What is WordPress Multisite?
WordPress has the option to run a multisite network. What this means is that from one installation you can run multiple WordPress sites, each with its own unique content set, unique URL, WordPress administration area, it’s own range of plugins activated and also a unique theme. The “Super Admin” of the network can control all the network plugins, themes, users and settings, and can also log into any sites in the network using the same credentials. They can also give access to multiple sites in the network to certain users at different levels.
Ways to use WordPress Multisite
This is by no means a definitive list, but over the last few years, the below have proved the most popular with people we support and serve.
Network of niche websites
You or your client may wish to run a series of unique sites/blogs covering different areas in your niche, or perhaps serve different targeted sites for different audiences about your product or service. Using multisite keeps everything in the same place, with same login details thus enhancing the administration experience. Different teams within the company can manage different websites, and through a wide range of excellent plugins, you can share content between sites and more.
We have seen some clients use Multisite to run the same site for different geographical locations. This means it uses the same design (theme) and branding, but has unique content, products and or services for each geographical location they serve.
Free or Premium site building service
With Multisite, you can allow people to register and to create their own site. They will be given a unique URL (either domain.com/theirsite or theirsite.domain.com, dependant upon how you set it up). Once in, will the be presented with a WordPress admin panel where they can choose from the themes and plugins you have made available to users on the network. This allows you to offer a WordPress.com or EduBlogs.org style service and is a great way to serve and/or build up a niche community.
To take payment, there is a great tool called Pro Sites which will allow you to take payment on subscription, as well as set levels, and even assign plugins to specific levels thus encouraging people to upgrade.
A Little Boasting: Lee has supported multiple networks over the last 5 years powering over 1000 websites!
Using the previous idea of utilising Pro Sites, you could develop a useful industry tool either using the WordPress admin interface, or a custom theme you have created that meets a particular need. We created a proof of concept for this idea at Karuvi:
An ongoing labour of love, and proof of concept, Karuvi is a twitter management solution that includes scheduling, content feeds, bulk follow and unfollow options all built into the WordPress theme, complemented by a range of plugins we created that are activated at certain subscription levels to provide more premium levels of service, features and allowances.
You too could develop a niche tool using this methodology taking advantage of WordPress as a framework for development and Multisite as your delivery mechanism
Multiple client sites, one location
As a web developer/designer, you may wish to keep all your clients in one place, on one installation. This could be advantageous as it would only require one update cycle rather than updating multiple WordPress installations. You can also still offer a unique domain per site on the network via a plugin such as Domain Mapping. Bear in mind that if you are opting for this route, if there is an issue and your installation ceases to work for a period of time, that is all your clients down in one hit.
Want to get cracking?
If you want to get cracking and experiment with Multisite, then check out this blog: Ultimate Guide To Multisite. It gives a detailed overview, use cases, advice, and practical information for installing and setting up WordPress Multisite.
What ways are you using WordPress multisite? Share your creations and ideas with the community in the comments below.
If you would like help, we specialise in MultiSite builds, members of our team having helped power over 1000 sites over the last 5 years. Contact us for more information.