- Perfect for blogging
- Good value for money
- Free plan available
- Wide range of features
- 25,855,689 users worldwide
- Simpler to use than WordPress.org
Review by Lucy Carney
Last Updated on September 12, 2018
At a Glance
So, you’re thinking of using WordPress? WordPress is a big name in the online world, and for good reason – it powers over 30% of the internet!
But for its fame there’s also a lot of confusion due to the existence of WordPress.org and WordPress.com. So which one should you go for? What makes them different? And just what has WordPress.com got to offer?
For this review, we’ve put WordPress.com through its paces and got people just like you to test it and share their experience. We will look at what sets the WordPress twins apart and most importantly, whether or not you should use WordPress.com to make your site!
Pros & Cons of WordPress.com
|#1||The best option for a blogging website|
|#2||An abundance of features|
|#1||Templates are focused on blogging|
|#2||Not very beginner friendly|
First off, let’s get to basics and have a quick overview of the two.
WordPress.org was founded in 2003 and is an open-source Content Management System (CMS).
A CMS is software you can use to create and manage websites. WordPress.org is what people usually mean when they talk about “WordPress”.
WordPress.com was launched after WordPress.org and is built on top of the original platform. This means that it has inherited some of the features which make WordPress.org so impressive.
WordPress.com is more similar to a ‘website builder’ in its design. It has a much more streamlined and easy to use interface than WordPress.org. As you probably know, a website builder is an online programme which allows you to build a website.
Unlike WordPress.org, with these builders you don’t have to code, host or manage updates as this is all done for you. Most website builders such as Wix and Weebly have drag and drop features, making it easy for everyone to create their site.
Choosing the right website builder depends on many different factors. Obviously you want something that will make your site look great, as well as having a range of features. But you also want to enjoy building your website and not spend hours learning to code.
So it’s important to look at the builder’s ease of use and your own level of technical know-how, to get an idea of how comfortable you’d be actually using it. That’s why we always test for ease of use in our research!
How do we do this? Well, we get normal people like you to try out the builder and ask them how easy it was to do certain tasks. With scoring, feedback, and number ratings, this gives us great data to give you great reviews!
But just how did WordPress.com score in our ease of use?
The honest answer is, not great. But before you close this page in disappointment, let’s go over what this actually means and more importantly why WordPress.com didn’t come up trumps for ease of use.
First of all, although WordPress.com is designed to look and feel a lot more like a website builder, it’s not actually one. It’s a blogging platform with website builder add-ons.
This means it doesn’t use the traditional drag and drop visual editing that is favored by most web builders such as Wix. Instead, you edit your content and design separately.
This can feel over-complicated and confusing. While it is really easy adding blog posts, it is not always so clear how to add other elements or customizations to your site. 60% of people found it difficult to add features such as subscription, video, and making their location visible on a map.
Because of this WordPress.com received low ‘likely to recommend’ scores. But it seems WordPress.com are aware that using their site isn’t a walk in the park! And they have included steps to combat this.
When you first create your site, it asks you questions like the name of your site, what it’s about and what it’s for. This means your site is already customized when you start out!
You can also select how confident you are with using technology. If you select beginner, it provides you with a checklist of how to set up your site.
To sum up, WordPress.com is a lot easier to use than WordPress.org. You don’t need to worry about hosting, managing updates, or coding.
It keeps its amazing blogging reputation, with its range of in-built features making your writing life as easy as possible. But compared to traditional drag and drop website builders, WordPress.com is at the bottom of the pack when it comes to ease of use.
For ease of use, total beginners or coding-phobes are better off looking elsewhere.
As you may have already guessed, blogging is best on WordPress! This is what WordPress.com is really built for, and it shows. All the relevant features you want for your blog are automatically built in. These include:
- display categories
- social bookmarking
- search feature
- RSS feed
It also stands above its competitors by offering intuitive settings options. For example, the choice of automatically using the first image in your post or not. Your blog display is edited in the Customizer, with even more options in the settings under the Writing section.
With this variety of features, options and range of settings choices, you can be sure your blog is in the best environment to take off and flourish. It’s really no surprise that WordPress.com won the “Perfect for Blogging” title in our rankings.
It’s the standout choice if you’re serious about your blog, and with its free version and various price plans you won’t be emptying your own pockets for it either. It’s a win-win!
While WordPress.com is the star of the show when it comes to blogging, it falls down in other areas. If you’re looking for an online business site and want a high level of customization then WordPress.com isn’t your best option.
