How To Manage Your Team Using the 5 Common WordPress User Roles

The WordPress platform is one of the best-known website building tools in the world. As of 2021, it’s powering nearly 40% of all websites. The software is designed to help companies and individuals build and manage a website or blog regardless of their coding or designing skills. 

WordPress empowers its customers to create multiple user profiles and logins. For companies and organizations, this feature in WordPress user management can be a useful way to collaborate on a website

With multiple users, you can allocate various tasks to different team members or even outsource your blog to freelance writers and editors.

As the owner of a WordPress website, understanding the features of WordPress user management will help you maximize your website’s potential for collaboration, while keeping your content secure. This guide to WordPress user roles will show you how it’s done.

What we’ll discuss:

  • The five common WordPress user roles
  • Customizing user roles in WordPress user management
  • Creating custom WordPress user roles 

The Five Main WordPress User Roles

WordPress is designed with five main user roles built into the software. Each role comes with its own permissions. 

Here’s a rundown of what each of the existing roles includes:

PermissionsAdministratorEditorAuthorContributorSubscriber
Read siteYesYesYesYesYes
Edit postsYesYesYesYes
Delete postsYesYesYesYes
Publish postsYesYesYes
Upload filesYesYesYes
Publish pagesYesYes
Delete pagesYesYes
Edit pagesYesYes
Read, edit, or delete private pagesYesYes
Manage categoriesYesYes
Moderate commentsYesYes
Activate pluginsYes
Create new usersYes
Delete plugins, themes, or usersYes
Edit files, plugins, themes, or usersYes
Export or import contentYes
Install plugins or themesYes
Manage user optionsYes
Update themes, plugins, dashboard, or coreYes

Let’s take a look at each of these default user roles in more detail.

1. Administrator

As the administrator, you’ll have full permissions on the WordPress control panel. You’ll be able to publish, edit, and delete:

  • Blog posts 
  • Webpages 
  • Themes 
  • Plugins 
  • Code 

Administrators are also in charge of updating the permissions and roles of other users.

If you’re the website administrator, you’re running the show. This role is usually reserved for the website owner, who usually has a thorough understanding of how WordPress works. 

The administrator gets a lot of responsibility, so it’s vital that you only give administrator permissions to people you trust with your entire website.

You may have come across the term “Super Admin.” A Super Admin is only a relevant user role option for the Multisite Network mode of WordPress. 

Some companies own multiple WordPress websites. The Super Admin role is reserved for the user who has administrator permissions across all of them.

2. Editor

The editor has a significant number of permissions and is like the second-in-command to the administrator. A user with editor permissions can publish, edit, and delete blog posts and website pages.

However, unlike administrators, editors can’t change core components of the website such as the theme, plugins, or users. 

If you have an assistant website administrator at your company, this may be a good role option for them.

3. Author

An author has minimal permissions but can do enough to run your website’s blog. This user role has the ability to edit, write, publish, and delete blog posts.

If your company has hired an external content publisher, consider giving them author permissions. This way, they can run your blog from day-to-day without having access to the rest of your website.

4. Contributor

Contributors have minimal user permissions but, as the name suggests, they are able to add new posts to the website’s blog. Contributors to the blog can write, edit, and delete posts. However, they cannot publish them.

The contributor role permissions are suitable for the website’s writers. This way, the author, editor, or administrator can approve upcoming posts prior to publication, editing, or deleting them as they see fit.

5. Subscriber

The subscriber is the default user role with the fewest permissions. As a subscriber, your only permission is to read content. 

For blogs with an active, engaged following, this WordPress user role is a useful option that lets users create a username, comment on posts, and interact with other members.

How To Add and Remove Capabilities From Existing WordPress User Roles in WordPress User Management

If you are the website administrator, you’ll have WordPress user management permissions. 

Being able to customize the permissions of all other users can be useful when you have a team member who doesn’t take on new responsibilities and needs access to specific areas of the control panel. It’s also a useful way to manage a fully remote team.

Here’s a step-by-step guide that will demonstrate how to edit specific permissions for your users using the User Role Editor plugin:

  1. In the left panel of your dashboard, select Users > User Role Editor
  2. In the User Role Editor plugin, choose the user you want to edit from the dropdown menu. 
  3. You’ll see the user’s full capabilities. If the format is difficult to read, select the option “Show capabilities in human readable” form.
  4. Scroll through the user’s permissions and check or uncheck the box next to the relevant permissions.
  5. Select Update when you’re ready to finalize your choices.

And that’s it. The user should immediately have access to their new permissions.

How To Create a Brand New User Role in WordPress User Management

In some cases, you may wish to save a template of a new type of WordPress user role. 

For instance, let’s say you have a team of blog editors who need access to editing user roles so they can add new contributors to the team. However, you don’t want these editors to have a full level of access to the website’s plugins or themes.

Or, let’s say you hire a series of external freelance SEO consultants. You may wish to create a specific user role for these consultants that gives them permission to edit posts, but not publish or delete them. 

In order to save this new role template in your system, we recommend creating a new custom user role. 

This process can also be done within the User Role Editor plugin:

  1. In the left panel of the WordPress dashboard, select Users > User Role Editor.
  2. Find and select the option Add Role in the right-side panel.
  3. Write an ID and Display Role Name. This is the name of the user role type.
  4. If you want to start with a set of permissions from an existing role, head to the “Make copy of” dropdown menu.
  5. Edit the capabilities for the new role using the boxes next to each permission.
  6. When you’re satisfied with your choices, click Update.

Once you’ve completed these steps, your new user role should be ready to use and should appear in the list of available user roles when you register a new user.

WordPress New User Registration

WordPress New User Registration isn’t automatically available on WordPress websites. If you want users to be able to register themselves as “subscribers,” you have to follow a short series of steps in your WordPress dashboard.

  • Head to Settings > General in WordPress admin.
  • Find the Membership section.
  • Check the checkbox next to Anyone can register.
  • Select a default user role. Most administrators prefer to use the subscriber role as this has the smallest set of capabilities. However, you can also choose any of the other WordPress user roles, including customer user roles you have created yourself.

Once this option is set up, you can invite readers to join the community.

Creating a WordPress New User Registration option for your readers can be useful for a number of reasons, including to:

If you dislike the idea of users creating their own accounts, keep this box unticked. 

Instead, the Administrator will be the only one who can access full WordPress user management and add new users. While this can be more secure in practice, for some companies, it can prove tiresome and unnecessary. 

As the administrator of a WordPress website, understanding WordPress user management is a vital part of your role. 

By monitoring which users are assigned to which roles, you can seamlessly create a website team without worrying about your employees having too much or too little access to the WordPress dashboard.

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Machielle Thomas
Machielle Thomas | Content Manager
Machielle Thomas writes and curates web and email content for marketing professionals, small business owners, bloggers, and more.

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