WordPress User Roles: Everything You Need to Know

WordPress is a powerful platform that allows you to create and manage your own website. One of the great features of WordPress is the ability to give other people access to manage your site. This is done through WordPress user roles, which allow you to collaborate with others safely and easily, while assigning different access levels to your site and its content.

In this article, we will cover how WordPress user roles work and how to configure them on your site. We will also provide some tips on how to effectively use this feature to keep your site safe and secure.

What are WordPress User Roles?

WordPress User Roles are a built-in user management feature on your WordPress site. They allow you to define what actions users can and cannot perform, and group them under roles. This means that a specific role can be assigned with specific site management privileges.

WordPress provides six default user roles to give you more power over your site’s management. These roles include:

1. Super Administrator: This role only exists when the WordPress multisite feature is enabled. Super Administrators are in charge of overseeing all site administrators and the multisite network. They can manage and change everything – from creating and deleting sites, to controlling the content, themes, plugins, and profiles.

2. Administrator: Administrators have the full power to not only manage your site’s operations but also assign other roles. They can create, delete, review, edit, and publish content, manage plugins and themes, even edit code. This role also has the authority to customize other user roles.

3. Editor: Editors have full access to manage all of your site’s content and its attributes. They can create, delete, review, and publish their own posts as well as ones created by other authors. Editors can also manage comments, post categories, and links. Users with this role usually supervise authors and contributors.

4. Author: Unlike editors that have full control over the whole content section, authors only have full control over their own posts. They have the authority to create, edit, delete, and publish their own posts. Additionally, they can edit their own user profile.

5. Contributor: Similar to authors, contributors are capable of creating and editing their posts and profiles. The main difference between the two is that contributors cannot publish their posts.

6. Subscriber: This role can only read posts and manage their personal profile. Basically, all visitors can read posts without being assigned as a subscriber. However, you can encourage users to become subscribers by offering access to special content that can only be viewed by them.

Things to Do Before Setting Up User Roles

Before setting up user roles on your WordPress site, there are some good practices you should follow. These include:

1. Backup Your Site: It’s crucial to backup your WordPress site first before making any changes. This will allow you to restore the database from your hosting server, or upload the backed up file from your local disk whenever needed.

2. Appoint Appropriate Roles: You need to consider the user privileges before assigning the roles. Choose what users can and cannot do. Ask yourself, “Do you trust the users?”, “Are they going to write, review, edit, publish or maintain your WordPress site?”, “Will they have full control or partial control over your WordPress site?”, etc. Then, you can start authorizing the roles.

Best Practices to Configure User Roles

There are three ways to manage your WordPress user roles:

1. Add Users from Your WordPress Dashboard: You can add, edit and delete users from your Dashboard’s admin area. Once you log in to your Dashboard’s admin area, select Users and choose the Add New option. Fill the form with the new user’s personal details, password configuration, and designated role. Then, click the Add New User button to save it. Once added, you can edit or delete the user by selecting All Users from the dropdown menu.

2. Manually Modify Code on Your Template File: If you want to have more options when configuring user roles, tweaking and tuning your WordPress site’s Template File is the answer. Modify the roles by inserting code functions to your functions.php file. WordPress offers five code functions to customize user roles and their capabilities.

3. Use a User Role Plugin: While manually customizing WordPress user roles through code gives you the most control, it can be risky if you don’t have coding skills. Alternatively, you can just use a plugin like Capability Manager Enhanced. Not only does the plugin allow you to configure the default WordPress user roles, but it also adds custom user permissions based on your needs.

Tips on Effectively Using the User Roles Feature

While user roles are incredibly useful when collaborating with multiple people on your site, it is inherently less safe. A simple accident, like leaving a password saved on a public computer, can cause major issues. Here are some things you can do to keep your site safe:

1. Use plugins – this lets you easily manage the user roles whenever changes are needed, or even force log out users with the help of a security plugin (like All in One WP).

2. Limit the number of users with privileges – keep access to your site’s control exclusive. Take the time to decide which user really needs what capabilities.

3. Unassign suspicious users – to avoid website abuse, brute-force attacks, and other hacking attempts, it’s best to remove long-inactive users or those who are repeatedly trying to log in unsuccessfully.

Final Notes

WordPress’s default user roles are quite beneficial to maintain your site’s operation. You can assign up to six different roles, namely: Administrator, Editor, Author, Contributor, Subscriber, and Super Administrator.

Make sure you have backed up your site and considered the appropriate roles before officially assigning the capabilities. You can add, edit, and delete users from your Dashboard’s admin area. To do so, go to your WordPress Dashboard → Users → Add New.

Additionally, you can manually customize the roles by modifying your theme’s functions.php file. However, customizing user roles using a WordPress plugin can be a better option. We recommend the Capability Manager Enhanced plugin to add, remove, edit, and customize user roles with a few clicks.

Lastly, remember to always limit the number of user roles and unassign suspicious users. By following these tips, we believe that your site’s user management will be safe and sound.

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