If you’re managing multiple related WordPress sites individually, you probably already know it takes a lot of time. Whether you’re adding plugins or installing updates, it’s no small task. Fortunately, there’s a way to do it more efficiently. WordPress multisite enables you to bundle your sites so you can make universal changes.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at WordPress multisite and discuss its pros and cons. Then, we’ll help you decide if it’s something you should consider. Let’s get to it!
What Is WordPress Multisite (And Do You Need It?)
Before we get into whether you should use the WordPress multisite feature, let’s look at how it works.
WordPress multisite enables you to use one WordPress installation as a hub for several sites, centralizing control over users, plugins, and themes. However, you’ll need to choose a hosting plan that supports multiple websites.
Many web hosts like WPEngine let you create multiple sites on higher plans:
The ability to run several websites, or subsites, from a single dashboard is the biggest difference between a WordPress multisite configuration and a regular installation. However, the multisite dashboard doesn’t look much different. You’ll just see a few new areas, including the network admin menu.
Network admin, also known as super admin, is a role created when you enable WordPress multisite. This is the user who can make changes to the entire network, such as installing updates and adding or removing plugins. The network admin also controls the user roster and each user’s permissions.
On the back end, WordPress creates new upload folders and builds new database tables for each subsite. The thing to know here is that if you upload a file on one of your subsites, it will be placed in the corresponding uploads folder. This means it will be inaccessible to your other subsites.
Your subsites will either be subdomains or subdirectories, depending on what you select when you configure WordPress multisite:
With subdomains, your URLs will look like this: subdomain.xxxx.com. This may require you to set up a wildcard subdomain or take other steps as required by your hosting provider.
If you choose subdirectories, each subsite will have a URL that looks like xxxx.com/subdirectory. You don’t need to do anything extra to use this setup. However, it isn’t available for sites that are more than a month old.
WordPress Multisite Use Cases
WordPress multisite is deployed in all kinds of scenarios. For example, hotel chains create subsites for different locations. Similarly, many international businesses duplicate their sites in different languages.
Multisite is also used by universities to create subsites for different departments, classes, and even blogs:
As you can see, multisite can benefit many types of businesses. If you have an international company or you want to cater to different demographics, creating a network of sites could be an effective solution.
The Pros and Cons of Using WordPress Multisite
Now that we’ve covered what WordPress multisite is, let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of using it.
Creating a multisite network can have several advantages. For example:
- You can manage many websites at the same time. This means core files, themes, and plugins are shared across the network and can be changed or updated all at once.
- User management and controls are easier. Rather than spreading these functions across multiple sites, you can take care of them from a central location.
- It’s scalable. You can add subsites as the need arises. For example, you might add one after opening a restaurant location.
- It’s data efficient. Since each subsite is using the same core files, less disk space is being taken up on the server than if each site had its own theme, plugins, etc.
However, this approach can also pose a few challenges. For instance:
- It could get expensive. Each website’s traffic adds up, meaning you may need to upgrade to a hosting plan that’s out of your budget.
- If the main site goes down, the subsites go down with it. Similarly, if the main site is hacked, the whole network is compromised. Tighter security measures are a necessity.
- It has a higher learning curve. Activating WordPress multisite requires making changes to your wp-config.php and .htaccess files. Then, once you’ve got multisite running, you have to tend to the administration, security, and performance needs of the network.
Additionally, some e-commerce hosting providers don’t support WordPress multisite. Therefore, you might need to switch companies or shop around.
When You Should Consider Using WordPress Multisite
WordPress multisite offers a lot of benefits, but it’s not for everyone. Your sites need to share aesthetics and operate the same way for you to get the best out of the system. That doesn’t mean there aren’t many uses for it, though.
If you run an international business, you might want to translate your site into other languages. Doing so can help you build trust among your target audience. In fact, a 2021 Unbabel survey found that 71% of respondents felt it was important that marketing is directed at them in their native language.
It might also make sense to use multisite if you have multiple businesses with similar landing pages. For example, if you’re a software developer or course creator, you might create a site for each of your products and manage them from the same dashboard.
If you’re heading up a media organization, you can use multisite to separate verticals, localize your content, and create related microsites. The Wall Street Journal is a good example. It uses multisite to manage its various blogs and online magazines:
These are just a few of the scenarios in which WordPress multisite can be a game-changing asset. It’s robust enough to consider no matter the scale of your network.
WordPress multisite can be an excellent tool if you have a suite of similar sites under your care. Its centralized dashboard lets you install plugins and themes on all your sites at once, and control who can do what on each website. These features can help you save time and effort, allowing you to focus on higher-level tasks.
Do you have any questions about WordPress multisite? Let us know in the comments section below!
Featured image: Pexels.