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What are WordPress User Roles?

WordPress user roles are a fundamental aspect of the WordPress platform that allows you to control and manage what actions and access different users have on your website.

User roles determine the level of access and the capabilities that someone has within the WordPress admin area and on the front end of the website.

By assigning specific roles to users, you can easily grant or restrict access to certain features, content sections, and functionality, ensuring each user has the appropriate level of control and responsibility.

Additionally, you can have the flexibility to create custom roles and define specific sets of capabilities, providing granular control over the user experience and user rights.

Managing user roles and permissions is integral for multi-user or multi-site installations, membership sites, and any WordPress site where multiple individuals or teams are involved in content creation and management.

Summary of Default WordPress User Roles

  • Super Admin– somebody with access to the site network administration and other features.
  • Administrator(slug: ‘administrator’) – somebody with access to all the administration features within a single site.
  • Editor(slug: ‘editor’) – somebody who can publish and manage pages, posts and media, including the posts of other users.
  • Author(slug: ‘author’) – somebody who can publish and manage their pages and posts.
  • Contributor(slug: ‘contributor’) – somebody who can write and manage their posts but cannot publish them.
  • Subscriber(slug: ‘subscriber’) – somebody who can only manage their profile.

Upon installing WordPress, an Administrator account is automatically created. The default role for new users can be set in Administration Screens > Settings > General.

Source: wordpress.org

It’s important to have a Clear Understanding of User Roles in WordPress

Firstly, understanding user roles helps enhance the security of WordPress sites.

By assigning different user roles, the website administrators control the level of access each user has. This prevents unauthorised users from making changes or accessing sensitive information.

For example, an administrator role has complete control and can make critical site-wide changes, while an author role can only create and manage their content.

An administrator has full access to everything, so this role can do the most damage, so use sparingly.

If you are setting up new users, make sure you give the new user the correct role.  This granular control helps protect the site from potential security breaches.  

Secondly, understanding user roles defines workflows within a WordPress site.

Assigning appropriate user roles to team members makes it clear who is responsible for specific tasks.

For instance, an author role can create and publish blog posts, while an editor role can review and edit those posts before they are published. This ensures a smooth and efficient content creation process.

Lastly, understanding user roles ensures that users have the appropriate access levels.

This is particularly beneficial for user experience. By giving users the right level of access, they can easily navigate and interact with the site without feeling overwhelmed or restricted.

For instance, a basic user role may only have access to view and leave comments on blog posts, while an administrator role can manage all aspects of the site.

In conclusion, having a clear understanding of user roles in WordPress is essential for security, defining workflows, and ensuring users have the appropriate access levels.

It brings peace of mind to website owners, improves productivity, and enhances the user experience.

Default WordPress User Roles

Understanding the default user roles is essential when setting up a WordPress site.

WordPress has five default user roles: Administrator, Editor, Author, Contributor, and Subscriber.

Each role has its own capabilities and permissions, allowing website administrators to assign appropriate access levels to different users.

The Administrator role has the highest level of access and control, with the ability to manage all aspects of the site, including adding and deleting users, installing plugins, and changing themes.

Editors can manage and publish content, while authors can create and manage their own content.

Contributors can write and submit content for review, and subscribers have the basic ability to read and interact with the site.

Understanding these default user roles is crucial for maintaining a secure and well-organised WordPress site.

By assigning the appropriate user roles, website administrators can ensure that each user has the necessary access and capabilities to perform their tasks effectively while also preventing unauthorised access and potential security breaches.

Administrator Role

The Administrator role in WordPress is the most powerful and highest level of access. When logging into the site administration for the first time, an Administrator role is automatically created. Administrators have complete control over the WordPress site and can perform a wide range of tasks.

Administrators can access all capabilities and manage all aspects of the site, including adding and deleting users, installing plugins, changing themes, and modifying site settings. They have the responsibility of overseeing the overall functionality and security of the website.

With the ability to grant and revoke user roles and permissions, Administrators play a crucial role in maintaining the user experience and managing user access levels. They are responsible for ensuring that the website runs smoothly and securely.

In summary, the Administrator role in WordPress is a powerful role with extensive capabilities. It is responsible for managing all aspects of the site administration and ensuring the overall functionality and security of the website.

The Administrator WordPress User Role should be used sparingly as this user role comes with the most security risk for you and your business.

Editor Role

The Editor role in WordPress is an important user role with specific responsibilities and capabilities. Editors can create, modify, publish, and delete both posts and pages. They can also manage comments, categories, and tags, allowing them to organize and curate content effectively.

