The last couple of years have been exciting for our flagship Avada theme. Its elegant mix of responsive design, simple customization options and powerful built-in features have led over 125,000 satisfied customers to make it their WordPress theme of choice.

That powerful combination packs even more of a punch when deployed across a network of sites. In fact, more information on getting Avada up and running using WordPress Multisite is one of the most common topic requests we receive for the blog.

This article tackles that very subject. We’ll take you through the basics of installing and configuring a local WordPress Multisite network and using Avada as the main theme on each of your sites.

Background on WordPress Multisite

  • Network administrators benefit from one centralized interface that can be used to manage thousands of sites across multiple domains.

  • Individual site admins can be installed on a per-site level.
  • A shared codebase simplifies the maintenance and updating of plugins and themes.

Naturally, all of that flexibility and power comes at a cost. The requirements for Multisite in terms of hosting resources and technical knowledge are higher than they would be for a single site setup.
Server side settings will have to be adjusted and DNS configuration is certain to rear its head at some point. It’s also likely that you’ll need to upgrade from shared hosting if your network reaches any kind of significant size.

Further points to consider are the risk of:

  • exposing a network of online properties to a single point of failure, and

  • the shared database that Multisite requires by default.

Given the potential number of scenarios for matching Multisite to your live setup, we’ll limit ourselves in this article to installing Multisite locally. This is a sensible way of easing into the overall options and taking Avada for a spin in a safe environment.

Let’s get started!

Setting Up Multisite Locally

The benefits of having a local WordPress development environment are legion. We’ve recently taken a deep dive into the subject here on Theme Fusion with detailed guides for how to set them up on both PCs and Macs.

Rather than rehash the basic setups here, we’ll assume you have a single-site WordPress install running locally from the outset on either MAMP or XAMPP. There are a couple of considerations to bear in mind before we get going, mostly to do with the eventual domain structure we will use. Let’s get them out of the way to begin with.

What Type of Domain Structure Are You Going to Use?

Before installing Multisite, we highly recommend taking the time to go through WordPress’ excellent Before You Create a Network page in detail. Depending on the peculiarities of your local setup, there are a number of potential gotchas it can help you avoid.

Multisite allows two basic types of domain structure:

    • Subdomains (e.g. http://mysite1.mymultisite.com)
    • Sub-directories (e.g. http://mymultisite.com/mysite1)

    Which one you go for is a matter of preference. Those on shared hosting may experience problems with the subdomain option due to wildcard restrictions. You will also want to consider the SEO implications of the two different approaches. However, from the point of view of WordPress itself, they are essentially the same.

    It’s unfortunately outside the scope of this article, but it’s still worth noting that you also have the option of mapping a full domain to either of the options above. Those interested in exploring further should start by looking at the WordPress MU Domain Mapping plugin.

    In our example, we’ll be selecting subdomains and installing locally.

    A quick look at the Restrictions section of Before You Create a Network shows me I’ll need to create a virtual host to avoid running into problems using either localhost or 127.0.0.1 on my machine.

    With that in mind, I’ve set up the following on my local install of MAMP:

      • A local domain called mymultisite.local.
      • Two subdomains called site1.mymultisite.local and site2.mymultisite.local.

      If you’re following along, check out either of these tutorials for full instructions on how to set this up on your own machine:

      Okay, our domain decision is made. Now we need to do some prep work.

      Pre-install Steps

      Our first task is double-checking that Pretty Permalinks are enabled on your install. This requires the mod_rewrite module to be enabled in Apache. On MAMP and XAMPP that should be by default. If you run into difficulties here, begin your troubleshooting at WordPress’ Using Permalinks page.

      The second task is to deactivate any active plugins you might have on your base install.
      With those precautions out of the way, we’re ready to enable Multisite.

      Enabling Multisite Functionality

      Enabling Multisite is as straightforward as editing one key PHP file.

      Enable Multisite in wp-config.php

      Simply open up wp-config.php and add the following lines above the text reading /* That’s all, stop editing! Happy blogging. */:

      Copy to Clipboard

      To make sure your change was picked up, refresh the admin screen and look for the Network Setup item in your Tools menu. If it’s visible, the change has registered and Multisite is enabled.

