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WordPress review 2021

Streamlined WordPress website creation solutions

WordPress's homepage
(Image: © WordPress)

Our Verdict

WordPress.com is a decent choice for small websites, but its limited design flexibility and high prices are major concerns.

Pros

  • Integrated WordPress website builder
  • Attractive free-forever version
  • Full access to WordPress plugin and theme libraries

Cons

  • Quite expensive compared to some options
  • Limited design flexibility

WordPress.com provides an alternative to the best website builders, and utilizes some of the best web hosting providers for website creation, combining the power of advanced web hosting with the power of the WordPress.org content management system (CMS) to deliver all-in-one solutions.  

WordPress review: Snapshot

Now, WordPress.com is far from the most powerful site creation platform we’ve used, but it still brings a lot to the table. There’s a great free version that you can use to test the platform, an integrated website builder, and access to the full range of WordPress plugins and themes—as long as you have a high-end subscription.  

This platform is very popular, but as you will see in our WordPress review, it has a few major flaws as well. These include relatively high prices and an inflexible website editor. Overall, though, it’s an acceptable option for those looking to create a simple site.  

Score: 3.5/5

Read on for the full review. 


WordPress's competitors

How does WordPress compare to its main competitors?
WordPress.comWixHostinger
Score3.5/54.5/54.5/5
Pros- Integrated WordPress website builder - Attractive free-forever version - Full access to WordPress plugin and theme libraries- All-in-one hosting and website builder platform - Industry-leading design flexibility - Huge selection of attractive templates- Very competitively priced hosting solutions - Excellent native hPanel control panel - A focus on security
Cons- Quite expensive compared to some options - Limited design flexibility- Quite expensive compared to some options - Limited design flexibility - Customer service is average at best - Can be confusing to get started with- No native website builder - Resources are a little limited with shared hosting plans
VerdictWordPress.com is a decent choice for small websites, but its limited design flexibility and high prices are major concerns. Wix offers all-in-one website building solutions complete with integrated hosting and technical support, but it is a little expensive. Hostinger offers some of the best budget shared hosting solutions we’ve seen, and they are backed by excellent security and a suite of advanced features.
View dealsVisit siteVisit siteVisit site

Key features

As a fully hosted, managed version of WordPress.org, WordPress.com naturally offers an excellent selection of advanced features. You will benefit from the power of the WordPress.org CMS, along with a suite of additions designed to streamline the site-creation process. 

When you use WordPress.com, you will benefit from most of the tools included with the more popular WordPress.org platform. Premium, Business, and eCommerce subscriptions provide full access to the WordPress theme library, which includes thousands of designs that you can base your site on. 

Similarly, the Business and Ecommerce plans include access to a huge plugin library and the ability to upload custom themes. The plugin library contains hundreds of extensions that you can use to add functionality to your site. 

All WordPress.com users will have access to an excellent statistics portal. The basic plans enable you to track visitor numbers, interactions, sources, and more. Upgrading to a Business or Ecommerce plan will enable you to install plugins such as Cloudflare Analytics, which provide much deeper insights into various key metrics. 

WordPress: Key features and highlights

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WordPress's range of themes

Choose from a great selection of themes (Image credit: WordPress)
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WordPress's statistics demonstrated

WordPress.com tracks a selection of stats (Image credit: WordPress)
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WordPress's list of blogging features

WordPress.com is a good option for blog creation (Image credit: WordPress)
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WordPress's pricing plans for ecommerce stores

There are different options for ecommerce stores (Image credit: WordPress)

Although WordPress.com’s editor is a little basic and its design flexibility is limited at best, it’s actually quite an attractive option for simple blog creation. There’s a suite of tools available to streamline post creation, management, and editing. You will have access to in-depth blog analytics, and there’s actually a decent amount of flexibility on offer when it comes to customizing the layout of your posts. 

Another thing that stands out is WordPress.com’s pre-built ecommerce solutions. The three more expensive plans all include some form of online store tools, enabling you to accept payments and build a strong digital business. For example, the Premium plan enables you to accept payments, donations, or subscriptions. You won’t be able to install custom plugins though, and the actual tools are a little basic. 

