WordPress User Roles Explained – What Are They And Why Are They Important?

What are WordPress users? You see the “Users” tab in your WordPress dashboard, but you you actually know what they are or why they are important? It turns out that users are actually really important to the operation of your website…especially as your site gets more and more popular.


What Are Users?

WordPress gives website owners the ability to assign specific user roles and privileges to visitors and contributors to your site. These roles are divided into six different user categories, each with an increasing amount of privileges.

These privileges regard everything from writing and editing posts, creating pages and links, making categories, moderating comments, managing plug-ins, installing and editing themes, and even managing other users.


What Are The Six User Roles?


Level 1: Subscriber

Who are they?

A subscriber least privileged user role on any website. They are typically users who want to stay connected with your site and therefore create a profile to save them time when commenting on your blog in the future. It doesn’t matter who is allowed to be a subscriber as they have no actual power or control over any aspects of your website.

What can they do?

Subscribers can create and modify their own profiles as well as leave comments without having to provide their credentials every time.


Level 2: Contributor

Who are they?

A contributor has a slightly more privileged role than a Subscriber as they are able to write articles for your site. Therefore, an individual should be given contributor status if they are interested in actually creating content for your website.

However, that is where their privileges stop. They are not allowed to publish or schedule their posts. An article written by a contributor will be saved as a draft until reviewed by a user with Editor privileges or higher.

What can they do?

The contributor has all of the privileges of a Subscriber and is able to compose their posts and save them as drafts and edit them at a later date. In addition, they are able to view posts added by other users that are live. However, they are not able to view full posts (only the titles) written by others that have not yet been published.


Level 3: Author

Who are they?

An author can be thought of as a trusted contributor. They have all of the same privileges as a contributor, but they are also able to schedule and publish what they write. This means they can operate and publish on behalf of your site without needing your approval to do so.

Because they can work independently, authors must be users whom you trust to produce great content as they do not need your approval to publish anything. If you are not completely confident in their abilities they should be given the contributor role.

What can they do?

An author has all of the privileges of contributors and subscribers plus the ability to schedule publish posts that they write themselves.


Level 4: Editor

Who are they?

As the name implies an editor is a user whom you trust to edit anything and everything that is published on your site. A person with an editor privileges has a lot of power within your website and should only be given to an individual who understands your website’s vision and publishing plan and is able to manage content well.

What can they do?

An editor is able to do everything that an author can do. The difference is that an editor can edit and publish posts written by any other user on the website.


Level 5: Administrator

Who are they?

The administrator the king of their website. Administrators usually own and operate their own website. If you create a website through WordPress you are automatically placed into the Administrator role.

Typically, the Administrator role is only granted to one individual; however, you are able to have more than one user designated as an administrator. Just make that whoever you give those privileges to be someone you trust with your life.

What can they do?

As an administrator, you can do whatever you want to any aspect of your website. You have full access to all behind the scenes aspects of your site, including aesthetics, plug-ins, themes, widgets, layout, etc. You also have the ability to delete anything and everything from your website. Because of this you should never grant Administrator privileges to anyone unless you trust them with your life!


Level 6: Super Administrator

Who are they?

The super administrator is the king (is there anything higher than a king?) of many kingdoms. They have the highest privileges in a given network of websites.

Super administrators only exist in a specific network of websites; therefore, this user role does not exist for ordinary stand-alone WordPress websites.

What can they do?

A super administrator can do everything a regular administrator can except for multiple sites. A super administrator also has access to various network settings.


Why Are Users Important?

It is difficult to understand the importance of users unless you understand the difference in their roles. As you can see from above, you definitely don’t want to give a random Jo Blow administrator privileges. At the same rate you want to make sure the correct people have the right abilities to make your website run smoothly.

Assigning user roles improves the organization of your websites and also makes your website appear much more personable to your visitors.


As your site continues to grow there will be more and more people who want to be a part of it. You will need to assign all of these people a specific role with specific privileges according to what you want them to be able to do.

Having all of your users placed into the correct roles will do wonders in allowing you to easily control and manage who is doing what and where.


Allowing all of the people who are a part of your site to have a specific user role and profile within your website makes your site seem much more personable and relatable. This is because each user, regardless of their specific role, is allowed to create their own profile with their own picture and self-description.

If a user has a profile, then their picture and their self description will show up beneath any content they have produced on your site. It will also place their image next to any comments they leave on your site. It’s always nice to be able to put a face with a particular article or comment.


If you have any questions or comments regarding the different user roles please leave me a comment below!


Feature image provided by Vaska037

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