How WordPress User Roles Work

WordPress has many great features that make it even better. One of the features is WordPress user roles which are very handy for websites with many users.

User roles are the default feature in WordPress and don’t require any tools or plugins. Everybody can use it.

Many beginners don’t know that they exist and I will explain what are they, how they work, and how to implement them on your website.

What Are WordPress User Roles

User role in WordPress is a default feature that adds different capabilities or limitations to any user you create. Some user roles have more privileges than others. It allows you to separate different users based on their job.

There are five main WordPress user roles:

  1. Administrator
  2. Editor
  3. Author
  4. Contributor
  5. Subscriber

Also, there are some additional user roles such as Super Admin, Customer, and Shop Manager that I will also cover.

Group users with by role

You can assign any role to any user and this way you can differentiate all of them from each other. It allows you to create user groups according to their roles.

WordPress user roles are great for websites with many users such as news or editorial websites. When you have writers, editors, or site administrators, you can assign them different user roles that will give them the only abilities they need.

How User Roles Work

WordPress user roles work very simply and it doesn’t require any skill to do it. Actually, when you add a new user to your website, you have to assign a role to it.

Every role has its limitations and some have more features than others. For example, Administrator is the most powerful user role. It can do everything on a website – install themes and plugins, create pages and posts, etc.

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But others have limitations based on their role. Some can publish posts, some can only write posts but can’t publish, and so on.

And of course, you can have many users with the same role. You can have multiple administrators, editors, or authors.

Now let’s see what each role can and can’t do.

Main WordPress User Roles

First, I will explain the main WordPress user roles and what they can do, what limitations they have, what are the best use case of each user role, and more.


The Administrator is the most powerful user role with all the features and no limitations. They are the users who manage the website.

Users with the Administrator role can install themes and plugins, create and publish posts or pages, edit them or plugin code, add or remove users, and so on. There are no limitations.

So, you must assign an Administrator user role to anyone who manages the website.


The Editor can do everything in the content section. They can add, modify, delete, or publish posts and pages. Also, they have access to comments and can modify them as they wish.

Also, they can upload images or files. But they don’t have access to themes or plugins. They can’t install or change them. Also, they have no ability to change site settings.

This is a great role for editors who publish create and publish posts and pages. Also, they edit other users’ content.


The Author role is similar to Editor but there is one big difference. They can create, edit, publish or delete posts but only they have created. They don’t have access to posts that other users created.

Users with Author role can upload files to the website but can’t create pages, or change themes, plugins, and settings.

The Author’s role is great for content writers, who create and publish posts. They have access to only their content.


The Contributor is a very limited user role in WordPress. What they can do is edit or delete only their posts. Also, they can only read posts from other users.

A person with the Contributor role can’t upload media files or do anything with themes and plugins. They even can’t publish their own posts.

The Contributor is for creators who only write articles and don’t need to upload images or edit mistakes. Also, a good role for one-time writers.


And the Subscriber is a very simple and the most powerless user role. It can only write and edit comments. It has no other abilities.

Subscriber is a default role for registered users. So, when a person registers on your website, he is a Subscriber and can write comments on your posts.

Additional User Roles

Here I will discuss additional WordPress user roles that aren’t used too much but can come in handy depending on the type of website.

Super Admin

You will use the Super Admin role very rarely because it’s only for WordPress multisite. It can manage multisite networks, create or delete sites, and do everything regarding plugins and themes.

Super Admin is the same as Administrator but for WordPress multisite. The Administrator manages a single website and Super Admin manages all the sites in the network.

Shop Manager

The Shop Manager user role is specific to WooCommerce and it manages the shop. It has all the capabilities that are required for shop management.

What Shop Manager can do is manage WooCommerce settings, create or edit products, and has access to WooCommerce reports. Also, it has all general WordPress editor capabilities.


The Customer is also for WooCommerce and is equivalent to Subscriber but for an online store. When a person registers on your online store, he becomes a customer.

They can buy products, edit their account, see orders, and so on.

How To Assign User Roles In WordPress

Assigning a particular user role to a person is a very easy thing to do and it’s done when you create a new user.

When you add a new user to your WordPress website, you have to fill few inputs like name, email, password, and so on.

And one of them is the user role which is at the very bottom of the page.

add WordPress user roles

So, from here you can assign a role to a user which will have its own log-in credentials – a user name and a password.

For example, when a user with an Author role will log in to the website, he won’t see sections for plugins or themes because they have no access to it. The same goes for any other users.

This way you as an administrator will be sure that every user on your site can do the only things they have access to according to their user roles.


WordPress user roles are a great default feature of WordPress and it can make your work much easier. You are free to assign any role to any user and also you are able to assign the same role to multiple users.

User roles are great for blogs or news websites that have writers, editors, or site managers. You can separate and give them specific capabilities and don’t worry that someone will break something on your website.

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