The Business plan is more advanced, adding the ability to list products on your website. You will benefit from the ability to install any of a suite of custom plugins, enabling you to add more sophisticated ecommerce tools. And the most advanced Ecommerce plan adds even more powerful tools, including advanced marketing integrations and international payment options. 

What’s new? 

WordPress.com uses the powerful WordPress.org CMS, which is updated extremely regularly. The latest version, WordPress 5.8 Tatum, added a suite of new features, including advanced developer tools. 

For starters, a number of new display options have been added. Widget areas can now be customized using the block-based editor, and blog post pages can be customized on a much deeper level. In addition, you can now display specific blog posts based on their category. 

Workflow tools were also added to help streamline the editing process. You will benefit from a navigation panel outlining every page’s structure, suggested block patterns and layouts, and the ability to stylize images directly within the WordPress media interface. 

A few developer tools were added, including support for the modern WebP image format. A theme.json file has been added, enabling you to control various editor and customization settings. It’s also worth noting that support for Internet Explorer 11 has been discontinued. 

Pricing

WordPress.com doesn’t offer standalone hosting solutions. Instead, it offers all-in-one packages that include hosting, a website builder, technical management, and a suite of site creation and management features. There’s a free plan with limited access to advanced tools, along with four premium subscription options

These start at $4 a month for an annual Personal subscription ($7 with monthly payments), which includes a free domain, advanced hosting, and full access to the site builder. The Premium ($8 a month), Business ($25 a month), and Ecommerce ($45 a month) plans add increasingly advanced tools. 

WordPress's pricing plans
Plan type/featureFreePersonalPremiumBusinessEcommerce
Cost per monthFree$7$14$33$59
Cost per yearFree$48$96$300$540
Free domainX
Live chat supportXXBasicPriorityPriority
Storage3GB3GB13GB200GB200GB
SEO toolsXXX

Testing WordPress

In order to comprehensively compare WordPress to the competition, we analyzed a series of its features and tools to see how it performed. This included its website creation process, and its uptime and response time, as these factors are key when taking website building into account.

How do you build a website with WordPress?

WordPress's site editor in use

The native WordPress.com editor is quite basic (Image credit: WordPress)

To start a new website with WordPress.com, you can either take advantage of the free-forever plan, or sign up for a premium plan from the start. You can connect with your Google or Apple account for streamlined management. We worked through this process, building a simple site to see how well the platform really functions. 

Select a free WordPress subdomain, wait a few moments, and you will be taken straight to the management dashboard. Here, you will find numerous tools, including a Site Setup guide to help you take care of the basics. 

With the lower-end plans, you will have access to the native WordPress editor. It uses a block-based building interface, and you will find that it’s quite limited unless you have the knowledge and skills to use the code editor. It is quite easy to use, though, and you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting your site up and running. There are countless WordPress tutorials on the web if you run into trouble. 

On top of that, you can even use advanced page-builder plugins such as Elementor or the Beaver Builder if you have a Business or Ecommerce subscription. These provide a more beginner-friendly drag-and-drop interface that you can use to design your site. Read our comprehensive Elementor review to find out more about this particular WordPress site builder.

How does WordPress perform?

A graph showing WordPress's uptime

WordPress.com boasts consistent performance (Image credit: Pingdom.com)

To test the performance of WordPress.com’s servers, we used Pingdom.com to monitor a basic site for a 14-day period. The results weren’t the best we’ve seen, but they were certainly more than satisfactory. 

For starters, our website had a 100% uptime figure across the test period, and there are no concerns there. The average server response time was 362ms, with a maximum of 446ms and a minimum of 293ms. 

The thing that stands out here is WordPress’s consistency. There were no major spikes in the response times, suggesting that the servers are well maintained and not overloaded. However, the average response time was a little longer than some of the best-performing hosting providers we’ve tested, which tend to come in between 200 and 300ms. 

Alternatives to WordPress

WordPress.com is an interesting platform, as it combines the power of the WordPress.org CMS and its own advanced hosting solutions. It’s known for its affordable low-end options, which start at just $4 a month, but its more expensive plans are just too pricey for our liking. 

