4 Reasons You Should Never Use WordPress.com (And 4 Reasons You Should)

by 62 02/24/2012

First I want to clear up the confusion between WordPress, WordPress.com and WordPress.org.

WordPress is WordPress right? Not really. There are very important differences between them.

wordpress.org

Firstly there is WordPress – the blogging software platform. Secondly there is WordPress.org – the organization that provides you with free downloadable installations of the WordPress software. Finally there’s WordPress.com – the commercial entity that provides you with the WordPress software as a service which is ready to use. Phew!

You can download and install a free version of WordPress from WordPress.org yourself. Alternatively you can install it easily through some hosting providers listed here. This means that you and your hosting provider are responsible for your WordPress installation. It also means that you need to do backups, security updates and any upgrades that are necessary yourself.

wordpress.com

The other option is where you use the WordPress blogging software hosted on WordPress.com servers. All backups, security updates and upgrades are handled for you by WordPress.com.

However, there are a number of constraints which I outline below.

Here are some of the biggest surprises I got when working with WordPress.com.

1. You Can’t Alter Page Structure

While you can change HTML in the body of your page, you have no access to the HTML of the <head> and <footer> sections of your page. You also have no access to the PHP files you would normally have access to on a self-hosted WordPress.org installation. What this also means is that you can’t add CSS or JavaScript links or blocks to your webpage as you normally would.

Any Javascript code added to the body of your page is cleanly removed when you update the page. So how can you add in that cool new JavaScript widget you use on all your other websites? You can’t. You are limited to whatever widgets WordPress.com provides you with.

When it comes to displaying multiple images there are 2 options – as a slide show and as a gallery.

Thinking of embedding an <iframe> from another site as a workaround? It won’t work. WordPress.com has a list of external sites it allows connections to and chances are your site is not one of them.

So how do you add custom behavior to your WordPress.com website? You can choose from a list of embeddable options such as YouTube and Google Maps as well as a list of supported widgets. There are a number of widgets you can use but the list is by no means exhaustive.

widget-options

2. Limited Themes & Plug-Ins

Plugins are one of the many features that makes WordPress a pleasure to use. How about if you wanted to install some plugins? You can’t do it.

It’s as simple as that.

With a self-hosted WordPress.org site, you can install as many themes as you like and from any source such as Theme Forest. With WordPress.com you are constrained to the themes they allow.

There are 160 themes at the moment. Some are free and others are premium themes (cost money). With WordPress.org, the number of available themes is endless.

template-options

Because you can’t change the structure of the page, you are quite dependent on the structure of your theme and the features that the author allows you to change. This becomes an issue because each theme has different options you can and cannot change.

theme-options

Some have footers you can change, some do not. Each has a different size header image. It can be quite tedious to find a theme that is both suitable in layout and functionality.

3. It Costs To Add Style

You’ve finally settled on a theme and now you want to change a few little things. On WordPress.com you need to purchase a Custom Design Upgrade to use customized CSS on your blog. Currently it sells for $30 per blog per year. It could get quite pricey depending on the number of blogs you want to customize.

custom-design

For the $30 Custom Design Upgrade you get a simple text editor to update your CSS. There is no visual editor.

css-customization

In addition, you are not allowed to hide the copyright information on your theme. This is fine for personal blogs but may not be for a business blog or if you are creating blogs for clients.

You also don’t have access to the mobile theme for your blog – even if you purchased the Custom Design Upgrade. This is fine if the mobile theme “just works.” But sometimes it doesn’t.

theme-before-mobile

The above screen is skewed on iPhone 4 with the image border running all the way down the screen:

mobile-theme-after

 

4. The Content and Copyright Issue

Actually, there is no issue about who “owns” the content on a WordPress.com site. Their TOS states clearly that they have royalty-free access to your data to promote your blog:

“By submitting Content to Automattic for inclusion on your Website, you grant Automattic a world-wide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, modify, adapt and publish the Content solely for the purpose of displaying, distributing and promoting your blog. If you delete Content, Automattic will use reasonable efforts to remove it from the Website, but you acknowledge that caching or references to the Content may not be made immediately unavailable.”

