Authored by Andrew Elster

Running multiple sites? Consolidate & streamline with Drupal’s Domain Access Module — With Drupal’s Domain Access Module, running multiple websites or eCommerce web stores is easy, saving the business owner time and money. But first, let’s cover the basics:

Why would I run multiple websites?

Depending on what you are selling, there are compelling reasons to setup and run multiple websites:

  • Multiple audiences. You might be selling a single product to different groups of customers that demand different messaging or unique packaging; e.g. one site selling to sailors and another site to power-boaters
  • Experiment. You may want to test a different pricing structure before rolling out the change to your existing audience.
  • Multiple product uses. You might have a product that offers a different set of benefits when used in different ways; e.g. a weight loss smoothie for dieters and a fiber supplement for people suffering from digestive problems
  • Co-branding or partnerships. You might have an opportunity to co-brand your product with another to offer a valuable bundled offering

However, a multi-website strategy can be expensive to setup and extremely labor-intensive to manage. For starters, building two separate sites means double the work with almost no economies of scale. Furthermore, you end up with multiple administrative tools to manage content, customers, and orders on each site. You might even have to integrate multiple eCommerce stores with your accounting system.

So, what’s the solution?

Wouldn’t it be nice, if you could run all of your sites with a single set of administrative tools? This would allow your visitors to interact with different websites on the front-end, all feeding into and/or pulling content from a single data source on the back-end. Fortunately, there is a solution:

Drupal has a number of multi-site options, among them is the versatile Domain Access module (DA). With DA, everything is a matter of appearance. To the outside world, it looks as if you have two (or more) completely different sites, but beneath these sites lies one administration back-end. Combined with Ubercart, DA allows you to present completely different sites each with their own branding, products, and content, while all sharing a common platform. With only a single point of integration between your accounting system and your online stores, you’ll save a bundle on license fees with integration utilities such as Webgility’s QuickBooks connector.

To summarize, Drupal multi-site management includes the following benefits:

  • One content management system (CMS) to add, edit and review content across multiple sites
  • A single tool to search engine optimize content housed under many domains
  • A single eCommerce admin portal to search your customer list or process orders originating from multiple different web stores
  • Since Drupal is open source, you can manage as many sites as you like without ever paying costly CMS licensing fees
  • Restricting certain users to certain sites

If you delegate the management of your website to another person, you may need to limit one user’s access to a particular site. With Domain Access, you can assign editors to specific sites, which will grant them access to that site alone.