What is WordPress?

What is WordPress.org (Self-hosted WordPress)?

WordPress is web software used to create a website or blog. It was released in 2003 as a blogging platform and has evolved into one of the most popular web platforms. Today over 70 Million websites are built with WordPress.

WordPress is not just the most popular blogging platform but is a very powerful content management system (CMS). CMS’s allows users to easily maintain the content in their website on their own and provides the ability to easily add functionality to a website. A CMS like WordPress can grow as your business grows by adding features and functionality with plugins, widgets and themes.

WordPress is Open Source software meaning that is free and available to everyone including a large and constantly growing user community, making WordPress a constantly evolving and improving platform to built websites with. WordPress files, themes and plugins must be updated on a regular basis to keep the website secure and up to date with the newest enhancements and security patches.

WordPress.org is software that can be downloaded and installed on a web host like BlueHost or HostGator. There are many hosting companies and not all provide great service for WordPress websites. Make sure you consult with a WP developer before you sign up for a hosting plan! With WordPress.org you must purchase a domain name for your website which will become the URL (web address) for your website.

WordPress themes provide all of the front-end styling of your WordPress site, like page layouts, fonts and colors. It’s the look and the feel of your website. Many themes are free and premium themes must be purchased.

Plugins are applications or scripts that you can easily install to give you added functionality to your WordPress website. Although many plugins are free, many premium plugins do have a cost and must be purchased to use.

Widgets are front-end plugins that you can drag and drop in your sidebar or other widgetized areas on the front-end of your website. Back-end plugin are installed to improve the function of your website on the back-end. Below are examples of both:

Front-end Plugins
Contact Forms
Photo Galleries/Slideshows
Social Media
Email Marketing

Back-end Plugins
Search Engine Optimization
File and Database Backup

What is WordPress.com?

WordPress.com is a hosted blogging service run by a company called Automattic. It uses the same core software as WordPress.org but focuses providing free hosting services. To set up a website on WordPress.com, you don’t have to download software, pay for hosting or manage the server. In addition, WordPress.com also provides anti-spam protection, backups, security and automatic updates.

With WordPress.com you don’t need to purchase a domain name for your website but your website address will be something like: www.annepouch.wordpress.com. Many people will opt to purchase a domain anyway (www.annepouch.com) and change the WordPress settings so that your domain is mapped to www.annepouch.wordpress.com.

It’s a good quick solution for a casual hobby, non-commercial, or personal blog/website. The downside is that you are limited to the features, functionality and plugins that are available through WordPress.com. And although you can choose from many themes for the look of the site, you have to work with what is out there with limited or no ability to modify. Customization capabilities have improved but still remain quite limited with WordPress.com.