There’s also the question about termination:

“ Automattic may terminate your access to all or any part of the Website at any time, with or without cause, with or without notice, effective immediately.”

WordPress.com may also choose to place advertisements on your website. You can have these removed by paying $30 a blog per blog per year.

4 Reasons To Use WordPress.com

Given the above constraints, a designer might wonder why they would ever choose WordPress.com over a self-hosted WordPress.org site. Here are a few.

1. Backups – WordPress.com takes care of all backups for you. In their own words:

“ If a very large meteor were to hit all the WordPress.com servers and destroy them beyond repair, all of your data would still be safe and we could have your blog online within a couple of days (after the meteor situation died down, of course)”

2. Availability – WordPress.com is spread across hundreds of servers. The likelihood of all them failing at the same time is highly unlikely. This is not the case with your self-hosted WordPress.org installation. If it fails, all your blogs hosted on that server fail with it.

3. Security – WordPress.com manages security for you and also provide fixes for any security issues that may turn up. Given the spate of recent WordPress hacks this is a critical issue. This more than anything would give someone a reason to move to WordPress.com.

Also following good security practices like securing your admin panel through SSL is a simple one-click operation.

When using WordPress.org, you have to install plugins to get this working or update your server to use SSL and install an SSL certificate.

4. The value bundle – You can purchase the WordPress.com value bundle and gain access to the most useful options such as Custom Designs and Fonts, No Advertisements, Custom domain names, and Video for a $100 per blog per year.

value-bundle

To sum it all up, using WordPress.com may be a wonderful choice for someone that wants a turnkey solution that is very easy to use.

But be careful, a WordPress.com site is not completely under your control and there are some very serious design limitations.

About 

I am a co-founder of Unique Imprints, a web design company that focusses on getting small businesses on the web. When I'm not designing web pages you can find me learning programming languages or debating on usability.

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62 COMMENTS

Lynda Williams

Nice overview of the options for hosting.

February 24, 2012 Reply

Turnkey Solutions

The Holistic lifestyle and fitness program by Estee Clair Academy for esthetics & rejuvenation is Yoga based, all-round and flexible fitness program. We aim to achieve this by assessing individual physical constitution which helps in customizing & streamlining workout programs, food pattern and lifestyle to best suit the physical constitution.

February 25, 2012 Reply

Lisa

I just had a WordPress.com site disappear so I do offer a warning of caution as you do not own it. Just be sure to use a reputable hosting site when you move it to the .org format.

February 25, 2012 Reply

    Russ Henneberry

    @Lisa – Wow. That’s a bad day when your site just dissappears.

    February 27, 2012 Reply

    Diane

    Lisa that is so scary! Do you know why it just disappeared? Don’t they have to give you a reason?

    January 21, 2013 Reply

    Matt

    Blgger is worse, they removed one of my blogs once, they said something like it went against one of their policies (without saying which policy it was!) and removed the site without giving me any notice, nor the chance to change and/or delete whatever it was they didn’t like. I had just started the blog and was writing some basic law firm web design stuff so it’s not like it was offensive! I will not ever put another blog on one of those free platforms again, not if I want to keep it running!

    May 12, 2014 Reply

      Kathryn Aragon

      Wow, Matt, that must have been frustrating. I hope you found another platform for your site. Thanks for sharing your experience!

      May 12, 2014 Reply

      neil

      Matt, I have heard similar stories in the past. It’s definitely not something I would want anyone to go through. Keep up the great work and thanks for the feedback :)

      May 12, 2014 Reply

Ruby

WordPress.com doesn’t like piggybackers. If you’re planning to use it to promote your site or blog, forget it. You’ll get deleted in a flash :)

August 20, 2012 Reply

Jean

Thanks for this, unfortunately the business bundle has gone up to $199.

