WordPress User Roles: How to Assign Roles to Site Members

Managing how users influence your website is simple with the help of WordPress user roles. User roles open a new world of assigning different jobs to the people on your team. Not only can you ensure individuals complete specific tasks, but you can also prevent others from making unapproved changes.

What Are WordPress User Roles?

Permissions are an essential thing to consider when you decide to design your own website. You’ll want to make sure the right people have access to the right content as needed. Also, it’s important to ensure some individuals cannot access other areas of your site.

With WordPress, there are two tiers to user roles that you’ll need to consider. First, you’ll have access to the actual roles, including Super Admin, Administrator, Editor, Author, Contributor, and Subscriber. Second, there are capabilities, which allow you to customize the permissions for each user on your list.

Using capabilities, you can assign specific tasks to individuals regardless of the role they’re given. For example, if you have a Contributor who wants to remove comments, you can opt to provide them with this permission.

To fully understand the benefits and conveniences of having user roles, you’ll first need to know what each of them includes.

Super Admin

As a Super Admin, there’s no one positioned above you on the website food chain. This role allows you to perform every possible capability assigned to your site, from posting to editing comments. As the most senior position, this role should be reserved for yourself or a co-owner of the site.

It’s also important to note that the Super Admin doesn’t only have access to the front-end of your site. They will also get access to the back-end and complete tasks, such as accessing all sites in your network. With that said, this role must be assigned to someone on your team who you trust the most.

Super Admin Capabilities

Here is a list of the default capabilities assigned to Super Admins:

  • Create and delete sites
  • Manage networks
  • Manage sites
  • Manage network users
  • Manage network plugins
  • Manage network themes
  • Upgrade networks
  • Set up new networks
  • Manage network options


The Administrator is a slight step-down from Super Admin but still maintains plenty of website control. The most significant difference between this role and a Super Admin is access to other sites.

Administrators will only access all of the admin features within the site they are assigned to. For example, if you have site A and site B, a Super Administrator can access both, while a regular Admin can access one.

This role can be beneficial if you want to have multiple administrators across your entire network. It’s also a great way to delegate specific tasks to individuals without giving them full permission to do everything.

Admin Capabilities

Here is a list of the default capabilities assigned to Admins:

  • Delete pages or posts (both public and private, published and unpublished)
  • Activate specific plugins
  • Edit the dashboard
  • Import and export items
  • Manage links, categories, options
  • Promote and remove users
  • Moderate comments
  • Switch and customize themes
  • Install and update themes
  • Delete sites


When designing a website, content is king, which is something that many specialists agree on. Your Editor likely has one of the most important tasks: managing the content directly on your site.

Their tasks will typically revolve around editing, publishing, and deleting posts as necessary. However, as they have control over the content, this is also a role that you’ll want to assign to a trusted individual.

Not only will Editors be able to work on their own published content but other Editors’ content as well. Another facet of this role is managing comments, such as moderating, editing, and deleting them.

This role isn’t as intense as some of the others, as these individuals cannot access the settings for your site. They also don’t have control over plugins, so they cannot adjust or change your theme, nor can they assign new roles.

Editor Capabilities

Here is a list of the default capabilities assigned to Editors:

  • Delete pages and posts
  • Edit published and unpublished pages
  • Manage links, comments, and categories
  • Read private and public posts
  • Upload files


Another role that you can assign to the individuals providing content to your site is the Author role. With this task, writers can create and publish their own content and delete their own posts. This role is unique to other platforms because they can still delete their posts even after publishing.

It’s best if this role is reserved solely for the better writers for your site who create your blog posts. You will also need to assign Editors still, as Authors cannot categorize their posts outside of using tags. Another difference between Authors and Editors is that Authors can’t moderate comments or delete them.

As expected, this role cannot work with the plugins, themes, or settings of your site, making it a low-risk user role. The maximum amount of power these individuals have is deleting and adding their own posts.