      The Network Tools menu item

      Installing a Network

      Now let’s install our network by going to Tools > Network Setup. Here, we’re faced with the domain choice previously mentioned. I’m going for the subdomain option shown in the image below.

      Create Network screen

      You’ll also be required to name your network and enter an email address for the person responsible for administering the entire network.

      Network details entry fields

      With all the information entered, click Install.

      Local File Changes

      All being well, WordPress will now generate some custom code that you need to add to your wp-config.php and .htaccess files. Both these files should be in the root folder of your install. You may need to show hidden files (PC | Mac) to see the .htaccess file.

      Make changes to .htaccess and wp-config.php

      Find both files, enter the changes and log back into WordPress. You should now be looking at your familiar dashboard, but with one crucial difference in the top left corner – the My Sites tab.

      Post-login sites dashboard

      Adding Sites to the Network

      Next we need to visit Network Admin > Dashboard to add some new sites to our setup.

      Finding the Network Admin dashboard

      Suddenly being able to switch between multiple dashboards may take some getting used to, but you’ll soon get the hang of it.

      The Network Admin dashboard

      From here, it’s merely a question of entering our site details. In my case, I have two subdomains to set up so I simply step through the screens twice.

      Adding a subdomain site to Multisite

      A quick trip to our All Sites overview shows the new sites are added to the network and ready to be viewed.

      All Sites overview screen

      It’s now time to bring Avada into the picture.

      Installing Avada

      In Multisite, the network administrator is the only user who can install themes and make them available for individual sites. You have two options here; allow a theme for just one site, or enable it for the entire network. In our case, we’ll do the latter with Avada.

      Network Enable Avada

      Navigate to the Themes > Add New screen and install Avada as you would on a single-site install.

      Adding the Avada theme

      If you now return to the Themes overview you’ll see a new option next to each theme: the Network Enable/Disable link. Enable this for Avada. This will automatically add it as an option for every site on the network.

      Network enable checkbox

      Activate Avada on Each Site

      Now we’ll go into the admin dashboard of an individual site – in my case site1.mymultisite.local – and activate the Avada theme. Begin by selecting the site dashboard from the All Sites list.

      Select the Site1 dashboard

      After you’ve activated the theme, you’ll be prompted to install the standard Fusion Core, Layer Slider and Slider Revolution plugins. You’ll also be able to load any of Avada’s standard install demos via the familiar theme interface.

      Avada theme interface

      In my case, I’ve gone for the Avada Agency Demo to test the install. A quick trip to Visit Site via the top menu and everything appears to be in order. Avada is now officially working in a Multisite environment!

      Why You Should Use Avada For Your Multisite

      Avada is perfect for multisite environments for several reasons. The Avada demo importer allows you to quickly deploy a professional design to each of the sites in your multisite environment. One click of a button on each site will import the demo of your choice. This is a huge time saver and gives you the perfect jump start on designing your site.

      The overall performance of Avada is extremely good and can easily achieve in the 90’s through Google page speed and GT Metrix tests. This is very important for your overall site ranking and for your viewer’s experience when using your website. We recommend using W3 Total Cache to optimize your site. Using W3TC or other cache plugin is always recommended no matter which theme you prefer to use. ThemeFusion offers full support for using W3TC with Avada.

      Avada is also consistently updated and maintained for overall improvements. Among other things, this ensures that the theme will always be ready for new versions of WordPress or popular plugin updates.

      These are just a few reasons why Avada is a great fit for a multisite environment and why over 125,000 satisfied customers have made it their WordPress theme of choice.

      Conclusion

      We’ve covered a lot of ground here, and hopefully shown that getting your Avada theme up and running in Multisite is relatively straightforward.

      Let’s briefly review the steps we took:

      • Installed WordPress locally.

      • Decided on our domain structure and set up local virtual hosts.
      • Enabled Multisite via wp-config.php.
      • Installed our network and made changes to .htaccess and wp-config.php.
      • Added two new sites.
      • Installed and configured our Avada theme.
      • Activated a demo install to review functionality.

      It’s admittedly no five-minute sequence, but still a small set of steps to gain access to the sort of functionality that a few years ago would have been the exclusive preserve of large firms with dedicated IT departments.

      Let us know how you get on with your own local installs in the comments section, and share your experiences of leveraging the power of Avada with WordPress Multisite.