WordPress Multisite – Here’s the Scoop

October 17, 2019
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WordPress Multisite is a version of WordPress that allows users to run multiple sites on a single WordPress installation.

It was initially designed to enable site owners to easily manage multiple blog sites and was introduced during the WordPress 3.0 release as a continuation of the WordPress Multiuser (WPMU) project.

WordPress Multisite Network Features

  • From a single WordPress installation, you can run a network of multiple WordPress blogs and websites.
  • WordPress multisite allows you have a network of subdomains like http://joeblogg.example.com or directories like http://www.example.com/joeblogg/.
  • Your WordPress Multisite Network allows other users to create an account and sites in WordPress.
  • As a Super Admin you can manage network and site features including access to install themes and plugins making them available to all other sites on the network. 
  • A Super Admin can create new users, new sites and make changes to themes for all websites, whereas a Website Admin can’t make changes to their themes.

How to enable Multisite Network in WordPress

Once you’ve installed WordPress connect to your website using an FTP client like Filezilla or CyberDuck.

Open your wp-config.php file and find the line that reads: /* That’s all, stop editing! Happy blogging. */ 

Just above that line, paste the following line – define( ‘WP_ALLOW_MULTISITE’, true);

Your wp-config.php file should look as follows:

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/* Multisite */

define(‘WP_ALLOW_MULTISITE’, true);

Save your wp-config.php file and login to your WordPress site.

Go to Tools<Network Setup. Here you will configure and set up your WordPress Multisite Network.

You’ll be prompted on the network set up screen to choose whether you want network sites to use their own subdomains or subdirectories. Select the best option that works for you, as this decision can’t be reversed.

In choosing subdomains, you will be required to change your DNS settings for domain mapping. This will be discussed later in the tutorial.

You can give your network a title and add your admin address in the network details section.

Once added click on the install button.

After successfully installing multisite, you will be taken to the ‘Enabling Network Screen’ here WordPress will provide you with code that can be added to wp-config.php and .htaccess files.

Using an FTP client connect to your website and open these files and paste the code provided by WordPress. You’ll find both files in your sites’ root directory.

Once you have successfully saved the files, login again to your WordPress admin area.

Upon your site refreshing you will see the WordPress Multiple Network dashboard on top in the WordPress admin bar.

Enabling Sub-Domains in Multisite by Adding Wildcard Subdomain

To add a wildcard subdomain, you’ll need to create the subdomain with a ‘*’ as the subdomain name. 

For example, if your WordPress is installed at www.test1.com then you create your subdomain as *.test1.com.

The subdomain should always point to the same directory where your WordPress is installed. Below outlines how to create a wildcard subdomain in cPanel.

Once you log in to your cPanel dashboard choose the Domains section and click on Subdomains. In the subdomain field on this screen simply enter *. The document root field should be pointing to the same directory where you have WordPress installed. 

To add the wildcard subdomain, click on the create button.

WordPress Multisite Network Settings

You’ll find the dashboard for your WordPress Multisite network by dragging your mouse over My Sites in the WordPress admin bar and clicking on ‘Dashboard’.

Here you can add or delete sites, install plugins and themes, and manage your network users.

Go to Settings » Network Settings to manage your WordPress Multisite network settings.

On this page you can open your website for registration and allow users to create a website and accounts.

If you want to manually add users and make a blog yourself, you can leave registration disabled.

Within the settings options you can edit the emails sent by WordPress when a user creates a new site and change the text of a default post, page and comment added by WordPress.

However, you should be careful and note that the settings you choose here will affect all sites and users on your websites. 

Managing Sites in WordPress Multisite Network

Through the ‘Sites’ screen under the WordPress Multisite Dashboard is where you can manage your WordPress sites.

Among the settings on this screen you can deactivate and archive sites as well as adding and deleting them.

When you deactivate a WP Multisite it becomes undetectable to visitors and the site admin also.

Those who visit a deactivated website will be met with the message: ‘This user has elected to delete their account and the content is no longer available’.

While an archived site is only detectable by a Super Admin, users or visitors to the site along with site admins will see the following message: ‘This site has been archived or suspended’.

Sites can also be marked as ‘spam’ by the Super Admin making the site invisible to everyone.

Upon deleting a site, you permanently remove it from the network.

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