Pros and cons of multi-site versus multiple site

Posted on 2014-01-05
Last Modified: 2014-01-26
I'm working on a set of products and services under the same root brand name, that will consume five domain names roughly like this(hopefully much prettier

Parent brand book

Parent brand services group all services
Parent brand services group Service one
Parent brand services group Service two
Parent brand services group Service three

All of these sites will be developed in different time frames and different intensities of attention

The books site will be a standalone brochure site which may or may not have links to the others.

The all services site will be a kind of catchall of ideas.

The services two site will get a lot of direct attention and effort.

The services one and three sites will be just development sites for a while, maybe forever.

Since these sites will be developed in different timings, and I can copy theme formats between sites, I'm thinking that I'm going to just make them multiple sites with links between them as needed.

The apple pie in the sky is that the three details Service sites take on lives of their own and it won't be that useful to have them be entangled.

What I was hoping for with this question was for E experts to provide some ideas about why I might or might not want to use multisite.

Any input on this would be appreciated.
Question by:codequest

Expert Comment

by:South Mod
ID: 39773255

I changed the zones for this question from


--Web Languages/Standards
--Web Development

Community Support Moderator
LVL 52

Assisted Solution

by:Scott Fell, EE MVE
Scott Fell,  EE MVE earned 300 total points
ID: 39773268
Without knowing exactly what the products are and domains it is hard to say.  If they are all similar, one domain name.  If they are different products that are not related, multiple domain names/multiple sites.

If your site is about Apples, and you want to have sub topics like Apple Pie, Apple Sauce, Carmel Apples, and choosing the right apple, in this case, you want just one website with multiple topics.

If your first site is Apples, but you have other topics like Cars, Jobs, Computers then you want to have multiple domains and multiple sites.
LVL 80

Assisted Solution

by:David Johnson, CD, MVP
David Johnson, CD, MVP earned 100 total points
ID: 39773424
Main Site with subsites (Multi-Site)
Ease of editing all link references are updated less chance of forgetting one.
All hosted on the same web server instance and usually same sql server instance / database
Cookies, cached content is seamless

Multiple sites
Editing a link on one site means having to manually update other sites
Multiple webserver instances and multiple sql server instances / databases
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LVL 39

Assisted Solution

by:Aaron Tomosky
Aaron Tomosky earned 100 total points
ID: 39773709
Multisite is easier to keep things the same, like links already mentioned. Multiple sites is easier to keep different. So if these will be done at different times then you don't want changes to a new one to mess with the old ones. If you are doing themes and other back end stuff, then if say go seperate. If you are just doing content, then you could keep it together.

Author Comment

ID: 39773713
Thanks for the inputs.  Those are helpful.

This one is probably a real hairsplitter.   The following is me thinking out loud.

Being a little less opaque, the domains are based on the pseudnomynous "Lifestylebrand: (for the LifeStyleConcept book)
(hyphens will not be used in the following, I'm including them here for clarity)

The purposes of these sites are
1) promote the LifeStyleConcept book (1st and foremost)
2) share ideas about LifeStyleConcept in the -All Areas, -Food, -Clothes and -Home areas
3) develop a community to increase awareness of LifeStyleConcept
4) obtain ad revenue
5) develop the opportunity to create a substantial brand identity for "LifeStyleConcept-Clothes (including possible partnership with a clothing manufacturer).

LifeStyleConcept .com will be a book brochure and gateway to the other domains.  I feel a need to keep it "light" and flexible, i.e. concerned about "one big database".

-AllAreas domain will be an anything goes blog
-Food and -Home will be sites for articles specific to -Food and -Home
-Clothes will be a site for articles, blog and community specific to Clothes;  it is expected to have an order of magnitude more content and attention than -Food and -Home

So, based on that, there are two remaining questions:

>  How hard is it to split a multi-site sub-site into a single site?  That seems do-able:

>  Can you use separate domain names on sub-sites?  That seems do-able:

So, based on that, I can start with any combination, and change it later.   What I'll probably do is...look at just how hard the separate domain name and splitting issues are, because it would clearly be easier to have fewer sites to deal with, to begin with.

Any further comments would be welcome, however, I'm feeling fairly resolved at this point.

LVL 52

Accepted Solution

Scott Fell,  EE MVE earned 300 total points
ID: 39773762
You can certainly have subdomains like and and they are treated as separate domains.

Since your overall brand is lifelstyle and you are trying to sell one book.  The more content you can have on one site the better.  If you split them up, you are not casting a bigger net.  You now have to spend 4 times as much on marketing and promotion.

Do you see bass pro shop with a fishing site, a boat site, a gun site, a clothing site?  

Spend your energy to have one big site with a lot of content.  Instead of subdomains or new domains, use pages\\Food\recipes\Food\spicy\Food\wine\Clothes\womens\Clothes\mens\Home\country\Home\smallspaces\Home\urban
LVL 52

Assisted Solution

by:Scott Fell, EE MVE
Scott Fell,  EE MVE earned 300 total points
ID: 39773775
This is a good example

If you mouse over the main areas, cook, create, celebrate, and shop you can see the areas she has direct control over are on one page.  The martha stewart living, pets et el all link to the companies that license her name.  But the other categories and subcategories stay on the site.

A newspaper site is also a good example  There are sections that look different, but all under the same domain.

Author Comment

ID: 39773982
Great input, Scott, and very appropriate.  FYI, my partner laughed; shares a birthday with Martha.

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