Determining whether or not to use WordPress Multisite can be a confusing choice. Should you develop multiple sites under a single installation, or keep each one separate? Depending on the scenario, WordPress Multisite can be an extremely beneficial solution. Yet, there are some instances where it isn’t the best fit.
Are you trying to decide whether or not WordPress Multisite is the way to go? Read on for several examples of notable brands implementing this technology in the wild today. But first, let’s dig deeper into what a multisite network actually is.
What is WordPress Multisite?
Originally called WordPress MU, this feature was envisioned as a way to enable blogging networks. In 2010, WordPress Multisite replaced WordPress MU. Multisite offers a lot more functionality than MU, with sites ranging beyond blogs to include corporate sites, internal networks, and more.
With Multisite, there is one host, one install of WordPress, and many sites. It’s like an apartment complex with a shared roof (hosting), common spaces (filesystems), and many private apartments (sites). If you’re looking to dig deeper into the technicalities of this solution, see our beginner’s guide to WordPress Multisite to get the 411.
Let’s now take a look at some real-life examples of notable brands implementing this technology today.
The University of Texas at Austin
You’ll hear it over and over again…WordPress Multisite is great for universities. And it’s true! The University of Texas, for example, allows its faculty, staff, and students to create their own sites within the network that can easily be self-serviced.
Teachers can create and put their curriculum on a site within the network, making it easy for students to access collateral. If a student wants to create a site for a club, sports team, or personal site, they can do so within the school’s multisite network as well.
UT ultimately has control over what goes into the network, providing six accessible themes to use, as well as a structured web domain.
Believe it or not, Best Buy has an individual website for each and every one of its 1,000-plus stores. WordPress Multisite plays a huige role in this instance, housing each site under a single WordPress installation. Each store can then individually host its own customer ratings, current inventory, upcoming sales, and more.
Not to be confused with WordPress.org, this is possibly one of the best examples of a notable brand using WordPress Multisite. Anyone can go to WordPress.com and start a personal blog—once that blog is activated, it is then added to WordPress’ Multisite network.
Currently, there are more than 409 million people who view over 20 billion pages each month within WordPress.com’s Multisite network.
The New York Times
Another great application of WordPress Multisite is in the publishing industry. The New York Times enables Multisite for its writers, allowing them to manage individual columns. This gives great agility to the NYT’s writers and editors who can publish content immediately as they write breaking news stories.
So far we’ve covered education, retail, self-publishing, and news publishing brands who use a multisite network to help achieve flexibility and publishing control with their online presence.
Self-service and travel tool Cheapflights.com also uses WordPress Multisite for its geo-centric locations across the globe, including news.cheapflights.com and news.cheapflights.co.uk.
Rather than setting up a new WordPress site each time, when setting up a new region site, it can be done through the multisite network. This allows the new site to have the same look and structure as the others, yet it gives the site owner control over content that focuses on the region’s specific needs.
While WordPress Multisite is not for everyone, there are some great use cases for it. You can allow users to create their own sites with some constraints, as well as centrally manage each individual site from an admin role. Multisite is probably not a good idea, however, if you want a lot of different content and you want all of your sites to look different.
Want to know more? Check out this white paper for some additional insights:
Best Friend or Worst Enemy? The Do’s and Don’ts of WordPress Multisite