Understanding WordPress Users And Roles

Having a secure website is a dream for so many website owners. In fact, we’ll go out on the limb and say that it’s the goal of every website owner. So if you have worked hard on creating and maintaining your WordPress website, you definitely don’t want anyone to mess with it. That’s where WordPress users and roles come into play. They exist in order to grant different people different permissions. To put it simply, WordPress user roles decide what different people can and cannot do to your website and its content. Today, we give you a simple yet useful overview of roles and their capabilities.

The six WordPress users and roles

Right of the bat, WordPress comes with six user roles. There is a high probability that your website won’t need to use all of them. But should the need arise, it would be useful to know that the following user roles are at your disposal:

  • Super Administrator
  • Administrator
  • Editor
  • Author
  • Contributor
  • Subscriber
A person holding a paper with a question mark on it.
How much you will be able to contribute to a website depends on your user role.

Bear in mind that this is the hierarchical order of WordPress user roles. That means that the first entry has the same capabilities as the last one (plus many other role-specific functions), but the last one doesn’t have the same capabilities as the first one. As WordPress experts, we consider it our duty to give you every piece of information on this topic that you might need.

Super Administrator

Do you run multiple WordPress websites from a single WordPress installation? Then you are best suited for the role of Super Administrator. A Super Administrator is a user who has full access to all of the websites of a network and can manage them. Moreover, this person can also install and remove themes and plugins, as well as create network users. The thing is that not everyone runs multiple WordPress websites. That’s why for many WordPress owners, the role of the Administrator is at the top of the hierarchy.

Administrator

As a role that gives you full control over a WordPress website, this role is usually reserved for website owners. Users with this role can add new posts, edit, and even delete them. They can also install and remove both plugins and themes. Think of this role as the most powerful one. It gives you the power to add new users to the site, change passwords of existing users, or even delete them completely. Obviously, with so much responsibility and potential, the role of an administrator cannot be handed out so lightly. That’s why we have other WordPress users and roles.

Editor

If you have the role of an editor, you still hold a lot of power. Editors have the same permissions as the Administrators – but only when it comes to the content sections of a website. Hence, editors can add, edit, publish and delete posts and pages, and they can also moderate comments.

Glasses and pens next to a notebook.
The role of an Editor is an important one, and it holds a lot of power.

However, what editors can’t do is change important settings of a website. With the role of an Editor, you can’t just decide to install the best caching plugins or update a theme. That’s Administrator-related privilege.

Author

As the name of the role suggests, an Author has the permission to write, edit, and publish their own posts. Some people are confused and find it hard to differentiate between Editors and Authors. But the distinction is simple – the Author can only moderate his or her own posts, while Editors can moderate posts of other users.

But far be it that Authors aren’t an important user role with a fair amount of capabilities. Take WordPress categories and tags as an example – while Authors can’t add new categories, they can add tags to their post. All in all, the user role of an Author is a pretty harmless one, as it doesn’t have sufficient power to change WordPress settings and posts written by other users. On the other hand, they have all the permission they need to edit their content which allows them to create posts that will have a certain value.

Contributor

We’ve almost gotten to the bottom of WordPress users and roles. And we came to the user role called Contributor. A Contributor is a person that can create and edit their own posts but doesn’t have the power to publish them. They can also view comments that are awaiting moderation however, they cannot approve or delete them. But what seems to be the biggest disadvantage of the Contributor role is the fact that they cannot upload media files in their posts. If you are a content creator, you can agree that that’s quite a big drawback.

The media section in WP - out of reach for some WordPress users and roles.
Contributors can still create beautiful posts – if they don’t mind doing it without media files.

Subscriber

Users who have the Subscriber role can log into a WordPress website, read the content on it, and leave comments. They can also update their profiles and change their passwords. However, unlike the previous WordPress user roles, Subscribers cannot write posts. Their capabilities are pretty limited and they don’t really have the power to make any important changes to your website.

The understanding of WordPress users and roles is paramount for every website owner

As a website owner and the bearer of the Administrator user role, it is your job to determine what users can and cannot see inside the WordPress admin area. If your website has many Authors, then you can use plugins such as Adminimize to disable user access to unnecessary sections. All of this is done with one goal – to maintain the safety of your website and keep it free of any issues.

How advanced would you say your knowledge of WordPress users and roles is? Today, we gave you the basic things you needed to know. But we strongly encourage you to expand your knowledge and read up on user roles. They are there for a reason and they make the maintenance of a WordPress website so much easier.

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