What is WordPress Multisite?

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A WordPress Multisite (WPMS) allows you to create and manage a network of WordPress sites from a single WordPress dashboard. 

While there are plenty of advantages to WPMS, there are also enough challenges that make it important to think carefully about your decision to embark on the Multisite path. For example, WPMS gives you the opportunity to control almost all aspects of your network, such as which plugins and themes are made available on your sites. But what if you have users who need different site options? You would be simultaneously in charge of reviewing and assessing those asks, and that kind of work can add up.

 

Advantages of WPMS

For Super Admins

  • Make the decisions on what themes and plugins are present.
  • Add/update themes and plugins across the network from a single place. 
  • Navigate between many different WordPress sites without needing additional site credentials or cPanel access.
  • Control what plugins are activated by default and prevent them from being turned off. 
  • Customize the signup process to get the user information you need.
  • Easily see community activity.
  • If folks really just want WordPress (i.e. not a full-blown cPanel account), then this is the most economical path both cognitively, in terms of support, as well fiscally.

For site owners

  • One place to login for all your sites.
  • Consistent plugins and themes across all your sites.
  • Nothing but what you want.

 

Challenges

For Super Admins

  • You are responsible.
  • You are making the decisions on what themes and plugins are present for all users.
  • You are dealing with the complexities of additions and upgrades across diverse sites.
  • As your WPMS scales, you will oversee performance tuning to keep the instance performant.
  • You may need to monitor for and move complex, high traffic, or high resource sites to other environments. 
  • The database is more complex, therefore backups and site restorations are more complicated.
  • Hacking or other security and privacy issues will have broader impact.

For site owners

  • You can’t directly install new plugins or themes. 
  • WordPress is what you get and all you get.
  • There’s no path to deeper technology understanding beyond what WP offers. 
  • It might feel more like renting an apartment than owning a house.
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This guide is based on part of Tom Woodward's WordPress Multisite 101 workshop with Reclaim Hosting in October 2022.
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