WordPress For Education, Schools And Universities

WordPress isn’t just for bloggers. Today WordPress powers nearly 28 percent of all websites on the internet. This includes public school district websites and websites for some of the largest and most respected universities.

WordPress’ open source platform is ideal for the changing waves of education delivery and distribution. Higher education platforms are beginning to use WordPress as a means to solve common problems on their campuses as well as deliver open-source content and course opportunities.

It’s no surprise then that higher education is utilizing the power of WordPress. School and university websites are used inordinately by students, parents, and educators. It is tremendously important, therefore, that these sites are reliable and sturdy in times of high traffic, work flawlessly to create a great multisite environment, scalable for institutions looking to grow and become more accessible, and adaptable to the various needs of different institutions.

WordPress For Education, Schools And Universities


When it comes to large, high traffic enterprise institutions and companies, there are certain expectations and necessities for a website. Enterprise level websites can’t take risks so when it comes to a platform — reliability is a must. WordPress is built on the basis of being future-proof. Proof of this is in the continuous upgrades, emphasis on JavaScript, and modern technology like the REST API.

Enterprise level websites, like a university website, often have to accommodate localization, multilingual context, and small micro sites. These are all things WordPress handles seamlessly. Higher education enterprise solutions are often equipped with complex access requirements and permissions; WordPress’ defined user roles easily solve this problem.

Finally, perhaps most importantly for higher education institutions, WordPress is equipped with multisite functionality, an essential function for institutions with multiple departments and organizations.

5 Examples Of Brands Using WordPress Multisite Today
Schools like the University of Texas have WordPress multisite enabled for its students and faculty.

WordPress multisite allows you to build a network of websites from just one WordPress installation. Schools and universities can create different subdomains, subdirectories, and stand alone sites for different campuses and organizations while still maintaining a common theme and managing from one dashboard.

Multisite allows for a specific user role entitled Superadmin that can install plugins, manage themes, and add new sites. Run multiple sites using the same login credentials and save space by not having to install themes and plugins multiple times. Multisite is the perfect combination of independence and cohesion that schools and universities need.

To learn more about brands using WordPress multisite, see here for five examples of brands using multisite in the wild.


WordPress for education - scalability

Out of the box, WordPress is a high-performance platform with powerful media management, tremendous customizability, and high-level security. WordPress can be scaled to deliver a sophisticated design with complex architecture for use by a global brand, school or university.

However, scaling a university website can be complicated. It’s worth considering that scaling a site requires scaling for traffic growth and adding infrastructure to help alleviate or remove the damage traffic spikes have on your site’s reliability. A dedicated digital experience platform, such as that offered by WP Engine, can help your university scale.  

University and school sites are unpredictable when it comes to traffic…you need to be prepared for everything. WP Engine has helped hundred of thousands of websites scale from 10 hits per minute to a million hits per minute overnight. This is because WP Engine’s platform is built to scale given its top-notch security, scalable architecture, and site speed reliability.

Adaptability & Flexibility

One benefit of WordPress is its flexibility and adaptability to meet anyone’s needs. With thousands of themes and plugins to choose from, it’s easy to tailor your site to your needs without even touching the core. Many of these plugins were created for and by higher education institutions. Schools and universities can use plugins to create a campus map, student directory and more. Additionally, the backend of WordPress features over 70 languages that a university or school can utilize if needed.

Schools and universities can use plugins to create a campus map, student directory and more. Additionally, the backend of WordPress features over 70 languages that a university or school can utilize to make its site more accessible.

It’s inevitable that users of a university or school website are going to want mobile capability as well. The WordPress backend will adjust to any screen size so mobile friendliness is not an issue. Virtually all themes offered are mobile friendly so customization and aesthetic appearance aren’t inhibited.

Finally, WordPress is easy to use for everyone. The user dashboard adaptable and friendly for even the most inexperienced CMS users. This is especially important for higher education sites and microsites that will have various users and contributors.

WordPress for Departments and Colleges (Multisites)

Schools and universities often do not have single-purpose sites. They have schools, sites, departments, colleges, and more. In fact, University sites involve a very complicated architecture. You’ll need numerous sites tailored to different types of users: students (prospective and current), professors, administration, alumni, faculty, and staff. However, all those different sites and branches can cause some serious confusion. WordPress makes the management easy.

Install plugins and apply them to all sites or choose which sites have which plugins enabled. Automatically apply themes to all sites by Network Enabling them or create a unique look for each site. A number of advanced settings and configurations allow you to make quick changes to all your sites at once using an interface that allows you to edit multiple sites simultaneously. Finally, you’ll only need to upgrade the site once; no need to spend time upgrading each individual site.

Content Governance & User Permissions

Multisite makes the issue of duplicating users across sites nonexistent because, with Multisite, you can manage a centralized set of users with permission to each site that they need access to. A Superadmin has access to all site network administration features. An Administrator has access to administration features within a single site. An Editor is someone who can publish and manage posts, including the posts of other users. An Author can publish and manage their own posts. A Contributor can write and manage posts but can not publish them. Finally, a Subscriber can only manage their profile.

If you want to go beyond the six user role settings included upon installation of WordPress multisite, there are a number of plugins to help your tinker with user roles. 

Case Studies

Many institutions are using WordPress as the main CMS at their institution. Other institutions are using WordPress to display their top-level site and many of their departmental and division-level sites. After the adoption of WordPress, many institutions recognize the need for hosting to manage traffic spikes and ensure site reliability.

In the hopes of achieving an optimal baseline for their site, Shenandoah University opted to use WP Engine to maintain a fully functioning, secure site. Upon usage of WP Engine to operate their WordPress site, Shenandoah has experienced significantly faster load times, tighter security, better quality control, and the ability to leverage automatic updates.

Texas A&M Agrilife, an institution comprised of five different agencies, employs WordPress and WP Engine’s Multisite functionality. Texas A&M AgriLife’s hundreds of internal clients all want unique sites. Yet developing hundreds of brand-new themes and individual sites would be virtually impossible with Texas A&M AgriLife’s resources. Using multisite empowers AgriLife’s various agencies and clients to quickly and easily set up WordPress sites and customize them with pre-selected and vetted themes and plugins.

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