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WordPress.com landing page
Source: WordPress.com

One of the main reasons to choose a website builder like WordPress.com is for its ease of use. So, I found it a bit surprising that WordPress.com’s site builder is a bit confusing to use at first. Despite its lack of intuitive design, it ends up being simple to use — it just takes a while to learn everything.

Customization is severely limited, even if you choose one of the high-tier plans. WordPress.com doesn’t give you access to all the themes and plug-ins built specifically for the open-source WordPress.org CMS. You may be better off choosing one of the best web hosting providers that include one-click installs of the CMS instead.

Still, WordPress is the most popular CMS used even today — 43% of all websites use WordPress as of 2023. Is it worth it to use WordPress.com to use the most common CMS? Keep reading to find out more about what WordPress.com has to offer, its pros and cons, and our list of WordPress.com alternatives.

WordPress.com standout features
  • Live chat
  • Email
  • Social media
  • Community forum
  • Help center
Best forBloggers or small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that don’t need to scale their site much
  • 150+ free themes
  • Affordable plans
  • Web hosting included
  • Accept payments with any paid plan
  • Create subscriber-only content
  • Free plan available
  • Upload themes only on high-tier plans
  • Limited plug-ins available
  • Google Analytics integration on Premium plans and higher
  • Limited customizability
PromotionFree plan

What Are the Pros and Cons of WordPress.com’s Website Builder?

Although WordPress.com is a popular choice as an all-in-one solution website builder and web host, it may only work for a few select groups. It’s an affordable choice, and it even offers a free plan, but it lacks a lot of functionality to be a suitable option for growing businesses or serious e-commerce entrepreneurs. Here are the pros and cons of WordPress.com:

Pros of WordPress.com’s website builder

  1. Web hosting included: WordPress.com lets you build a website on the popular WordPress.org CMS, but you don’t have to find your own hosting. This is a huge plus for those who want a turnkey solution for a personal or business website.
  2. Accept payments: I was a bit surprised to see I could accept payments even on the Personal plan. It’s one of the cheapest website builders that lets you make money with your website.
  3. Popular freemium plan: I had my own WordPress.com blog back in the day, and the good news is, you can still get a free hosted website. There are limits, but if all you need is a place to share photos or stories, WordPress.com’s free plan works.
  4. Simple to use and maintain: I’ve used a lot of website builders, and WordPress.com is one of the easiest to use. There’s nothing to install or maintain — WordPress.com has the CMS pre-installed and ready to use. Plus, it automatically updates the software for you.
  5. Jetpack Essentials: Every plan includes Jetpack Essentials, which is a pack of features that help you add functionality to your site. You can add different types of photo galleries, set up automatic backups, add a contact form, and display a block with your business hours, for example.
  6. Decent customer support: I appreciate that the WordPress.com team updates its blog (and platform) often, which is a big part of support. There are multiple articles in the help center, so you can find most answers to your questions. Otherwise, there are community forums for everyone or live chat for the high-tier paid plans.
  7. Mobile responsive themes: Many of WordPress.com’s themes are mobile responsive, but not all.

Cons of WordPress.com’s website builder

  1. Limited functionality: I always forget that WordPress.com doesn’t allow you to do all that you can with WordPress as the self-hosted version. So, you’re stuck with the themes and plug-ins WordPress.com does allow, meaning limited design and functionality overall.
  2. WordPress.com branding: A free site includes WordPress.com ads and branding on the footer, which is kind of expected. However, the branding remains on all sites and plans until you upgrade to the Business plan for $25 per month (paid annually).
  3. Higher-priced plans almost required: Although there’s plenty you can do with the native functionality of WordPress.com’s site builder, there’s a lot locked behind higher-priced plans. Even adding Google Analytics to your site isn’t allowed until the Premium plan.
  4. Few themes: You get limited choices because WordPress.com makes all the themes available on most WordPress.com plans. So, you won’t have the same options if you were to find a web host with WordPress installed.

WordPress.com may be the best website builder for: Individuals and SMBs that don’t have a complex website or e-commerce needs.

