Are you planning to develop multiple WordPress blogs or websites? You must use WordPress Multisite. WordPress Multisite, as the name implies, allows anyone to develop numerous WordPress blogs or sites on a single WordPress installation (aka server). One can easily judge its power and potential by the fact that WordPress.com is the largest ‘WordPress Multisite Network’ on the planet.
In this post, we’re going to talk about WordPress Multisite – what is WP Multisite, what’s so special about it, how it’s useful for anyone, when you should really go for it, and much more. Let’s get started.
What is WordPress Multisite?
WordPress Multisite enables you to host multiple sites and blogs on a single WordPress installation. Prior to WordPress 3, one used WordPress MultiUser (MU) to launch multiple websites on a single server, but the functionality was merged into WordPress 3, known as ‘WordPress Multisite’ thereafter.
WP Multisite offers a single dashboard to manage all your network’s dashboards – from a single location. It allows you to host the sites on multiple domains, sub-domains, or directories on your server per your requirement and choice. You can run a huge blog network like WordPress.com and others, whose nodes reach out from multiple web addresses – and still manage them from one dashboard easily.
WordPress vs. WordPress Multisite
At the ground level, WordPress represents a single blog or website hosted on a single installation and available from a single web location, whereas, WordPress Multisite represents various blogs or websites hosted on a single installation but available from multiple web locations. Pertaining to features, the key differences between WP and WP Multisite are roles and access permissions.
In WP, the administrator has a major role in site management, whereas, in WP Multisite there is a user above administrator, aka the super admin, who has access to each and every site on the network. Super Administrators carry the highest permissions in WP Multisite, which are merely not accessible in plain WP.
Another feature of super admin is his access to the ‘Network Admin’ area, where he can manage the network-wide settings, for example, domain or directory settings per site, etc. Moreover, super admin can manage themes and plugins of all multisite nodes, unlike vanilla WordPress’s administrator.
Multiple WordPress vs. WordPress Multisite
One always has the option to do multiple WP installations – one installation per website. This traditional approach, however, is not advisable in the modern era because WordPress has grown enough to cater everyone’s needs and WP Multisite simplifies the management of multiple sites.
Imagine logging into each WP site separately to just update a single bug-prone plugin or theme – many would consider it waste of resources when one can easily do the same job from a single dashboard and even with a single click. Multiple WordPress installations could prove useful if you wish to run few sites and are looking for cheap or free hosting solutions for each site, but if you’re serious about hosting vast number of sites or blogs using WordPress, then it’s advised to go for WordPress Multisite.
When Should You Use WP Multisite?
WordPress Multisite is always advised to use for running multiple websites in personal as well as business scenarios. If you wish to host few personal portfolio websites on different domains, then WP Multisite will help you manage them easily, including their domains, themes, and plugins.
Multisite is also suggested for developers or agencies developing and hosting clients’ websites or blogs because one can manage all hosted sites from a single location, and network-wide configuration eases the whole setup part if compared to setting up multiple WordPress installations. It’s also helpful for WordPress.com-like services, offering people to host their own content on the web for free or a small fee.
When Shouldn’t You Use WP Multisite?
You don’t require WP Multisite when you wish to run a single site or you don’t plan on having multiple sites in the longterm because the setup effort won’t match the benefits. In WP Multisite, each site owns its data and IP address (or directory), so if you are running a single site then you don’t need these features.
If you’re planning to create multisite for your clients, then do confirm first that your clients require you to host their sites as well as manage them, otherwise go for multiple WordPress installations. Also, multisite won’t work on most of the free or basic hosting services, so do confirm your hosting plan as well as budget before planning for ‘WP Multisite’ – features come at a price, after all.
WP Dashboard vs. WP Multisite Dashboard
WP Dashboard offers you all the management features and tools to manage a single website, including managing posts, pages, users, themes, plugins and more. WP Multisite’s dashboard provides all these features and moreover, offers features to manage multiple sites from a single dashboard, including site management, domain management, etc.
Both of the dashboards offer nearly the same look & feel, but the multisite dashboard is more powerful and the super admin (master of all admins of different sites in the network) operates these extra powerful features. Super admins, using the Multisite panel, can create or edit sites, configure or manage old sites including their themes and plugins, users and more.
Administrator vs. Super Administrator
WP’s Admin has privileges to manage the website including configuration, themes, and plugins as well as various standard WordPress functionalities. WP Multisite’s Super Admin has access to all the settings across the network and this role acts as the parent role of the WP Admin per hierarchy.
Super Admin is the standalone user who can change users, themes, plugins, and the configuration of the entire list of sites in the multisite network. He can even change roles/permissions of administrators for the network sites unlike admins who can only change permissions/roles of other users on a single site or blog.
How to Activate WordPress Multisite
WP Multisite comes built-in with WordPress and can be easily activated in your existing WordPress installation, but do make sure to backup the WordPress data before enabling the multisite feature. Just add “define( ‘WP_ALLOW_MULTISITE’, true );” in your ‘wp-config.php’ above “/* some text */”.
After activating multisite, the tools menu will have a ‘Network Setup’ option. This will help you install and configure multisite but please deactivate all the plugins before following this menu option. After doing the required 3-5 steps like changing DNS settings, configuring config file and more, this feature will be enabled on your blog or site, and you will see ‘Multisite Network’ option in the dashboard.
Best Plugins for WP Multisite
WP Multisite is a great platform to manage a collection of WordPress sites and there exist few plugins to make the things smoother than ever before. For example, WordPress MU Domain Mapping is a useful plugin, which maps individual domains to individual sites on your network, helping you to host sites on multiple domains and sub-domains.
Here is an example plugin that (even though not updated for a while now), provides great functionality: User Switching allows you to change or swap users with a single click, allowing you to act/manage things as a different user on the network.
Who Uses WP Multisite?
WP Multisite is used by various single-person as well as small to large size organizations. One of the chief example is WordPress.com itself, which have user base of more than 409 million people creating 1.4 million posts per day. Teach For Us is another example, which is a network for ‘Teach For America’ teachers and alumnus listing their educational blogs and sites on this network.
Edublogs, by WPMU DEV, is one more great venture like WordPress.com that allows teachers and education enthusiasts to create blogs, connect with students, assign projects, generate reports, and more. University of Maine is also an educational portal that hosts plenty of content divided into separate divisions and categories – multisite manages its various academic departments and keep things organized.
Did we leave out anything about WordPress Multisite? Do you have any questions? Please don’t hesitate to ask us via the comments section below.