For anyone who has more than just a handful of WordPress sites, managing each one independently is an arduous and unnecessary task. Consolidating the management of your sites into a centralized location should be a priority.
Which is why we are so thrilled to have come up with such an effective solution. Without wanting to wander too far into “tooting one’s own horn” territory, we believe that ManageWP is a peerless solution to multiple WordPress site management.
But let’s not forget the potential alternatives. If you are relatively new to WordPress, or are simply not aware of the multitude of features that ManageWP has to offer, you may be wondering if multisite is a comparable solution. The simple answer is a resounding “no!”, but that in itself wouldn’t be particularly useful to you, would it? But it’s still a great alternative.
What is WordPress Multisite?
Multisite was introduced in WordPress 3.0, as a successor to WordPress MultiUser. It is free to use and open source. Multisite allows you to create a network of sites with one installation of the core WordPress files. So you can have several websites residing on the same server, all sharing the same themes and plugins.
But here’s one of the biggest problems with multisite – it probably wasn’t designed with you in mind. When I say “you”, I am referring to anyone who wishes to consolidate the management of separate WordPress sites into one place.
The best example of multisite in action is WordPress.com – a website that allows users to create their own “subordinate” websites under the WordPress.com domain. Creating “networks” of sites is multisite’s primary focus.
…more and more I see people doing things where I just tilt my head and wonder why they’re using MultiSite for that particular use-case…MultiSite, either by intention or effect, works best when you think of it as running your very own version of WordPress.com. You have a network of sites that are disconnected from each other, data wise, but share the same available user base.
If you are wanting to become the next edublogs.org or WordPress.com, and you have the requisite technical expertise, multisite could work for you. But if your needs are more typical, using multisite is likely to be a frustrating “round peg in square hole” experience.
Introducing the Tailored Solution
ManageWP has been in development since early 2010, and is the brainchild of our CEO, Vladimir Prelovac. We operate on a “freemium” model – ManageWP is free to try on a limited basis, with full functionality being a paid option. We believe this to be fair to everyone, while also giving you ample opportunity to evaluate our service to see if it fits your needs.
ManageWP was designed as a one-stop WordPress management solution and dashboard. Its intention is to facilitate every single management task that a WordPress user could think of from one centralized location, and it will only take you a few minutes with our service to see how effectively this is achieved.
We offer a flexible solution that can accommodate the needs of the vast majority of WordPress users with multiple sites, and we specialize in making the magic happen in WordPress’ back-end. Anyone with more than a few WordPress sites can use ManageWP to save valuable minutes and hours.
We Think Different!
It never ceases to baffle us when people liken ManageWP to multisite. Despite arguments to the contrary, the two tools actually share very little in common.
Let’s first consider the respective structures. Imagine a family – a mother, father, and 5 children. The parents represent the multisite installation, and each child a site in that network. Whilst the children all carry the same genetic characteristics as their parents (i.e. the WordPress installation files, themes and plugins), they differ very much in appearance and character (i.e. which themes and plugins are used, and content).
Meanwhile, we offer you the ability to control a solar system of planets circling around a star. Each planet is a self-contained site with its own installation of WordPress, themes, plugins and content. However, each one can be remotely accessed by the ManageWP star. (Yes, we consider ourselves and our users stars!)
You may be wondering what practical impact the differing structures have on the way you manage your sites. Let’s examine each of the main areas of WordPress site management, and see which service comes out on top.
Setup & Management
You only have to read the first step in setting up multisite to understand that it is not for those without a healthy technical understanding of how WordPress operates. The WordPress Codex has this to say:
You do not necessarily need any knowledge of WordPress development, PHP, HTML, CSS, server administration or system administration, although knowledge of these things might be useful for troubleshooting or for customizing your multisite network after installation.
Let’s be honest – everyone can recognize the above statement as a roundabout way of saying, “You better really know what you’re doing if you want to successfully run and manage multisite”.
We are not fans of such obfuscation – we prefer to keep things simple. ManageWP has been designed with beginner and intermediate WordPress users in mind. Installation and setup is handled via a cloud-based Graphical User Interface (GUI) that any newbie would be comfortable with. But that is not to say advanced WordPress users cannot make good use of our tool – quite the opposite, in fact.
Themes, Plugins and Updates
As you may recall, multisite and ManageWP go about updating themes and plugins in different ways. If you have 10 sites managed by ManageWP, all using the same plugin, each site will have its own plugin installation files. Meanwhile, a plugin will only be installed once to a multisite network.
So when you upgrade a plugin with multisite, you are only upgrading one plugin. With ManageWP, you are upgrading however many versions of the plugin are installed across your portfolio of sites. There is true separation.
The additional benefit of using ManageWP is that you can be selective in which updates you apply. For instance, you might work for a client who is comfortable with WordPress 3.2, and has no desire to update to 3.3. With ManageWP, you could update WordPress to 3.3 for each of the sites in your portfolio with exception to that client’s. Such flexibility is not afforded by multisite.
There is another major problem with multisite that you will be unable to avoid, regardless of your level of technical expertise. Many of the plugins available to you have a really hard time with the multisite setup. If you decide to use multisite, you will soon find that your choice of plugins is drastically reduced (not to mention the fact that multisite plugin upgrades often arrive months after their “single site” counterparts).
Unfortunately, multisite doesn’t offer much in the way of additional functionality. The extra features primarily arise from whichever plugins you choose to install. For instance, you could install a backup plugin across each of your sites, then set that plugin up individually, per site, to back each one up (sounds like a pain, right?).
On the other hand, our service comes packaged with various additional features that were designed with the specific intention of managing a portfolio of sites. These features include but are not limited to:
- Automatic backups
- Bulk user management
- Clone or migrate sites
- Uptime monitoring
- SEO performance metrics
- Integrated Google Analytics
The clear winner on this front is obviously ManageWP.
What About Multisite and ManageWP?
You may be wondering if you can use both services. Whilst it is possible to run multisite networks from ManageWP, standalone sites are far better, due to the complex nature of the multisite structure.
So if you are already a multisite user and are interested in transferring to ManageWP, it is certainly possible. On the flip side, if you decide to go with ManageWP, you will be unlikely to have a requirement for multisite.
Return on Investment
Whilst multisite can be a useful tool, its primary application is to create site networks, like WordPress.com. Whilst it can be used by those who need to operate multiple independent sites under one main install, doing so is much like trying to shove a square peg into a round hole. You will soon find yourself making compromises.
It is clear that ManageWP is a far superior tool for the application of mass website management. Moreover, it was developed with the multiple site owner in mind. Every tool and feature is geared towards facilitating mass management of independent websites.
The only left thing to consider is the value of your time relating to each option. ManageWP will save you an enormous amount of time over multisite, and offers you additional functionality that can streamline your workflow and consolidate previously separate tasks into one Dashboard. It is up to you to decide whether or not the unique advantages inherent in using ManageWP are worth the cost. We are confident that the decision will be easily made after having spent a few days with our free trial.