Price (paid annually)*$4 per month$8 per month$25 per month$45 per month
Best forHobbyistsSolo entrepreneurs
Small businesses
Small to midsized businessesOnline stores
Basic features
  • Free domain (first year)
  • Web hosting included
  • SSL certificate
  • Basic customization
  • Basic free themes
  • All that’s in the Personal plan, plus:
  • Premium themes
  • Upload Videos
  • Advanced customization
  • All that’s in the Premium plan, plus:
  • Remove WordPress.com branded footer
  • Add custom plug-ins
  • Add custom themes
  • Database access
  • All that’s in the Business plan, plus:
  • Accept payments in 60+ countries
  • Integrations with top shipping carriers
  • Premium design options for online stores
Customer Service
  • Email support
  • Email support
  • Live chat
  • Email support
  • 24/7 priority live chat
  • Email support
  • 24/7 priority live chat
ReportingStandard reportsStandard reportsStandard reportsStandard reports
  • Accept payments
  • Create subscriber-only content
  • Create paid newsletters
  • All that’s in Personal, plus:
  • Accept PayPal
  • Add site ads
  • Schedule social media posts
  • Google Analytics integration
  • All that’s in Premium, plus:
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tools
  • All that’s in Business
  • Free SSL certificate
  • Free SSL certificate
  • Free SSL certificate
  • Auto backups
  • Free SSL certificate
  • Auto backups

*The free plan includes 1GB storage, SSL certificate, a WordPress.com subdomain with WordPress.com branding and ads, and access to free themes.

WordPress.com general setting
Source: WordPress.com

First, I wanted to familiarize myself with the WordPress.com dashboard. The left-hand menu includes all the main menu categories for managing your site. For example, this is where you’ll manage pages, comments, plug-ins, and settings.

WordPress.com takes every opportunity to upsell if you’re on a free plan. It’s like the company is trying to point out how limiting the free plan is every chance it can. I also noticed that WordPress.com tries to help you with pop-up tips — for example, I added my site title and tagline and got a notification that I need to save any time I make changes.

WordPress.com site builder
Source: WordPress.com

When you’re ready to edit your site, you have the option of diving right in or taking WordPress.com’s tour, which I suggest doing to help you navigate the site editor. Although the site editor doesn’t have a steep learning curve, it is a bit different than most easy-to-use website builders.

The site editor isn’t a true drag-and-drop editor, and it certainly isn’t in the what you see is what you get (WYSIWYG) style — at least, not at first. You have to click on the page to bring up a menu that includes blocks or elements to use. After a few misguided attempts, I figured out I could view all blocks and a left-hand menu popped up with all the blocks and patterns I could use.

WordPress.com site builder UI
Source: WordPress.com

Although this menu made it easier for me to design a page by dragging and dropping blocks (also known as elements) onto a page, I found a lot of those blocks aren’t available on the free plan. Once again, WordPress.com gets an opportunity to upsell.

Also, I noticed that a lot of blocks had errors and there were no suggestions from the editor on how to fix them. I just had to work around them and employ a trial-and-error method of design. The good news is that most blocks are mistake-proof.

For example, when I added an image and text box to one column, I tried to change the size of the image and the textbox changed with it, keeping everything relative. This could be helpful if you have zero design experience and you don’t want to get into the backend to change things by pixels. WYSIWYG editors seem much more user-friendly than WordPress.com, though.

I spent more time trying to figure out how a group, pattern, and block differed from each other and didn’t design as much as I intended the first hour. You do have the option to use a code editor, so if you know HTML, this might be preferable for you.

WordPress.com - adding image
Source: WordPress.com

At first, I thought there was no built-in image search, but I finally figured out that if you choose “select media,” you could get free stock images from Pexels. I also stumbled upon “Styles,” WordPress.com’s way of letting you set your typography, buttons, and colors across the site, but it’s still in beta.

You won’t be able to use any plug-ins or upload themes unless you choose the Business or eCommerce plan, which when paid annually cost $25 or $45 per month, respectively. This severely limits what you can do with your WordPress.com site — even if you know how to code.

Overall, I found WordPress.com’s site editor somewhat easy to use, but ultimately frustrating. I ran into so many inexplicable errors and no guidance on how to fix them. It feels disorganized and more like I was designing in the dark.

WordPress.com - Let's Encrypt
Source: WordPress.com

The first step in security for any website is an SSL certificate. Thankfully, WordPress.com includes one for every website — even free sites. WordPress.com also actively monitors its servers for malware and dedicated denial of service (DDoS) attacks.

