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I'm developing multiple websites for a photographer. Most of the time I build a custom design around these wonderful images the photographer makes, but in many cases the companies don't have the budget to let us build a custom designed WP site. So I'm looking for a easy way to offer my clients a 'template'. A basic website, which I setup, customize a little, as a service for our clients.

So here's my idea:

  • I make a theme, and every new website has its own child theme with some minor modifications. All websites are structure-wise identical, but I adjust logo's, colors, fonts and the general look-and-feel.

  • Each website has its own domain, so no subdomains involved.

  • They all share some plugins like GravityForms. This seems a mayor advantage for me: I only have to update one installation, and all clients are up to date.

Do you see any downsides, pitfalls? I want to prevent setting this whole thing up, and ending up with an unmanageable system.

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The main rule of thumb that I follow in these cases is: "Use WordPress multisite if it gives you clear advantages, not just because you can".

Mike Epstein explained this pretty well in the "Don't use WordPress Multisite" post.

This question is also answered on Quora before: Are there any disadvantages to using wordpress Multisite? and I believe that covers most pros and cons of WordPress multisite as well.

Your use case, which holds a couple very similar websites, is clearly one where it has mostly only advantages to use multisite.

BUT: Important to note, is that not all plugins are compatible (or working 100%) in WordPress multisite. Some have obvious bugs because the developer never bothered to test.

Finally, one important thing: You can always export one of the websites that deviates too far from the 'standard' within your multisite and set that up as a standalone install.

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