As well as WordPress being a multi-purpose content publishing tool, there is a feature of WordPress that not many beginners will be aware of. WordPress Multisite enables you to create a network of independent websites from a single WordPress installation. This means one set of files on your server, utilising one database, all making use of a single collection of users, themes and plugins.
- What is WordPress Multisite?
- Benefits of WordPress Multisite
- Sharing Resources
- Uses of a Multisite Network
- Managing your Network
- Premium Plugins for WordPress Multisite
What is WordPress Multisite?
Multisite launched back 2010 with the arrival of the third major incarnation of WordPress (v3.0). It replaced the former WordPress MU (MultiUser) variation which has been deprecated since that time. Aesthetically, with the exception of a couple of new network-related menu options, WordPress Multisite is virtually identical to any standard WordPress installation.
WordPress Multisite makes use of the same menu system, widget system, and the same theme and plugin system. This allows beginners or advanced users to feel at home when administering their Multisite installation. Learn more: What is WordPress Multisite and how to enable your own network.
Benefits of WordPress Multisite
A primary benefit of using Multisite is that you can quickly create a network of any number of sub-sites from a single database. Instead of having to manually create and setup a separate database for each site, you can administer your entire Multisite network with ease using just a solitary database. This easy-to-administer database will house the data of your entire network.
Another benefit of a Multisite network is the amount of time it takes to create a new sub-site. Creating a new sub-site literally takes seconds, instantly eliminating the need to spend time on database creation and waiting for files to upload to your server or web host. This can be vital to anyone who needs to be able to create / remove any number of sites on-the-fly with minimum effort.
WordPress developers can also benefit a great deal by using a Multisite environment to create a network of online development sites for their clients. Having convenient access and being able to administer a wide variety of sub-sites with just a few mouse-clicks can be a tremendous timesaver.
A Multisite installation will also share a number of other resources across its network. All WordPress core files and most importantly, its users, are shared across the entire network. This allows people to create a sub-site, and also be a part of other sub-sites using the same user account.
This alone opens up a variety of possibilities that a Multisite network can offer any WordPress administrator. Within the Multisite environment you can easily grant users access to any number of WordPress sites in your Multisite network. Multisite is therefore suitable for a wide-range of purposes and people, whether that's a development team, a business, an organisation or the humble blogger.
Uses of a Multisite Network
Businesses for example, can create additional sub-sites that run alongside their main company website. Assigning employees as administrators of these sub-sites enables you to share administrative tasks, lessening your workload. These sub-sites could house other aspects of your company website, such as delivering news updates, galleries, or creating a company blog.
Managing your Network
Using plugins specifically created for Multisite networks is a great way to aid you in managing your network on a daily basis. The official WordPress Plugin Directory is a great resource of freely available multisite plugins that can aid you in a variety of administrative tasks.
- Administrative Aids
- Multisite Enhancements
- Media Management
- Multisite Content Duplication
- User Management
Using plugins to help you administer your network can be a great timesaver whilst carrying out tedious network-related tasks. Managing your networks plugins for example can be rather restrictive by default. Being able to make plugins a requirement, optional, or unavailable to your sub-sites is fine, but what if you need to be more selective than this?
The Multisite Plugin Manager plugin puts you in control of your networks' plugin collection. The plugin is a fantastic resource that puts you in full control over which plugins are available to your networks blog administrators. There are a variety of features that make this a great addition to any Multisite network, including:
- Assign plugin access on a per-blog basis
- Automatically activate certain plugins on blog creation
- Mass activate & deactivate plugins across entire network
- Super Admin override functionality
Using the Multisite Robots.txt Manager plugin you're able to manage your networks' robots.txt files with ease. By taking advantage of a simple to use interface, you're able to carry out a variety of administrative tasks in a matter of seconds.
Enhancing the features of your Multisite installation can help your network stand out from the crowd and be unique. With the use of some well-rounded WordPress plugins you're able to begin implementing network-wide improvements that your visitors can enjoy.
The Multisite Language Switcher plugin allows you to add full multilingual support to a Multisite environment. Using this plugin, you can offer translations of your posts, pages, categories, tags, custom post types and custom taxonomies with ease.
Multisite Directory is a comprehensive plugin that allows you to implement a dynamic, searchable and fully-customizable network-wide directory to your Multisite network. Additionally, you're able to categorize your sub-sites to allow for easier and more intuitive navigation.
The Multisite Ticket System is a great solution for all Multisite networks wanting to provide a ticketing system to their sub-site administrators. The plugin offers you the ability to easily communicate with other administrators of the network via a familiar WordPress interface.
The Dropdown Multisite Selector enables you to create a dropdown selection menu containing the sub-sites of your network. Via a simple options page, you're able to manually or automatically populate the menu with links to the sub-sites of your network. Using a simple shortcode, you can position the menu within your content or theme files as required.
One aspect of a Multisite environment that isn't shared across your entire network is your media library. Each sub-site has its own dedicated media library that is independent of all other sub-sites media libraries, but this doesn't necessarily have to be that way.
This is where the Network Shared Media plugin comes into play by enabling network-wide access to all media libraries. The plugin adds additional functionality to the Add Media button that grants you access to media items from other blogs within the network.
Multisite Content Duplication
A frequent use of a Multisite network is being able to quickly replicate content on a large-scale. The Multisite Cloner plugin allows you to clone any chosen sub-site from within your network that will be duplicated for each newly created sub-site – a quite handy feature if you need it.
Simply select any of your sub-sites to be the Master Site so the plugin knows which sub-site you wish to use for cloning. All content, media items, plugin options and theme settings are cloned to all newly created sub-sites automatically. This is a great way of creating a default sub-site for new blogs within your network.
In much the same vein, the Multisite Post Duplicator allows you to duplicate any page, post or custom post type too. Custom field values, post meta information, featured images, categories and all taxonomies are also duplicated. Support for both Contact Form 7 and Advanced Custom Fields plugins is also included out-of-the-box.
Users of a Multisite network can be assigned multiple roles across a variety of sub-sites. This functionality allows you to create communities of users or even a variety of staff teams.
You can modify this functionality using the Multisite User Sync plugin that will automatically synchronize users of the network across all sub-sites. User roles are also preserved and carried through the synchronization process.
Premium Plugins for WordPress Multisite
Long-term Multisite developers, WPMU Dev, provides its premium members with a comprehensive collection of Multisite-specific plugins that can't be found anywhere else. The varied collection is of a very-high quality, updated frequently and is backed-up by unrivalled support.
Trusted by almost half-a-million Multisite administrators around the globe, WPMU Dev membership is an essential piece for any network administrator's toolkit. As an alternative, there are plenty of premium plugins for WordPress Multisite available on CodeCanyon as well.
Conclusion: Managing WordPress Multisite
Multisite is a great feature of WordPress which is available now for a number of years since the days of WPMU (MultiUser). It opens up many possibilities that allows your creative juices to flow with a network-sized blank canvas at your disposal. You could mimic the professionals and create your own feature-rich blog network, making available a variety of themes and plugins for your network users.
Perhaps you want to make use of your networks' sub-sites to create one large comprehensive website, implementing color-coded elements to denote which sub-site the user may be visiting. WordPress Multisite makes it ludicrously easy to create your very own network of websites in just a matter of minutes, with the minimum of effort and knowledge required.