Learn how to install and setup a WordPress multisite network using this visual step-by-step guide.
WordPress comes with a built-in feature that allows you to create multiple websites or a network of WordPress sites.
A WordPress multisite network is usually used by organizations, companies, or businesses, who need to run multiple separate websites but want to control and manage them under one dashboard.
If you are totally new to WordPress, we highly advise you to check our WordPress installation guide before following this one.
A short concise summary is available after the table of content.
Whether you have a business with multiple branches or you run an educational site with several locations, WordPress multisite can help you manage countless websites with one WordPress account and all in one dashboard. WordPress itself uses a multisite network for their main website.
If you don’t know what it is, WordPress multisite is a built-in feature on WordPress that allows you to use one WordPress account to manage multiple websites. This gives you the ability to use one login and dashboard to operate numerous websites.
Multisite is perfect for people who use WordPress for a business with multiple branches, academic institutes with student blogs, forum sites with subforums, companies and governments with various departments, or even a network of blogs.
Multisite gives you the flexibility and scalability to make running a large network of websites easy. In this article, I will explain how to install, setup, configure, and customize a WordPress multisite.
Installing and setting up your multisite is actually much easier than you think it is, but it is highly recommended to backup your website before you do this. If you want to learn how to backup your site, then you should follow this article. Once you are done with the backup, you can proceed to the pre-installation.
Another thing to note before you convert your site to a multisite is that your hosting provider may not support multisite networks. If that is the case for you may have to change your host provider. Here at Labinator.com, we recommend HostArmada.
Lastly, you must check if PrettyPermalinks is enabled, this means your links should look like this:
and not this:
If PrettyPermalinks is not enabled then you need to go to your WordPress dashboard, then Settings, then Permalinks, and then in that page choose a setting for your links that isn’t Default. It is also recommended that you disable all plugins before doing this.
To convert your website into a multisite network we must activate multisite in the config file:
Once you have done that you can Save Changes and then close the file. You are now done with enabling multisite, though this is only half of the process.
Before you install your multisite network you need to choose between your domain types. There are two main domain types when it comes to multisite; subdomains and subdirectories (aka subfolders). These two domain types change how your URLs will look for your site. Although this may seem insignificant at first, this choice is crucial.
Subdomains are used for multisites that cover many topics and niches, and they are usually less SEO friendly because they are used for multiple topics. Subdomains usually look like site1.example.com. If you choose to use subdomains then you have to do some extra setup.
Subdirectories/subfolders are more common when it comes to multisite, they are used for websites that focus on one specific niche or topic, so this makes them more SEO friendly. Subdirectory links usually look like this, example.com/site1.
If you wish to use subdirectories then there is no extra setup involved, you can skip the next section and proceed onto installing your network.
In this section I will show you how to enable subdomains if that is what you choose to use for your domain type. Enabling subdomains is fairly simple and similar to the process for activating multisite.
Finally, we can get to the main part of this article! In this section, I will explain how exactly you can install your multisite now that you have finished all of the prerequisites. This will be a simple but fairly long process so I recommend that you double-check that you have done everything up until this point correctly. Now you can proceed if you are sure you have done everything correctly.
Now you are finally done setting up and installing your brand new multisite network! There is no other setup required from now on, in the next sections, I will show you how to configure your network and add sites.
WordPress makes it easy to not only add sites to your network but also configure everything part of your multisite network. When you are at your WordPress dashboard, in the top-left corner there is a tab at the top called My Sites. Clicking on that allows you to configure your sites and new ones. To add a new site, follow these steps:
That’s it! That is all you have to do to add a site, now you can use My Sites to configure that site however you would like. In the next part, I will show you how to install plugins and themes.
Adding themes and plugins is even easier than adding sites to your page. WordPress also allows you to add themes and plugins to your entire network at once.
To add a theme go to your dashboard, then “My Sites“, then “Network Admin“, and then “Themes“.
Now a list of all of your themes should be there. If you want to add a new then you just have to click on “Add New“.
Once your themes are installed, you can use “Network Enable” to apply them to your entire network. If you want to disable a certain theme, you can also use “Network Disable” to disable it across your entire network.
If you need help deciding on a theme for your sites, I would recommend checking this site.
To add a theme go to your dashboard, then “My Sites“, then “Network Admin“, and then “Plugins“.
Now a list of all of your plugins should be there. If you want to add a new then you just have to click on “Add New“.
Once your plugins are installed, you can use “Network Activate” to apply them to your entire network. If you want to disable a certain plugin, you can also use “Network Disable” to disable it across your entire network.
If you need help deciding on plugins for your sites, I would recommend checking this site.
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