University of Mary Washington Website

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The UMW Home Page

University of Mary Washington

At the University of Mary Washington, we are using a unique implementation of WordPress that allows us to run 50 separate “multisite” instances on a single WordPress installation. Across those 50 networks, we have close to 300 separate WordPress sites. All of the sites and networks share a common code base, a common user base, and common plugins and themes. As of May 2013, there are close to 26,000 published pieces of content on the site, with more than 14,000 of those being pages spread across the site.

With the exception of a handful of sites, the entire installation utilizes a single custom child theme of Genesis. Rather than implementing different child themes on each site that requires a slightly different layout, the theme was developed to allow the owner to specify a “site type”, which automatically rearranges the layout (e.g. whether that site should use the global navigation menu, whether it should include the large branded header or just a small banner at the top, etc.).

Currently, the UMW site uses nearly 100 different plugins. About a quarter of those were developed in-house or developed specifically for UMW.

All logins to the site are managed through Active Directory, allowing WordPress user accounts to be automatically provisioned. The student/employee directory is also handled directly through AD. The faculty profiles on the site are managed through a unique combination of AD data, Banner course information and WordPress profile content.

To allow testing and development, UMW has three separate Web servers configured; one for volatile development, one for feature and content testing, and one for production. While these servers are not automatically kept in sync, we do use a combination of BackupBuddy (which we use just for the database backups – file backups are too large to ZIP properly) and file backups to regularly reset the test and staging servers so that we can perform the testing and debugging on the appropriate information.

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