The Beginner’s Guide to a WordPress Multisite

Posted on October 2, 2023 | Updated on October 2, 2023

You might have encountered the multisite feature if you have a WordPress website. While this configuration can offer great benefits, it is not suitable for everyone. Here is a beginner’s guide for utilizing a WordPress multisite.

What Is a WordPress Multisite?

A WordPress(WP) multisite is a configuration that allows for the creation and management of multiple websites from a single dashboard. This advanced feature was first introduced with WordPress 3.0.

There are many reasons why users decide to implement a WP multisite configuration. It allows the owner to change and update all the websites from one area. This is a much better fit for a company than creating separate WordPress websites for all of the services they have.

When comparing a multisite configuration against separate website installations, it saves significant server space. In addition, this feature is also more cost-effective and reduces time.

For example, it is cheaper for an organization to utilize WP multisite than to design multiple WordPress websites. It is also a lot faster compared to the time it takes to professionally design and develop a single site.

A popular site using the multisite feature is the WordPress website itself. Users create their own subsites on the platform, such as blogging sites.

The Role of a Super Admin

In addition to the five roles a standard WordPress website offers — Author, editor, contributor, administrator and subscriber — it also adds another role called a super admin or a network administrator.

When a WordPress installation switches to a multisite configuration, the administrator becomes the new super admin. The super admin is the one who controls all the connected subsites on the network.

A multisite configuration does bring in some changes. One noticeable difference is that regular admins can no longer install themes or plug-ins on the website. Only the network administrator can do this. However, normal admins can choose to enable or deactivate them if they wish to do so.

In terms of displaying content, there is no significant change. The super admin can manage content across all the websites, but the regular administrator can choose whether they want it to appear on their site.

In addition, while a multisite configuration does share all plugins and themes, it is not the case for media items. Each site will use its own media upload directories to store items. For example, the images uploaded to one of the connected sites will not be accessible on the others.

The Main Features, Benefits and Drawbacks of a WordPress Multisite

Before deciding if a WordPress multisite is the right option, it is worth knowing all its benefits, drawbacks and key features. Here is a short summary:

Main Features:

  • Can manage multiple websites or blogs from a single WordPress installation.
  • Create subsites under one WordPress Installation using the same database and hosting account.
  • Create separate sub-domains for each subsite or have a network of sub-domains.
  • All subsites use the same plug-ins and themes.


  • The super admin can manage the websites from a single dashboard and does require logging into each site individually to make changes.
  • Can manage all connected website updates.
  • Can install and manage all the plugins for all the subsites — they all use the same ones, but you can choose to deactivate some of them.
  • In addition to the super admin, regular administrators can still effectively manage their respective websites.


  • Effectively managing a WP multisite configuration can prove challenging for many users.
  • If one website’s security is compromised, the entire network of sites suffers.
  • If your hosting provider does not have the option to add a domain to the same server, you can’t use a multisite setup.
  • If something happens to the network, all the sites will experience downtime.
  • Not all plugins integrate with a WP multisite configuration.

Who Should Use a WordPress Multisite?

Since the feature was released, many businesses have started utilizing it. However, while a WordPress multisite configuration offers many associated advantages, not everyone will benefit from it. Here is a summary to show who and who shouldn’t use this feature.

Five Cases When To Make Use of a WordPress Multisite

  1. The most obvious use case is when you are a business with multiple similar subsites. For example, if you are an organization with different subsites for all your services.
  2. If the company is a blogging website that allows sub-site creation for other topics.
  3. A company using subsites for its different departments with the same branding. For example, a business who has created websites for their employees.
  4. A business who has multiple websites with the same aesthetic design.
  5. A company with a website that allows visitors to create forum subsites with different topics. One of the most famous examples of this is the Reddit website.

Five Cases When Not to Use a WordPress Multisite

  1. Your hosting budget does not allow for it. Most hosting sites charge on the number of visitors. If you have multiple sites, you will require the capabilities for more visitors, meaning you will need to upgrade your hosting plan.
  2. You want to use individual plugins and themes for each site. While you can still do this to a certain degree on a WordPress multisite integration, it could become unnecessarily difficult to manage.
  3. You don’t want to make the necessary security changes or can’t afford it. For example, some hosting providers only offer a free SSL certificate for the main website.
  4. This means you will need to pay additional charges for the subsites. Even if only one of the subsites does not have an SSL certificate, it can compromise the entire network’s security.
  5. You are not an experienced WordPress developer and can’t afford a professional to do it. Enabling a WP multisite configuration could present itself as a challenging task for non-WordPress developers. If you don’t have the capital to hire someone, perhaps it’s better to examine alternative options.
  6. All the websites differ from each other and have different designs features or functionality.

4 Steps To Install a WordPress Multisite

The official WordPress website has a great guide on how to set up a WP multisite, but here is a quick rundown you can follow.

1. Have Everything Ready For the Switch

Go over all the settings required to make the switch. Ensure you are the administrator, the hosting you have will suffice, all plugins are up to date and you can access the core files for each site. Remember to back up your site if anything should go wrong.

2. Add The Required Code

The next step is to add the required code. Using file transfer protocol (FTP) software, go to the core files and select wp-config.php. option.

From here, look for the line of code that says, “That’s all, stop editing! Happy publishing. */.
After you have found the line, post the following code above it.

/* Multisite */
define( ‘WP_ALLOW_MULTISITE’, true );

Restart the browser to continue.

3. Perform the Network Setup

Next, move to your dashboard and select network setup under the tools tab. From here, you can choose whether to use a sub-domain or sub-directory. You can change it again later if you want.

4. Activate the Network

Afterward, follow all the instructions carefully and save between each of them. You can click the login button once you have successfully edited every line. Under the network admin, you can now see all your websites — under the “My Sites” option.

A Game Changer

With all the advantages a WordPress multi-configuration can bring, it is no wonder the feature has become so popular. The main selling point is it allows you to manage all your websites from one dashboard instead of logging in to each site individually. While many WordPress users will never require this feature, it is a game changer for the select few that do.

Related Posts

About The Author

Cooper Adwin is the Assistant Editor of Designerly Magazine. With several years of experience as a social media manager for a design company, Cooper particularly enjoys focusing on social and design news and topics that help brands create a seamless social media presence. Outside of Designerly, you can find Cooper playing D&D with friends or curled up with his cat and a good book.

Leave a Comment