I’m building a site that has four different subsections, and one parent section that provides an overview of all of them. There will be one master navigation that lets people jump between different subsections, and that also links to content in the “parent” section (e.g. “About us”, “News”, “Events”, etc.) Each subsection speaks to a different aspect of the topic. We want to separate out the sections because the content is pretty unwieldy and complex, and a single navigational structure tends to be really overwhelming.
Each subsection will have its own primary navigation menu that links to content within that subsection only, and possibly back up to the parent section. There will be minor cosmetic changes between each subsection (different banner, dominant colours), and the widgets will also only link to content from within that subsection or the parent section. The only way to get from one subsection to another is with the master navigation, which is very high level only.
However, one person will be administering content for all of this, and in terms of functionality (plugins, functions, etc.) each subsection will be pretty much identical.
Should I use a Multisite install for that? My concern about it is that the look and feel of the theme will largely be the same across all the sections, and I’m not 100% clear on whether or not data from the parent site can be fed into the subsections, and how easy it is to manage content from different subsections from one central location.
The other alternative would be to use Custom Post Types and manually call a different primary menu depending on what page you’re on. I’m comfortable with the actual coding involved here, but I’m wondering if this solution has any headaches that I’m not foreseeing – for example, with how widgets handled segregated content?
Anybody have any advice?
I wrote it trying to explain when it’s a good and bad idea to use Multisite.
Hey Mika, thanks for that link. I actually came across that in my own research and found it quite helpful. It’s not entirely conclusive, though: If I want the subsites to look visually similar but have different widgets and content layouts but the content should be managed centrally, it seems like the arguments for either CPTs or a multisite are split down the middle.
More than anything else I’m concerned with the most elegant way of swapping out the header for each section to generate a different set of styles and main menu for each section. If conditional tags in CPT template files is the best way to deal with that, I could live with that, but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t overlooking anything.
If you just want to swap headers, then I’d be using a CPT. It’s simplier.
Thanks for all your help Mika! We ended up going with a Multisite because we thought there might be situations where we would need multiple post types for each “section”, and we didn’t want to start with 4 CPTs off the bat for each section and keep expanding from there. This way what belongs on which section is also really obviously separated for the client, so they’re less likely to accidentally post things to the wrong section.
I am considering the same question. I am wondering, 7 months later are you happy with the decision?
Seekerman – I am, yeah! So far it makes the most sense for the way our content is set up and I’m pretty happy with it. There’s a little bit of extra hassle in terms of managing themes for the various subsites (I created a pseudo-grandchild theme for the subsites and imported the relevant styles from the child theme), but it’s definitely worth the clearer separation between sections, and gives us more freedom for doing creative things within one section only.
The main trouble I’ve run into is that moving multisites between servers is a little bit more work than moving a regular install, and not all plugins support multisite installs, especially the smaller and more esoteric ones. The latter is mainly an issue for site-wide activations, and the most important ones that we were using (Contact Form 7, Super Cache, etc) all worked fine.
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