To combat data loss, WordPress.com gives you the ability to back up your site at any time. Some paid plans can set up automatic backups, which is better for hands-off security. And automatic WordPress (the CMS) updates help, too. The other benefit to using WordPress.com is that you don’t have to worry about server settings as they’re all set up with firewalls to protect you from the aforementioned attacks.

WordPress.com Website Builder Support
Source: WordPress.com

WordPress.com’s support channels include a help center, community forums, social media, email, and live chat. There is no phone support, and wait times for any support varies. Live chat support is available 24 hours per day, but only Monday through Friday.

  • Chat: I didn’t test this personally because I used the free plan but based on my research, live chat can be helpful. Generally, you can expect an answer within 24 hours, but that’s not always possible if support requests are numerous.
  • Email: WordPress.com offers email support, but like live chat, you must have a paid plan. It’s also generally handled in 24 hours, but no guarantees.
  • Documentation: Most of the articles I read were helpful for walking me through a specific task. A few I came across hadn’t been updated since WordPress.com changed its plans (there’s no longer a Pro plan, but that language was throughout some articles and the WordAds site).
  • Community: One of the best ways to get help for WordPress.com issues is to go to the community forums. There I found many answers to questions (or better explanations) that weren’t in support documents.

I was a little annoyed that I couldn’t reach out to any live support as a free plan user, but I guess that’s fair. What isn’t fair, in my opinion, is that live chat isn’t available until you reach the Premium plan. Not having phone support is a bit frustrating, as well.

Given that support is so limited, I wouldn’t choose a free WordPress.com plan if I were to run an e-commerce website or grow a business website. I want more immediate access to help when I need it. So, I’d probably look into one of the best e-commerce website builders for more specific online store functionality and support.

Six new themes added to WordPress.com

WordPress.com Responsive Theme
Source: WordPress.com

WordPress.com creates its own themes for its website editor, seemingly a couple of times a year. In August 2022, WordPress.com released six new themes, including a travel blog theme, portfolio theme, two e-commerce options, a simple business theme, and the news-like blog you see above.

New block theme design tools

WordPress.com New block theme design tools
Source: WordPress.com

WordPress.com consistently improves features in its site editor to make your life easier when designing your website. In August 2022, the team introduced a few new features, including custom borders in columns, rows, and blocks. WordPress.com also made it easier to find patterns, which is the site builder’s version of predesigned layouts.

You can now lock blocks

One of the reasons you may prefer using a website builder like WordPress.com is for the themes or predesigned layouts because it makes design easier. If you’ve ever accidentally clicked on part of your design and moved it just an inch, you know how frustrating it can be to get everything back on track.

WordPress.com added this feature so you can design on top of block groups or sections and not worry about messing up a layout you have in place.

Compare WordPress.com Alternatives

WordPress.com is a popular pick for a lot of new users who want help with designing a website, but it may not be the best choice for you. While WordPress is one the most robust, widely used publishing platforms on the web, that’s a very different animal than what you can expect with WordPress.com. That distinction is an important one.If you’re looking for more theme or template options, freedom to add your own plug-ins, or better e-commerce support, you’ll likely find that in the chart below. We here at Digital.com research and test all the best website builders on the market to help you find the best for you.

See the WordPress.com alternatives that we recommend for different use cases:

Website builderPricingTemplatesApps or plug-insBasic plan featuresCompare

Overall rating

$4 to $45 per month (paid annually)16824,000+ (business and e-commerce plans only)
  • Free domain (first year)
  • Web hosting included
  • SSL certificate
  • Basic customization
  • Basic free themes

Overall rating

Read our full Weebly review.

Consider Weebly for: Easier-to-use tools and robust e-commerce capabilities.

Free to $26 per month (billed annually)50+ mobile-responsive375+
  • Square branded website
  • Apps for added functionality
  • Drag-and-drop editor
  • 500MB storage
  • Add custom domain
Weebly and WordPress.com offer free plans, but Weebly’s site editor is a bit easier to use if you’re new. It also offers an easy entry into e-commerce with its Square-powered payment and shopping card features.

Overall rating

Read our full Web.com review.

Consider Web.com if: You want an all-in-one web host and site editor that’s very hands-off.

$4.95 to $19.95 per month1780
  • Free domain
  • Basic hosting
  • Free SSL
  • Site analytics
  • Drag-and-drop site builder
The biggest differences are that Web.com makes you pay for SEO and marketing services and doesn’t allow for integrations.

