What Is a Microsite? Real Examples & How to Create One With WordPress

What Is a Microsite? Real Examples & How to Create One With WordPress

Using a microsite can be an effective way to upgrade your online identity. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a widely-known concept. If you’re asking yourself, “what is a microsite?”, you’re not alone.

Fortunately, the answer might be more straightforward than you think. By familiarizing yourself with microsites and how they can benefit your brand, you can start taking advantage of these useful tools.

In this article, we’ll explain what a microsite is and cover a few reasons why you might want to use one. We’ll also cover a few key features of a successful microsite and show you how to build one in WordPress in five easy steps. Let’s go!

What is a microsite?

Let’s start with the basics: what is a microsite anyway? To put it simply, it’s an independent extension of your site. It doesn’t share the same URL, and it may not even share the same branding.

However, while microsites exist separately from the main domain, they’re not totally disconnected. They usually support the main brand in a variety of ways.

Some examples of microsites include:

  • New marketing campaign promotions
  • Hubs for testing new site technology
  • Platforms for similar but distinct content

Additionally, it’s worth noting that microsites are not the same as landing pages. Landing pages usually focus on a single purpose and always exist on the main domain.

Why you might want to create a WordPress microsite

There are a few reasons why you might want to consider launching a WordPress microsite. Firstly, it can help you focus on achieving a specific goal.

For example, imagine you’re trying to promote a single product line. A microsite can track its success independent of the rest of your content.

Alternatively, you may not always want to tie a site back to your brand. If you’re going to test new stand-alone content before integrating it, a microsite helps you do so in an isolated environment.

Finally, microsites can also boost your search engine optimization (SEO). This is because having a microsite increases your opportunity to include relevant keywords in the URL. That means you can leverage these search terms to boost your brand’s visibility.

Fortunately, a microsite is also pretty easy to launch. As such, you don’t have to worry about spending too much time or resources on it – taking advantage of this tool can be as simple as it is beneficial.

The key features of an effective microsite

We’ve covered a few reasons why you might want a microsite. However, not all microsites are equally effective. You’ll probably want to make sure there are some elements present before you launch your own version.

Let’s use a couple of microsite examples to illustrate what you might want to aim for. We can start with Open, a microsite of The New York Times, which explores the design and creation of the site’s digital projects:

First, branding is a crucial element of this microsite. Open mimics the classic black-and-white palette of the New York Times. Nevertheless, the lack of any color lets it stand apart from its parent site.

Additionally, this difference also helps with targeting. People who go to the New York Times for news might not want to see information about digital marketing. Thus, the Open microsite can act as a home for this distinct content. That way, it can focus on appealing to a specific target audience.

Next, let’s switch gears and look at The Data That Lies Beneath. This is a microsite presented by Lucidworks:

The Lucidworks microsite The Data That Lies Beneath.

This microsite takes a different approach: it brings a single infographic to life rather than acting as a hub for different content. Other than the interactive explanation, there is no other substance to this page.

Lucid highlights this focus by only having one long page. There is no need to click through anything – you only have to scroll. This simple navigational tool makes using the site as easy as possible.

Another element that you might want to imitate from this example is the deep-dive on a single subject. The stand-alone content can thus serve two types of visitors: those looking for specific information and those who find the microsite through the main website.

How to create a WordPress microsite in five easy steps

Now that you know what a microsite is, let’s talk about how you can easily create your own microsites powered by WordPress.

With the WP Landing Kit plugin, you can use one single WordPress install to power an unlimited number of microsites.

If you already have a WordPress site, you can install the WP Landing Kit plugin to use your existing WordPress install to create a microsite that has its own distinct URL/domain name.

Or, if you don’t have a WordPress site yet, you can create a new WordPress install to act as the home of all your microsites. Remember, with WP Landing Kit, you’ll still be able to give each microsite its own unique domain name.

Here’s how it works…

Step 1: Acquire a domain or subdomain

Firstly, you have two options for your microsite URL: a new domain or a subdomain. Either way, your choice will need a distinct address.

A new domain name lets you create a unique site. Visitors may not even know it’s tied to your brand at all. If that sounds attractive to you, it may be worth the purchase.

There are dozens of places where you can register a domain name. We recommend using the same service as your original domain to keep the process simple. However, it’s not necessary.

Your other option is to acquire a subdomain. Subdomains are spin-offs of your current one. They share part of your domain but have a distinct start.

For example, our main domain name is www.themeisle.com. However, our documentation-focused subdomain is docs.themeisle.com.

You can choose any number of different beginnings, too:

An example of a unique subdomain.

We recommend a subdomain if you want to establish a clear connection to your main site. That way, visitors can recognize your brand no matter how they found your microsite.

