Newbie Workflow and Features Questions

Hello Everyone,

Before I start I want to say what a well supported group this is. I am looking forward to building my site and offering a great service to my clients. I’m hoping to accelerate the process using the tools on the site but have a series of questions to get my head around what I’m trying to do.

I’ve loaded wpmu and buddypress successfully so no issues installing.

I have several clients primarly retail that I work with and most of these clients service small village style communities within larger cities. Much more close knit family run businesses but unfortunately the big box stores are putting alot of pressure on them. What we have alll been speaking about is building a business portal around the community, allowing each business to create blogs and advertising the central portal in the local papers to drive the whole social media aspect and make it really community oriented, allowing local residents to interact with one another, publish local events, allow residents to start groups, host pictures, video etc.

Here are my core questions for setup;

1.) Which theme would be ideal to use given the capabilities i’m after.

2.) Will this primary theme provide easy capabilities to allow each business to setup their own blog/features and benefits page.

3.) Can each business have their own URL to point to their blog ie. http://www.business1.com points to http://www.mainportal.com/business1 or http://www.business1.com points to business1.mainportal.com

4.) Probably more advanced but would each business be able to directly purchase advertising chits and upload their own advertising message to their site and all depending how much they paid it you be pushed up to the community portal? alternatively would could charge a monthly fee and we would post it online for them.

Questions regarding functions in backend;

1.) Why is there a mu-plugin and plugin directory? When I load a plugin thatt instructions says to load into mu-plugin it doesn’t show up in the plugin list. When I load it into the plugin directory it does show up and I can activate it. I did read that the mu-plugin loads automatically I’m assuming site-wide? is this correct.

2.) How do the sub-blogs gain access to the plugins? I tested out the email chimp plugin and when I logged in as a user it didn’t show up. I did load it manually but does this mean the user has to do it. My question is more of function, if I setup a plugin for the main portal and if it is a feature that could be used for other blogs how do I make it available to the business member? I’m really trying to understand the difference between site-wide plugins.

3.) Let’s say I have a photography studio and they currently have a wordpress blog, their theme is supported by wpmu. Would I load it into the regular theme section and activate it? if I do will it be available for other users to load? if it does how do I prevent that?

4.) With the photographer example if they have a photogallery is it possible to allow the photographer to load them into his/her blog and then it automatically loads them into the main community portal automatically? if so what photogallery would work best on the community portal?

5.) I setup a test theme and created a new member. Right now I am on bluehost so I had to use directories. the url for the new member looks like http://www.newportal.com/wpmu/user1. When I look at the admin that is the url and directory structure but when I look for it on the bluehost file manager I cannot find it.

I think these are my main questions. I know I have to spend some time getting it going but I’ve tried a couple of things and it seems to break. Hoping to learn more about this and get a working concept running quickly.

Thanks the the help in advance.

Robert