WordPress.com or WordPress.org – What Is The Difference?

WordPress Webmaster Host Services For BusinessThere Are Two Versions of WordPress, Which One Does My Business Need? 

Someone tells someone else,You should use WordPress!and what is routinely confused by end users is not only that there are two versions, but what the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org actually is. Typically they had no idea what exactly there is … and why would they? By Googling “WordPress” one will return both WordPress.com and WordPress.org in their top results … and so, is it the same thing OR are there huge differences?


WordPress.org is a free, open source website software that anyone can download and install on their web server. It’s mostly because serious marketers will inevitably want or need customization in design, development and ongoing support. There is no standard paid support for hosting services inherent to the .org site. It is maintained by the WordPress open source community, with a handful of “core contributors” who decide what makes the cut for new updates; when to release updates & upgrades, etc. It’s fairly meritocratic in that no one is paid to do the management or development. In fact, hundreds of volunteers contribute code, offer free support in forums, produce themes and add-on plugin applications. It is the SaaS (e.g. Software as a Service) model, and most of a developer’s day job includes managing and customizing WordPress in the commercial world, but at the end of the day upkeep of the core software is an all volunteer effort that serves the means of everyone involved. Be certain: ‘the power of many’ is at work here, all with the common interest of that core software being the best available anywhere to those who may need it. ‘Open source’ software, managed to the degree WordPress.org is, has proven to be a best option for those interested in controlling their tools and/ or their brands. 


WordPress.com does offer a free version of their website product. It was originally a basic blog with a wordpress.com URL (i.e. biz.wordpress.com), albeit it has also evolved over the years to a full- fledged website solution. Free usually means some compromise, for instance some limitation in terms of what can and cannot be customized.  Advertising run on pages is standard as well. It is offered by a company (Automattic Inc.) started by one of the original developers of the WordPress open source project. Automattic is a business; they charge for additional services and extended support. They also employ some server level customization to accommodate the fact they have 76.5 million users running websites spread out over 1000’s of servers across the world. They can offer some services and they develop their own custom features; however, at it’s core, .com is still running the same software that is freely available for download from WordpPress.org. It, again, is just not open to do anything you may want. Employees of ‘Automattic’ do even contribute code back to the WordPress.org project as “core contributors”, most having done so long before Automattic was ever formed.


Kinetic Knowledge

Here at Kinetic, we use the open source WordPress.org software to build and also webmaster host & manage our client websites. We manage our own servers, tuned specifically for WordPress.org software in order to maximize performance and the visitor experience of our clients. We can deploy custom functions or code to provide features specific to a clients need or, better yet, research a seasoned/ vetted (for security and performance) application from the community to serve the need.

Note: the trademark for WordPress was transferred to the WordPress Foundation, which can confuse the situation a little more. WordPress.com, the ‘Automattic’ business entity, was grandfathered in that transfer; however, no other business or website can use the trademark of WordPress legally in their business name, logo or URL. Only non-profit sites meant to promote the open source project and it’s endeavors. 


In Summary

Ultimately what this all means is that yes, you can get a free website at WordPress.com – with a subdomain URL of example.wordpress.com or begin paying for custom services beyond that. Or you or can download WordPress, the software for free from WordPress.org. In this latter case it does not necessarily mean you have a free website for your business. Not unless you are fully capable with websites and hosting, updates support, customization & design. These will all cost money, regardless of the underlying platform. Using an open-source project such as WordPress.org for a website can not only reduce or eliminate development cost, as a part of the equation, but it places its’ user in control as owner! In this case a business can affordably focus its investment on the things that ultimately help grow the business. This is what Kinetic Knowledge focuses on, it is our ongoing goal. Let the platform to get out of the way; let us do the heavy lifting, leaving you to focus on your core business.

Understanding WordPress For Business

With websites what a business uses not only matters, but determines how much control they will truly have! A business does not ever want to be trapped and that is a typical scenario with proprietary website and free solutions. It’s why it’s important to understand what WordPress can offer a business. Certainly knowing there are cost effective solutions for any application or design element is a relief; how about endless options for support and an ability to build web footprint references, links and citations without any interference! No business should be held hostage, which is why it helps to understand WordPress!

The WordPress Options

WordPress Services For BusinessFor business owners we think it’s incredibly relevant to understand the above, so this post breaks down how WordPress works and is supported. To begin it’s best to know the WordPress use options, which include:

1) Create a free website or blog via WordPress.com, which offers free hosting only if you use a subdomain URL of WordPress ( i.e. http://www.YOUR_NAME.wordpress.com )

2) Download WordPress.org software and host a user owned & controlled website via any user owned domain ( i.e. http://www.YOUR_NAME.com )

3) Hire an independent programmer to set it all up for you OR

4) Hire a comprehensive WordPress setup, manage, maintain and regular upgrades support or Webmaster Host serviceincluding for ongoing support.


