Sometimes our clients have questions about the difference between wordpress.org and wordpress.com and how much of a difference those three letter extensions make for the websites they want us to create for their customers. While wordpress.com and wordpress.org are related, they’re actually quite different entities.

WordPress.com is a site owned by the web development corporation, Automattic. The company allows customers access to the wordpress.com domain and uses WordPress software to host its sites. Allowing you access to the wordpress.com domain isn’t such a good thing — it means your site’s web address will be “yourcompany.wordpress.com.” If you don’t want the wordpress name in your site’s address, you’ll have to pay to purchase your own domain name, which can get pricey through WordPress.

Then, because Automattic is setting up the hosting software on its servers, there are only a few themes and plugins for customers to choose from when designing websites. Essentially, using wordpress.com means contracting Automattic for your website design and Automattic does not offer many options. But options are out there — many people have developed specialized themes and plugins that customers can use as long as Automattic is not their web host.

Finally, unless you pay Automattic to upgrade to a premium wordpress.com site, the company is allowed to set up advertisements on your wordpress.com website. Automattic can place any other company’s ad on your site without giving you any say. At the same time, you are not allowed to put your own advertising, whether it’s for your own company or for a company that’s paying you to advertise for them. Even if you upgrade to an account that gives you editorial say in advertising on your site, you have to pay annual fees to Automattic to maintain control over ads.

In contrast, by using wordpress.org, you’re not linking up with Automattic. Instead, you’re just installing a content management platform called WordPress.

Because you’re not getting a domain name from Automattic, you can choose to name your website whatever you want, purchasing that name from one of many domain name vendors for cheaper than you can purchase a domain name through Automattic. You can also choose from tens of thousands of WordPress themes developed by designers all over the world — themes that suit the website you want to design. You can install thousands of plugins, as well. Lastly, you control your own advertising when you have a site that uses the content management platform of wordpress.org but that you host yourself. Instead of letting an external hosting company like Automattic make the decisions about which ads go up, you get to decide how you want your site to look and what you want it to say.

Hope that clears up any confusion about why we use WordPress.org to allow your customers to design and self-host the sites we create!

Madeline Vuong for The White Label Agency