How To Manage Multiple WordPress Sites As A Developer


There’s a few things I’ve had to learn with managing multiple WordPress sites for my clients and sadly I’ve had to learn them the hard way. I suppose if I had known some of these techniques earlier on in my WordPress front-end development it would have saved a few sleepless nights as well as some heart-ache.

Here are a few things that I would teach myself if I went back into a time machine when I just first started out:

Where is your backup?

The first MAJOR issue I encountered when I started developing and using WordPress was that I assumed that all things would be perfect and that nothing would ever go wrong with the servers or database my WordPress sites. Boy was I in for a rude shock! If there’s one thing you need to understand VERY EARLY on when developing your WordPress site – it’s that THINGS DO BREAK.

Look for solutions to house not only your written content, but also your stylesheets, your JavaScript code and your photos. There are two services that I recommend, and I only recommend these as they backup each WordPress site to my personal Dropbox account.

  1. WordPress Backup 2 Dropbox – this is a good free alternative and allowed you to back up not only specific areas within your site, but also your database! A good starting solution for your backup needs.
  2. ManageWP – primarily a paid alternative this service does pretty much everything you need in being able to manage your WordPress sites all from one central user-friendly location. You can pretty much do anything you want in this area, including: backing your sites up (both content and database), clone it, analyse SEO performance and much more. I highly recommend this solution as a great way of managing ALL aspects of your WordPress needs and the fees are very manageable.

How are you managing your stylesheets and JavaScript?

If I had a dollar for every time I accidentally pasted the wrong CSS code into the wrong WordPress installation or overwrote my JavaScript with CSS code I would be a multi-millionaire!

If there’s one thing I have learnt the hard way in managing multiple WordPress site’s it is this:

NEVER EVER EVER EVER (AS IN EVER!) EDIT YOUR STYLESHEET OR PHP FUNCTIONS OR JAVASCRIPT CODE IN WORDPRESS

Edit your code in one of your favourite text editors (I like Coda and Sublime Text some others also like Brackets) and where possible structure your folders and files appropriately to help you easily identify the WordPress site you are working on.

For example, don’t create a folder called “SITE ABC” and have within that folder the files “stylesheet.css”, “header.js”, “footer.js” and “functions.php” and then have another folder called “SITE XYZ” which has the same name for its files inside too! Have each file CLEARLY marked within your folder structure what the name of the WordPress install is, for example: “abc-style.css”, “abc-header.js”, “abc-footer.js” and “abc-functions.php”.

Even if you don’t follow the naming convention for your files at least by storing each important file within a folder structure will help you to manage these aspects more proficiently.

(I also utilise Git in these folders to help manage the reason for changes as well as creating a log of events for clients who want to know what has been done. Maybe this will be for another post!)

How are you optimising your WordPress sites?

There are several popular WordPress plugins out in the wild to help you manage the speed and delivery of your site to your users. Two of which I have either used or are still using are:

  1. WP Super Cache – a free and easy way of creating cache files of your posts and pages.
  2. W3 Total Cache – a primarily free yet also paid plugin that can help manage your site’s cached posts and pages. I use this plugin predominantly for my sites.

Anyway, three questions I would highly recommend you consider when you start a WordPress site!

Ryan

Author of scripteverything.com, Ryan has been dabbling in code since the late '90s when he cut his teeth by exploring VBA in Excel when trying to do something more. Having his eyes opened with the potential of automating repetitive tasks, he expanded to Python and then moved over to scripting languages such as HTML, CSS, Javascript and PHP. When he is not behind a screen, Ryan enjoys a good bush walk with the family during the cooler months, and going with them to the beach during the warmer months.

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