How to manage user roles in WordPress

Learn how to administer user roles for your WordPress website

WordPress is always run by one user, the administrator. You can not have a WordPress website without at least one administration user. An administrator is then able to appoint other administrators, but also editors, contributors, and standard members. WordPress is all about user roles, each role has a different level of permissions, giving it a different set of capabilities. This post will explore users and their capabilities.

WordPress User Roles
Image Source: PublicDomainPictures – Pixabay.com / License: CC0 Public Domain

Think of user roles as employment. If you’re the boss of a company, you will be the administrator of the WordPress site, and if you’re the manager of a company, you will be the editor in WordPress, but if you’re just an employee of a company, you will be appointed as a contributor in WordPress. It’s quite easy to understand and look at it this way.

Here are the default user roles:

  • Administrator – Is the main admin of the site, has full access to admin/site features.
  • Editor – Is able to publish/edit/moderate posts. Editors are usually the user role that approves content submitted by contributor role.
  • Author – Has the ability to publish posts without need to moderate.
  • Contributor – Has the ability to write posts, but needs to have them reviewed by an editor/administrator.
  • Subscriber – The basic user role, has the ability to comment and manage user profile.

If you were to hire a web designer or web developer to help you optimize your blog, you would need to appoint them with the Administrator user role, but if you have hired someone for the content marketing position, you should appoint them as an Editor. Sometimes, it’s necessary to extend user roles and capabilities, and to do that you have to rely on a 3rd party solution.

Capability Manager Enhanced_Plugin
Image Source: Screenshot – WordPress.org

The Capability Manager Enhanced plugin is a well-known solution for editing user permissions without any hiccups or difficulties, it’s as simple as checking some boxes and clicking save.

After installing, go to Tools => Capability Manager to make a backup of your user roles, just to be on the safe side, and once that is done you can go to Users => Capabilities where you will see the following page:

WordPress user roles

You can see two red squares that indicate two important features, first square on the right hand side is for indicating that you can select which user role you want to edit, this is important, otherwise you will be constantly editing just the default role. And the second square can be found in the middle around the phrase Other WordPress Core Capabilities – this is where you can give each user specific permission to access themes and plugins.

For example, you might be running a WooCommerce online store, and you have hired a new assistant to take care of the products for you. In most cases, you will need to create a new user (right hand side sidebar) and give them the appropriate WooCommerce permissions, which this plugin is going to make easy to do. It does take a few tries to fully understand, but it’s nothing that even an inexperienced user wouldn’t be able to understand.

The public plugin directory for WordPress is full of similar plugins, and no matter which one you use you will be getting the same feature functionality. We hope this helps in understanding the user roles and capabilities to manage your website based on your requirements.

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