Matthew Rodela started out in IT consulting and has been building WP websites for about 10 years now. He acquired a theme called Website Builder for IT businesses. It came with tutorials on how to configure the theme and so on. He decided to turn it into more of a platform. Hence, after lots of trial and error, techsitebuilder.com was born. Turns out an automated Multisite was a better model for both his customers and his business.
However, Multisite can prove tricky to manage without the right tools and processes. That’s why Matthew chose to talk about plugins that can better help you manage your network. Plus the effective processes that can keep everything up-to-date, secure and backed up. Matthew’s lightning talk was not for developers specifically, but anyone who offers WordPress services to customers.
Providing your customers with the best WordPress solution
You may be used to the WordPress dashboard and how well it works. But oftentimes our clients are intimidated by it or don’t understand how to use it. So this is how you can develop a simpler, more controlled platform for your clients to use and become more successful.
— Steve Stewart @ #WCUS in #STL (@SteveStewartMe) November 1, 2019
Matthew explained that WordPress Multisite is built into the WordPress core and allows you to create subsites. These act as their own standalone WordPress install but they’re all sharing resources with one WordPress installation. Therefore, you only need to install the plugins, themes, and so on, once. It’s easier for you to manage and use your resources efficiently. For example, you update a plugin once and it’s basically updated on all sites.
Matthew uses WaaS – Websites as a service (like Wix, for example) to explain this model. Applying the Saas model to website delivery. These are Turnkey websites delivered automatically via WP multisite.
The focus of the business model is on scale and MRR (monthly recurring revenue). It’s low-cost for customers but also encourages a lot of DIY. Customers have a platform to build the way they want, while using the best tools. But above all, it’s niche-specific. You can be the best website platform for whichever industry you’re targeting.
Top Multisite Plugins according to Matthew Rodela #WCUS
WP Ultimo sells subsites on a subscription basis. It allows you to provision subsites to customers on a subscription. With pricing plans, you can limit how many posts you want customers to create per month, for example. Or by how much media they can upload – hosting costs. Certain themes can be available to certain plans. You can create starter content or the ideal site which customers can follow for their own.
KeyPress UI Manager
Rearrange, rename, hide and further modify all backend menus – Admin, Toolbar and Customizer. You can customize or style the dashboard. And soon, users of this plugin will also be able to edit other areas of the admin, like the Dashboard, Gutenberg and branding.
With multisite you have hundreds using a website from one WP installation which is a bit scary. With this UpdraftPlus plugin, you can backup the entire multisite network, but also individual subsites, which not all plugins can do.
White label CMS
This tool lets you brand your dashboard so you can customize the login page, and add your branding and logo, for example.
Multisite Enhancements and Beyond Multisite
Both sprinkle elements of accessibility which ease Multisite wrangling, but they also:
- Shows on which sites a plugin is active
- Display blog and user IDs
- Various time-saving enhancements
Hosts like WP Engine and Closte
Both are great with subtle differences. WP Engine is one of the more popular hosts. It works with WP Ultimo domain mapping, scales well and has in-built security and caching. It has one-click staging for testing. And with WP Engine, you can convert to multisite in one click. It only counts as one install.
Closte also works with WP Ultimo domain mapping and you get Auto-SSL with WP Ultimo too. However it;s more flexible and the pricing scales according to your usage.
Final tips for running a multisite platform
Many users opt for premium plugins instead of free ones mostly so that they can get premium support. So be picky about plugins offered. Use a managed WP host ideally. Remember image optimization is key to manage disk space bandwidth – WP Smush works well with multisite in this respect. This way you don’t end up killing load time by uploading too many images and so on.