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Understanding the 5 WordPress User Roles

If more than one person that helps with your WordPress site, user roles are very important. In this post, let’s tale a look at the five differentWordPress user roles, the different levels of permission you can assign, and consider when you might choose these different roles.

Purpose of User Roles

User roles are designed to allow people to collaborate on a WordPress site.
For example, some WordPress sites have multiple authors who create content. Or you might have a tech expert who manages the technical backend of your site.
Each of these users needs permission to make changes on your site, and the user roles limit what they can do.
Out of the box, your WordPress installation comes with 5 user roles. Additional user types can be defined by adding plugins.

The 5 Basic Users

The first type of user created when you start using WordPress is an Administrator, so let’s start there.

  1. Administrator – When you first create a site your user role will be an administrator. This role can do essentially anything necessary to run a site:
  • Write, publish and edit posts
  • Create pages and categories
  • Install or remove plugins
  • Add, edit or delete other users

The Administrator role should not be treated lightly. Someone with Administrator-level access to your WordPress site can do a lot of damage (including locking you out of your own site!), so this role should only be assigned to people you trust and who are competent managing a WordPress site. This level of access is probably not appropriate for most users of your site, especially guest authors.
2. Editor – The Editor role doesn’t have access to a lot of backend capabilities but has superpowers when it comes to content. Not only can they create, publish and manage their own posts, but they can also manage posts creating by others.
Give this role to someone who will be managing all of your content creators.
3. Author – One step down from the Editor role is Author. An Author can create, publish and manage their own posts, but not content that other people create. This role should be used if you have a writer who you trust to publish their own content without going through another person.
4. Contributor – If you want to review a content creator’s posts before they are published, assign them the Contributor role. They will be able to write and manage their own posts but can’t publish them.
For example, let’s say Susan contributes content to your site. You want to edit her content before it’s published as well as determine when it gets published. As a Contributor, she won’t be able to publish the content directly. She can create and save it, but an Editor or Administrator will have to hit the publish button.
5. Subscriber – A Subscriber can be anyone who interacts with your WordPress site. For example, if you want people to register before they can comment on your site, they will register as a Subscriber.
Some plugins will add additional types of users. The Yoast SEO plugin adds an SEO Manager and SEO Editor option. These control what changes people can make to the site’s SEO.

Adding Users

To add a user to your WordPress sign, log in to your WordPress dashboard and select Users > Add New. You will be presented with a form to fill out. Choose their role in the drop-down box.
screenshot of how to add a user in WordPress

Users Make WordPress Easier to Manage

The different user roles in WordPress are one of the features that make WordPress such a great tool for managing your website. You can give people access to certain features while not giving away the keys to the entire site.
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Andrew Allemann avatar

Andrew Allemann

Andrew is the founder and editor of Domain Name Wire, a publication that has been covering domain names since 2005. He has personally written over 10,000 posts covering domain name sales, policy, and strategies for domain name owners. Andrew has been quoted in stories about domain names in The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times and Fortune. More articles written by Andrew.

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