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For large organizations desiring a scalable web presence, I’ve found that the multi-user version of WordPress makes an excellent solution. Case in point, this past month, I used WordPress MU to implement a redesign of the Fellowship Evangelical Free Church (FEFC) website (fefc.com).

The Problem
Prior to implementing a redesign, the FEFC website was built upon a non-intuitive content management system. Few members of the FEFC staff were able to use the system simply because it took too long to train new users. In addition, the site’s layout often obscured new information and prevented visitors from finding old information as well. Given these deficiencies, transitioning the FEFC website layout into a streamlined blog frontend with a WordPress backend was a logical solution. However, the size of FEFC led me to take one further step in the development of their new website.

On a typical Sunday, Fellowship Evangelical Free Church has an attendance of almost 3000 people. Furthermore, FEFC has a variety of ministries such as adult discipleship classes, student ministries, and other mid-sized groups of 50 to 100 people. There was a desire at FEFC for each of these ministries to be able to easily establish their own web presence. This made WordPress MU a prime candidate to meet their needs.

The Solution
fefc.jpg As FEFC is a large organization with the need for multiple web presences, I came up with the idea of using WordPress MU to give the FEFC staff the capability to easily add new “websites” to their domain by simply creating another MU blog.
To do this, I installed WordPress MU and configured the FEFC webserver to parse wildcard subdomains. (To do this, see Tan Kian Ann’s tutorial for Setting Up WordPress MU and Wildcard Subdomains on a CPanel/WHM Webserver.) This type of configuration allows the FEFC admin to create a new “website” for a ministry by simply adding a new blog. This new website is now accessible via a subdomain (e.g. http://ministry.fefc.com).

Finally, to complete this setup, I disabled the capability for anonymous users to add their own blog. And, I designed a template that maintains the general look and feel of FEFC while at the same time it allows for the customization of the template’s background color for each subdomain.

Conclusion
The new FEFC website went live at the beginning of this month. Already the FEFC staff has taken advantage of its easy to use WordPress backend to update their content more frequently. In the coming months, I will be interacting with the FEFC staff to help them train and educate other staff and ministries on how to establish their own web presence under an fefc.com subdomain.

As the FEFC website scales, I plan to update this post with links to some of the new FEFC ministry websites located under fefc.com subdomains.

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