wordpressmultisite

What is a Multisite Network + Questions Answered

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There are many reasons you might want to utilize a hidden and unique gem feature in the WordPress ecosystem called WordPress multisite. This site, Techie Mamma, is part of this type of WordPress multisite network. Other sites (most are just playful or very small purpose) include https://dcsit.es, https://jonoruelas.com/, https://lights.hoover.ws/, and http://arcticunion.com/ to name a few.

Imagine this:

  • You are starting your blog but you are absolutely in love with two different ideas and you are convinced that you have the time and energy to run both things equally.
  • You have a blog but want to start offering services and want to create a slightly different look and feel and content but keep your brand the same.
  • You are expanding your storefront to multiple locations and want all the locations to share your main domain but have a clear separation of location.

What is WordPress Multisite?

Iconic diagram of a WordPress Multisite

A WordPress multisite network is a collection of sites that all share the same WordPress installation core files. They can also share plugins and themes. The individual sites in the network are virtual in the sense that they do not have their unique directories on your server, although they do have separate directories for media uploads within the shared installation, and they do have separate tables in the database.

You have the ability to create a network of sites by using the WordPress multisite feature.

WordPress.org

Where is a WordPress Multisite why can’t I find where to turn it on?

WordPress Multisite is kind of a hidden gem in WordPress. It is there but it needs to be flipped on if you want to use it. Many don’t even realize that the feature exists, which is step one. Also important is to understand who a WordPress Multisite is right for before activating. It is a solution that does not have universal applications and it might not be the best tool for you.

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What’s the Difference between WordPress Multisite and WordPress Management tools?

A WordPress Multisite is a site that contains something like subsites all connected on one network. There are other tools called management tools where you can connect to multiple sites that are individual sites and manage from an outside source. My favorite management tool is WPMU DEV but others that are popular are ManageWP and 10Web.

Who Should Use WordPress Multisite?

A WordPress Multisite is awesome there is no denying it. It is especially useful if you find yourself in one of these situations:

  • You want a single login and management of all your sites from one dashboard.
  • You have a network of WordPress sites that you want to manage on the same WordPress installation and server.
  • You want to create different branches of a website and use a unique subdomain, theme, etc.
  • You want to cut down on the cost of paying for multiple web hosting plans for websites that could be stored together.
  • The websites share many of the same plugins and themes. This means less stress on your server since only one installation of each plugin and theme will exist.
  • You want to streamline your update process and management process for all your WordPress sites. One place to update all themes and plugins and core. One place to install new themes and plugins.

Who Should Not Use WordPress Multisite?

  • You online have one website to manage and don’t plan to create any more in the future.
  • You are uncomfortable or don’t have the resources to update WordPress files and manage some of the more complex aspects of a network of sites.
  • When you want each website to have a unique web hosting account and IP address (usually for security reasons).
  • You have specific WordPress plugins you need to use for your sites, but they’re not compatible with WordPress Multisite (which is the case sometimes).

How Do You Create a WordPress Multisite?

Artistic rendition of a WordPress Multisite

There are two different ways you can set up your network. You can set it up with a domain-based network or path-based network (sub-directory). The two have unique structures in your URL. For a subdomain, your URL will look like http://mysite.network.com. For a path-based network, the URLs will look like http://network.com/mysite/. If you want a unique domain for all your sites you will set it up for domain-based networks and then use domain mapping to those sites.

What Is WordPress Multisite Domain Mapping?

Your sites can each have a custom domain with a feature called domain mapping. Domain mapping is the process by which you allocate a custom domain name (e.g. https://newdomainname.com) to each one of the subdomains on your network. You can implement a WordPress Multisite with multiple domains! While the default choices are to create subdomains or subdirectories, you can have custom domains with a little more work.

How Do You Manage a WordPress Multisite?

Managing a WordPress multisite is a little different than just a single site, but for the most part, it is very similar. One big difference is that plugins and themes are centralized, so they are installed at the network level and then are available for activation on each site. Updates are also centralized, in one place you can update core, plugins, and themes of the whole network. Lastly, there is a new user role called Super Admin. This role has access to the whole network and is the role that has authorization for performing tasks that affect the whole network. Each site still has an Administrator, the Super Admin just oversees everything above the Administrators. Managing a WordPress Multisite is very similar to managing a single WordPress site after getting familiar with a few different things.

A WordPress multisite may save you a lot of time and definitely increase efficiency in your work.

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