A to Z About WordPress Multisite Management (PART I)

For many WordPress developers, managing multiple WordPress websites at the same time is a Herculean task that many of them sooner or later have to do. To be honest, I think most developers are not really happy with this “multisite task”. There are so many things you have to do with multisite management, such as multisite backup, security, SEO, moderating comments, keeping everything updated, etc.

To get WordPress multisite management under your control and for you to tame it well, you need to have a solid understanding of what it is all about. And that’s what we want to help you with in this topic. I hope that after finishing this blog, you’ll fully understand about WordPress multisite management and decide if it helps you with your web development projects.

We’ll break this WordPress multisite guide into two parts: one part about the basics, and one part mainly about the tips and tools to handle your website network smoothly. Let’s look at the first part!

What Is Multisite In WordPress?

WordPress multisite is a network of many WordPress websites. It is a feature of WordPress that allows you to create and control unlimited WordPress websites from a single WordPress installation:

The best example for WordPress multisite is WordPress.Com You can always create a blog site (sub-site) here.

In the most practical case, multiple Websites have the same WordPress themes, use the same plugins and share many other common elements. However, WordPress gives each site a unique ID to distinguish from one site to another. So although all the sites share the same database, they have their own table and directories to upload media files.

Pros And Cons of Multisite

The Advantages Of WordPress Multisite

First of all, you are free to create as many WordPress sites as you want. Two sites, ten sites, a hundred or even millions of sites (of course the more there is, the more problems you might have).

When you make changes to any website in your network, you can apply the same changes to the rest without having to do that by hand.

In your hand is a simplified administration:

Now you only have one admin dashboard for different sites so the admin job here becomes automatic and easy. Normally with each site you will have many admin dashboards and have to manually update plugins or themes one by one. What an effort and time-wasting process!

That doesn’t happen in a multisite network. You only have to update your plugins/themes once and the changes will take effect across all sites in your network.

Users in your WordPress multisite still have the ability to customize their theme including widgets, headers, menus, and the theme’s background and so on. They can keep their design preference while at the same time keeping the functionality like other sites in the network. So, all sites can be completely separate from each other. Yet, you can also integrate them for your management purposes.

Another benefit from multisite is content syndication. That means you can take all posts from all sites and then export them to another site easily. This characteristic helps you significantly when you have to distribute the same content (important news or policies) across other sites, for example.

Last but not least, with WordPress multisite, creating a new site is super-fast. You can ask people to signup (like what WordPress.com does) and allow them to create their own site with just a few clicks.

The Disadvantages Of WordPress Multisite

The biggest badass problem in WordPress multisite lies in its installation. Multisite installation is no job for average users! Don’t get me wrong, creating a network might seem easy, but you need to know more than WordPress admin dashboard to actually get what you are doing. Many people have problems right from the moment they start setting up multisite in WordPress.

The same thing happens when you manage your network. One mistake in the core/parent site and all other sites will be affected. And you need to be wise, and have a solid plan for how things will work together.

Next, there is a very limited admin access for local admins in multisite. Multisite has a two-way administration which includessuper adminandlocal admin. Super admin has the right to control the whole site with all its functions and features. On the contrary, local admin for an individual who create sites in multisite network has limited access. Therefore, local admins always have to rely on super admin for what he makes available in his network.

Another problem is with WordPress themes and plugins. Not all themes and plugins are compatible with multisite so anything you choose for your site must work flawlessly across your network. The good news is most themes and plugins out there can work on multisite systems.

Most important, you have to be double careful with your site’s security. If the main site gets hacked, do you know what going to happen? All sites in your network can be gone in a single blow. Your sites in the network are strongly attached to each other so if anything bad happens, there might be a domino effect for the rest.

When Should You Use WordPress Multisite?

Now you may wonder: So after all, is WordPress multisite right for me?

It depends on your requirement whether you should select between a stand-alone WordPress site or multisite. If you say Yes to one of these, you might say No with WordPress multisite:

  • You want to use multisite because it’s cool and powerful.
  • You’ll use multisite installation for a small business’s website which only needs a few pages like About us, Portfolio, Contact Us, or something like that.
  • You’ll use it for personal blog.
  • You’ll use it for a portfolio website used to showcase your work (you can do that with a single WordPress site, and just add categories for that!)
  • You’re going to use multisite for several sites. But all these sites have different purpose, different use, different themes and functions. In this case, you’d better install different single WordPress websites. If they’re not highly similar, forget about multisite!

And if one of these things is what you really need, then multisite is the wise choice:

  • You need different themes on the same site.
  • Your sites are similar enough that they share all the same plugins and you want to be able to update once and not have to test for each site.
  • Your sites are the kind for an organization with several regional branches? Or about a cross-nation/inter-nation business with multiple locations?
  • You need top level addresses in your main site.

Use multisite when it makes sense!

Quick Sum Up

We have just gone through the first part of the A to Z guide about WordPress multisite for you. I hope that this first part is helpful for you and a leverage to help you master the tools which will be given in the next part.

For now, why not share this insightful guide with your friends and your clients?

by Vivian Vu

I'm a proud minion in the WooRockets Team. Enjoy life, music, writing blogs and LOVE to read comments for my blogs - So feel free to connect with me by leaving a comment right below or tweet me @vivianjedi

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