How UK’s largest magazine publisher Time Inc. reduced cost of maintenance of 60 websites with WordPress Multisite? [Interview with Jonathan Harris]

Jonny Harris has been using WordPress for 13 years now. He's started with his personal blog and afterwards made a career of that. He worked in an agency for a while, for 4 years. Then he moved to UK's largest magazine publisher Time Inc. to help them set up network of 60 WordPress websites. He wrote his first patch to WordPress Multisite just 4 years ago and now he is maintainer of Multisite system.
Yeah, it was a crazy rise from this guy who felt he knew nothing to now being an expert Click To Tweet

Time inc. UK

Time Inc has got a separate website for each magazine, so it made sense it would be a Multisite project that uses the same theme for all sites but with plenty of options for massive customization.

Time Inc. owns 60 magazines websites for big and smaller brands. It was costing a lot of money to maintain so many instances of WordPress, also it caused difficulties getting access and managing so many sites. From other hand, Times Inc. wanted to keep using WordPress, because it has such a great user experience.

There a lot of people working for Time inc. 60 magazines, but they are all working in different departments, so it was important to limit the access to certain department only.
Also the big problem with this project particularly was maintaining different addresses for sites for different environments.

Instead of creating classical Multisite Jonny Harris decided to use Multi Network. The whole network was divided into 4 separate Multisite installs according to the number of departments: Women’s brands, Men’s brands, Sports etc.
Each Multisite now has got it’s own SuperAdmin (say, the major director of Sports brands), he has got full control over his network and all magazines in it, but have no access to other departments’ websites. Also each network is stored on separate database server for better security with a help of HyperDB plugin by Automattic.
To overcome difficulties with domain addresses Mercator domain mapping plugin by HumanMade was used.


Publisher had got easy-to-use system to maintain 60 magazine websites in 4 separate departments.
Each department has got it’s own Multisite environment and head of department has all capabilities inside it but no access to other departments’ information. Meanwhile the full control belongs to the SuperAdmin of the whole Multisite Network. This is how core, theme, plugins updates, maintenance, development are done across all network at once and take as little time as they would for the single WordPress install.
The time and cost of maintenance of 60 Time Inc. magazines have been cut to the time and cost of one with WordPress Multisite.

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