Join Morten Rand-Hendriksen for an in-depth discussion in this video Understanding WordPress's user roles and capabilities, part of WordPress 4 Essential Training.
- Like I've said a couple of times now, when you created your first user account during the setup of your WordPress site, that account automatically had its role set to administrator. As an administrator, you have complete control over the content in, presentation of, and functionality available from your WordPress site. In other words, the Administrator is the boss of it all. As a site owner, having Administrator privileges is paramount, but it should go without saying that giving administrator capabilities to the wrong person can be a very bad idea.
That's why WordPress has five different user roles that can be assigned to individual users, each with its own capabilities and limitations. These roles are, Subscriber, Contributor, Author, Editor, and Administrator. Let's start with the lowest level, the Subscriber. By default, users who visit your WordPress site can subscribe to your site. If they do, they get to set up their own user profile, and you as an administrator can gain access to this info as well.
The capabilities of the Subscriber role are limited to only one thing: managing their own profile. Now, that might sound a bit odd, but there's a purpose to this role. If you have comments activated on your site, and you want to ensure only approved visitors get to leave comments on your site, you can require users to register as a Subscriber, and then log in any time they want to leave a comment. I typically only use the Subscriber role if I'm either moderating comments, or if I want to upgrade certain users to a higher role in the future.
But they're also important if you set up something like an e-commerce solution in your WordPress site. You'll learn more about how to allow or disallow visitors from registering on your site, and also moderating comments in the following two chapters in this course. The next level up is Contributor. Like the name suggests, the Contributor has the capability of contributing content to your site, by writing posts. That said, the only capabilities the Contributor has are creating, editing, and deleting their own unpublished posts.
They can't upload media items, publish posts, or even edit or delete a post once it's been published. When logged in as Contributor, the published panel in the post editor shows a "submit for review" button, rather than the "publish" button. The Author has the capabilities of the contributor, and adds to the the capability to publish, edit, and delete their own published posts, as well as uploading media elements. The Editor has the capabilities of the Author, and adds to the capabilities to create, edit, and delete pages and private pages, publish, edit, and delete posts from other users, and also moderate comments and manage categories.
Finally, we've already covered the Administrator role, which has full control over the entire site. One important note here is that the administrator has the power to add, edit, and delete users, and also change their user roles. So, how and when do you use these different roles? Well, here are some ideas. First off, I recommend having two accounts for yourself. Your site administrator account, for site administration, and also your regular Editor account, for day-to-day content work.
That way, if you're just doing regular content management stuff, creating, editing, publishing, and deleting content, or moderating comments, you don't need to log in with full administrator privileges. This is also a simple security step, because if someone manages to hack your author account, they can't really do much damage, and can't change the behavior of your site, or your user accounts. This is especially important if you log in to your site when on unsecured wireless networks, in coffee shops or airports or similar. If you work on a team, and have multiple people creating content, I would give them the Author role, to allow them to manage their own content, without interfering with others.
If you also have someone responsible for managing the content on the site, you can give them the Editor role. To be honest, I've found very few situations where the Contributor role has come in handy, other than when setting up an advance site, where people can submit their own content for review. The main issue with the Contributor role is that it requires a lot of work after the Contributor is done. Because the Contributor can't upload media items, you have to manage this higher up in the hierarchy. That said, in certain circumstances, like a situation where you're testing out a new Contributor, this role can be very useful.
Note: This course covers an older version of WordPress, which features the Classic Editor. Watch this course only if you are using the Classic Editor plugin or using WordPress 4.9 or earlier. Otherwise, watch WordPress 5 Essential Training, which covers the new Block Editor experience.
- Creating posts and pages
- Formatting text
- Publishing and scheduling posts
- Adding images, audio, and video
- Bulk editing posts and pages
- Customizing themes and menus
- Using widgets
- Extending WordPress with plugins
- Editing users profiles
- Configuring settings
- Getting new readers
- Keeping WordPress up to date and secure