Editor’s Note: The following is Part 2 in a three-part series titled, “What Is WordPress Multisite and How Can It Help You?”
If you have not read it already, go read Part 1 in this series, as it introduces the new terms WordPress uses for its Multisite environment. It also provides a high-level view of what WordPress Multisite is. In this part of the series, we will go over the why WordPress Multisite matters.
WordPress Multisite takes the hassle out of maintaining several individual WordPress installations, each hosting only a single site. It comes in handy in organizations with several brands, departments, or business units that need to share functionality, or data, in a convenient manner. It helps IT teams spend less time maintaining multiple hosting environments, patching security issues, and ensuring sites are kept updated. In my example (see Part 1), WordPress Multisite allows me to create a platform as a service (aka, PaaS) hosting environment for family and friends.
Let’s delve a bit deeper into some of the powerful features of WordPress Multisite.
Because WordPress Multisite is running from a single installation of WordPress, it brings all the sites together into one centrally managed location. This has several benefits, including:
- Shared core/plugin files
- Shared updates
- Super admin management
Let’s look at each of these in more detail.
Maintaining multiple individual WordPress installations can be a pain, as you are required to ensure the WordPress core files, plugin files, and theme files are available for each installation. WordPress Multisite simplifies this to a single copy of all the files. Let’s use the following illustration as an example.
- Acme Corp has four departments that each need a website: HR, Engineering, Products, Support.
- Acme Corp has a standardized style guide and required functionality for each site.
With a typical WordPress single site setup, Acme Corp would normally be responsible for four completely separate sites, including all the developmental operations that go into it, such as hosting plans, DNS management, and remembering which plugins need to be installed for consistency.
WordPress Multisite flips that situation on its head. In the Multisite paradigm, Acme Corp will now save time and money with one installation, one DNS entry, one hosting plan. Plus, all themes and plugins are available to every site out of the box.
That brings us to updates and security patches. Getting updates processed and completed in a simple and efficient manner is important. In the Acme Corp example above, it would take four times the effort to get all the sites updated. As the number of sites you run expands, so do the efforts of maintaining these sites.
WordPress Multisite simplifies this down to the same amount of effort it takes for a single site. With just a couple of clicks, updates are applied to all sites on the network. There is no need to remember account information for multiple sites, or run the risk of forgetting an important security patch on one of the sites, and thus compromising potentially sensitive data.
Providing proper access levels is paramount in any organization. Users should only have the level of access that they need to do their job and nothing more. The person in charge of administrating the site will need administrative access over all things. In WordPress Multisite, the administrator role remains, but it is limited to the site on which the user has been assigned the administrator role. For users who need access to all of the sites, a new role called super admin is introduced. Super admins have the ability to manage network level actions as well as get into the dashboard on any site. This allows super admins to not only control the network, but to also help site administrators when they have questions or need assistance running their site.
By now, you should understand what WordPress Multisite is and why it it is such a valuable tool. In the next and final part of this series, we will cover when using WordPress Multisite is a good idea, and if it could be the right fit for your organization.