WordPress multisite, also known as MU or WPMS, is described by the wordpress.org codex as, “a feature of WordPress which allows multiple virtual sites to share a single WordPress installation.“
So let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of WordPress multisite.
Extensability and control
Ideal for producing several niche or mini sites quickly, WordPress multisite allows the administrator to control and maintain each individual site as a group. Having this functionality could be very useful for businesses.
Let’s say you own a digital marketing agency or allow affiliates to sell your products, and are using WordPress multisite – each of your employees or affiliates could have their own individual mini site within your network, but you, as the main site administrator, could control the branding & general features available to sites on your network and with the click of a button you could easily add new sites. Each mini site can even have its own domain name.
Reduced hosting costs
WPMS allows its users to setup blogs without the need for traditional hosting. Each individual site is hosted virtually in the WordPress multisite network.
Sites within a network can still have their own look, different plugins and content the same as with traditional hosting. (One of the biggest and well-known sites that use the multisite network is wordpress.com. It has been estimated that wordpress.com hosts about 30 million blogs!)
Evaluating the benefits and drawbacks
So what other benefits are there for multisite users, and what are the drawbacks?
Pro: Growth of your business. With WPMS it’s easy to grow your network, and local admins of individual sites on your network can be given permissions to add sites which can be used to launch a new campaign or product event.
Con: Not all plugins are available. Plugins can only be added with the permission of a network administrator, and some plugins are not available for multisite users at all.
Pro: Streamlined updates. When the network administrator applies an update, it’s applied for all sites on that network.
Con: All sites will be affected. If the main administrator deletes a plugin or makes changes to the theme, it affects all sites on the network using that theme or plugin.
Pro: Control over the network. The network administrator can easily pre-install themes and plugins that are available for sites on their network.
Con: Restricted user abilities. Adding or experimenting with new plugins for network users will be more difficult because they would have to go through the network administrator each time to add new plugins not currently installed on the network.
As with anything else, WordPress multisite has its good aspects as well as some that are not-so-good. But when is WPMS the right choice?
Well, if your business or purpose requires adding and deleting sites quite often, or if you want to have similar sites yet each with a slightly different look, or if the industry you work in would require several branded sites similar in structure – WordPress multisite would be right for you.
On the other-hand, if you need several sites which greatly differ in needs, or are only considering WPMS because it’s easier in terms of updates – multisite probably wouldn’t be the best option for you since the network comes with theme and plugin constraints that can be a nuisance or may be unnecessary for some site owners.
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