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WordPress Multisite: What You Need to Know

Posted 13th January, 2015 by Aliysa

With its customisable design and full range of features, WordPress is a perfect CMS for creating a niche website. That's great - but what if you want to run a collection of associated websites? Luckily, WordPress has the perfect solution for you, with its 'Multisite' feature. With this mode you can create and run a whole network of sites, all from the same dashboard.

Whilst Multisite is a fantastic mode, being a Super Admin is very different to running one standalone WordPress site, so before you begin, make sure you're completely aware of what to expect:


Enabling:

Enabling Multisite can often be a complex process, and involves editing files within your root directory, so if you're even slightly unsure of what you need to do then you should check out our great knowledge base article, which provides you with step by step instructions.

(Note: all the sites in your network will be subdomains or subdirectories of one domain name. Depending on your hosting settings and WordPress install settings, you may not be able to choose between the two.)


My Sites:

When you first visit the Multisite dashboard, you'll see that a brand new option called 'My Sites' has appeared in the top toolbar. As Super Admin, this is your "go-to" place for keeping up to date with all the latest happenings across all of your sites. Start by adding a new site to your network, in just a few simple steps:

  1. Visit 'My Sites' > 'Network Admin' > 'Sites'
  2. Hit 'Add a Site'
  3. Enter your site domain, URL and your Super Admin email address and click 'Add Site'
  4. Log into your Super Admin email account, find the automatic email sent to you from WordPress and follow the link through to approve your new site.

It's really that easy! Once you've followed these steps then your brand new site will appear under the 'Sites' section mentioned above in step 1. Within this area, you can publish sites online, delete them entirely or click through to take a closer look within their individual dashboards.

'My Sites' is also the place to moderate all the content within your network; at a glance you can see the number of notifications for each site and how long it's been since the last moderation, to help you prioritise effectively. From here you can dive into each site's specific dashboard, to discover more about all the recent activity in your network.


Controlling your Users:

Every mode of WordPress will allow for numerous moderators, however in Multisite you're given new options for controlling the access and powers of all other users.

Take a look within the 'Users' area on your Network Dashboard; here you can create a small army of moderators, each with their tailor-made access rights. As Super Admin, you can view and edit every piece of content which moderators post, and have the absolute final decision on every piece of user comment that goes live throughout your network. Any spammers can be blocked here or from your Network Settings.


Plugins:

It's not just your moderators who now have new access rights, you can now also control the access of each plugin. Once installed, plugins are now stored within the Network Dashboard plugin page, from which you can customise exactly how they behave. There's three options for you to consider:

  • Site Specific: The plugin will only works for specified sites on your network. To activate it you'll need to visit the individual site's plugin directory and enable it from there.
  • Network plugins: The plugin can be activated across all sites within the network by the Super Admin, but can't be turned off within the individual site's plugin directory. This plugin can only be disabled by the Super Admin, within the Network Dashboard plugin page.
  • Must Use: Also installing a plugin into the mu-plugins directory as a single file will apply it to every site on your network. Any plugins placed there can't be activated or deactivated from your WordPress dashboard; without being deleted from the mu-plugin directory first.

It's vital that you're aware of the differences between each of these options, so that you set up your plugins correctly. Our support team receive several tickets each month from Multisite networks where the security plugins have been set incorrectly, leaving the site vulnerable to attacks.

Many outdated plugins contain vulnerabilities which can be exploited when you're running in Multisite mode. We strongly recommend that you take extra caution when uploading updated plugins to your network, and that you set an up-to-date security plugin like WordFence Security across all of your site.


Themes:

Annoyingly themes are less flexible when you're operating in Multisite mode; any edits that you make to the back end code of your theme will be applied to every site that the theme runs in. This is especially frustrating if you run each of your sites on a tailorised version of the same theme.

You don't have to run all your sites from one theme; just enable the theme in the Network Dashboard and then visit the site's individual dashboard to activate it.


Network Settings:

User registration can be enabled from within your 'Network Settings'. From here you can also customise the message that appears when your site is first created, and add your own personal touches to user welcome emails.


If you'd like to know more about how WordPress can help you create your perfect web empire then you can get in touch with our team via email at sales@tsohost.com or tweet us @tsohost.

Categories: WordPress, Tips

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