Once you’ve chosen how you want to name your microsite, go ahead and register your domain name. If you’re going to add a subdomain, you’ll need to do so through your main site. You can check out our subdomain guide for more information on that process.

Step 2: Plan your microsite content and design

Before we go any further, let’s talk about your content. Most effective microsites are created with clear intentions in mind. That means you’ll probably want to spend some time developing your content before you launch.

Consider starting with a question: why did you want a microsite in the first place? Did you want to promote a single project or explore a new design before using it on the main site? By understanding your main goal, you can more effectively decide on which steps to take.

After that, consider how closely you want the microsite to be connected to your brand. Consistent design can help visitors understand the relationship quickly. However, if you want an independent project, you may want to focus on a new approach entirely.

Then, we recommend considering the timeline of this microsite. If you want to create a long-term project, you might want to plan out a content calendar ahead of time. This tool can help you populate the page from the start and maintain consistency into the future.

However, you might be aiming for a single-function microsite. In that case, we highly recommend finding ways to promote it while it’s most relevant. Consider a few strategies such as:

  • Collaborating with other websites
  • Writing a companion article on your main site
  • Optimizing the microsite for SEO

Double-check that you’re ready to go. Then, move on to the next step.

Step 3: Create your microsite content

To create your actual microsite content, you can create a new WordPress page on your site (Pages → Add New).

To design the page’s content, you can use the native WordPress block editor or your favorite page builder plugin. It’s totally up to you.

If you want your microsite to have multiple pages, you can repeat the process to create multiple pages and link them together.

For now, your microsite pages will appear under the domain name of your WordPress site. Don’t worry about that because you’ll fix that in the next step by mapping the domain or subdomain that you chose in the first step to your new microsite content.

Step 4: Map your domain

Next, we’ll look at the more technical aspects of creating your microsite. You can begin by adding the new domain to your WordPress account using WP Landing Kit.

Once you’ve added your microsite content as one or more pages, go to Domains → Add New to start the domain mapping process:

The screen to add a new domain with WP Landing Kit.

From here, type in the domain you want to add. Then, expand the Mappings section and click on Map to resource.

Then, select Single page and type the title of the page you want to act as your microsite:

The screen to map a new domain with WP Landing Kit.

You can repeat the process underneath the first section to add more pages to the new website. When you’re all done, click on Publish and move on to the final step.

Step 5: Update your DNS records

Finally, you’ll need to update your DNS records with your hosting provider. DNS records let browsers know where to find your site.

You’ll need to update your DNS records at the place where you registered your domain name. This could be your hosting provider if you got your domain name through your host. Or, it could be a dedicated domain registrar such as GoDaddy, Namecheap, Google Domains, and other popular options.

The exact process will depend on where you registered your domain name, so we recommend consulting your host/registrar’s support docs if you need any help.

However, there are a few basic steps that you can reasonably expect across most services. For this walkthrough, we’ll be using GoDaddy.

Head over to your hosting domain dashboard. Then, click on Domain Settings for the domain you want to map. Find Additional Settings and select Manage DNS to arrive at this screen:

The DNS records for a GoDaddy website.

You’ll then need to create an A record on your account. You can start by clicking on Add in the upper right corner. Afterward, fill in the required fields that appear.

Here’s an essential guide on what to enter:

  • For Type, select A.
  • Under Name, enter @ if you’re using a separate domain name or the subdomain prefix if you’re using a subdomain
  • For Value, enter the IP address of the server that your WordPress install is hosted on (the same WordPress install where you installed WP Landing Kit)
  • Under TTL, you can keep Default or customize your cache time.

Remember to save your record! Don’t worry if your changes don’t take effect immediately – they can take up to 48 hours to apply (though it’s usually much faster).

Create your first microsite in 2021

From better SEO to more focused content, microsites can offer you a wide variety of benefits. Fortunately, setting one up doesn’t have to be complicated. By carefully preparing your project, you can start reaping the rewards of your new focused microsite.

In this article, we showed you how to create a microsite with WordPress in just five steps:

  1. Acquire your desired domain or subdomain.
  2. Carefully plan your microsite’s content.
  3. Add your content as WordPress pages.
  4. Map your domain using WP Landing Kit.
  5. Update your DNS records with your hosting provider.

On the other hand, if you think a landing page might fit your needs better than a microsite, we also have some guides that can help you there:

Do you have any questions about microsites? Let us know in the comments section below!

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Keep reading the article at ThemeIsle Blog. The article was originally written by John Hughes on 2021-12-02 08:05:00.

The article was hand-picked and curated for you by the Editorial Team of WP Archives.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the product, We may receive an affiliate commission.

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