February 6, 2013 Reply

Sparkster Hubs

I will never ever use WordPress, their Terms & Conditions clearly state they ACCEPT NO RESPONSIBILITY for breach of copyright/intellectual property rights and plagiarism on their website and they offer NO WAY OF CONTACTING THEM, THEY DO NOT SUPPORT EMAIL!

Given the fact that I have just found a load of my copyrighted works published by somebody else’s blog on WordPress.com and they do not allow comments and offer no way of contacting I am extremely annoyed, losing income and I have nobody to submit a DMCA complaint to.

As far as I am concerned WORDPRESS IS AN ILLEGAL WEBSITE which does not abide by internet law.

February 22, 2013 Reply

Jazmin

Hello there,

Thanks for the great write-up. What about the significance of having a blog that is being promoted through the tags and other channels on WordPress.com? Seems like a great way to get exposure to your blog that you wouldn’t normally, especially when you’re first starting out.

March 11, 2013 Reply

abin

is there any special price for wordpress.org other than hosting price?

April 19, 2013 Reply

    Kathryn Aragon

    That’s right, Abin. There’s no cost for WordPress.org itself, just hosting, a premium theme (which is recommended) and any premium plugins you might want.

    April 19, 2013 Reply

moving van

great tips i will take them into consideration when i use my next site

May 8, 2013 Reply

Don

Good heavens – why not just hire a good web designer/developer? There are a lot of good ones out there, and you can get an enterprise-quality, fully customized, HTML5/CSS3 website with database functionality, and ‘all the bells and whistles’ for just a couple of thousand bucks in most cases.
*Helpful tip – check references, and ask to see a portfolio before hiring a web company. ;)

September 29, 2013 Reply

Benjamin Slattery

Nice Post. Thanks for sharing!

December 2, 2013 Reply

Hidayat Mundana

Everywhere always happen pros and cons. You are like and there is no love. Including when using WordPress.com.
But the service Jasa Pembuatan Website Pekanbaru, I chose to use a more flexible WordPress.Org with little cost.

December 29, 2013 Reply

Ilya

Thanks for review! Can someone clarify for me if it is possible to use iFrame embeds with a premium $100 a year plan?

January 29, 2014 Reply

Cinnamon B

Wow, that’s an eye opener. I’m using wordpress.com as a blog platform temporarily until I can get my own domain/hosting, then I will certainly switch to my own wordpress platform.

January 31, 2014 Reply

Sonja

Great article! Thanks for clearing some things up for me.

February 7, 2014 Reply

wpdil

Great article! But i thinks self hosted blog is better than wordpress.com hosting.

February 25, 2014 Reply

Tim

Stupidly titled article. WordPress blogs that are self hosted are a security nightmare, we had 2 blogs all patched and updated and they were hacked and gave access to our main website. Use wordpress.ORG if you value security – it’s locked down for a reason!

February 28, 2014 Reply

widodo

it is verry good information, by the way, right now i use the wordpress commercial in my site, but in dummy bog habitually i use the blogger.

March 6, 2014 Reply

Tracy Pease

I think this may apply to businesses and people who are trying to make a living through blogging, but the vast majority of WordPress.com users are not doing that. They just want to tell a story, share a skill, or start a community. And, WordPress allows them to do just that with absolutely no web building skills, no HTML, and completely free. I’ve been blogging on the .com side for more than two years and have had absolutely no problem. I feel safe knowing they take care of everything. I knew nothing about blogging when I started on a whim and I never would’ve been able to do it without the ease of use of WordPress.com.

Ads are only added to very busy sites and only for people not signed in. They’ve also started a program where .com users can sign up to have ads on their site and make a little money off of it themselves. WordPress actually went many years giving away websites and with no advertising department at all.

They don’t have a way to contact them unless you are a .org/bigger business user. But, the forums are excellent and WordPress employees are constantly surveying it. I always get my problem answered within a day.

So, while it’s true that all the limitations listed in this article exist, it’s also true that you are getting a good product and service completely free. If you want more, go .org, self-host, and pay more. If you are making money on it, that shouldn’t be a problem.

