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What is WordPress Multisite and Why Should I Use It?

For larger organizations and academic institutions, website management can be a pain. Hundreds or thousands of subsites, with even more users and updates to stay on top of. With WordPress Multisite, it’s possible to manage all of your websites from within one dashboard. In this post, we’ll inspect the distinct benefits of WordPress Multisite and why it may be a good fit for you.

What is WordPress Multisite?

WordPress Multisite refers to a network of sites running on one WordPress install, which makes for easy site management. That’s basically it, but of course, there are more intricacies that we’ll discuss below.

What organizations does it benefit?

Generally speaking, larger organizations benefit from a multisite approach. This is because big companies have several teams/departments that operate independently, and need easy access to their website info without distraction or clutter. Here are some examples of businesses that could benefit from WordPress Multisite:

  • Colleges/Universities
  • Public School Districts
  • Municipalities
  • Government Agencies
  • Retail Chains
  • Multilingual Global Organizations
  • Large Real Estate Agencies

Why use WordPress Multisite?

Before we delve into WordPress Multisite benefits, it’s important to note that the solution isn’t for everyone. Multisite is ideal for organizations with several departments or teams, each having its own subdomain or subdirectory. Furthermore, a multisite typically runs on the same theme but allows for customization by the admins of each individual site. If you want several or all of these features, WordPress Multisite is probably a good fit:

  • One install, one dashboard
  • Easy user management and access
  • Shared plugins and themes
  • Simultaneous independence and collaboration
  • Affordability for a large network

If you don’t have a large number of sites but still like the idea of a unified dashboard, then a solution like ManageWP may make more sense.

One install, one dashboard

The basis of WordPress Multisite is that all of the sites on the network stem from a singular WordPress install. As such, you’ll save a bunch of time by not having to install WordPress core, themes, and plugins over and over again. You also won’t need to worry about updates, but we’ll get more into that later.
Alongside a single install, a major advantage of WordPress Multisite is the ability to get to all of your sites from one dashboard.

Network admin view of WordPress multisite

You only need one username and password, and once you’re in, you can access any site on the network (depending on your permissions, of course). No more having to remember dozens of passwords for different sites.

Easy user management and access

User management is incredibly simple and intuitive with WordPress Multisite. You can give users access to just one site, a select few, or all of them. Like a regular WordPress site, you can also set roles like Admin, Editor, etc. However, with Multisite, a new role enters the game, that being Super Administrator (sometimes called Network Admin). Super Admin has access to all sites on the network, along with the ability to install plugins, update files, and manage other users. A single site administrator has access to only content and plugins on the site they are given access to. It’s insanely easy to set up users, give them access where they need it, and set their roles accordingly.

Shared plugins and themes

If you’re a webmaster or content manager, you know how important it is to keep your plugins and themes up to date. It’s a process that can’t be overlooked, but unfortunately, it takes some time, especially if you have hundreds of sites. The beauty of WordPress Multisite is that you only need to update themes and install plugins in one place if you desire. You can share these assets through your hosting provider, which will distribute them to all of the subsites. This gives you complete flexibility over the appearance and functionality of each subsite. Not only that, but it’s a more efficient use of server space as well.

Independence and collaboration

Larger businesses tend to have several departments that are part of a cohesive team, but still work independently from one another. This is what makes a multisite setup so great – you can create a subsite with users that mimic the hierarchy of their department. In this sense, you can keep the same workflow that you have in place but just translate it into a digital environment. And like stock WordPress, you can save drafts, preview, schedule, and easily revise posts, making it an effective collaboration tool for you and your colleagues.

WordPress Multisite is cost-effective

Since a multisite setup runs on one hosting provider, pricing is usually very affordable. It’s worth noting that not all hosting companies offer multisite support, but the ones that do have reasonable options for large-scale businesses. What’s more expensive – paying one fee for all your sites or paying separately for each site’s hosting? For substantial organizations that run up to hundreds of subsites, multisite is easier to manage, and easier on your wallet, too.

Wrapping up

There are multiple benefits to WordPress multisite. It’s ideal for organizations with several large departments that need to work independently but have a cohesive public-facing site, and definitely overkill for small businesses. Resources can be easily shared, and it’s easy to assign users to create content. Perhaps most importantly, hosting providers that support multisite typically have discounts depending on the number of sites, making it a very cost-effective option.

Not sure if WordPress Multisite is for you? Get in touch and we’d love to talk about it.


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