As far as Content Management Systems (CMSs) go, one can hardly miss WordPress. A blog-publishing platform in 2003, WordPress has continuously evolved, becoming the CMS juggernaut it is today. The numbers are indeed stunning; it powers 39% of the entire internet and 30% of the top 10 million websites. From eCommerce websites through WooCommerce to WordPress blogs, in line with its roots, it caters to nearly all users. However, likely confusingly, the WordPress CMS is not the same as the WordPress.com version hosted by WordPress themselves. As such, while the CMS itself is so dominant, hosting options still abound. Most notably, Bluehost, an established web host since 2003 itself, is often considered. It’s in that context that the question arises; Bluehost vs. WordPress, which is better? Let us explore the two and find out.
WordPress.org vs. WordPress.com
Initially, let us define the difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com. This is a crucial distinction to make, especially for the less initiated on the subject, which will help us along.
In brief, WordPress.org offers the WordPress CMS software itself. Users may then use this software to create their own websites and host them themselves where they wish.
Conversely, WordPress.com is a hosted website builder. There, users may simply sign up for an account and build their websites, with the site handling the hosting aspect.
To summarize, then, WordPress.org and WordPress.com are drastically different. The former is the CMS software, while the latter is a hosted version that offers website-building capabilities. As such, when people refer to “WordPress”, they typically refer to the software.
Bluehost vs. WordPress(.com): which is better?
In turn, one naturally cannot compare software to a web host like Bluehost. Thus, when one asks the Bluehost vs. WordPress question, they will most likely mean WordPress.com, comparing hosting services. In this light, let us compare the two hosters in 6 key areas; simplicity, flexibility, security, performance, storage, and pricing.
The first concern for many users, especially newcomers, is likely the simplicity aspect; how lengthy and complicated is the process? Both are extremely simple, although WordPress.com has a slight edge in this regard.
For WordPress.com, you will only need to register for an account. You will then immediately reach the content creation wizard and then be prompted to choose a hosting plan.
For Bluehost, the process is only slightly more complicated. First, you’ll purchase a hosting plan, as they’re a dedicated hosting service. Then, you’ll need to install the WordPress software; this only takes a few clicks. You’ll then choose your website’s name, domain, and optional plugins, and you’re done.
Thus, both processes are demonstrably simple. However, WordPress.com offers a slightly simpler option.
#2 Flexibility and customization
Simplicity comes with a cost, however, as Bluehost gains the upper hand as regards flexibility. The same is arguably true for all self-hosted websites, to be fair.
WordPress.com offers tiered flexibility, starting with minimal options for the free plan and progressively unlocking more for higher plan tiers. This includes themes and plugins, as well as access to the site’s files. Bluehost has no such restrictions in place.
Secondly, WordPress.com comes with a mandatory Jetpack plugin. While it may not bother many users, it cannot be disabled. Similarly, it doesn’t allow staging sites for testing purposes, and it imposes database limits. Bluehost does not have any of these restrictions either.
Finally, WordPress.com prohibits some plugins altogether, regardless of the plan tier. Many of them may not see use by many users, but this too is a restriction Bluehost doesn’t impose.
#3 Security: hosting security, plugins, and hiring experts
On the subject of plugins, WordPress.com also prohibits some security plugins, including the acclaimed WordFence plugin. As such, security in itself is worth looking into.
Both hosters naturally provide basic security features, including:
- Free SSL certificates
- DDoS protection
However, other security features range wildly depending on your plan. In essence, however, comparing equals, WordPress has the upper hand in this regard, as it offers a more hands-off approach. Their security teams handle security, and their daily backups are a given, unlike Bluehost’s manual backups. Thus, with safety on the WP platform being extremely crucial, Bluehost users should likely hire security and maintenance experts.
#4 Site performance
Security aside, all webmasters expect their websites to perform at their best. Plugins aside, host services will also tremendously affect loading speeds and overall responsiveness. Here, Bluehost seems to have an advantage.
Research by WebsiteSetup, formerly Hosting Facts, found that Bluehost websites had an average loading speed of 688ms between April 2020 and March 2021. While it is higher than the 405ms average of last year, it is still lower than the 1-second mark. More impressively, these results concern Bluehost’s cheapest plan.
Similarly, WinningWP’s research examined lightweight and heavyweight sites on the WordPress Business plan. The former averaged 603ms, while the latter averaged 1.06s. What’s more, this is a premium plan; lower-tier plans may encounter higher numbers as they share more server space.
Next, as regards storage, Bluehost seems to have an advantage in this area as well. Comparing equal-tier plans, it offers decidedly more storage. Specifically:
- WordPress Personal vs. Bluehost Basic: 6 GB vs. 50GB
- WordPress Premium vs. Bluehost Plus: 13GB vs. unlimited
- WordPress Business vs. Bluehost Choice Plus: 200GB vs. unlimited
Thus, while other areas may boil down to personal choice, Bluehost is decidedly superior in this regard.
Finally, having touched on plans, let us delve into pricing. Its free version aside, WordPress.com’s plans are the following:
- Personal: $4 per month
- Premium: $8 per month
- Business: $25 per month
- Commerce: $45 per month
Conversely, Bluehost’s plans will scale depending on added features you choose. The basic plan costs are:
- Basic: $2.95 per month
- Plus: $5.45 per month
- Choice Plus: $5.45 per month
- Pro: $13.95 per month
It is, of course, fair to note that WordPress plans include such perks as third-party security. However, in terms of final costs, Bluehost is visibly more affordable.
To summarize, there is likely no clear winner in the debate of Bluehost vs. WordPress. Bluehost may edge ahead, and it is a WordPress-approved host recommended by WordPress Core since 2005. However, WordPress.com offers enhanced convenience and a more hands-off approach to hosting and security. As such, the final choice will depend on your unique needs, tastes, and budget.