The Differences Between WordPress.com and WordPress.org

WordPress was launched in 2003 as an open source content management system built for blogging.  Since then, WordPress has become the most popular way to build a website. According to W3Techs, WordPress powers 32.8% of the world’s websites as of December 2018.  This includes both WordPress.com and WordPress.org which leads us to the question – what’s the difference between two?

WordPress

The code at WordPress.org is a free open source content management system. To use the WordPress software, you download it from WordPress.org.  Both WordPress.org and WordPress.com give you the ability to create and edit pages, posts, add photos and PDFs through the dashboard without seeing any of the underlying code.

WordPress.org

While the code is free, putting your website into the world requires you to purchase hosting from a hosting company.  WordPress.org gives loads of customization options and the responsibility of maintaining the code.  In a nutshell:

  • You need a web hosting account to run your WordPress site (most hosts offer one-click installation though I recommend hosting specifically for WordPress with daily backups of your site)
  • You can add plugins to extend the functionality
  • Access all backend code, database and files for more control of the how the website looks and performs
  • Use free, premium or custom themes (website layouts)
  • Forums where you can post questions but no email or live chat support
  • You’ll need to purchase your domain name, about $15/year.

There are loads of companies that can host WordPress websites.  I look for companies who have 24/7 phone support, are U.S. based (including tech support), provide daily backups and easy site restore features.  The backup and restore features make your day better in case a plugin update doesn’t work well, you’ll be able to get your site back online quickly.  This hosting usually runs between $72/year and $150/year.

WordPress.com

WordPress.com is based on WordPress.org code. You sign up for a WordPress.com account and have a working website right away. 

WordPress.com allows you to set up a website for free:

  • Your domain name will be something like:  mywebsite.wordpress.com instead of mywebsite.com
  • WordPress.com will have its logo at the bottom of the page
  • Is best for small websites & blogs (no online store)
  • Can only use the themes (website layout) and plugins (add new functions) that are preinstalled for you
  • Have access to email and live chat support
  • Your premium plan comes with an SSL certificate

If you want a business website with WordPress.com, you will have to pay at least $96 a year plus your domain name registration which usually costs about $15/year.  This means to have the premium plan with WordPress.com, you’ll be paying about $111/year to keep your website on the internet.  WordPress.com also offers a business plan for $300/year which would be similar to hosting your website using the code from WordPress.org.  Even with the paid premium plan, you’ll:

  • Have limited access to plugins and themes (paid themes are available)
  • No ability to tweak backend code if you’re feeling adventurous

When to use WordPress.com

If you’re not interested in paying for hosting, managing your code and plugin updates or paying someone to take care of that for you and do not need a highly customized website, WordPress.com can be a good solution for you. 

When to use WordPress.org

If you want to have a highly customized website, with functionality beyond a contact form (i.e. photo gallery, search engine optimization tools, etc.) then WordPress.org is the way to go. 

I also recommend you purchase an SSL certificate for several reasons:

  • When you log into your dashboard, your username and password are encrypted
  • Google now factors this in its algorithm
  • It’s considered best practices for websites

How to Edit an Existing Link in a Page or Post

Ok, step one is done.  You learned how to create a link in your page or post.  (Going forward, I’m just going to use the word page but these edits will work both on pages and posts.)

Sometime after that link is created, saved and the page is published, you realize you need to update that link to something else.  Here are some instructions on how to do just that.

Editing an Existing Link

  1. Open the page you want to edit.
  2. Click on the link you want to change. A small window should pop up showing the link, a pencil (edit) icon and a broken chain link icon (remove link).
  3. Click on the pencil (edit) in the pop-up window
  4. The tool features in the pop-up window will change to an Apply arrow in a blue box and a gear wheel.
  5. Triple click on your link. You’ll know you’ve done this right when the background around your link turns blue and the link text turns white.
  6. Paste (Ctrl-V) the new link in the box.
  7. Click the Apply arrow to apply the updated link change.
  8. Update your page.
  9. Check your link.

How to edit an existing link in a page or post.

Breaking an Existing Link

  1. Open the page you want to edit.
  2. Click on the link you want to change. A small window should pop up showing the link, a pencil (edit) icon and a broken chain link icon (remove link).
  3. Click on the broken chain link icon.
  4. Your link should be removed.
  5. Publish or Update your changes.

