WordPress User Roles Explained

If your business requires multiple persons to manage your site or if you are running a blog with several authors and editors you must pay attention to how you manage user role access. Users should have access only to those parts of your WordPress site which are related to them directly. Why? Because you do not want to end up with unprepared staff members managing your pages or guest authors publishing posts before they are approved by an in-house editor. I’m sure you can think of more cases when smart user role management helps prevent possible issues and security breaches. Luckily, WordPress offers 5 default user roles that have their rights defined in a way they are able to cover a lot of different usage scenarios.

In this topic, we will browse through predefined WordPress user roles and look into how those roles can help your organization.

Administrator Role

The administrator role is the most important role in any WordPress site – with this role you can access all features and options available. You can change general settings, control plugins, and theme options, create content, and of course, manage user roles by granting or restricting access to your WordPress site.

As the most important role on your site, it is highly recommended to carefully decide upon giving anyone such access to your site.

Editor Role

Editor role allows users to work with content – pages, posts, custom post types, and even private posts. They are allowed to create content, modify and delete it. Such a role is handy if you delegate your content creation to someone else. At the same time Editor role has no access to general WordPress settings or plugin sections ensuring they do not change the global parameters of your site.

Author Role

The author role is a typical blogger user role that allows authors to create and publish posts and even have access to Media Library. At the same time, Authors are not able to modify posts that are created by someone else and also do not have access to pages. If allowed – authors can even modify comments, but only for their posts.

Contributor Role

Contributor is a very useful role for blogs where there are guest authors invited to write posts. As you do not want to grant guest authors publishing options you can give them Contributor role which allows them to create Unpublished posts and write them, but does not grant Publish option. Instead, all of those posts are sent for Review and only a higher role (Administrator, Editor) is able to publish them.

Another important aspect is that the Contributor role does not have access to Media Library which means you will need to assist guest authors if they wish to add anything from Media Library or fine-tune their post after the guest author has completed his/her job.

Subscriber Role

Subscriber is the simplest possible WordPress user role without access to any site or content modification tools and sections. Subscribers can log in to your WordPress site and update his/her profile. The subscriber role is often used when you want your visitors to register on your site to access posts or place comments.

In order to allow your visitors quickly register on your site you will need first to check the “Anyone can register” box under Settings – General – Membership and add a Meta widget to your site.

How to modify user roles?

If you need to adjust the access of some specific user you can do so through the Administrator account of your WordPress site. Under the Users section of your WP Dashboard, you can easily change the role type of certain users, remove accounts or create new ones. Take into account that you can not modify the rights of certain user groups with the default version of WordPress and you will require additional free or premium plugins or custom solutions. It is also important to mention that there are premium plugins offering existing, WordPress default and custom-made, user roles access management for their own features and tools.

If we look at specific user role management plugins it is worth mentioning ARMember which allows you to set the WordPress user roles per membership level, Members which allows the creation of custom roles and managing user role access capabilities and User Role Editor which is one of the most popular and easy-to-use plugins in the field of role management.