Context for how WordPress and its’ open source community of programmers work together to provide what is the leading solution for business websites worldwide. In fact over 60 million and 27% of the entire worldwide web choose WordPress based upon what follows!

How WordPress Open Source Software Works

Officially there are two versions of WordPress software, each mentioned above. WordPress is managed by a core development team of experienced individuals and it is also supported by a committed international community of independent ‘open source’ programmers & designers. The core development team manages software updates, which include feature improvement as well as any potential code vulnerability. The ‘open source community’ backs them up with immediate knowledge and support for improvements and bug fixes as well as an elaborate choice for plugin applications or design frameworks (themes, templates). The plugin applications or design frameworks are mostly paid- for solutions, understandably so considering pay supports the incentive to participate at a level of quality the discerning business requires. Simply put, there is no other solution with the depth of support and the no. of design & application options. Website and web footprint ownership makes WordPress the undeniable world leader for business. 

Open Source Software Defined

Open Source Software could be summarized as software that harnesses the collective knowledge & experience of many in order to support its’ ongoing advancement. Specifically, software source code is made available by someone (in the case of WordPress via a copyright license) that permits collaborative use, change, improvement and even modified redistribution. Many believe it’s the best way to manage software development because of how (assuming the support environment is committed) the ‘power of many’ can collaborate to enable rapid fixes, improvements and fine tuning.

By no means should we write off proprietary software because there are potential pitfalls! For instance, lots of people contributing to software code doesn’t necessarily guarantee a good thing. Like anything, without a hierarchy and good management things will go wrong. No one pays the ‘open source community’ to participate with WordPress; however, the core development team does manage what ultimately is and is not used. They are paid, likely, from what WordPress.com generates in upsell option’ revenue. In fact, studies have shown that open-source software has a higher, quicker flaw discovery turn around than proprietary. And let’s face it, even Microsoft has had their issues.

how wordpress advances by kinetic knowledgeWhy Do Developers, Programmers and Designers Participate With Open Source WordPress?

Why would so many great programmers and designers participate in something like the advancement of WordPress? Or to be specific, WordPress.org. 

From the core development team you have WordPress software code, which is managed and advanced via use in the WordPress.com environment. From that experience WordPress.org sees regular upgrades to its’ code. Simultaneously the ‘open source community’ produces paid- for themes [framework designs] and plugin applications for virtually any imaginable need. It’s the opportunity to sell these solutions to WordPress.org users that offers them an incentive to participate in bug fixes, random advancement challenges and/ or in defense against the random hack. The core team allows the ‘open source community’ to see what is coming down the pike update- wise. The community is then both encouraged to offer input and it gains insight for how to update their various themes and plugins.

Again, WordPress software is the core team’s full time paid job; whereas, the open source community of talented independent programmers & designers offer both support and paid- for theme designs and plugin applications. They do it part for the love of WordPress, part because their work may serve as recognition for a unique programming skill and part because it affords them an opportunity to be on the leading edge of paid- for WordPress solutions. Other words, it’s virtually free advertising and/or they do it to sell things in what has become a huge managed WordPress marketplace! Imagine it: build something great, form a successful business to sell it in a thriving marketplace and do it all without the need to borrow money. 

WordPress Website Business Requirements And Support

Understanding How WordPress Works | Kinetic Knowledge

As a business it’s important to understand all of the above. It’s also relevant to know that where there was once a lack of formal (open source) theme or plugin evaluation there is now! We recommend evaluating any WordPress theme or plugin in Theme Forest where there are public reviews, Q & A forums, ‘update timeliness information’ and visibility for how supportive the developers truly are. To demonstrate, consider this early on business scenario and how it should NEVER be a concern thanks to Theme Forest:

“I’m not familiar with what the protocol is for these matters but…many WP users have installed themes by XYZ. She has stopped updating her themes and her former website is down. I have tried contacting her w/o success. I was wondering whether protocol permits another theme developer to support the thousands of WP users who have these wonderful themes. Many of us hope they won’t be abandoned.”

Let’s face that it can be a miserably frustrating experience when something breaks or doesn’t jibe… and it happens with any software! Business people are often too busy to keep up with the development of software, not to mention vetting a developers’ reliability. In the long run it can pay to have experienced WordPress Webmaster Support and we’ve been providing it for 15 years now. And by the way, serious companies like CNN and Dow Jones deploy WordPress… and they hire good help.

