What is WordPress?

WordPress is an online program that allows anyone to create, edit and manage their own website. It is a type of program known as a Content Management System (CMS). WordPress is the most widely used CMS in the world, in use by more than 60 million websites, including 33.6% of the top 10 million websites, as of April 2019. See the WordPress Wiki.

There are essentially two versions of WordPress, both created by a company called automattic.com. The version predominantly used by web agencies such as Site Shack is the "dot org" version; this is a free and open-source content management system (CMS). The "dot org" version is installed at a web host and developed in that location.

Because the "dot org" version is "open-source," it can be recoded and tweaked for purposes of sophisticated customization. There are also thousands of third-party plugins, widgets and templates that can be utilized to extend the appearance and function of a "dot org" website. Typically, these are created by WordPress's user community. They include image galleries, forms, ecommerce components, membership sections, forums, mailing lists — really, anything you can think of.

There are multiple paid levels of the "dot com" version along with a limited free version.

WordPress.org vs WordPress.com

The WordPress "dot com" version is licensed on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted on Automattic's web servers. Like Squarespace, it utilizes what is known as a "Software as a Service" (SaaS) model, sometimes referred to as "on-demand software."

One of the more significant ways that WordPress "dot com" differs from WordPress "dot org" has to do with restrictions: A web developer/designer can significantly modify her open source "dot org" website with her own code and the vast selection of third-party extensions. The deployment of such alterations is not allowed with the "dot com" version; the designer/developer is restricted to the use of the plugins, widgets and templates provided by Automattic (except for the Business and Ecommerce plans.

Site Shack also develops in the "dot com" version of WordPress. Contact us for more information about how we work with WordPress.com.

The best comparison chart we've seen was created by WP Beginner: WP Beginner's comparison chart.

For more information, see support.wordpress.com/com-vs-org/.

What does Site Shack love about WordPress?

Since its arrival in 2003 on the blogging software scene (or do-it-yourself website builder scene), WordPress has evolved thoughtfully and carefully, continually providing better and better resources for building a website.

Its features include:

  • Comprehensive, clear, plain language documentation that has kept pace with WordPress technical development.
  • Brilliant (logical, consistently presented) User Interface, version after version.
  • An enormous and talented user community — most of whom contribute in different and important ways to every aspect of WordPress — making it a CMS that literally reflects the community's needs and recommendations.
  • Both the internal and third-party tools for building your site — no matter if it's "dot org" or "dot com" — are incredibly abundant, well documented, creative and smart. But best of all, they allow for tremendous flexibility in design, function and capacity.