Overall rating

Read our full Zyro review.

Consider Zyro for: Unlimited storage and bandwidth for your website.

$2.69 to $14.99 per month6212+
  • Free domain & SSL
  • AI-assisted tools
  • Unlimited storage & bandwidth
  • Blog
Give Zyro a shot if you want an affordable website builder that includes unlimited storage and bandwidth — WordPress.com limits these on all plans.

Overall rating

Read our full Wix review.

Consider Wix if: You want a better selection of templates.

$16 to $45 per month800+250+
  • Free domain for one year
  • 2GB storage
  • Stream up to 30 minutes video
  • 800+ templates
Wix has far more templates (a.k.a. themes) than WordPress.com. Many of the templates are free, but some come at a cost.

Overall rating

Read our full Squarespace review.

Consider Squarespace if: You need a more complete website builder with SEO and marketing tools for all plans.

$16 to $49 per month100+35+
  • Award-winning design templates
  • Mailchimp integration
  • Access to raw code
  • Marketing tools
  • 0%-3% transaction fee
Neither Squarespace nor WordPress.com offer phone support, but you’re going to get a lot more functionality out of the box from Squarespace.

Frequently Asked Questions About WordPress.com

Is WordPress a good website builder?

WordPress.com is a good website builder because it offers a pre-installed copy of the open-source CMS WordPress along with features to make it easy to build a site without the need for coding knowledge. There may be other website builders that could be a better fit, depending on your needs.

What is the difference between a website builder and WordPress

In the traditional sense, a website builder is an app full of features, elements, and pre-built templates to help you create a website without knowing HTML or CSS languages. WordPress is a CMS that lets you easily manage content for that website. You’re getting a very stripped-down version of that CMS with WordPress.com

Is WordPress.com any good?

WordPress.com is good for those who want an all-in-one answer to building a website, hosting a website, and buying a domain name. There are limitations to what you can do and it isn’t just based on which plan you choose — WordPress.com doesn’t support all the plug-ins or themes others build for the CMS.

What is the difference between WordPress and WordPress.com?

WordPress is an open-source CMS and you must find a service to host WordPress and your website for you. WordPress.com is a website builder and web host that is built on the CMS, so there’s no need to find a separate web host.

Can WordPress.com delete your website?

WordPress.com has the right to delete your website if you violate the Terms of Service agreement, as any web host does. However, you do own your content.

Does WordPress host your website?

WordPress.com acts as a web hosting service and it does host your website. And WordPress.org is the self-hosted option that requires you to find a web host yourself.

Do I have to pay WordPress to use my own domain?

Yes, you do have to pay WordPress.com to use your own domain. Alternatively, you can use your domain on another web host, but again, you’ll have to pay for that hosting.

Can I build a WordPress site without hosting?

Technically, you can build a WordPress site and host it yourself if you have a server and internet connection strong enough to handle the content and traffic. It isn’t suggested you do this on a home computer because you’re likely to have a lot of downtime and open yourself up to more security risks.

How I Rated WordPress.com’s Website Builder

My score for WordPress.com came down to several factors and subfactors. I considered the audience most likely to read a WordPress.com website builder review because they want an all-in-one solution. That drove me to focus on pricing, features, support, and security as the most important considerations.

I created a WordPress.com account and built my website. Although I stuck to the free plan, I got a good feel for the site builder. Based on my experience and comparing WordPress.com to similar website builders, I found it to be a less-than-stellar option.

With that said, WordPress.com’s pricing for its plans is attractive, the mobile app is excellent, and security is strong on all plans. I liked that WordPress.com updates its blog with regular site builder improvements. WordPress.com is a good option for those who want to use WordPress but don’t want to find hosting and a domain name on their own.

While WordPress.com can work well for beginners, it has its issues, mostly for anyone with big plans for a small business website or an online store. To scale effectively with WordPress.com, you need many plug-ins for better functionality. This can slow your site, and it’s likely to get expensive.

WordPress.com gets a generous 3.6 out of 5 stars thanks to its simple site builder (even with its slightly steep learning curve), affordable plans, and good product support. It’s a viable option, regardless of what you want to do with a website, but it has many limitations and restrictions, so it’s not a top pick for me.