WordPress multisite: pros and cons

WordPress multisite: pros and cons compared to multiple sites

In many business cases, one website is not enough. For example, you may need a group of related sites if you have multiple brands, sell customized products to different regions, run a chain of organizations, own a blog network, and so on.

How to facilitate the management of these sites? There is always a solution in WordPress! Related websites can be presented in a WordPress multisite setup.

In today’s post by our WordPress support and web development team, we discuss what multisite is and review its pros and cons. This should help you decide what to choose: WordPress multisite or multiple sites.

WordPress multiple single sites vs multisite

What is WordPress multisite?

WordPress multisite is a feature that allows you to run a network of sites from the same WordPress installation. The multisite feature was introduced in WordPress 3.0 back in 2010. One of the famous multisite examples is wordpress.com, which hosts millions of blogs and web pages from one WordPress installation.

WordPress multisite example — wordpress.com

How does a WordPress multisite work?

All sites within one WordPress multisite setup share the same WordPress core and installed plugins, and themes. However, they can have their plugins and themes enabled individually. For example, if you would like your websites in the network to have a different look, it’s possible to enable different themes for them. The network settings of every plugin and theme will affect all other subsites using it.

The sites with the WordPress multisite network can have their own domain or URL and are recognized by search engines as separate, fully-fledged websites. They share the same database, but every site has its own subset of database tables.

You will be able to administer your multisite network from the dashboard at the “My sites” tab. Multisite introduces a new user-level — Superadmin — that has access to every site within the network.

This person controls the access rights of standard Admins for particular sites. However, standard admins cannot install new plugins and themes, only activate the ones installed within the whole network.

Multisite vs multiple single sites in WordPress

The multisite looks very convenient, but it is not for every scenario. Will you benefit from multisite or is it better to stick to multiple single WordPress installations? Let us help you by listing the WordPress multisite pros and cons. Some of them are relative and can be beneficial or not according to your business peculiarities.

The pros of WordPress multisite setup

  • Managing all sites from the same WordPress dashboard is incredibly convenient with all the settings at your fingertips.
  • The centralized control is a great fit for many organizations and helps avoid a mess (with just one Superadmin and restricted rights for site admins to install plugins and themes, edit user profiles, etc.)
  • Regardless of how many subsites use particular themes and plugins, they are only stored once, which saves you server space and money on hosting.
  • You will only need to update your WordPress core, plugins, and themes once for all subsites, which significantly saves on time.
  • You will only need to install plugins and themes once for all subsites, which is also time-saving.
  • If you wish, you can reach a high level of consistency in branding and structure between different branch sites for your organization. However, this can be achieved in other ways as well.
  • Thanks to all sites using a single SQL database, the data from them can be stored in a single backup with no need to back up each website.
  • One user profile gives them access to all subsites in the network, which is convenient.
  • There is a possibility to allow third-party users to create their accounts and blogs within your network.

The cons of WordPress multisite setup

  • Just like centralized control is a pro, it can be a con, depending on your organization’s preferences. Will it be OK for you that particular site admins are unable to install plugins and themes?
  • Security problems on one site (a hacker attack or data breach) can create a wave of the same problems on the others.
  • Performance problems on one site (traffic overload, downtime, etc.) can also influence others.
  • Just like a shared user base can be a pro, it can be a con depending on your case. It’s hard to separate users completely so they will access the whole network.
  • There are WordPress plugins that do not work with a multisite and can cause conflicts instead.
  • It’s hard to keep customized versions of the plugins and themes for particular subsites.

Conclusion: is a WordPress multisite right for you?

Considering all the above WordPress multisite pros and cons, we can say that multisite is a good fit for these cases:

  • if your subsites need very similar functionality
  • if you do not need separate user audiences, and having shared users will cause no security concerns
  • if your organization is ok with a centralized approach to site management, where particular site admins do not need “game-changing” permissions
  • if you plan to scale your business sites and will need easier management in the future

Let’s discuss the option of multisite or multiple sites

Choosing between WordPress multisite or single sites is not easy, despite the pros and cons listed. Ask our WordPress support experts to study your requirements and preferences. Based on them, we will either set up a WordPress multisite for you or build separate sites that fully meet your business workflows. Let’s talk about your optimal option!


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