WordPress is an open source publishing platform for the web. It allows easy content management and publishing via the web browser to the web. There are four versions of WordPress.
WordPress – Self-Hosted Version
WordPress, the self-hosted version of WordPress, is often called “dot org” or “full version.” It is the version of WordPress used by those with paid hosting services or “self-hosted.”
The is the most flexible of the WordPress versions as the user can choose from any WordPress Theme and customize it fully or create their own, and add any WordPress Plugin, script or custom code to their site. The self-hosted version of WordPress can be used by beginner or expert.
This version is appropriate for any individual or company.
WordPress.com – The Hosted Version
WordPress.com is the hosted version of WordPress, a blog hosting service where anyone can sign up for a free blog and have their say on the web. Millions of blogs are hosted by WordPress.com and many blogs host multiple authors.
WordPress.com is often called the “limited” or “free version” which is not completely true. WordPress.com is limited only in the fact that you must comply with the WordPress.com Terms of Service and cannot install WordPress Plugins or unapproved WordPress Themes, but much of the most popular WordPress Plugin features and needs of typical bloggers are provided such as integrated stats, social media integration, comment spam protection, writing and linking help options, and more through built-in options and optional WordPress Widgets. Users can pay a small annual fee to customize their WordPress Themes for original designs, breaking the template look many hosting services offer. A variety of custom options are available for a small annual fee such as domain remapping (having your own dot com and not subdomain URL), additional space, video uploading and storage, unlimited private users, etc.
WordPress.com is often thought of as the “baby” beginner version of WordPress as it requires no technical expertise to use, however do not underestimate its lack of code interaction. It is a WordPress blog with its own powerful abilities under the hood. It is exceptionally SEO-friendly and updated more frequently and faster than the self-hosted version of WordPress which requires administrative action to update. Thus it is a safe and secure publishing environment.
WordPress.com is also the demo and testing version of WordPress for the WordPress Foundation development team. New features are often tested in a limited or widespread across the WordPress.com network before they are included in the final release for the self-hosted version of WordPress.
WordPress.com also offers a VIP version where site owners can literally get hand-holding service from WordPress.com staff and developers. This doesn’t come cheap but for many companies, it’s cheaper than their current hosting plans and services. Examples include CNN, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, All Things Digital, Time Inc., People Magazine, Flickr, NFL, and many more. Free WordPress.com users benefit from the funding these companies provide as well as the code developed through those sites and services.
This version is appropriate for any individual or business.
A managed WordPress site is one that is hosted but works like a self-hosted WordPress site. The site often uses the WordPress Multisite version but gives the site owner the freedom to add Themes and Plugins of their choice.
While more expensive, the benefits are much greater than self-hosting. All updates for the WordPress core, backups, and security issues are maintained by the web host, and they also offer a variety of support services to meet the site owner’s needs beyond that of a typical web host where the user generally does all the work, using only a few tools the host provides.
The best benefit of managed WordPress hosting is that such web hosts know their WordPress. They are experienced in WordPress hosting and site deployment and management, and not just server management. Most are WordPress specialists.
Managed WordPress hosting is appropriate for any individual or business that wishes to have the care and support of a WordPress-centric web host. Most choosing a managed WordPress web host have an established, income producing business.
WordPress MS or Blog Network Version
The third version of WordPress is called WordPress MS, Multisite, or Blog Network. Built into the self-hosted version of WordPress and the engine running WordPress.com, WordPress MS allows site owners to host more than one blog on their site as subdomains. This is ideal for businesses with different departments, schools, non-profits, and companies wishing to offer compartmentalized content run by different administrators and authors.
WordPress MS is not for those who wish to run or install multiple blogs from one interface. There are several WordPress Plugins that make this process easier. WordPress MS creates two levels of users. The Super Admin manages the entire network, controlling the various options and features each individual blog or the entire network has access. Individual blog “owners” or administrators control their own blogs and generally have no access to the other sites on the network. The Super Admin can set the site to look seamless between subdomains, or allow each subdomain administrator to design their own look and feel, much like WordPress.com blogs.
Which WordPress to Choose?
If you just want to have your say, choose WordPress.com.
If you want to play with code, choose WordPress.
If you wish to have ads and monetize your site, choose WordPress.
If you wish to have multiple authors and no wish for ads, choose WordPress.com.
If you wish to have an intricately designed site with a customized Theme, choose WordPress.
If you wish to do all of the above but not manage the updates, backups, and security aspects of self-hosting, choose managed WordPress hosting.
If you wish to have multiple authors with complete control over their independent blogs, choose WordPress MS.
If you wish to have various departments or agencies represented with their own sites within the network, choose WordPress MS.