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How to Set WordPress User Roles and Why

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wordpress roles

One of the primary features of WordPress is assigning user roles. With these, you can determine who gets what privileges and who can help develop your content. If you have other people helping you develop the site, these can be very useful.

Perhaps you have contributors who write guest posts on your site. Maybe you have regular authors that you trust to publish content. All of this can be controlled through the use of roles. With a few clicks of the mouse, you can promote a contributor to an editor of your content.

In this article, we’re going to show you how to set those WordPress roles. As a result, you’ll be able to govern over who does what do your site without looking over someone’s shoulder.

Why should you set WordPress roles and privileges?

User roles and privileges help you assign who can do what across your website. For example, not every user registration needs to end in creating a new administrator. This is important because it limits what others can do on your site.

If you have an author, and content development is the person’s only task on your site, you wouldn’t want to give them admin privileges. In reality, that is just too much control to give someone who simply writes content.

It could end badly should the author be vindictive towards you or others on the site.

Roles give you a way to restrict access to vital components. For instance, how many people really need access to your plugins and themes? Can you trust the masses when it comes to editing the tools and features of your site?

Not everyone can contain themselves when given that much power. Which is why setting roles is an important facet to consider. It all boils down to trust and privacy.

Can roles be changed at a later date?

Very few things in WordPress are ever set in stone. User roles can be modified at any time to give or take away certain privileges. All it takes is an adjustment in the users settings.

What about the permissions for a super admin of a multisite network?

You will only see the super admin role on a WordPress multisite network. This role should only be used for absolute trusted individuals because of the risks involved. Because the super admin can delete sites, remove plugins and perform tasks across all websites in the network, this role is one of extreme power in the WordPress system.

What roles are available in WordPress?

WordPress comes with a variety of user roles as default. They range from administration to those created by specific plugins. Here are just a few of the roles you might see available:

variety of wordpress user roles

  • Administrator: Has complete control of the WordPress system.
  • Editor: Has full control of the content areas of the site, such as adding and deleting of any post.
  • Author: Has full control of his or her own posts without the ability to create new categories.
  • Contributor: Has limited control of his or her own posts without the ability to publish.
  • Subscriber: Has very limited control of his or her own profile on the website.
  • Plugin User Roles: Some plugins will add user roles to select from. For example, some eCommerce additions to WordPress will include things like “shop vendor” or “shop manager.”

How to Change WordPress Roles for Users

Changing the roles of your users is quite a simple process. All you need to worry about is making sure all of your registered users have the right privileges. To do this:

Step 1: Go to the “Users” area of your WordPress dashboard.

user area of dashboard

Step 2: This next screen will show you a list of everyone registered on your website. To the right of each name, you’ll see a column for “Role.” Click the name of the individual you wish to change.

individual name to change

Step 3: When the “Profile” screen loads, you’ll see a long list of options that are available. For instance, you can remove the Visual Editor for that particular individual when he or she creates a post or page. Locate the “Role” drop down window under the “Name” area of the profile screen.

profile screen

Step 4: Click the drop down. This will show a list of all available roles you can assign to this individual. Select a new role for this user.

list of available roles

NOTE: You are unable to change your own roles.

Step 5: Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the “Update User” button.

update user button

Certain plugins will install other features you may want to consider when setting permissions on your site. For instance, Yoast SEO will include the ability to disable a user from accessing the analysis part of the plugin in a post or page.

Can you create customized roles in WordPress?

WordPress has a great deal of customization available. Whether you want to add custom styles to the editor or fine-tune the system’s appearance, nearly anything is possible.

You don’t have to settle for the roles that WordPress gives you as default. Using the Capability Manager Enhanced plugin will give you control to customize how users affect your website. To set up these custom roles:

Step 1: Go to the “Plugins” area of your admin panel in WordPress.

Step 2: Click the “Add New” button and search for the plugin, “Capability Manager Enhanced.”

capability manager enhanced plugin

Step 3: Install and activate this plugin.

Step 4: This will add two new features to WordPress. First is the addition to the “Users” area and the second is to the “Tools” area. You want to access the “Users” area in the admin panel and click the link for “Capabilities.”

click the link for capabilities

NOTE: The “Capabilities Manager” addition in the tools of WordPress comes with a feature to backup and restore your user roles.

Step 5: In the “Roles and Capabilities” screen, you’ll find a variety of options to modify for specific users. On the top right of your screen, you’ll find an option to “Select Role to View/Edit.” This lets you modify default roles in WordPress. Below this is the area to “Create New Role.” Name your new role and click the “Create” button below the field.

select role

Step 6: This will automatically add the new role to the list of those available in the user profile. Use the drop down window in “Select Role to View/Edit” and select the new role.

Step 7: Click the “Load” button on the right side of the drop down.

Step 8: Using the available check boxes in this screen, you can assign anything that is available to this specific role. Click on all that apply.

assign specifics to the role

Step 9: Once you’ve assigned the appropriate capabilities of the role, click the “Save Changes” button located on the bottom of the page.

This tool also allows you to edit existing roles should you want to give certain abilities. For instance, you can edit the “Author” role to be able to post pages in WordPress, which is an ability that is unavailable otherwise.

Setting user roles in WordPress will give you a sense of control over who can do what. The last thing you want is to give someone certain abilities who will wind up abusing them. Assign your roles logically and make sure your website is secure. Someone with the right privileges can do a great deal of damage to your site before you are aware of the problem.

How many users do you have using your website? What tools would you give to those who register an account?

Author: Alex G.

Updated on June 3, 2019

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