Back in 2010, I remember teaching an “Intro to WordPress” class, at the library in little old Sultan, Washington (not far from where parts of Harry and the Hendersons was filmed.)
I remember at one point, early in the class, encouraging people to sign up for a free blog at WordPress.com, make it private, and just experiment and learn on it until they were ready to “graduate” to a real website with self-hosted WordPress.
That was then. This is now. How times have changed.
Full disclosure: I now work for Automattic – the team that builds WordPress.com, but I really, truly mean everything I’m about to say.
I just moved a second website of mine from self-hosted to WordPress.com, and here’s why:
Domain mapping – maybe this existed on WordPress.com in 2010, but I dont’t think so – instead of having .wordpress.com at the end of URLs, which felt kinda cheesy geocities like, I encouraged people to go self-hosted so they could have a more professional presence – with their domain name. Now, with domain mapping, you can have a proper domain and be hosted on WordPress.com
Email forwarding – I had kept my hosting account around because I had email accounts for my domains that I wanted to keep around. Now that WordPress.com supports easy-to-setup email forwarding when domain mapping is purchased, I don’t really need the hosted accounts any more, and just forward to gmail.
Themes and Plugins. In 2010, the fact that you could not run any theme or plugin you wanted and that there were a limited number of built in ones made self-hosted an obvious choice. Fast forward to 2014, and yes, you still can’t upload anything you want, but the built-in plugins and theme selections on WordPress.com are much, much more comprehensive. Astonishingly so.
Updates. I don’t have to update anything on my sites now that I’ve moved them back. Not core, not themes, not plugins. I also don’t have to worry about what sort of things other users are running on the shared server.
Downtime and performance. My old host did an above average job, but the boxes with my sites on them would still suffer if another users’ sites acted up. With the more controlled, curated WordPress.com eco-system, this seems to be far less a problem.
CSS Customization. In 2010, you couldn’t customize themes on WordPress.com. Now you can.
e-Commerce. In 2010, you couldn’t sell stuff on WordPress.com. Now you can.
Fighting for free speech. Automattic is serious about democratizing the web, and pushing back on corporate and governmental censure of free speech. I like supporting that.
The REST API. There are so many interesting possibilities this opens up, from IFTTT to data sources for native apps – across multiple blogs – I can’t wait to experiment more.
So I’m tickled to not just be an employee, but also a happy customer.