Should I set up a WPMU install or multiple separate installs?

I manage around 30 separate websites currently using a proprietary CMS. I'm planning on moving all sites to wordpress platform.

These sites are chapter sites of the same national organization. Each chapter has its own site with mostly unique content and separate administrators who manage content.

We host all sites on the same server and have management access to domain dns.

I have 2 questions.

1. Should I do all separate installs or do a WPMU install?

2. I have a membership directory with a database that is separate from the CMS databases. The directory is a paid upgrade subscription service which allows member to have their own page with custom subdomains. Example. username.domain.com This is a premium service. Should I keep that database separate in the case of a WPMU install? Will the custom subdomains for users unique to a specific chapter domain be a problem with WPMU?

More background info.
Chapter Site Example
Chapter Directory Example
Custom Subdomain Example

  • kennibc

    From a management standpoint, WPMU is the better way to go since you will only have to update plugins/code once and not 30 times!!!

    WPMU Premiums plugins should be able to handle your premium upgrades. I would imagine that the Supporter Plugin or the Membership Plugin would be ideal. Subdomains or Subdirectories are built into WPMU. You can also turn off the ability for members to create new sites (subdomains) so that you can verify they paid and then manually create the subdomain.

    As for the Find a Designer page, you could easily create a subdomain blog and use the Directory Plugin from WPMUDev as well.

    I am sure someone else has better solutions or are more familiar with the Membership and Supporter plugins.

  • jpwdesigns

    After looking around at the directory pluggin I have some more questions.

    The directory doesn't currently have free listings. We have to have this.

    Our directory is imported from a CSV file at very least monthly. That import adds new members, updates existing members contact details, and turns off the visibility of members in our directory who were dropped from the imported CSV file. This process keeps our directory current with the national master list of current members.

    All that said I think I will do well to maintain a separate custom solution for the directory.

    Subdomain issues:
    While I understand that WPMU has wildcard subdomains, that is not what I want.

    For example, one install of WPMU would need to control:
    asidla.org
    asidocc.org
    asidne.org
    etc....

    Then the directory will need to create:
    username.asidla.org
    username2.asidla.org
    username.asidocc.org
    username2.asidocc.org
    username.asidne.org
    etc.....

  • Philip John

    Hiya!

    1. Should I do all separate installs or do a WPMU install?

    Definitely use a Multisite install. Having 30+ instances of WordPress adds complexity that will cause you untold hassle!

    2. This could be achieved easily by making each 'profile' another subsite of your network. You could use our Membership plugin to achieve this quite easily.

    The directory doesn't currently have free listings. We have to have this.

    I don't think this is an issue if each listing is a sub-site instead. You could also use Batch Create to turn your CSV into one that can create the sites.

    For example, one install of WPMU would need to control:
    asidla.org
    asidocc.org
    asidne.org

    That's fine. One of these would be the main site and the others would simply be sub-sites using our domain mapping plugin.

    Hope that helps!
    Phil

  • jpwdesigns

    Hi Phil, thanks for the reply.

    2. This could be achieved easily by making each 'profile' another subsite of your network. You could use our Membership plugin to achieve this quite easily.

    Can you explain what that would look like? if you see this page: http://www.asidla.org/find_a_designer.php?c=Sustainable+Design you'll see how free listings are nothing more than a couple lines in a drop down window. I don't want to have an entire page for free listings. You'll see on that page 3 types of members. Full profiles, link only, and free. We would need to replicate this 3 times per site. Each site has 3 directories. Designers, Industry Partners, Students.

  • jpwdesigns

    Looked at the membership plugin page. I think if I were to start from scratch I would use the plugins you have for my directory but under the circumstances of some unique issues related to how our directory works and the need to continue forward with our current billing solution which is Authorize.net ARB I will need to maintain our directory system separately from WP.

    Any recommendations on how to do that, such as creating a custom template or just using a sub directory to install my custom scripts into?

    Also, If I use a separate database to manage my directories is there a way to sync user logins to protected pages on the WP install to members who are showing up in my directory?

  • Philip John

    You'll see on that page 3 types of members. Full profiles, link only, and free. We would need to replicate this 3 times per site. Each site has 3 directories. Designers, Industry Partners, Students.

    Hmm I'm not sure about the replication as I think that's heading into custom plugin territory.... However, you could set up 3 types of membership, one of which (full profile) has either blog creation ability or access to a form where they can submit their details for their profile (which may again need custom development).

    Any recommendations on how to do that, such as creating a custom template or just using a sub directory to install my custom scripts into?

    Also, If I use a separate database to manage my directories is there a way to sync user logins to protected pages on the WP install to members who are showing up in my directory?

    You could wrap your existing directory code into a custom WordPress plugin and use it on a sub-site. This would take a bit of work but would mean you can integrate user tables and slowly merge your custom code into something that full integrates with WordPress as a more permanent solution.

    Phil

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