Like WordPress, Wix offers all-in-one site creation solutions, complete with hosting, technical support, and an advanced website builder. The Wix Editor is among the best website editors we’ve seen. It offers leading drag-and-drop design flexibility, and it’s much more powerful than WordPress.com. 

Unfortunately, though, Wix is also quite expensive. It does have a free-forever plan, but this is quite limited. The cheapest premium plan costs $14 a month, and this only gets you 3GB of storage. Our detailed Wix review discusses the website builder and analyzes its features as well as other elements.

Hostinger is a little different, as it doesn’t come with an integrated website builder. It’s a great option for those looking for powerful hosting to use with a CMS such as WordPress.org, Drupal, or Joomla, and prices start from just $1.39 a month for a basic shared hosting plan. This flexibility to choose your CMS is something that WordPress.com doesn’t offer, making Hostinger an attractive option for many users. 

On top of this, Hostinger boasts excellent customer service and a friendly support team. Storage and bandwidth are a little limited with the base plans, but you will still get significantly more resources than you would with Wix or WordPress.com. Make sure to read our comprehensive Hostinger review, and find out more about this leading web host.

WordPress's features compared to the competition
WordPress.comWixHostinger
Integrated website builderYesYesNo
Free domainYesYesWith higher-end plans
Base storage6GB3GB30GB
SupportEmail, live chat with advanced plansOnline ticketing, callback, chatbot24/7 live chat, email
Basic plan$4 a month$14 a month$1.39 a month

The verdict

After a full analysis, it’s easy to see that WordPress.com offers quite specialized hosting and website building solutions. It only enables you to create a website with the WordPress.org software, and the editing interface is on the basic side, to say the least. 

However, it’s quite a beginner-friendly option. You shouldn’t have too much trouble starting your site and publishing your first pages or posts. And if you use a high-end plan, you will be able to install a page-builder plugin for even more editing power. 

Another standout feature is the fact that, with select plans, WordPress.com provides access to the WordPress.org plugin and template libraries. You will be able to install custom templates, and full code access offers more design flexibility for advanced users. 

On the downside, though, WordPress.com is quite expensive when compared to many other website builders or web hosts. Its free plan is very limited, and most features are only available with one of the two most expensive subscription options. 

The decent performance of our test website was a major plus for WordPress.com. It’s certainly not the fastest host we’ve used, but it’s right up there among the best. Ultimately, though, WordPress.com just doesn’t do enough to make it stand out from the competition. 

It could be a good option for those looking to create a blog or simple website, but we’d recommend looking elsewhere for more powerful website building or hosting solutions.

Learn more about website builders and web hosting

For more website builder content related to WordPress, make sure to read our guide to the best WordPress website builders; our step-by-step guide on how to build a website with WordPress; and our feature outlining the biggest WordPress website mistakes, and how to fix them. We also compared WordPress vs Wix vs Squarespace, to see how the CMS leader fared against more traditional website builders.

For more web hosting content relating to WordPress meanwhile, take a look at our guide to the best WordPress hosting; our comparison that pits web hosting vs WordPress hosting; or learn more about WordPress hosting and managed WordPress hosting.

If you're looking to learn more about which builder is right for you and your business, we've compiled a series of buying guides in which we evaluate the best website builders, the best website builders for small business, the best website builders with ecommerce, and the best free website builders.

It's worth looking at our range of buying guides for advice on which providers to choose, in whichever hosting area you're looking at: we've evaluated the best web hosting, the best cloud hosting, the best unlimited hosting, as well as the best free web hosting and the best cheap web hosting for those on a budget.

The Verdict
3.5

out of 5

WordPress review 2021

WordPress.com is a decent choice for small websites, but its limited design flexibility and high prices are major concerns.

Daniel Blechynden

Daniel is a freelance copywriter with over six years experience writing for publications such as TechRadar, Tom’s Guide, and Hosting Review. He specializes in tech and finance, with a particular focus on website building, web hosting, and related fields.