I read the Blog Tyrant (www.blogtyrant.com) regularly and he says WordPress is the only platform serious sites should use. WordPress controls 17% of the Internet, which is the largest sole controllership on the Internet. Fortune had a great article with all of this in it last year. They use WordPress, too.

The Blog Tyrant also says to make money, you MUST use .org and self-host. He holds the record for making the most money selling a single website and it’s all he does for a living, so I would guess he knows and what he says does align with what you’re saying here.

Personally, I in no way want my site to become a job. I’ve been contacted by people wanting to advertise and have been glad to have an easy excuse to say no. I’ve been taking a break and I check in on my site from time to time and never have to worry about it. I pay the $99 for the bundle every year, which is feel is so little for what they give you. I do it because I like WordPress and I like the design control it gives you. You can also get into the CSS with the design pack.

In the end, this was a good and accurate article, but the headline and the way it began made me think you didn’t understand the .com/.org difference. Otherwise, many good points.

March 29, 2014 Reply

Cherie

Right now I am currently on the free WordPress.com site and need to be able to add my own html code, for forms, videos and buttons. Does anyone here know if upgrading to the .org will get me that, or do I need a certain theme, plug in or widget for that? Thanks

April 19, 2014 Reply

    Kathryn Aragon

    Hi Cherie. In WordPress.org, you can work out of the WYSIWYG editor on one tab and the HTML text editor on another tab. That’s true no matter what theme you use. Let us know if you have any other questions.

    April 20, 2014 Reply

Brittius

Wish that I was computer literate. My WordPress.com blog has been dead for weeks. Most of the time, I cannot sign in, then the dashboard is dead. Half the dashboard has been missing over two weeks.
Previously, I had asked WordPress.com for help because for five years, I cannot get images onto the sidebar, but, trolls were sent by them.
Probably time for me to quit blogging or go elsewhere.

April 24, 2014 Reply

    Kathryn Aragon

    Wow, Brittius, that’s certainly reason not to go with WordPress.com. WordPress.org gives so many more options, it may be worth considering. Good luck!

    April 24, 2014 Reply

Johny Why

You missed the most important reason to use wordpress.com– it’s an easy, simple way to get on the web for people with zero budget and zero technical skill.

May 7, 2014 Reply

    neil

    Johnny, great points. It’s all about ease of use when it comes to a CMS. Thanks for sharing your view :)

    May 8, 2014 Reply

Johny Why

–and it’s also a relatively painless introduction to wordpress, before moving up to the much more powerful wordpress.org.

May 7, 2014 Reply

    Kathryn Aragon

    Hi Johny. There’s always a need for an introductory product… even with WordPress. The dotcom version is certainly simpler, but I’m not sure it’s a huge cost savings. Thanks for sharing.

    May 7, 2014 Reply

      Johny Why

      FREE seems like a pretty good cost-savings to me. Yes, there’s advertising on wordpress.com, so once someone is expert enough, they can move up to the also free, no-advertising wordpress.org.

      May 7, 2014 Reply

Mundana Kakabu

thank you
I finally know the correct answer to the question my clients

May 27, 2014 Reply

Husam

I totally agree with you about the four rreasons that you mentioned above about why you should never choose WordPress framework to bulid your own website..

June 7, 2014 Reply

Jack

I’ve enjoyed reading the article and your comments. Right now I’m on blogstpot, but I’m considering setting up a wordpress blog. I’d like to start with wordpress.com, perhaps later switch to wordpress.org. I wonder, is it difficult to transfer the content along with all photos, descriptions, etc? Thanks!

July 8, 2014 Reply

    Neil Patel

    Jack, I would stick with your current blog platform. Unless, of course your traffic numbers aren’t that high.

    July 9, 2014 Reply

Jari Ullah

Still after this, you are using wordpress :) Well I don’t find wordpress good due to all mentioned reasons and one reason is personal :)

July 19, 2014 Reply

    Kathryn Aragon

    Thanks for your input, Jari. The distinction is WordPress.com versus WordPress.org. We use .org because it’s such a flexible platform. But each website owner should use what works best for them.

