Practical applications of WordPress MultiSite including corporate use
WordPress is a very versatile content management system. It can be customized to drive corporate sites, eCommerce sites, intranets, community sites etc.
Once of the often overlooked features of WordPress is the ability to run in MultiSite mode. WordPress MultiSite is now built into WordPress since WordPress version 3.0.
The MultiSite mode of WordPress allows you to run a single instance of WordPress and drive multiple websites.
Lets illustrate a few scenarios when this can be useful:
1. Theme Development Testing
Lets say you are a WordPress theme developer. You can use Multisite to work on several theme jobs while using a single WordPress installation.
Your theme clients can visit their own URL to test the themes. Aside from conserving your web-server space, you will likely save time on upgrading your WordPress installations.
2. Corporate sites with sub-sites
One of our clients wanted a corporate site with several sub-sites where information specific to each client would be placed into each sub-site by a website administrator.
While the structure of content to be served to clients was the same, the content itself was unique to each client and password protected. Examples of this kind of use would be if you wish to create a password protected sub-site for a mortgage application client or for a collection of documents specifically gathered for a certain client.
WordPress in MultiSite mode was used to deliver this solution. The site used two themes. One for the corporate site and one for the sub-sites.
Each customer would be given a common login area where they would be re-directed automatically to their sub-site.
3. Volunteer News Service with a sub-site for each location
The situation here was that each location needed a unique sub-domain like: http://athens.mynewspaper.com.
In addition each location needed a solution where they could customize the look of the site by using one of five themes. Using a hosting provider supporting Wildcard DNS, we were able to setup WordPress to serve up a different sub-site for each sub-domain.
In addition the administrator could selectively feature various posts from any of the sub-sites, onto the homepage of the main site.
In the scenarios above, WordPress MultiSite was a good solution because the requirements were controlled. Only a limited set of plugins tightly controlled by the administrator were used and made available to the sub-sites.
In the second case above, users could not access the dashboard. Using a selective redirect plugin, all users who were not administrators were re-directed to the front facing pages of the sub-site they were assigned to.
The bottom-line is that WordPress in MultiSite mode can be used to achieve business objectives in specific scenarios. It also comes with its own complexity in managing the network which an administrator should be prepared for.