Modern Mobile Website Effects Distinguish Brands!

Creative WordPress Website Effects Help Distinguish Brands



New modern mobile ( WordPress ) website effects, including video roll / rotating gifs, drop shadow headers, scrolling parallax images, full to boxed width displays and various others can go a long way towards impressing the average visitor and distinguishing your brand from the competition.

Why Is WordPress Better For Business Websites?

WordPress Websites For BusinessWhy Is WordPress Better For A Business Owner?

Often a business owner will approach us with a broken WordPress website. “Why is my website broken? What has or has not been done to cause this? Can you fix it and avoid these problems in the future? And the answers need to be explained in ‘layperson terms’ so that even the least tech’ savvy business owner can feel informed & confident. After all, for a business serious about its’ marketing, all that is at stake is the health of a brand, its’ ever- growing web footprint and money.

A WordPress website is, essentially, a collection of folders and files that you can own, control and move host to host without undermining web footprint, but it also has to be managed month over month. 

WordPress.org is software managed by thousands of people invested in its survival (= open source software) AND NOT its direct profit (= proprietary software). If these managers make a living from WordPress it is first because the core software advances and survives. They can then offer services that add value for a fee. Versus a proprietary solution, which more often than not prioritizes its’ own profitability before it does the value of the software to another, it makes a world of sense. In many ways it has been a best case scenario for a business interested in having control over the long term direction of its’ brand. Virtually limitless pre- coded affordable application options is also a unique advantage stemming from its status as open source.

And so over the course of 15+ years this ingenious, but intuitive content management system has emerged as the go- to website solution for serious marketers. WP doesn’t come without challenges and as above it must be managed & updated, but is anything of value to so many ever simple? As of April 2017 it is believed to be responsible for 27.8% of all the world’s websites.

WordPress Folders Defined

At its base there are three folders that work together, but have specific purpose. These include the wp-content, wp-admin, wp-includes folders.

I.) The wp-content directory folder is where a websites’ actual content lives, for instance it might hold plugins (i.e. functional applications like contact forms or e- commerce), themes (i.e. design framework), uploads (i.e. PDFs and images), etc. When WordPress core is first installed wp- content has nothing except maybe a basic default theme. It is the only folder that is constantly edited and so when core WordPress upgrades come, this folder goes untouched. Not to say that plugin applications and themes do not get their own upgrades because, in fact, they do and nowadays customization should be managed within documented parameters. Plugin application and theme updates often follow the core WordPress updates, and may conflict if theme or application customization was done outside set parameters. To be thorough here, when we say “WordPress core” we mean everything that is NOT in the wp-content folder. The setup makes upgrading core WordPress relatively easy because content and design remain separate from that framework.

II.) The wp-admin folder houses all the functions of the administrative panel of a WordPress site. It’s where one accesses the inner workings of WordPress, for instance to create or update a user account, a page, a blog post, etc.

III.) The wp-includes folder contains a bunch of function folders that make it all work. It’s where the meat of core WordPress code lives. These folders have a ton of classes and functions, that for instance enable a WordPress website to have a theme that can be designed or developed. It is all loaded before the theme so all themes can then have access to these classes and functions.

WordPress Files Defined

At the base or root level there aren’t many notable files; however, maybe the most important file in all of WordPress does and that is the wp-config.php. This is where the website’s base configuration code lies, such as its database connection information. When people try to hack a WordPress website they start here in order to try and access that database. Wp-config.php is also the only file one might or even should ever edit that’s not of the theme. The rest of the most important files end up in the actual theme itself. These might include:

  • style.css – file holds all the CSS ( cascading style sheets ) for theme(s) and theme info (name, author, version, etc.)
  • index.php – fallback template for all content
  • single.php – template for a single blog post
  • page.php – template for a single page
  • page-{templatename}.php – template for a different type of a page, maybe for instance without any sidebars
  • home.php – template for the front page
  • header.php – template for all header info and navigation
  • footer.php – template for all footer info
  • sidebar.php – template for a sidebar of the site
  • functions.php – where all theme functions live
  • comments.php – the comments template
  • 404.php – template displayed when a URL can’t be displayed

And while the definition of its files & folders, or its ingenious setup, may not be the most exciting thing to understand; what is especially great about WordPress for the business owner is they can not only continually grow an online presence over time, unencumbered with almost unlimited options for advancement & change, but own it all outright!