Multi-site cms for web design shop
November 27, 2011 2:09 PM   Subscribe

Multi-site cms: I'm thinking of starting a website design /hosting business targeted at a few small business verticals I work with. What is the best cms to use to control many mostly standardized sites centrally but also allow for limited customization for the client?

Ideally I'd have a selection of standard templates and then content chunks that the client could own. Bonus points for white label front end capability for clients to login and manage their sites. Thanks in advance!
posted by mtstover to Technology (5 answers total)
Drupal would handle this just fine- I believe Expression Engine will also meet your needs, if you want to go with commercial software. FWIW, be aware that you'll have stiff competition from outfits like squarespace; hosted CMS is becoming ever more of a commodity. You may benefit from acting as a squarespace reseller / designer instead of trying to roll your own software and hardware packages.
posted by jenkinsEar at 2:38 PM on November 27, 2011

I first tried to use WordPress on the MultiUser version about 100 years ago and it was horrific. We recently installed it for a client running like 26 niche sites. I built them 3 templates, they can roll out each site and add all the differentiated content and graphics they want. Critically they can NOT add plugins; we add them and they become available to all sites.

It's working out really well and I'm super happy with it.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:35 PM on November 27, 2011

Thanks JenkinsEar -- yep, absolutely understand the sites like Squarespace and Weebly etc, but frankly I find a lot of small businesses think they are STILL too hard and not specific enough. My plan is essentially to pair what they do with much more targeted niches and a targeted salesforce.

I've looked at the Drupal setup briefly but I think it is a little anemic for my needs. Expression engines I might run into license issues?

DarlingBri -- I assumed Wordpress was a disaster but haven't checked it in a long time I admit. I'll check it out! Might work great to start!

Anybody heard of Also looked at but it is VERY pricy (80 bucks per site.)
posted by mtstover at 3:48 PM on November 27, 2011

My guess is Drupal is going to be the best tool for you on this. Wordpress will most likely be fine, but Drupal is better with multisites usually. I don't know what you mean by "anemic", well, I know what anemic means, but I don't think anyone has ever called Drupal anemic. It's designed to run multisites, and does it very very well.
posted by Blake at 5:45 PM on November 27, 2011

Blake - I admit I did a very bad read of the Drupal site. I read the quote below and stopped. Should have read further as it told me how to fix it.
I'll give it a whirl!

"Security Concerns
You might want to reconsider using Drupal's multi-site configuration, in situations where the administrators for all of the sites being run from the same code base are not either the same person or a small group with a high level of mutual trust. The reason is that anyone with full administrative privileges on a Drupal site can execute arbitrary PHP code on that site through various means (even without FTP access to the site), and that arbitrary PHP code could be used from one site to affect another site, if the two sites are in the same HTTP document root and sharing the same Drupal code.
So, unless you completely trust all of the administrators of the sites you are considering running from the same Drupal code base to be knowledgeable, careful, and not malicious, you might want to consider installing their Drupal sites in completely separate areas of the web server that are not able to affect each other via PHP scripting."

posted by mtstover at 6:19 PM on November 27, 2011

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