My personal and honest opinion is that WordPress.com is the modern Schrödinger Cat: you may say that it is WordPress and it is not at the same time. While people are speaking about WordPress then most probably they would think of WordPress.org, the old goodie content management system.
WordPress.com is a unique platform constructed using WordPress.org. The big question is where is the difference though? Don’t worry: knowing the differences between these 2 is easier Inception.
The user interface is the main contrast between platforms. WordPress.com presents users with a modern and smoother experience, closer to what you may predict a website builder feels.
A long time ago, a geeky entrepreneur shouted to the crowds: “I have a dream!” and pursued to build WordPress as a blogging platform. He succeeded and WordPress.com acquired all the awesome blogging features. For most, they are crème de la crème, the best blog features in the business of website builders.
Despite those cool blog features, WordPress.com might feel like someone covered WordPress with tracing paper and colored outside the lines, without giving a thought to what was best for the users. Plus, that way you’ll never learn how to draw.
For instance, during the template picking process you discover that there is no such feature as a preview. You are forced simply to test like in case of a blind date. Wix and Site123 are a tiny bit smoother towards this issue. The same goes for dating sites like Match.com.
WordPress has tons of plugins from third-party creators which expands functionality to new heights, whether you’re looking some for Google apps, blog, social media links, SEO, security and way more. Some say they’re even working in a pizza delivery system. WordPress.com allows you to install all plugins, but only if you use the most high-cost Business plan. Jummmm. However, if you want to know more, read my “Best WordPress Plugins for Your Website“.
Here’s the deal though (don’t read this out loud): you need to abandon the faithful WordPress.com interface and access WP-Admin if you want to configure almost every plugin. WP-Admin is a special WordPress.org interface, more complicated and perhaps with daddy issues, getting far from what was the initial reason WordPress.com was meant for – have a nicer approach right from the beginning. All possible and not possible trivial plugins must be set up in WP-Admin interface.
Is There Any Other Big Difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?
A big distinction is who’s actually hosting your website and the best way to understand it is through a quick metaphor: WordPress.com pays rent and WordPress.org pays mortgage. The first one has no real say in what happens in the house and the latter enjoys more control and versatility and can do as he/she pleases.
With WordPress.org you are the true owner of your site and you’ll need to install the free WordPress software on your web server.
On the other hand, WordPress.com is more suitable for hobby bloggers, who will still need to manage the technical aspects and website updates (or hire someone else to do it for you!).
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of WordPress.com:
or the Unexpected Virtue of Learning what You Can Actually Do
PROs (The Good Stuff):
+ WordPress.com has the best blogging platform ever, jam-packed with outstanding features like automatic post sharing, tags, categories, features, images, custom permalinks, drafts, program future posts, a pool table, a barbecue and a massage. Hopefully they read this and include the last three.
And you know what’s the greatest thing? WordPress.com enables you to add nice fellow writers to your great blog (just everyone you choose).
+ With special e-commerce plugin you can use all possible discounts and coupons plus modify these in a way you like. Feel free to categorize the products by adding different variations and choose wisely the right payment requirements. Maybe Paypal would be the best option? The bummer is you can’t customize receipts sent to customers nor sell digital products. Also, if you want to build a big online store, you should consider other alternatives.
+ WordPress.com provides a vast selection of hundreds of responsive themes to choose from – as they say: “Unlimited potential”. I counted them and I bet at least one fits your needs. Despite a somewhat messed up interface, it allows for some sleek design options, such as deciding to automatically use the first image in a blog post as a featured image. Saves time!
+ Looking for a top-notch form builder? Install the Contact Form 7 plugin. The 7th, the best one, like the Fast & Furious movies. Its list of field options is pretty perfect, but surprise-surprise no file upload (shame!).
You can decide which email address form results are used for responding, but you are not allowed to modify the “successful form submission” with a cooler message, such as “Dad, you came back!”. That one always leaves a great impression.
+ We can live with half a liver, but there’s no way we’re getting through without a phone. WordPress.com enables you to play with analytics, generate blog posts and be as responsive as you choose to comments through iOS and Android apps.
+ Display good-quality and sharp images with high resolution in every device that can handle them.
+ Connect to Mailchimp installing its WordPress plugin and create sign up forms to keep users more engaged.
+ Buddypress is a well-known WordPress membership system plugin that provides you the tools to create a full social network and you can customize it by adding extensions…the thing is Buddypress requires you to use WP-Admin.
+ Embed audio files into posts and pages with the remarkable Compact plugin.
+ WordPress.com and Google is a match made in heaven. Literally. Add Google Analytics to your WordPress.com Business site to track the performance. Get detailed statistics about where your visitors are coming from, how they’re interacting with your site and whether they’re responding to your marketing efforts.
Con Stuff about WordPress:
– Themes again. Wait Themes, you’re here too? Sadly, yes.
For some reason WordPress.com has not drawn a clear line between theme and content, so in some occasions it is really difficult to make a difference. Therefore, this issue may become a problem for users not so familiar with WordPress. Much more straight-forward approach would be great.
– There’s the possibility to install the Google Language Translator plugin…but Google Translator is like an eight-years old child trying to figure out the correct words to explain astrophysics. I would not recommend that.
The Ugly Stuff:
– There’s virtually no chance of doing website design from scratch unless you somehow hack the platform and your name is Edward Snowden. If you’re reading this Edward, you deserve better biopics.
– The way you pay the landlord is not ideal. At all. WordPress.com displays costs per month, yet there is no actual monthly plan, just annoying annual plans. Therefore, it functions like travel agencies selling a one-week Caribbean cruise for 300$, but you’ll have to pay for at least 12 weeks of vacation (and you only find this information in the small letters).
That is such a d-move. And it misleads people who reach the plan page. It would be better if they simply offered what most users have come to expect: chocolate…and a monthly plan, so users know everything they’re getting into before committing.
Unquestionable, Unmistakable and Not Compromised Conclusion
As Linkin Park said: “In the end…” WordPress.com tries to do two things: simplify WordPress.org and allow users to enjoy the magnificent possibilities of WordPress plugins.
As a result, the outcome is a platform best suitable for bloggers and users who are already familiar with WordPress who won’t mind using WP-Admin.
Are you any of those?