Managing multiple WordPress sites can be a daunting task, but there is a solution that can make it easier – a multisite installation. With a multisite, you can install WordPress just once and create and manage multiple individual sites on this single WordPress install, all from a single admin dashboard. However, before you decide to use a multisite, it is important to understand its pros and cons and assess whether it is the right solution for your needs.
When Not to Use a Multisite
If you only want a collection of sites that share data and users, or if you only want your webpages to look different, then a multisite is not for you. You can achieve these goals by using plugins that switch between themes or restrict capabilities, link URLs, or switch users and menus. Additionally, if site admins want to add themes and plugins freely or do not wish to share server space or database, then a multisite may not be the best option.
When to Use a Multisite
A multisite is most advantageous for organizations that have a hierarchical setup, such as government and its various wings, universities and their departments, or a network of blogs that are related in some way. Multisites are more suited to sites that operate with a high degree of independence within their own area of operation and share some common resources.
The Pros of Multisite
One of the biggest advantages of a multisite is that you can manage any number of individual sites from a single dashboard. Themes and plugins need to be installed only once and then activated across the entire network, making for more efficient use of server space. Users can create their own blogs on your network and manage them, and you can monetize the network by offering hosting services to others.
The Cons of Multisite
Not all plugins will work on a multisite, and individual sites cannot add or delete themes and plugins. If your site or server experiences downtime, this will affect all the sites on the network, and any spike in traffic to any one site on the network may affect the speed of all the other sites on the network. Additionally, not all hosting plans support multisite, and hosting needs will increase for a multisite.
Installation of Multisite
To install a multisite, you need to be an administrator and have access to your server’s file system. You must have the privileges to edit files and create a directory. Before you start, decide whether you want to add sites as sub-domains or sub-folders. This cannot be changed later, so make your choice carefully.
Creating or Adding Sites
To create or add new sites, go to the Network Dashboard and click My Sites > Network Admin > Sites > Add New. Fill in the details like Site Address, Title, email and click Add New. You can add as many sites as you want and view the list of sites by clicking All Sites.
Activating Themes and Plugins
You can install and activate themes and plugins in a multisite in two ways – install it in the Network admin and activate it for the whole network, or install it in the Network Admin and enable it by editing within that site. To activate themes and plugins for the entire network, click on Network Enable or Network Activate. To activate themes and plugins for individual sites, visit the site as the site administrator and activate the theme or plugin on the individual site.
Assess your needs before deciding to install a multisite. While installing a multisite is quite easy, there are complexities involved in management. Additionally, migrating a multisite or separating a single site from a multisite can be a bit daunting. Proceed with caution and consider using managed services with a service provider like ManageWP if you only need ease of management of multiple WordPress sites from a single screen.