User Roles in WordPress

From d12 Web Design Manuals

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How to use WordPress
WordPress is an easy to use content management system that lets you add, delete, or edit content on your website as easy as writing an email.


Your installation of WordPress includes four user roles: Manager, Editor, Author, and Contributor. Depending on how you want to use your site, you may have one or more users fulfilling any of these roles.

Your site should have at least one user (and preferably only one) at the Manager level.

Summary of User Role Capabilities

Each user role has certain capabilities allowed it by the WordPress software. The lowest is contributor. Each role includes the all the capabilities of the role below it, plus additional roles.

When we set up your site, we will include one Manager user by default. This user has the ability to create other users and assign roles to them.

Carefully review this list of user roles and their capabilities to know what users on your website will be able to do. In some cases, we can alter the capabilities of a given role. In addition, we can create unique roles with a mix of capabilities. However, you should remember that these user roles have been developed to provide a smoothly operating and secure website.

Contributor Capabilities

Contributors are the users with the least amount of capabilities. They can:

  • Create a post
  • Edit their own posts (in draft form only)
  • Delete their own posts (in draft form only)

Please note that contributors cannot publish their own posts. Once they create a post, it goes into an editing queue, where it must be published by an editor or Manager before it appears to the general public. Once it is published, they cannot edit it again.

This is the recommend role for most, if not all, users of your website.

Author Capabilities

Authors have the same capabilities as Contributors:

  • Create a post
  • Edit their own posts (in draft form only)
  • Delete their own posts (in draft form only)

Additionally, they have the following capabilities:

  • Publish their own posts without waiting for them to be published by an Manager or editor.
  • Upload files, such as images and sound files, to the posts they create.
  • Edit their own posts even after they are published.
  • Delete their own published posts.

Note that these additional capabilities only apply to their own posts. They cannot edit, publish, or delete the posts of other users.

Editor Capabilities

Editors have the same capabilities as Authors when it comes to publishing their own posts:

  • Create a post
  • Edit their own posts (in draft form only)
  • Delete their own posts (in draft form only)
  • Publish their own posts without waiting for them to be published by an Manager or editor.
  • Upload files, such as images and sound files, to the posts they create.
  • Edit their own posts even after they are published.
  • Delete their own published posts.

However, they have additional capabilities to control the posts of others:

  • Publish the posts of others
  • Edit the posts of others
  • Delete the posts of others
  • Create, edit, and delete pages
  • Moderate comments
  • Manage links
  • Manage categories

Manager Capabilities

Managers have all the above capabilities, and can also:

  • Add users
  • Promote users
  • Delete users

Deciding on Appropriate User Roles

It is possible to create a website with a single user: you, as an Manager. It is also possible to create a site with a number of contributors, authors, and editors, all working together to create dynamic content for your visitors. What follows are possible scenarios, depending on the number of users you plan to have. All have their advantages and disadvantages. You need to way the costs and benefits and decide what is appropriate for you.

Single Manager with no Other Users

In this scenario, the weight of adding content to your website falls squarely upon your shoulders. This works well for a lot of people, especially in these scenarios:

  • You plan to add new content between once a week and once a month.
  • You don't want to manage any users.
  • You feel confident in your own writing abilities.
  • You enjoy being in complete control of your site.

Single Manager with Contributors

Under this scenario, you have any number of contributors, but you yourself are responsible for editing their posts, adding images, and publishing them. This is a good option if:

  • You don't want all the responsibility for updating your website.
  • You want multiple people to create content, but you want to control when it's published.
  • You want editorial control to ensure that new content has proper spelling, punctuation, and grammar.
  • You want editorial control to ensure than new content has a proper focus.

Single Manager with Authors

This is basically the same scenario as above, but you allow your users to publish their own articles. This works well if you trust your users to create good content without worrying about their writing abilities.

Single Manager, Single Editor, Any Number of Users

In this scenario, you basically hand over the reins to someone else, who is responsible for making sure that new content is correct and appropriate.

In this case, your only role is to create and delete users, something you may do seldom, if at all.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why would I want to delete a user?

If your users are employees, you may wish to delete them if they are no longer employed by you, or if their job description changes.

Why would I want to promote a user?

In the case of a Contributor, if you find that their writing never needs editing, and that they can choose appropriate images for their posts, you may want to allow them to publish their own posts without waiting for your approval. You may also promote an Author to an Editor to either replace your current Editor, or to share editorial duties.

How do I add, delete, or promote a user?

From the Users control panel of WordPress. See managing users.