Try multi-tenant WordPress instead.
For those who don’t know, WordPress Multisite enables you to manage multiple sites from a single WordPress dashboard. Very convenient in some cases. But there are a few pitfalls.
Companies that offer websites as a service (WaaS) have wrestled with multisite’s limitation for many years. Finally, there’s been an innovation.
We’ll first go over the different use cases that make multisite a great tool to use. Then, we’ll highlight its limitations. Finally, we’ll introduce the multi-tenant WordPress innovation that makes frustrations over multisite and its application for WaaS a thing of the past.
Already too familiar with multisite’s limitations?
Skip through to the end to read about WPCS.
When to use WordPress multisite
The best way to visualize a multisite and the possible benefits is to think of it as a network of websites. As the owner of the multisite, you can setup and manage all websites under a single WordPress installation.
This means that all websites will share the same theme and plugins. As stated, this can be very convenient. For instance, if you’re building a network of websites for an international corporation, a community, or a branded platform.
WordPress Multisite is a great option if you’re creating a network of sites sharing similar functionality, because all sites share the same database. This means they share the same plugins, custom applications, or specific server configurations.
This is why it works best when used on a limited number of themes specifically curated for the purposes of the network, as opposed to having different customers with varying wants and needs.
If your network consists of widely different WordPress sites (different in terms of plugins, themes, and customization) and/or if you want to seperate the users, then multisite is not a good fit for you.
Multisite networks are used by corporations, schools, universities, news outlets, online department stores, and more. You can even create your own blogging platform.
The best example of WordPress Multisite is WordPress.com, one of the largest WordPress networks on the Internet.
As mentioned, there are a few wildly frustrating pitfalls to multisite that generally disqualify them to use outside of the mentioned use cases.
Below, we’ll list the ones that we specifically thought to be the most limiting (and frustrating) when using it for a Website as a Service.
The main reason people have tried to use multisite to sell websites as a service is because it was the closest thing available without a suitable alternative.
After discussing the pitfalls of WordPress multisite, we’ll dive into the multi-tenant WordPress innovation that makes you want to migrate your WaaS.
Pitfalls of WordPress multisite
- All website share the same database
A potential data breach will involve all the data of all the sites. Furthermore, eCommerce websites are a no go on a multisite network. A shared database for several different webshops will infringe on data privacy laws.
- All users who are added to your network will be guests on all sites on your network.
All sites share the same user profiles. You cannot create the same user two times for two different sites on the network. Also, logged in users are logged in for all sites.
- To allocate a different default role for users on individual sites, you must use a plugin.
If you need to keep users on separated sites, Multisite can lead to security risk, due also to eventual leaks in plugins/themes.
- Site administrators cannot install new themes or plugins and cannot edit the profiles of users on their individual sites.
Only the Network Admin has the ability to perform these tasks in a WordPress network. Individual site administrators cannot install/uninstall plugin and themes, this limits a site administrators power.
- There is no way to restrict plugins on individual sites.
If a theme or a plugin is updated, it is updated for all sites of the network that use it. Changing versions between sites could be complicated.
- All themes are installed for the entire network. If you edit the code of one theme, you edit it for all sites using that theme.
You can however install plugins in order to allow each site to tweak their own CSS without affecting anyone else.
- There are many plugins that aren’t WordPress Multisite compatible.
Not all plugins work on multisite. Usually most plugins are basically created for single site and this can lead to conflicts.
- Changing hosts, or removing a single site from Multisite is very difficult.
If for some reason you want to change a multisite to different single sites installations: for example if one site becomes too big, or just the number of sites increases too much making the whole system slow. To switch from multisite installation back to single site is hard to achieve.
- Multisite network requires higher technical knowledge, especially in the areas of server administration and network management.
If the number of sites increases, to manage it within a multisite installation could be critical.
- Despite being on one WordPress install, hosting costs will reflect the need to host many websites.
Because it’s a single WordPress install, all sites share the same IP address and web hosting account. Also, not all hosting plans support multisite.
- Issues that affect one site can (potentially) bring the entire WordPress Multisite network down.
A hacker attack or just a downtime on your server will affect all the sites.
- Noisy neighbor problem: if one website has a lot of traffic, it will affect performance of the other websites because all website run on the same hosting
Big traffic on one site may affect the speed of all the other sites of the network, for bandwith reason but also because all sites share the same database.
- Backups and customizations are a problem in general
With individual WordPress installations you can easily make self-contained backups of all the customizations you have created. This can be quite handy for future use, or to distribute easily-launched “clone” sites. With Multisite, you lose this ability, as the db structure (of course) contains all sites.
- You can’t improve your “prototype”: improve on your core website and safely ship this upgrade to all your existing customers.
We kind of snuck this one in, as it’s a feature of WPCS: you cannot treat your WaaS as an actual SaaS. The reason this pitfall comes last is because up until recently, this feature wasn’t available. With WPCS, discussed below, you finally can.
To explain, with any type of cloud based, SaaS-like product, you expect regular updates that upon becoming available improve the product of all existing customers. Doing that with Multisite has its risks. You cannot treat your website as a real SaaS, because you can’t update your “prototype” separately from the rest of the sites (your customers). Once you update, everyone’s involved.
There’s a better alternative: WPCS
Multisite is an old system to internet standards. It’s strange that it took so long to innovate on this concept, given its obvious pitfalls.
There’s been an advent of website builders such as Wix and Squarespace that offer some solutions to the aforementioned problems, but they all work in a proprietary CMS.
WordPress still powers about 60% of all websites on the internet, so how come there hasn’t been a platform launched that offers a general solution that’s fitted for WordPress?
Finally, it seems there’s been an innovation in the market: WPCS.
WPCS is a platform that enables website creators to standardize and duplicate any WordPress website to any degree and automate the entire process from sale to launch.
When you’re done, you’ve got an automated selling system that makes sales and deploys your websites without you hardly lifting a finger. Plus, you never have to worry about your server stack again. With WPCS, you can create multi-tenant WordPress websites that are unified in management, updates, monitoring, and infinitely scalable.
How WPCS works:
Using WPCS you can create a prototype for any type of niche, we call that a “version”. When you’re done, you send over the “blueprint” of the prototype to the factory. Everytime you have a customer, you produce a new website based on this blueprint. We call this blueprint a “snapshot”.
All tenants (your customers’ websites) are unified in management, updates, and monitoring. Whenever you want to update or upgrade your product, you make a new version. You can test this new version thoroughly, as it’s completely isolated from your snapshot and tenants. Once you’re ready, you move all existing tenants to the new version. It’s that simple.
Benefits to multi-tenant WordPress with WPCS
You can create multi-tenant WordPress WaaS products right in the platform and manage all websites as one product.
All tenants share the same functionality, but have a separated database. This eliminates almost all aforementioned pitfalls of WordPress Multisite.
Your entire Website as a Service and all tenants are hosted in the cloud, which means you can build any WordPress website and multiply as many as you wish. Moreover, the system enables you to automate the entire process from sale to launch.
Our mission is to deliver the most efficient development process with the world’s first WordPress multi-tenant cloud platform (as far as we can tell, it’s the first. Open to suggestions).
Here are some of the functionalities:
- Design and manage a single product to sell at scale
- Make new versions and move tenants
- Mass plugin updates
- Mass user management
- Site monitoring
- Staging & testing tools
- Site speed optimization
- Collaboration tools
- Mass content management