Editors are primarily responsible for reviewing and editing content submitted by authors before it goes live on the website. They ensure the content is accurate, engaging, and aligned with the website’s style and guidelines.

Editors can make necessary changes and enhancements to the content, including formatting, grammar, and syntax.

The Editor role in WordPress plays a crucial role in maintaining the quality and consistency of the website’s content.

With their responsibilities and capabilities, Editors ensure that the published content meets the website’s standards. The User Role Editor plugin adds flexibility to modify default user roles and create custom roles to match specific requirements.

Author Role

In WordPress, an Author is a user role that holds a specific set of permissions and responsibilities. As an Author, individuals have the ability to create, edit, and publish their own blog posts. This includes writing content, adding media files such as images and videos, and organizing the posts into categories and tags.

Authors also have the authority to moderate comments on their own blog posts, ensuring that discussions remain relevant and constructive. This allows them to engage with their readers and maintain the quality of the comment section.

However, Authors do not have access to administrative duties or the ability to create pages or edit other users’ posts. They are focused on creating and managing their own content within their blog posts.

This user role is ideal for bloggers who contribute regularly to a WordPress website but do not require the full range of capabilities that an Administrator or Editor might have. The Author role allows for a streamlined workflow, allowing individuals to focus on their content creation while leaving administrative tasks to other user roles.

Contributor Role

The Contributor role in WordPress is designed for users who want to contribute content to a website without having full control over the publication process. Contributors have minimal user permissions, allowing them to create, edit, and delete their own content, but they cannot publish or manage their posts once they have been published.

One key limitation of the Contributor role is that contributors cannot upload files or add images directly to their posts. Instead, they need to rely on a higher-level user, such as an Editor or Administrator, to add media to their content.

Additionally, contributors do not have access to website settings, plugins, and themes. This means they cannot customize the appearance or functionality of the website beyond their individual posts. The Contributor role is ideal for individuals who focus solely on creating content and rely on others to handle the publishing and management aspects of the website.

Overall, the Contributor role provides a controlled environment for users to contribute content while limiting their ability to publish or manage their own work.

Subscriber Role

The Subscriber role in WordPress is the most basic user role with limited capabilities and permissions. Subscribers have the least amount of permissions compared to other user roles. Their main function is to manage their own profile and read content on the site.

Subscribers can update their own profile information such as username, email address, and password. They can also choose to receive email notifications for new posts or comments. However, subscribers cannot add or edit any content on the website. They cannot create or publish posts, pages, or any other type of content.

The Subscriber role is particularly useful for subscription or membership sites, where users need to create an account to access exclusive content or resources. Subscribers can log in to their accounts to view and read the content without any other permissions or responsibilities. This role is great for sites that want to provide a personalized experience to their users without giving them any control over the site’s settings or functionality.

In summary, the Subscriber role in WordPress grants basic permissions limited only to managing their own profile and reading content on the site. It is a suitable role for subscription sites or any website that wants to offer a more personalized user experience without granting additional capabilities.

Changing User Roles

Website security should be considered when assigning users to your website and I have seen website owners give out administrator logins like they are candy. If you are using contractors on your website you may need to provide admin access but you can change it to a different role after the work is done. This stops the administrator from making a costly mistake on your website

Audit your WordPress Users

In order to ensure that user roles are properly assigned and managed, it is recommended that you audit your website’s users regularly.

A good practice is to determine the amount of access each user should have and then check regularly if they still need those privileges. If not, their role can be adjusted accordingly.

Activity Monitor

If you have multiple users accessing your website it is a good idea to add an activity monitoring plugin that can show you what your team has been doing, help you identify and fix website problems more quickly, and warn you of dishonest activities on your site.

Having an activity tracking log puts a check and balance system in place. If things go out of control, then they can easily figure out what went wrong, who did it, and how to fix it.

Since the audit logs will show you which user made the mistake, you can also educate them on best practices to prevent the same mistake in the future.

Security audit logs also help when you hire a WordPress developer from third-party contract websites like Codeable or Upwork. While most developers are trustworthy, you may run into a dishonest developer who causes your business to lose money.

Sorry, I have gone off on a bit of a tangent but WordPress User Roles are important things to learn about WordPress.

WordPress Website owners need to be aware of the ramifications of adding users to their website with full administrator privileges. If a novice administrator user adds malware or breaks the site beyond repair, it is a very upsetting and costly lesson to learn

Until Next Time

Lara Sign

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