When you’re a developer handling a number of WordPress sites, or have a number of your own personal websites to attend to, you know how tedious it can get to maintain every single one individually.
You have to keep every websites’ themes and plugins up to date, login to each site every time you’d like to publish a post, create back-ups for each one, and so on. All this takes up a lot of your time, time which can be used more productively.
Hence the creation of CMS Commander – your WordPress command centre.
An Overview of CMS Commander
What is it?
CMS Commander is “your WordPress command center”. It allows you to manage all your WordPress sites from one powerful dashboard while also providing you with an effective content marketing tool, saving you both time and money.
How do you use it?
CMS Commander requires you to install the free plugin on your site, just like any other WordPress plugin. Once that is done you’ll need to set up an account on cmscommander.com from where you will be able to access your CMS Commander Dashboard. This is where you’ll be able to maintain and track as many sites as you need.
You’re even given the option of adding the plugin to a WordPress site from within the CMS Commander dashboard itself, as long as you provide your admin username and password. Just like that CMS Commander will allow you to start controlling your multiple sites from one simple dashboard.
Why should you use it?
Time is money, so the more efficient you can be in your work, the better off you’re going to be; both financially and for your own well being. When you’re managing multiple WordPress sites it will get very tedious to have to login to every single one in order to process updates, publish posts or simply check up on the site.
That’s where CMS Commander comes in; it helps you to take care of all your WordPress sites in less time by doing all this in bulk, allowing you to focus on growing your business.
Start Using CMS Commander
Once you’ve installed the CMS Commander plugin on the WordPress site you want to manage, it will appear in your new Dashboard. This is where you will be able to control and manage everything having to do with the maintenance of your site.
The Dashboard itself already shows you the most important aspects of your site; the traffic its receiving, and pending plugin and theme updates, draft posts, the results of malware scans, and more. We’ll go through each of these further on in this review.
Adding New Sites to Manage
When you decide to add a new website to manage all you have to do is click on the orange “Add Site” button. This will take you to the page below. From here adding your new site is as simple as entering the site address, admin username and password, and hitting “Add Website”.
From here on you’ll be able to start managing your new site through CMS Commander. There’s no need to worry about giving away your login details as the admin password isn’t stored by CMS Commander; it’s only used when you want to have it automatically install the plugin for you.
Reports, Stats and Settings
Now that you’ve added your websites to the command centre, it’s time to take a look at what CMS Commander actually offers you. Within the Dashboard itself you will find a number of tabs, each one providing you with valuable information and options.
The Reports tab provides you with activity reports for all your sites or individual ones, either for last month, the current month or all time. You’re also provided with an Action Log for your activity on CMS Commander as well as the option to send your activity reports to your email address.
Next up is the always interesting Stats tab. This section shows you various information such as the average time spent on your site, the number of unique visitors, and so on. You even have the options of taking an overall look at all sites combined or individual ones, as well as viewing the stats in different types of charts.
Finally you have the Settings tab that provides you with a section from where you can modify any sites you wish by adding, editing or deleting them, setting up uptime monitoring for them, managing automatic updates, and more; all in a very clear and intuitive interface.
Exploring Your Options
CMS Commander comes with a multitude of options and settings to choose from, so below I’ll briefly take you through the main uses of the command centre and how they work.
By looking at the sidebar on the left, you’ll notice that the first option beneath the Dashboard is called “Choose Sources”. This takes you to the Automatic Content Sources page from where you’re able to select any number of content sources which you’d like to use for an auto-blogging feature. Some sources require their own API accounts, and you also have some settings to choose from including keyword replacement and 2-factor authentication.
You’re also able to contribute & manage your own content through the command centre. You’re provided with both Post Editor and Bulk Content sections from where you can create and post articles to selected sites (including WordPress settings, custom fields, etc) or even create a large number of new articles by combining content from different sources and then posting them to your blogs. You also have a Content section that lists down your current blog posts from all your sites with the ability to change text, insert links, add categories and more,
Besides controlling the content on your WordPress sites, you’re also able to control the users & configuration of each one. The Users section allows you to view and edit current users as well as create new ones, while the Configuration section provides you with all the WordPress settings you’d find in your website’s dashboard.
These settings include everything from your general settings such as the site title and tagline to the permalink structure for your site. There is also an Advanced mode that will let you edit or copy all the options that exist on your WordPress sites, including all settings specific to plugins, themes, and even core settings that generally cannot be edited inside your WordPress dashboard. This is to be used very warily since it’s easy to mess up your site if you don’t know what you’re doing.
The next three options in the menu are Plugins, Themes and Backups. The plugins and themes sections both provide you with the lists of installed ones as well as the options of activating, deactivating or deleting any of them. You can even install new plugins and themes directly from the command centre.
From the backups section you can create daily, weekly or monthly backup tasks for selected sites with a number of options and destination folders to choose from. Each task can also be viewed in a list and edited in the future if need be.
Cloning and Creating New WordPress Sites
Another interesting feature on offer from CMS Commander is the ability to Clone a WordPress Site. With this cloning tool you can copy an entire site to any other site in your CMS Commander account. All the files, settings, plugins, themes, posts and other data will be included. Another interesting use for this tool is to restore a backup file to a site.
Aside from that you’re even given the option of Creating a New WordPress Site from scratch from within CMS Commander. You’re able to pre-configure important settings, directly include and install plugins during deployment as well as add the new site to your CMS Commander account.
Documentation and Support
The documentation for CMS Commander is extensive, guiding you from the moment you install the plugin to deploying a new site. It also includes a number of useful tutorials as well as a link to an FAQs & Problems area that is dedicated to answering some of the most common questions related to CMS Commander.
If you require more help than what’s provided in the documentation, you can refer your issue to the support team. They promise to reply in less than 24 hours and even provide some support during the weekends, both for pre-sales questions and support requests.
Free & Premium Plans
CMS Commander is free to use with some limited features when you’re managing anything less than 5 WordPress sites. For the first two weeks you’re also provided with a 14-day trial of all the premium features to try them out before committing to any purchases.
Once you decide to opt for a premium plan, the additional features of which you can find listed here, the prices vary based on the number of website you manage, as you can see above. When you consider the time and money such a tool saves you, spending $12 a month to manage 10 sites at one go seems like a good trade.
Conclusions & Recommendations
Having never previously used such a tool to manage multiple WordPress sites from one dashboard, I was unsure of what to expect, however I was pleasantly surprised with the experience. In fact I’m now still using CMS Commander to manage a few sites and save myself some valuable time.
CMS Commander is so easy to set up and intuitive to use that it might come as a surprise to some. In fact in just a few clicks you can have all your WordPress sites manageable from one single location, in an effective, efficient and secure environment.
Now, there are other WordPress website management tools out there that I still personally need to try out, but CMS Commander will certainly remain a favourite and it has motivated me to look into them more, possible to even write up a comparison based on some experiences.
Have you used any such WordPress management tools or CMS Commander in particular? What are your thoughts on such systems and their effective use when managing multiple WordPress sites at once?