordPress software that allows you to make the site; the ‘admin’ user interface, where you can create new posts, pages, customize the theme, and more. It’s an all-in-one package, ready to go as soon as you sign-up – all in one place.
SquareSpace.com, format.com, CargoCollective, even Tumblr.com are similar to WordPress.COM; these are examples of websites that both host your blog or website, and also provide you with their own user interface software to go along with it; one complete package.
WordPress.ORG is a little different – you can download and install the WordPress software (above referred to as ‘website builder’), but you you have to find a host on which you can install this software. You have to install your WordPress.org package on a different host website; WordPress.org doesn’t host your website, but it provides you with the user interface, WordPress ‘widgets,’ and more, that are part of WordPress software that you use freely with WordPress.com.
In fact – the WordPress.ORG software has more features than the software you use with a WordPress.COM site.
NetWork Solutions and SiteGround.com are a few examples of sites that host other websites using outside software; you can download the WordPress.org software, and host that package on one of these host sites in order to build your website.
You can read a bit more about the differences and capabilities of .com vs. .org on this WordPress.com help thread: https://en.support.wordpress.com/com-vs-org.
It may seem daunting, but many websites will even offer a free transfer of your current WordPress.com site onto their host, so you can create your own WordPress.org. One such site is SiteGround.com, mentioned above – the host site with which I chose to host my WordPress.org.
Once you purchase a hosting package with a website and install the WordPress software, you will be able to log into your ‘wp-admin’ panel as usual. The admin panel, or user interface, that you see when you log in will look very similar – however, there are extra items that work with WordPress.org that are not available on the simpler .com.
For example, you will be able to use new features with ‘JetPack‘ on WordPress.org, which offers many additions and widget-like functionality unavailable on a .com site. Check out this JetPack download on the .org site for additional info.
Check out these two screenshots comparing the ‘admin’ panel on a .com site and what it looks like when you install the WordPress software from WordPress.org.
You will be able to use WordPress the same way – even better, in fact – once you’ve installed the software and its been setup; the admin panels look nearly the same. You can also read more differences between .com and .org in this article by Kaumil Patel on GreenGeeks.com.
Permalinks, or the permanent link URL auto-generated when you make a new post, are something you can’t change on a .com site. However, you are able to customize your permalink options when you create a .org site. Even if you upgrade your .com site through a WordPress.COM payment plan and decide to pay for additional functionality, such as the ability to change the font and colors for your website theme, this ‘permalink’ feature is unavailable for .com sites.
There are many reasons you may want to consider a .org site over a .com site if you want additional functionality – my reason was simply permalink customization, believe it or not! Then again, you may be content with whatever WordPress.com has to offer.
One great thing about WordPress.com ‘themes’ is the fact that your theme is updated when changes are made to it by the theme developers. With WordPress.org, you will have to download updated themes manually, and some may not be compatible with new versions of WordPress releases if the developer didn’t update the theme for a .org site. I also noticed that some features that are instantly and always available on your WordPress.com dashboard will have to be added manually, or through a JetPack connection.
You will have to make some more changes manually, of course, but if you are interested in learning and customizing pretty much every aspect of your site, WordPress.org can be a great learning tool.
We researched and did some tests of my own, and we learned that a .org site would be better for what we're trying to do with MITM. Considering the site's goal is to learn and teach others, we can use WordPress.org as a great learning tool for this website and future projects.