WordPress.com Now Allows Themes & Plugin uploads. Should I move?

by / Monday, 14 August 2017 / Published in Content Management Systems

In the long debate about WordPress.com (hosted WordPress) vs. WordPress.org (self-hosted WordPress), the key differentiator has always been the ability to upload custom themes and plugins on a WordPress.com site. This was a very limiting restriction, and meant that most opted to stick with self hosting.

Automattic, the company behind WordPress, are now looking to change things up. Their business plan will now allow you to add plugins and themes of your choosing, essentially leveling the playing field to an extent. So, should you move? I’ve not had a chance to evaluate the plan yet, but here are some observations.

The plan costs just shy of €25/mo if you pay annually. This is roughly on par with some of the mid-range shared hosting providers like Siteground, and some of the low end managed cloud hosting providers like Cloudways. It isn’t immediately obvious what features will be provided.

We can assume that your WordPress core will always be up to date, and that you will need to update plugins and themes yourself, and that WordPress will keep the underlying operating system and server stack patched and up to date.

We can also assume that there will be no specific backup/restore option and no email fuctionality. Will we be able to use the big plugins like WooCommerce? If our plugins are poorly coded and hog webserver processing time, or are insecure and alow hacks, will automattic suspend or ban us?Caching plugins probably won’t work properly. Contact forms may not work if sendmail is blocked. Can we add our own SSL cert to a domain? Is there lock-in if we want to migrate our site to another hosting platform at a later date? 

I think the key to getting traction on this latest foray by WordPress to gain more paying customers for the platform, is to allow the option on every plan (except perhaps the free plan). They may very well use the relatively small demographic that pays for the business plan as an extended beta test in advance of rolling out the changes more globally. If Automattic can get this right, if could take a big bite out of the specialist WordPress hosting market.

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