There are two significantly different ways in which you can use WordPress. The distinction is the difference between wordpress.com and wordpress.org. On wordpress.com is a service run by Automattic offering you hosted WordPress with a set package of plugins and themes. This is available as a basic package for free, with various upgrades available for a price. On wordpress.org there are many resources. Primarily it has the WordPress core software available for download. In summary, if you wish to just use WordPress, to dip your toes in the waters and get a feel for things, then sign up at wordpress.com.
When comparing to other website building tools, it is important to note that WordPress requires a web server running various web related services. This makes it very different to glorified text editors (like Dreamweaver).
WordPress is free. When you download and install WordPress you gain access to many of the resources at wordpress.org. Such as themes and plugins. This makes it a relatively easy thing for hosting companies to add a WordPress installation option to their admin panels. Popular control panels like cPanel and Fantastico scripts allow almost one-click installation of WordPress. So one way of getting WordPress is to use a host that has this option available.
Typically hosting providers geared towards using admin panels cater more for a middle ground of web and technology enthusiast. They offer an easy way of doing things, but lack the flexibility that would allow a company to build exactly what their client needs. To this end you can build your own servers, download WordPress and do what you like with it!
There are four ways to get WordPress:
- Sign up at wordpress.com
- Install it using your host’s admin panel
- Make your home computer into a mini server. Download from wordpress.org
- Build a server online and download from wordpress.prg