If you have worked with websites for quite a while with WordPress, you may have developed the need to have more than one website. You are also probably wondering whether WordPress multisite setup is possible to run them on one single installation, especially if they have plenty in common.
WordPress Multisite is the answer to your question. With WordPress Multisite, you can create a network on your WordPress installation, so that you can run as many sites as you want on the network. This article will explore WordPress Multisite in more detail and will answer all your other questions regarding how it works.
What exactly is WordPress Multisite?
WordPress Multisite is a platform that lets you add more than one website onto your WordPress installation. You can readily add it to your brand new or preexisting WordPress site. Activating this unique and convenient feature is as simple as adding a few lines of code, after which you can create sites in your network. Your existing website will remain unchanged, and the new sites will be piled upon it.
Differences between WordPress installation and WordPress Multisite
The number of websites
- User roles: with WordPress Multisite, you get a new network-admin role
- Access to themes and plugins: only the network admin can access, install, and change them
- Admin screens: Multisite adds new screens to help you monitor the screen
- Media storage: Multisite adds additional folders for each new site’s uploads
- Data storage: Multisite creates extra databases for specific new sites and data for the entire network of sites.
The Network Administrator Role
Once WordPress Multisite is installed, your role becomes that of a network administrator, such that you have admin privileges over all the sites you create on your network. You can allow other people to create websites on your network and make them admins for the specific sites they create.
As a network admin, you have more access than a site admin. A site admin may be able to activate a theme or plugin for their website, but they may not install any, while you, as a network administrator, can install new ones as you see fit. This option helps keep the network of websites secure because site admins could bring compromised plugins into the network.
A site admin may also add new users, but only for their specific websites, not other sites or the network at large.
Domain names are different between a normal WordPress installation and a Multisite network. Your network will have the same domain name as your primary site. As soon as you activate Multisite, you specify whether the additional websites will use subdomains (secondsite.mywebsite.com) or subdirectories (mywebsite.com/secondsite). You can also map standalone domains to your new sites so that they have their own domain names separate from your primary site. As soon as users click on it, it will look like they are on their own installation.
WordPress.com is one massive WordPress Multisite network. It allows users to quickly set up free blogs without a domain (mysite.wordpress.com) or to map domains to the sites they make on the network. If you opened a blog on WordPress.com, you become a site administrator to the site you create, but you still cannot access the entirety of the network or anyone else’s blog.
How to activate WordPress Multisite?
You can activate this feature on either a brand new site or an existing site.
How to activate WordPress Multisite on a brand new site?
Depending on your WordPress services provider, you may receive the option to activate WordPress Multisite from the very start. All you will need to do is check the box provided in the dialog box. You will also have a choice between subdomains and subdirectories for your new sites.
You will need to access your WordPress installation files. With a code editor, you can quickly locate them, and find the files you need to edit: htaccess and wp-config.php. These two are found in the base folder. Before embarking on any changes, make a backup of these files and the entire site in case something goes wrong, and you need to return to the default site.
Start by opening your wp-config file with your code editor of choice, then find this line of code:
/*That’s all, stop editing
Right above this line, add
Define( ‘WP_ALLOW_MULTISITE’, true );
Save the file then visit your site admin page via your browser. You will find a network set up page created for you on the Tools > Network Setup. The screen will let you select whether to set up your network via subdomains or subdirectories. You can then enter the title, and admin email address for your network in the fields provided and hit ‘Install.’
You will be redirected to the network setup screen, where you will find code for pasting onto the wp-config.php and .htaccess files. Paste the codes carefully, not leaving anything out, save the files, then return to your site admin screen on the browser. Log in to your network using the credentials you used before. Your admin screen toolbar will have two items: My Sites, and Network Admin.
Activating WordPress Multisite on a preexisting WordPress installation
You only need to use the same steps above for the manual installation in a brand new site. However, you will not be able to use subdirectories for running the network if your site is older than one month.
The content that already exists on the site increases the risk of a clash between the URLs for the existing posts and the new sites you will add to the network.
For instance, if you have a site for my blog with a division for MyBlogLiteraturePosts, you may have an existing page describing myblog.com/literatureposts, which would clash with a new website within the network with the URL myblog.com/literatureposts, if you opted for subdirectories. You will instead use the subdomain option so that the new site will be literatureposts.myblog.com.
