September 1st, 2011 @ Scott Davignon
Corporations have a necessity to convey a look and feel that is consistent across all departments or divisions of the the business. For this requirement we can use WordPress MU to automatically create sites with the corporate brand, design and default content using a template site.
In this example we will create an MU installation with one template and a site marked as “template” for batch creation of each departments site. Content owners from each department can log in and administer their content with out creating a “Ransom Note” effect.
We will use the functionality of two plug-ins, Site Template and Add Clone Sites for WPMU, to simplify and speed up the process. After creating the template site with posts, menus, and anything else that each department should have, we simply use the Clone tool to create clones of the template for each department. We could run these sites under sub domains like “department.domain.com” or in sub directories “domain.com/department”.
Creating a template site is a two-step process using the Site Template plug-in.
First, create a site with the appropriate theme, theme options, widgets, active plug-ins, pages, posts, categories, tags, links, and link categories. This site will serve as the template, and the site’s name will be the name of the template, like “Department Template” or “Affiliate Template”.
Second, the site needs to flagged as a template. To flag a site as a template go to the sites page, find the site, and click on the “Activate Template” link in the rightmost column.
Once the template is created it will appear in the list of templates when a user creates a new site. Any changes made to a profile’s template will be reflected in future sites users create with that profile. You can change the order templates appear on the “Site Template” page by clicking on the “Site Templates” link in “Site Admin” panel. The “Site Template” page lists all templates. In the right most column is the number of “children” which is the number of sites that were created from the specified template.
By using the Clone tool we will get all the department sites up and running in a few steps.
- Prepare a text or excel file with the url’s, blog names, and blog descriptions you want to create. Use the format: “new_site_url, site_description, site_name”. If you leave the site_name empty, it will take the url as the site name. Remember do not use http:// in the URL.
- Go to the Network Admin area and click on add clone sites in the sites menu.
- Choose your template site from the drop down list and select an admin user for the domains and copy paste the prepared text file in the field and hit clone.
All that is left to do it add department users and train them on entering posts and editing pages.