    July 20, 2014 Reply

    Neil Patel

    Jari, everyone has their own preference :)

    July 20, 2014 Reply

Jack

Hi Neil,

Thanks for your reply.
I’ve been using blogspot for several years, but sometimes I find it not very user friendly and I’ve been told that wordpress is much better, that’s why I think about also running a blog there. On the other hand, I don’t want to invest too much time (and money) in blogs-after all, I just like to write and I don’t expect to make any money; besides, with this kind of blogs (travel-journals type) I don’t think I’m going to get a lot of hits anyway.

Regards,

Jack

July 20, 2014 Reply

    Neil Patel

    Jack, I understand your concerns. However, you should really consider the benefits of blogging. You can really monetize if you do all the right things.

    July 21, 2014 Reply

Amrish

I really like wordpress.org. Even though it’s a little daunting having to deal with hosting and all the one-off issues of being on your own, it’s really not that difficult for newbies. My only issue with it is time. When I had blogs in the .org format, it was a lot more time consuming to maintain.

While I like wordpress.com, you can’t monetize it and paying out of pocket to remove ads makes little sense when you can get a Blogger blog for free that you can monetize (at least from my perspective).

I’m not really in blogging for the money and I have a lot to learn about how to be a better blogger, but, at the basic core of the business side of my brain, I can’t wrap my head around the sense in using WP.com.

I would recommend that if you have the time to actually develop and maintain a WP.org site, it’s the best avenue out there for newbie bloggers. But, and this goes back to the basic Blogger v WP debate, if you don’t have the time, and if you don’t mind the restrictions that go along with developing on Blogger, I’d opt for Blogger. Just my opinion.

August 2, 2014 Reply

    Neil Patel

    Amrish, thanks for the share. We look forward to hearing more from you. Different people have different preferences and it’s always great to hear perspectives.

    August 3, 2014 Reply

Aleksandre

My own experience with WordPress.com has consistently been sub-optimal, although perhaps my expectations of their service and the maturity of their personnel were simply too high:

While they will always have at least one volunteer hanging around their forums warning of the terrors beyond their borders for obvious self-serving reasons, the best move I ever made was moving my blog to a self-hosted site. Really, if you can regularly manage not to run headfirst into door jambs, you can manage and protect a self-hosted blog. All the tools you need are easily and publicly available in multiple locations.

August 4, 2014 Reply

    Kathryn Aragon

    Agreed, Aleksandre. I can’t imagine why anyone would shy away from a self-hosted option.

    August 5, 2014 Reply

    Neil Patel

    Aleksandre, thanks for the great feedback. Looking forward to hearing more from you :)

    August 5, 2014 Reply

      HMS

      Thanks, Neil, but I most often patronize sites where my comments which get posted are identical to those I submit. What is the problem with your site that caused it to not only drop my included link but also changed my submitted name from my own initials HMS to “Aleksandre”?

      This obviously renders every other comment here equally suspect of being similarly massaged, you realize.

      August 5, 2014 Reply

        Kathryn Aragon

        Hi HMS. Our policy is to only use people’s names in comments and not to accept self-promotional links. It’s a hard line to draw, so sometimes we get it wrong. HMS, at first glance, looked like a business, not a person. And yes, I remove most links from comments. If you notice, nothing else was changed. Our policy is meant to keep the quality of comments high and to reduce spam. We’re sorry if that offends, but we want to create an environment that’s useful for all our visitors.

        August 6, 2014 Reply

          HMS

          Thanks for explaining, Kathryn. What you actually accomplished by removing my link was to render a verifiable claim linked into the WordPress support forum itself into unsubstantiated hearsay which you then had no trouble endorsing yourself in pursuit of promoting crazyegg.

          A more straightforward and helpful policy might be to advise commenters in advance of the editing their comments will undergo at your hands so that they can better produce the types of comments you prefer as shown above.

          August 6, 2014


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