WordPress User Roles – Beginner’s Guide

WordPress user roles are not really something people worry about when they are the only ones accessing a certain website. However, when you have several people that need to access your website, be it to contribute content, edit existing content or maintain your WordPress website, you need to consider granting different roles. After all, you wouldn’t want just anyone having the option to make major modifications to your site. That is exactly why WordPress user roles exist. Six different roles to cover all possible needs of those accessing it. Today, we take a closer look at those roles and what their limitations are (if any).

The six basic WordPress user roles that you can implement

The different WordPress User Roles
The different user roles WordPress offers.

Understanding each of the basic roles that WordPress offers is vital to making your website available to a larger number of people. It helps you protect your data while ensuring effective teamwork on a common platform that is your website. So, here is our short guide into each of the six roles:

1. Administrator

When you create a website, this is the default role that you get. As the name suggests, the Administrator is at the top of the WordPress User Roles chain. For most websites, it is common practice to have a single Admin, since they can access all backend functions of the WordPress site.

WordPress user roles - Admin dashboard
The Administrator is the authority among WP user roles.

In fact, the role of Administrator covers everything:

So, if we were using chess for comparison, the Administrator user role would be the Queen. Grant someone Admin access only when absolutely necessary.

2. Editor

Once you take out the account management and backend function modification out of the equation, you get the Editor user role. An Editor is what you might consider the content manager for your website. They can create, edit, publish, and delete content on both pages and posts. And unlike Authors (which we will discuss next), they can edit content belonging to other users as well.

Editor User Dashboard
Editors are in charge of managing the entire content on the website.

Another two important functions of the Editor are that they can moderate comments and manage:

  • Categories
  • Tags
  • Links
  • Images

As we mentioned above, the Editor has its own set of limitations among WordPress user roles, that borders along the lines of adding plugins and installing updates. Their role, as the name suggests, is to edit and manage the works of authors and contributors.

3. Author

The role of an Author is more restricted than that of the Editor. Unlike editors, Authors are unable to edit pages or the content of other users. Additionally, this falls under WordPress user roles that lack administrative capabilities.

Author Access - New Post
Authors handle the gruntwork among WordPress user roles.

The role of an Author is to create content. Hence, they are able to edit, delete, add images, and publish their own work. Nothing more, nothing less.

4. Contributor

When you strip the role of Author, you get a Contributor. Constricted as the name of the role implies, Contributors are unable to publish posts or upload media files. They can read posts, as well as edit or delete their own posts. And that covers their access. When it comes to WordPress user roles for one-time users or guest bloggers, the Contributor is ideal.

WordPress User Roles - Contributor
The ideal role for guest bloggers.

5. Subscriber

The WordPress dashboard for Subscribers is the barest one. Their only function is to read posts on the website. Although this is something anyone can do, it does come in handy with subscription-based websites. So, it is best suited when you want to grant limited access to your site content.

WP Subscriber Profile
The subscribers are there to support your content.

6. Super Admin

Last but not least – we have the so-called Super Admin role. This role is one that you use in cases where you have a network of connected WordPress sites – Multisite Installations. The Super Admin manages the entire network and makes major decisions such as creating or deleting entire websites. Additionally, they have all the access that Administrators have to individual sites.

In cases where you have a Super Admin, the role of a regular Administrator is usually diminished. They lose the option to install, upload, or delete themes and plugins, as well as modify other user accounts. All those options are reserved for the Super Admin.

Why are WordPress user roles so important?

  • They help you manage access to your WordPress site(s) by ensuring that different users don’t have the access they shouldn’t have. This way, you are able to increase the overall security of your WP website.
  • You are able to organize the workflow for your website. WordPress user roles are great for organizing the development process, from design and development to content creation and editing.

What is the best way to apply roles to your website?

Now that you understand what the restrictions and functionalities of each role are, time to move on. You need to understand how to implement each role efficiently. Since every site is different, here are a few general tips on how to implement WordPress user roles properly:

  • Only grant the level of access people should have.
  • Limit the total number of higher roles (Admins and Editors, even Authors).
  • Customize user roles with the help of plugins and code. There are plugins that can enable limited access outside the limitations of certain user roles. For example, Editors can gain access to plugins, while Authors and Contributors can gain access to custom post types. Additionally, you can use code to provide limited access to WordPress user roles for certain functions or site tools.
  • Remember – less is always better than more when it comes to user roles.


The ability to clearly define the role and responsibilities of each team member is crucial in managing a high-performance team. And the good news for WordPress users is that this option comes easy. With the use of WordPress user roles, you can increase the WP site security as well as boost team performance.

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