Using a subdomain will allow you to let other people create websites on your network. However, you can take the option to map a domain to the new websites, so that the use of subdomain or subdirectories is not known.
Advantages of using WordPress Multisite
WordPress Multisite will save you time, space, and effort, and will make site management efficient and less troublesome for you. Multisite is the perfect solution for you if:
- You would like to install the same plugins for every site you own
- You have used a framework theme as a parent theme for more than one of your sites
- If you want to develop multiple websites for the same company with varying content but the same branding and structure.
- You have spent long periods of time updating each site independently while you could have spent that time managing the sites or developing new ones.
Other significant benefits of using WordPress Multisite include:
1. More efficient code
Running all your websites on one network may reduce the amount of code you have to handle on a daily basis. Regardless of the number of websites, there will always be one set of WordPress sites and one copy of each theme or plugin. This way, you will reduce the amount of server space taken up if you had a WordPress installation for each website and the time needed to keep every section of code up to date.
2. More efficient development
If you are interested in creating custom themes for your websites, you can have a base theme as a starting point. This theme can be a framework theme that you use so you do not necessarily start from scratch.
By using Multisite, you can install your parent theme of choice only once and use it for all the themes activated on the individual websites in the network and thus save plenty of time in development and constant updates. This option is helpful if all your websites have design elements in common, like multiple sites for each department of a company or institution.
You can create a parent theme with all the baseline design and layout characteristics, then craft child themes for each site depending on the specific company department. With this arrangement, you can also display content from other sites within the network across the sites in the business.
3. Efficient website management
It is easier to keep a WordPress Multisite network up to date than individual sites on individual installations. One update will suffice for all the themes and plugins across the network regardless of the number of sites they are active on. You will need, however, to check that the themes and plugins are working on every site they are active.
With WordPress Multisite, it is possible for you to save on web hosting fees. Each individual WordPress hosting will incur a cost, which also limits the number of sites you can create.
Ways in which you can use WordPress Multisite:
1. Personal websites
If you are running several personal sites or blogs, then it may save you a great deal of time if you migrated to one Multisite installation. This is convenient because:
- It saves on hosting space and time
- The ability to display the data on one site on another site within the network
- The websites have code, plugins, and themes in common
- With the ability to map a domain to each site, no user will realize that individual sites are interconnected on a network.
2. Business sites
If you are running the websites for different business departments, using WordPress Multisite will be way more effective and convenient. You will be able to use the same parent theme and plugins to ensure baseline uniformity among the sites, you will only have to manage a single WordPress installation to manage, and you will be able to share data among all the sites in the network.
3. Hosting client sites
If you are building client sites, you can use WordPress Multisite if you intend to use the same parent template to build your websites’ themes and set of plugins that you trust. With Multisite, you can transfer all your sites to one network and managing them effectively from there.
You will also only have to worry about the security, updates, and costs of a single WordPress installation, which reduces stress and saves time. You can still use domain mapping to map clients’ domain names to their specific sites and admin pages.
4. Community networks
Most community groups do not have the resources to multiple site installations; thus WordPress Multisite will work great for them. Multiple groups, for instance, among the young adults, can have their own sites at the cost of a single installation, and save on internet billing and hosting costs. They will also be able to communicate via the admin screens and share content that affects the entire group on each group’s website.
WordPress Multisite may be a great option for a company intranet and is way better for having one big WordPress site or many small ones with separate installations. With a Multisite company intranet, you can:
- Create individual sites for every department and give the right employees access to site admin privileges
- Add each employee as a site admin once and give them access to the site they require
- Share information across the website, such as updates from the primary site onto the homepages of individual sites
WordPress Multisite is widely used by large corporations, Nonprofits, and education institutions to host department websites and blogs for student bodies.
Monetize your WordPress today by running a Multisite network. WordPress.com makes money by allowing people to host websites on their network. You can follow the WordPress.com example by creating a page that allows users to create their own sites on your network on your primary or base site. You can then charge hosting fees or offer it up for free.
Also, you can try tiered pricing plans, from free to premium. With your privileges as the network admin, you can offer support to blog owners and create a community of users.