Author Capabilities

Here is a list of the default capabilities assigned to Authors:

  • Edit published posts
  • Delete published posts
  • Upload files
  • Create reusable blocks
  • Edit reusable blocks


Contributor posts are booming in popularity because it’s a great way to network, backlink, and attract new audiences. If you’re a site owner interested in working with another blogger, this role will prove to be particularly useful. Individuals can write and save their own posts on your site as a Contributor but cannot publish them.

An Editor will be required to approve and publish a post, making it a great way to ensure you’re posting quality content. In fact, even Authors cannot manage a Contributor’s content, as they can only edit and adjust their own posts.

Another factor to consider with this user role is that Contributors can’t categorize their posts, but they can add tags. One of the downfalls of this role is that they don’t have the opportunity to upload files. If you want them to add images or videos to their posts, for example, you’ll require an Editor for this task.

Contributor Capabilities

Here is a list of the default capabilities assigned to Contributors:

  • Delete posts
  • Edit posts
  • Read posts


As the lowest tier of user roles, Subscriber is a title that’s typically reserved for your dedicated readers. With a Subscriber title, individuals can create an account and make a profile page that makes them identifiable.

These individuals will be able to edit and add content to their profiles and change their passwords. However, they don’t have access to any parts of your website, aside from being able to leave a comment.

Subscribers cannot add posts, edit comments, or access the behind-the-scenes areas of your site. Instead, it’s simply a way to make an account so that they can leave a comment on your posts.

Subscriber Capabilities

Here is a list of the default capabilities assigned to Subscribers:

  • Read
  • Edit personal profiles

Customizing Roles with Capabilities

Earlier, we discussed the importance of capabilities along with assigning specific roles to website contributors. With capabilities, you can take a custom approach to the things your team has access to.

For example, if you want Contributors to add images, you would adjust their capabilities. Instead of having a one-size-fits-all approach to each of the roles, website Admins can make tailored changes. Let’s look at some of the most commonly used capabilities you can change as needed.

Managing Plugins

The plugins on your website are essential for several reasons. They help your site look and operate better for an enhanced user experience. What’s more, plugins can help you get deeper insights into the success of your site, such as its optimization.

When a member is assigned to manage plugins, they can choose to install or uninstall specific ones. It also grants them permission to edit and change the settings of each of your plugins, affecting how your site works.

Editing Posts

Editing posts is another popular capability often changed within user roles. Sometimes, site owners might prefer to have a team of professional editors to refine content before publishing. In other instances, you might want Contributors and Authors to be able to edit their posts and other’s posts as well.

Managing Themes

Theme management is another capability with a lot of responsibility, similar to managing plugins. Your theme relates to your site’s entire structure, so it’s a critical capability to consider before assigning. Individuals with these permissions can uninstall and reinstall themes, adjust the layout of your site, and more.

Publishing Permissions

When publishing content, it’s crucial that everything is perfect before it goes live for your customers. Unfortunately, this role is revoked from Contributors, which can be challenging for smaller sites. For example, if you have Contributors but no Editors, you’ll be responsible for editing all content as the Site Admin.

You might find that adding publishing permissions to your Contributors can streamline getting content online. This point is particularly true if you have regular Contributors that already know your expectations before publishing.

Uploading Files

Another important capability to consider is uploading files, which every content creator needs to do. Adding videos, photos, and other attachments can transform a block of text into an engaging journey for readers. It can be far more efficient to allow Authors and Contributors to add their own visual content to their posts.

Final Thoughts

Assigning WordPress user roles is one of the most important things to do when you start a site. By managing what areas specific individuals have access to, you can streamline your site’s performance and keep it within your standards. With the added benefit of capabilities, site owners can customize how each individual can influence their website.

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Makes Noise is a blog where you can find all the juicy details on a variety of topics including health and fitness, technology, lifestyle, entertainment, love and relationships, beauty and makeup, sports and so much more. The blog is updated regularly to make sure you have all the latest and greatest information on the topics that matter most to you.

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