With this said, WordPress.com does have a Business plan for $300, billed annually. This is the plan they recommend for small businesses. It includes business theme templates, Google Analytics support, and unlimited storage.
You can add third party plugins and themes to widen your site’s features. It also comes with a list of features to support your business and make your site stand out.
Generally, we don’t recommend WordPress.com for business sites. If you’re unsure which builder to create your site on, you can check out our comparison chart of the best website builders for businesses.
WordPress.com does have an ecommerce feature, but you need the $300 a year Business plan to access it.
This comes with a 30-day money back guarantee! So, you can try it out without committing long term. But depending on the level of your business or your budget, this up front payment may be off-putting.
There are various ecommerce options on WordPress.com:
- The eCommerce Store is available to customers throughout the US and Canada, and allows you to sell in the US or go global. (You must be on the Business plan and have already installed a custom theme or plugin).
- The Simple Payments button is available to customers on both the Business and Premium plans.
- For those of you without a Business or Premium you can add a PayPal button to your site, which allows you to accept payments through (you guessed it), PayPal. Just a heads up: this will involve some coding, which you’re guided through on their support page.
So there are ecommerce features available to take advantage of, but it’s worth balancing the cost of the plans and the level of your business before paying out for a plan straight away.
If you’re not a business owner or a blogger, could WordPress.com be right for you? Well, it depends what sort of personal site you want to create!
With so many themes to choose from (348 to be exact!) and the option to search those by genre or style, you’re sure to find one that you love.
If you’re not making any money from your personal site you may want to start off on the free version. Just be aware that to add media such as videos you have to upgrade to the Premium plan.
Just remember that this isn’t a drag and drop website builder! So while your site will still look great, customization might be tricky or restrictive as WordPress.com is built as a blogging platform first and foremost.
If you’ve got a personal site looking to grow your online presence, WordPress.com gives you options. You can move up through its various price plans as your site grows and develops.
The joy of WordPress.com is you can create anything with it. But, once created you have limited options of how you can edit or manage your site.
If you’ve got a business website or are hoping for fast growth, WordPress.com isn’t your best choice as it isn’t very scalable. Although the higher price plans come with added features and custom options, it can become expensive to upscale your ecommerce site this way.
On their site, WordPress.com invite you join the platform you won’t outgrow. It’s worth noting that you can always start off on WordPress.com and then transfer your site to WordPress.org later on.
Help & Support
When creating your site you want to be in safe hands. Especially if you’re not confident or are just starting out.
WordPress.com has a knowledge base with a search feature, as well as a list of topics such as Start, Create, Customize, and Connect.
These all link to relevant pages with guides and articles to help you out. These pages then link to helpful resources such as checklists, video tutorials and even sign up links to online courses!
The “How can we help?” search bar is always present on the top of each support page too.
You can also submit questions to their online forum, or click the blue question mark in the bottom right hand corner of the screen for help options and access to ‘Expert Users’.
When you’re getting online help you want to feel as though a friend is helping you, not that your strictest teacher is ordering you around over your shoulder. WordPress.com have pulled this off.
Social Media Integration
Whether you’re setting up a cooking blog or launching your own business, social media is the lifeblood keeping you connected and promoting your brand. Nowadays if you’re not on social media, the truth is people are going to find it far too easy to ignore you.
So, you’d better grab them with a beautiful social feed on your website to show them you belong in the 21st century!
With WordPress.com you can connect your site to your social media pages so that your new posts will get shared to your news feed.
You can also add widgets which show your social feed on your website. For example, you can embed your Twitter feed so that your timeline appears on your site.
If you want to see how many people are visiting your site, when they visit and from where, then you’ll need an analytics feature. WordPress.com has one already built-in for you. You don’t have to set it up or anything, just click on the “Stats” button and view your site’s activity.
This gives you a helpful, clear and “at a glance” breakdown of your site traffic. It analyses the data so you can see your site’s most popular time of day, follower totals and even a best views ever count!
This is really useful, but you might want a more advanced and specific analytics tool. In this case, you’ll need to upgrade to the Business plan so that you can get Google Analytics support on your site. Again, there is a guide on this in the knowledge base giving a helping hand on how to set this up.
SEO & Marketing
So you’ve created your site. It’s online, it’s ready to be admired, and you’re watching your stats for signs of life. The only thing you need now is visitors, and lots of them!
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. All it means is helping your site rank highly in search results. Simple!
Think of it like this: your website is a theater and the content you’ve worked so hard on is the play. The actors are all ready and the theater is all decorated, but now you need an audience.
