Months ago, I chronicled my battle with setting up my own web server, and installing WordPress MU to setup this site. I walked through all the problems and solutions I discovered, and from what I’ve heard back, I at least helped a couple people along the way. A few nagging issues remained, however. WordPress is a pretty straight-forward installation, but WPMU is a rather unwieldy beat, by comparison, especially for someone who was only comfortable editing small details in a file to tweak someone else’s theme.
The community around WPMU is very different than WordPress. I was used to combing through hundreds of themes, and finding the ones I liked. Finding plugins to do literally anything in the world. And with WPMU, it’s difficult to find much for the site as a whole, and compatibility is an issue for typical plugins from regular WordPress. Luckily, I stumbled across WPMUDev.org. They have a compilation of tons of free plugins, but the real magic happens for your site with the Premium account. The collection of WPMU plugins on the free site are nice, and there are several worth having, but they suffer the same fate as many WP plugins in that some are seldom updated, and poorly supported. WPMUDev Premium, however, offers a smaller number of extremely high-quality plugins that can quickly transform your site into the feature-rich offering you want it to be. They have a package of themes for your users, and several themes to choose from when developing the difficult-to-make home page.
And let’s be honest . . . the home page is the part of WPMU that makes people throw up there hands and forget all about their projects. WPMU Premium plugins make everything from Avatar-enabled site wide feeds, to custom branded admin areas, and everything in between as easy as popping in a plugin and a widget. Stomaching the $79 monthly fee is something that is difficult to grok the value of immediately, especially if you’re into the open-source WP Plugin world. But if you’re serious about developing a top-of-the-line site, I don’t see a better or more efficient way to do it that using WPMU. Plus, they’re professionally supported, and don’t end up not updated for the latest version of WPMU.
We use most of their premium plugins on this site in one manner or another, but the few you simply MUST have for any WPMU site are: