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Wordpress.com Review

Great for blogging— but otherwise lacks an identity.

By Steve BenjaminsLast Updated Nov 6 2016

3 0

Review Updates

  • Mar 21 2016 New review published
  • Nov 6 2016 Review updated and checked for accuracy.

User Experience Info

You’ve probably heard of Wordpress before. It’s a popular CMS used for building websites. A CMS is not a website builder. A CMS is usually more sophisticated and much more technical— which means a steeper learning curve. Wordpress.com is a service built on-top of Wordpress that tries to offer a website builder experience on top of the Wordpress CMS— to mixed results.

The difference between websites builders and CMS's.

Right: The difference between websites builders and CMS's.

Wordpress.com is separated into two parts: My Site and WP Admin. My Site is beautiful but simple— it’s the part that feels like a website builder. WP Admin is complex but more powerful— it’s the part that feels like a CMS.

My Site

Right: My Site

My Site is great— the page editor is beautiful and it’s simple to understand. Pages and blog posts are created using a WYSIWYG editor (so not a drag-and-drop visual interface, which many users may prefer). Fortunately the WYSIWYG editor is very nicely done.

My Site page editor

Right: My Site page editor

Here’s the problem though. My Site is really simple. As soon as you to use some of the advanced features— for example create a store or add a poll— you have swap over to the WP Admin. Having two separated interfaces for the same functions is hugely tedious. (For starters, it creates two places for you to search for specific features— a frustrating experience.)

WP Admin

Right: WP Admin

The WP Admin is also much more complex to navigate. The interface will feel much more cluttered and disorganized. (Wordpress purists beware— this is relative. The Wordpress interface compared to other CMS’s is good, but compared to website builders it’s not.)

WP Admin Page Editor

Right: WP Admin Page Editor

Besides My Site and WP Admin, there’s actually a third section to Wordpress.com too: Reader. In fact, when you first register your Wordpress.com website you are taken to Reader— which makes no sense. Reader is a Tumblr like blog social network that Wordpress.com tries to shoehorn users into. You sign up to build a website and you find yourself in a social network. What?

Reader

Right: Reader

My problem with Wordpress.com is that it doesn’t know what it is. Is it a website builder? Or is it a Tumblr clone? Or is it a hosted CMS? This lack of an identity results in a scattered and confusing user experience.

My Site

Right: My Site

Features Info

  • Blog

    One of the best blog editors you’ll find in a website builder. The post composer is beautiful (see screenshot). You can add categories, tags, featured images, excerpts and edit the slug URL of posts. You can add your post as a draft and set it to publish on another day. There’s even an option to add “related posts” beneath your post (handy). Posts don’t have to be just text— they can also be quotes, audio clips, photo galleries and more (this is similar to Tumblr). While there is no Disqus or Facebook comments integration, Wordpress offers a full comment moderation platform— you can choose from a variety of options (commenter registration, moderation settings, email notification settings and more).  Show Screenshot

  • Ecommerce

    No. Instead it allows you to connect to 3rd party services such as Shopify or Ecwid— which is not ideal. If you want ecommerce find a website builder who offers an fully-integrated solution. (Also: Woocommerce is basically synonymous with Wordpress and ecommerce. It's a shame Wordpress.com doesn't offer any integrations with it.) 

  • Form Builder

    There are a wide variety of field types: text, multi-line, radio button, check boxes, emails (but no file upload field). Form submissions are sent to an email (submissions aren’t saved anywhere else, so don’t delete those emails!). Unfortunately you can’t customize what URL your user is sent to after a successful submission— and you can’t edit the success message.  Show Screenshot

  • iOS & Android Apps

    There is an iOS and an Android app that let you view stats, moderate comments and create and edit posts and pages.  

  • Retina Ready

    The images I uploaded did not appear sharp and crisp on retina devices (Macbooks, iPhones).  

  • Newsletter

    There is a Mailchimp “widget” you can add— but it’s not really a widget. It just asks you to paste in your Mailchimp embed code. It’s also tough to find: it’s under Widgets in your WP Admin.  Show Screenshot

  • Membership System

    No.  

  • Design from Scratch

    No.  

  • Multi-lingual

    No.  

  • Restaurant Menu

    No.  

  • Donations

    No.  

  • Audio Player

    No.  

  • Podcasts

    You can publish podcasts and make them available in podcast players (such as iTunes).  

Themes Info

Wordpress.com has a wide selection of themes— both free and premium. Most themes are nice— sophisticated and modern.

Free theme examples

Right: Free theme examples

Here’s examples of the paid themes:

Paid themes

Right: Paid themes

Here's examples of the free themes:

Free theme examples

Right: Free theme examples

Billing Practices: Not Ideal


I did not try to pay for Wordpress.com with my credit card because it does not do monthly billing— which is not ideal. Instead it only does annual billing.



Pricing


Plan Term Domain Name Total info

By Steve Benjamins

I founded Site Builder Report in 2012 to help people find the best website builder. In my spare time I make music (check it out!). You can also follow me on Twitter here.

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