SEO acts like the leaflets, posters and signposts all directing people to your show! This is what tells people what it’s all about, if it’s relevant to them and if it’s something they actually want to see.
WordPress.com takes care of 80-90% of the mechanics of SEO so you don’t have to. All their themes are designed to optimize your rankings. This means you can sit back and focus on creating a great site.
If you want to be hands on you can upgrade to the Business plan to get a custom domain, (which search engines love), as well as getting access to SEO tools. These will let you tailor what appears on the results page and more, giving your site a much better chance in the world of ranking and SEO magic.
So the basics are covered already, but if you’re serious about SEO you’ll need to upgrade to the Business plan.
If you’re on the free version you simply type in your site name and then pick the best free URL that’s available. An example of this domain would be: https://examplex.home.blog/ or https://example.wordpress.com
However, if you’re looking for something professional it’s best to get a custom domain. You can do this by upgrading to any of the paid plans. You can also transfer an existing domain from another site.
WordPress has a pretty thorough security system in place to protect your site, so you can feel safe and sound!
All WordPress.com sites are encrypted, and automatically installed with an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate. This means your site is safe and protected. They also run firewalls, monitor suspicious activity, run security testing, and even have a dedicated security team.
Security is obviously very important to WordPress.com. They even give you a guide showing how you can protect yourself and your data online!
Backups & Restores
It’s the nightmare. You’re editing your site, and it crashes, or you make a mistake, and suddenly you’ve lost everything. You have to start from scratch, or try to fix whatever disaster has wrecked your beautifully formatted pages.
But not with WordPress.com!
It has a useful restore feature where you can recover your site from any given point if it crashes or you accidentally delete something. This is different from other sites where you can only restore it from the last time you saved (which might include the mistake you’re trying to solve)!
Your site data is backed up so that if something like a power failure or natural disaster happens, which cause data loss, WordPress.com can recover it for you.
WordPress.com could have all the features in the world, but if it cost you all your life savings that wouldn’t count for much!
Luckily, they’re not asking for every penny in your back account. In fact, in our research WordPress.com came third overall for value for money! It has the second cheapest average pricing behind Wix, which is pretty good going.
So just what are the different pricing plans that WordPress.com has on offer?
As you can see, there is a free plan and then three paid plans. These are billed yearly, so don’t let the pricing figures put you off. We’ll break these down for you so can see just what you’re getting for your money.
- Free plan: $0! We all love free things, so this is a great plan to get started on. Have a play around with the templates and themes, see how easy you find it, even publish your site online, all without paying a penny. This plan has a decent range of features, including 3GB of storage space, community support, basic design customization and free themes.
- Personal Plan: $48 a year ($4 a month, billed yearly). As the name suggests, this is best for personal use! As well as what’s on offer on the free plan, you get a custom domain name, email and live chat support, and the removal of WordPress ads.
- Premium Plan: $96 a year ($8 a month, billed yearly). Best for entrepreneurs and freelancers, this offers everything from the previous plans but more! Unlimited premium themes, advanced design customization, 13GB storage space, as well as options to monetize your site, get VideoPress support and the ability to sell through Simple Payments are all great perks.
- Business Plan: $300 a year ($25 a month, billed yearly). Best for small businesses, this has everything from the Premium plan plus more, including: unlimited storage space, live courses, SEO tools, plugins, uploadable themes, and Google Analytics integration.
Which plan you choose really depends on your budget, the type of site you’re creating, and how much you want to grow your site as well. Although the cheaper price levels are limited in the features on offer, they are still good value for starting out.
Now that you’ve left any confusion about WordPress.com behind, let’s sum up what this review has covered so you can decide whether it really is the best choice for you!
WordPress.com is built on WordPress.org, which makes it stand head and shoulders above the rest of the competition when it comes to blogging. If you’re serious about your blog (but want a simpler interface than WordPress.org), then WordPress.com is the place for you.
But, compared to actual website builders WordPress.com came last in our ease of use rankings. It is not beginner friendly and you will feel limited if you’re creating anything other than a blog. If you want to expand or develop your site you will need to use basic coding, which is a big turn off for most people.
If you’re nervous about technology, want a highly customized site, or want to set up your business site easily, we don’t recommend WordPress.com for you.
But, if you’re starting a blog, are fairly confident and happy to learn as you go, or want great features at sensible prices, then we say sign up today!
With good value for money and the option of a free plan, it’s super easy to join the 25,855,689 users worldwide voicing their opinion through WordPress.com!
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