Managing Multiple Websites from One CMS

benefits of multisite cms Written By Jake Picken

If your company is managing multiple websites on different platforms, then you might already be aware of the challenges it can bring. 

Whether you are a large organization that has several brands with different product lines or a global organization with different locations, then a multisite solution might be just what your company needs to efficiently manage your websites. 

Multisite is a feature of a content management system (CMS) that allows organizations to manage multiple websites from one centralized location, also called a CMS instance.  

To put it in simpler terms, multisite allows companies to consolidate the efforts it takes to manage many websites across their organization. 

There are a lot of benefits to multisite and we will discuss them in detail so you can determine if your organization should consider moving your sites to a multisite CMS solution. 

 

One Login and Password 

Having multiple websites on different content management systems means a lot of usernames and passwords must be created and managed for each user and depending on how many sites you have, that can be a lot of credentials that IT needs to manage. 

With multisite, IT teams are only required to manage usernames and passwords for one platform with user permissions for each site being managed from one centralized location. (more on this in the next section)

Since users only have one username and password, it will reduce the number of requests for new login credentials and also means users can create one strong and unique password instead of using weak repetitive passwords for multiple site logins. 

 

Improved Management of Backend Site Users 

Managing access and permissions for users on multiple websites can be time consuming and result in a lack of oversight into who has access to what. Multisite gives organizations a higher level of control over permissions across all sites and applications since user permissions are managed in one location. 

In Sitefinity, there are users and roles. Roles are defined by Progress as a group of users associated with a group of privileges. This allows you to easily manage a group of user permissions if they all fall into the same role.  Some examples of roles in Sitefinity would be designers, authors, editors, or administrators. All of your designers might have the same site permissions like the ability to add and edit content but you might not want them to have the ability to publish content.

Also, in a CMS like Sitefinity, site admins can give permissions to a specific website and even give more granular permissions like access to specific pages or content within a site.  For example, if you have a freelance editor who only writes blogs, you have the option to only give them access to the blog section of your site. 

 

Speeds up Deployment 

Multisite allows you to share the same codebase across all sites, which speeds up the deployment process. 

When adding the same feature, widget, or content to multiple sites, multisite makes it easy to deploy across all websites instead of going through multiple deployments. 

And with multisite, it does not matter whether you have 5 or 50 new features to deploy, it is all done by deploying in one multisite instance. 

 

Quick Rollout for New Sites 

Multisite allows you to spin up new websites that are based on existing sites. In a CMS like Sitefinity, you can turn different modules on and off and share content from one site to your new site. 

You can imagine the time and money your company will save with the ability to spin up a new site with the click of a button.  The initial investment of multisite implementation will seem minimal after you realize the savings from not having to go through a full-scale design and development process for a new website. 

 

Brand Consistency Across Sites 

Your organization's branding can get messy quickly when sites are scattered across platforms that all have different styles, features, and capabilities for implementing design. 

Brand consistency is something large organizations with many websites struggle with, especially when a CMS restricts the ability to customize the design. 

With multisite, design elements like layouts, widgets, and content blocks can be shared across all sites which helps to keep the look and feel of the sites consistent. 

And since multisite provides easy access to all websites for your marketing team within one CMS, they get more insight and a better understanding of the campaigns and marketing initiatives across brand sites. 

 

Allows Data Sharing Across Sites 

One benefit to multisite is data utilization. Since all data is stored in one CMS instance, all your websites have access to that data for initiatives like personalization and other targeted marketing campaigns. 

First-party data, data that you collect directly from your customers is extremely valuable, especially as more rules and regulations are being pushed on the use of other data sources.

When using this data though, it is important that you are collecting and sharing in accordance with GDPR and other best practices for data collection and retention. 

 

Cuts Down on Development Partners 

If your organization has websites on multiple platforms, then chances are you are working with a few different vendors that specialize in those platforms. 

With the reduced maintenance, implementation, and development with a one platform solution, you can cut down on development partners needed to manage all your websites. 

Not only will you save on costs, but you will also significantly decrease time spent meeting with each vendor and streamline the management of all digital projects and initiatives across websites. 

 

Becoming Proficient in One CMS 

Moving to a CMS with multisite capabilities also means that your team can gain experience and build their skills in one content management system instead of trying to learn several. 

All content management systems are different. Some are easier to use than others, but all require some dedicated time to learning the tools and features. 

This also means that training new employees is easier too. Organizations that have websites on different platforms will need to spend extra time training employees in each system, but if you move to a one-system solution then new employees will only need to learn one CMS. 

 

Sharing Content Across All Sites 

Content takes time to create, but with a multisite solution, you can easily share content across sites. 

Now you may be wondering, isn’t sharing content across sites bad for SEO? Doesn’t Google penalize duplicate content? 

This is one of the biggest misconceptions in SEO and Neil Patel, an expert in the field of SEO wrote a great blog article on the 3 Myths About Duplicate Content that you should check out. 

Especially since you own the content and sharing it between sites is improving the user experience, you shouldn’t worry too much about your shared content blocks being flagged as duplicate content. 

Some content is better to share across sites than other content types. Content blocks that include job postings and company news are an example of content that is commonly shared across brands or business divisions. 

Sharing content like blog posts across multiple sites should be done to a minimum. This is because blogs typically address customer concerns or questions, which are usually site-specific and unique to a specific brand or product. 

Since companies with multiple websites spend a lot of time copying and pasting similar or even identical content across sites, multisite gives them the ability to create content once and then share it between sites using shared content blocks.

 

One Platform License to Manage 

Managing multiple licenses from many website vendors can turn into a mess if you do not stay on top of it. With multisite, you are only working with one website vendor, which typically means only one annual fee and one license that needs to be kept up to date. 

 

Save on Hosting Costs and Resources

As you can imagine, one centralized location for all your sites also simplifies your hosting infrastructure. Moving to a CMS with multisite can help your organization save hosting resources.

With multisite, only one website and one database is needed, no matter how many “sites” are in your multisite. Since you are not spinning up many different websites and databases this cuts down your hosting costs.

 

Is Multisite Right for You? 

Moving to a content management system with multisite capabilities will have several benefits to your organization. If you need help determining if multisite is a good fit for your organization, then reach out to our team.