The short answer:
WordPress.com is where WordPress (the company) hosts WordPress sites (much like Wix or SquareSpace). WordPress.org is where you can download WordPress the open-source content management software to use on your site. The easy answer is .com is for beginners, and .org is for developers. It does get confusing because there’s WordPress the company, WordPress the software, and WordPress the service WordPress the company offers that hosts WordPress the software sites. Got it?
The long answer:
WordPress is an open-source software that allows users to manage their websites through their software, also called a “content management system.” Because many folks are nontechnical, WordPress (the company) offers their software in a prepackaged and installed format through their .com site. This is super handy if you need a website up ASAP and super cheap (or free) – this is phenomenal if you’re just testing concepts. Please see the step-by-step process below on how to get started with WordPress.com.
If you are a developer looking for tips on how to install WordPress the developer software, check out this great video on how to install it manually, and another on how to install it using CPanel. (Note: that second link seems a bit dated, but it’s the same general principle. Log into CPanel, scroll to WordPress or the auto-installers, click to run the script, and follow the prompts.) And for those of you who don’t want to get into the tech side of this, please know if you call your hosting provider they can install it for you (usually for free). It takes all of 5 minutes to run the script that does it automatically.
To set up a WordPress hosted site just follow these instructions below:
Note: This is accurate as of March 7th, 2016. Websites are always changing so you might find the steps slightly altered if you’re visiting this in the far future.
Once on the website WordPress.com, click on “Create Website” to get started:
Choose your site design. I really suggest keeping it simple because you can a) always change your theme later, b) simple = easy and easy to read. If you’re just getting started don’t make it hard on yourself by choosing something like Dyad and having to spend hours guessing how to crop images to make them look right on your site.
Choose whether or not you want a subdomain or domain name. The difference? A subdomain is an address that is put underneath an existing address. i.e. http://mysubdomain.creationdepot.com A domain address is the creationdepot.com part. In this case if you choose a subdomain it’s free, and it will be under the wordpress.com domain. Like I said before, this isn’t a half bad idea if you’re JUST testing out a concept. You can always change it later, but if you’re working on something more permanent you’re going to want to go with a regular domain name to preserve your online appearance. I’m choosing a subdomain for this example.
Choose your service plan. Their premium service is worth it if you’re going to buy a domain name anyway instead of using a subdomain. They charge $99/year and include the domain name as part of that fee. So for 20% of what you may pay for anyway you could have no ads and if you get stuck they offer e-mail support. Both of those are not available with the freebie version so it’s something to consider, but – you can always upgrade later.
The last step is choosing an email address to associate with the account, and username/password. Then you’re in and can start working on your site.
I hope this was helpful! If you have any questions on this please leave a comment below!