WordPress was originally developed as a blogging platform and has become the most popular website CMS framework in the world (Ref: https://trends.builtwith.com/cms).
It comes in two ‘flavours’: WordPress.org and WordPress.com. But although they are both provided by the same company, they do work slightly differently from each other.
One advantage is you don't have to worry about security updates; WordPress.com is automated in that respect, so a compromised website isn’t something a WordPress.com user will ever have to worry about.
WordPress.com is probably the easier way to set up a professional website. The disadvantages are that WordPress.com hosts your content, meaning your website is hosted with them and they can do what they like with it.
According to https://en.wordpress.com/tos Responsibility of Contributors:
‘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. This license allows Automattic to make publicly-posted content available to third parties selected by Automattic’
If you’re comfortable with this, then there is no issue.
With WordPress.com there’s no choice but to use their domain, for example: ‘yourwebsitehere.wordpress.com’ rather than ‘yourwebsitehere.com’. The latter looks a bit more professional.
As the ‘.org’ part suggests, this is the non-profit making arm of WordPress. It’s what we call self-hosted - this means that you download (or run and install via your hosting provider) and install your very own website on whatever hosting company you’ve chosen; for example this could be 20i or Heart Internet to name but two.
WordPress.org is open source software which comes under the GPU (General Public User Licence) agreement. This means a website developer cannot at any point obstruct access to the code of the website - even if they wrote it themselves, they are breaking the licence’s conditions, see https://wordpress.org/about/gpl for licensing terms.
Unlike WordPress.com you will need to run this yourself or get an expert to do it. Like your phone, tablet or computer, sometimes it will come up with a message to tell you that updates need to be run. You know that if you ignore these your device will get slower and less compatible with the programs, and less secure!
WordPress.org is the same, think of the WordPress core as being like the operating system of your website and the plugins as the programs. Not running security updates means your website will become slow, less and less compatible with the plugins and become subject to hackers.
One of the things a compromised website may do is send out masses of spam which will blacklist your mail server, meaning you will lose access to your email, your website will go down, and your website could be defaced with inappropriate content. If there are no recent backups prior to this event it may take a lot of time and money to resurrect. So it’s really important to keep your website up to date.
We run this on all our websites with our care package so our customers don’t have to worry.
WordPress.org and JetPack
Automattic, the owners of WordPress, also own the Jetpack plugin. And if you’ve ever used it you’ll know that this plugin allows you to post to Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms. In order to do so, you need to set up a WordPress.com account, which means your content will be going through WordPress.com’s website. If you've read the section above, this does then mean that WordPress has the right to ‘reproduce, modify, adapt and publish the Content solely for the purpose of displaying, distributing, and promoting your blog’. Which personally I think is worth it considering because of how much easier it makes things when you want to publish to as wide an audience as possible
The main advantage of WordPress.org or self-hosted WordPress websites is you’re in control, and it’s a professional solution that can be built upon.