How to Create a Simple Photo Gallery

Photo galleries are a great way to show a group of related photos on your website.  WordPress has a Create Gallery Media Library tool within the to help you create that first simple photo gallery.  Here are the steps:

Creating a Simple Photo Gallery

A photo gallery can go anywhere you’d like within a Page or Post or on a Page by itself.  Place your cursor where you want your gallery to appear and click into that spot.

Click the Add Media button

Once you’ve placed your cursor where your want to have your image gallery, click on the Add Media button to open the Media Uploader.

 

Create a Gallery link.

In the popup window, click the Create a Gallery option from the list on the left.  You’ll be brought to the Create Gallery page.  This is where you can click on all the images you want to add in your gallery.  If the images are not in your Media Library yet, no worries, just click on the blue Upload Files to upload your images.

Once you’ve selected your images, click on the blue Create a new gallery button in the lower right corner of the screen.

You’ll be brought to the Edit Gallery screen.

Edit Gallery

Edit Gallery screenshot.

From the Edit Gallery screen, you can give your images captions, click and drag to re-arrange the order and remove an image from the gallery.  If you decide to remove an image from the gallery, just click the X on that image.  No worries, you will not be removing the image from the Media Library.  You can use images you upload and images already in your Media Library by clicking on the Add to Gallery link on the left.

In the Gallery Settings, you can decide if the image links to its Attachment Page, Media Page or not have a link.  You can decide on the number of columns and if the images will be in a random order each time your gallery is loaded in a browser.  You can also decide if the image in your gallery will be Thumbnail, Medium, Large or Full Size.

Once you have your photos in the right order and the settings done, you are almost there.  Click on the blue Insert Gallery link at the bottom right corner of the screen.  The gallery will then be inserted in your Page or Post and you’ll see something like this:

Simple photo gallery in Page or Post.

If you want to make any changes to your gallery, click on the pencil.  To remove the gallery, click on the X.  If you’re happy with the gallery on your Page, click the Publish or Update button to save your changes.

WordPress Dashboard

The WordPress Dashboard can be a little daunting to the first time user.  Below is a quick overview:

The Dashboard

WordPress Dashboard.

  1. Dashboard title – This is where you will see the name of the site (upper left in the top horizontal menu bar).  If you click on your site name, you’ll link to the front end of your website.
  2. On the right hand side of that same horizontal menu bar is the name of the user that is logged into the dashboard.  Hovering over your name brings up a popup window – this is where you can log out of the dashboard.
  3. The left sidebar menu is the WordPress main menu.  This is where you’ll create Pages or Posts, access the Media Library, see the Comments made on your Posts and Pages, access Widgets and Themes under Appearance, add Plugins to your website, see who is a User on your website and more.
  4. Screen Options – click on this button and a window will drop down.  In this window you have the opportunity to choose what you see on Dashboard.  Screen Options is also available on Pages, Posts, Media  Library, Plugins, etc.
    1. Clicking the Help link will drop down a smaller window where you can get help related to the page you are on.
  5. Welcome to WordPress – this is quick links to customize your site (blue button), write a blog post, manage widgets and more.
  6. At a Glance will quickly tell you how many Posts and Pages you have in your website.
  7. Activity will list your recently published Posts.
  8. Need to start drafting a Post quickly?  Try Quick Draft.
  9. WordPress Events and News will include upcoming WordPress Meetups, recent WordPress updates, WordCamps and other news.
  10. Footer
    1. On the left –  a link to WordPress.com
    2. On the right – a quick note to let you know what version of WordPress you are using.  This information is helpful when you’re considering adding a plugin.  Remember to make sure new plugins are compatible with your version of WordPress.  Note:  You should always be updated to the most current version of WordPress.

How To Embed Videos in Your Website

Yes, you can embed videos in your website.  You could upload the videos into your Media Library, but that is not the best choice.  A much better alternative is to first upload your video to YouTube or Vimeo.   Once you have uploaded your video to YouTube or Vimeo, copy the video URL.  You can find the URL here:

Embed video using the YouTube or Vimeo URL.

Go back to your WordPress website and paste the video URL in the post or page editor and watch the magic.  WordPress will automatically fetch the embed code and display your video for you.  Publish or Update your changes.