This blog has been built using the popular WordPress platform.
You can create a free blog over at wordpress.com, and for a few (maybe more) sheckles, they’ll even host your domain name for you.
But there are a number of good reasons not to use wordpress.com to host your WordPress blog. Since moving The Surgery to wordpress.com (as much a technical exercise as anything else), here’s what I’ve discovered:
1. No support for plugins. Plugins are small add-ons which enhance your blog. Examples include the Email Encoder Bundle which protects email addresses from spambots, Google Analytics which is important for search engine optimization, and WPtouch which is a nifty plugin that formats your site with a mobile theme for visitors using touch-based smartphones. Plugins are immensely useful, and a fundamental part of the WordPress community. Unfortunately, plugins are not permitted at wordpress.com “for security reasons“.
2. Can’t import themes. Themes are also a fundamental part of the WordPress community. Themes give WordPress blogs their distinctive “look and feel” and consist of graphics, style sheets, PHP files, headers and footers. You can search for, and install, a number of themes that are sanctioned by wordpress.com, but too bad if you want to import a theme you’ve designed yourself, or that’s available over at wordpress.org (the development and support site for WordPress). wordpress.com doesn’t really explain why, but again hints at “security reasons”.
3. Can’t modify PHP code. If you’re a developer, or just a tinkerer, you might want to make subtle (or significant) changes to your blog’s templates. But not on wordpress.com, you won’t be changing anything.
4. No email hosting. I was expecting at least a simple web-based interface for email, even just to setup forwarding. No such luck. If you’ve paid for premium hosting of your domain name, you’ll need to point your domain’s MX record at a mail server, somewhere other than wordpress.com.
5. It’s expensive. Compared with cPanel plans offered by local ISPs, there’s no question in my mind you’re paying a premium for hosting at wordpress.com. My “WordPress Value Bundle” cost $US 99.00 for basic hosting of a .com.au domain name for one year. Shop around.
Where to from here?
The solution, according to wordpress.com, is to sign-up to their VIP program which lets customers run custom themes, custom PHP code, ad code, and WordPress plugins…. starting at $3,750 /month.
Sure, there are a lot of benefits to using wordpress.com to host your blog. It’s simple, it’s easy and it works. But for the technically ept, look closer to home. You’ll save money and you won’t be pulling your hair out because fundamental components like themes and plugins have been intentionally disabled.