User Management

In this workshop, we will explore the different WordPress user roles. Knowing the differences is important as it will help you keep your site protected, and ensure that your team of editors and contributors are informed about their abilities and the part that they play.

Learning outcomes

  1. Explain the five roles and capabilities.
  2. Recognize how the Dashboard changes for different user roles.

Comprehension questions

  1. What roles can be assigned to users?
  2. Does the Dashboard change depending on your user role?
  3. How do you create a new user account?
  4. When deleting a user, what can you do with their existing content?


Hi and welcome to Learn WordPress. Today’s topic is User Management. In WordPress, you can assign roles, which was designed to give the site owner the ability to control what users can and cannot do within the site. There are different roles to explore, and each role is allowed to perform a set of tasks. Knowing the differences is important, as it will help you keep your site protected, and ensure that your editors and contributors are informed about their abilities and the part that they play.

In this video, we will explain five roles and their capabilities, and explore what the Dashboard looks like from the perspective of each role. The five main roles you can assign are the Administrator, Editor, Author, Contributor, and Subscriber.

Let’s start with the Administrator. Upon installing WordPress, an administrator role is automatically created and it is somebody who has access to all the administration features within a single site. For multisite owners, the Super Admin has these capabilities. Next, we have the Editor. The Editor is somebody who can publish and manage posts, including the posts of other users. An Author on the other hand, is somebody who can only publish and manage their own posts. Then we move on to a Contributor. This is somebody who can write and manage their own posts but cannot publish them. And lastly, a Subscriber is somebody who can only manage their profile, and it’s usually meant for subscription-type websites.

The Administrator is at the top of the WordPress ladder, and there’s usually only one per website. As mentioned, the Administrator is somebody who has access to all the administration features within a single site. The Administrator can publish, edit, and delete posts and pages, edit code, they can manage media, plugins, themes, other accounts and settings. They basically have the keys to all the doors of the site. The Administrator can update their profile top right of the dashboard page or by making their way to Users, clicking on Profile and making the necessary updates there.

The Administrator also has the power to create and manage other users. To create a new user click on Add New. On the Add New User Page, create a new user by assigning them a username, a valid email address, and any other optional details, then choose an appropriate role for this user. And when you are ready, click Add New User, a new user will automatically be sent a welcome email by WordPress with the new login information, including the generated password. The user will be prompted to log in and to change their password to one of their likings.

To change the role of an existing user, you can select Edit, open the role drop-down and select a different role or no role for the site at all. If you would like to change the role of multiple users, you can use the checkboxes to the left of the user to make the changes simultaneously. If you delete a user, you have the option to delete all the content they have created, or to reassign it to a different user. And once you have made your choice, click on Confirm deletion.

To customise the view of the users table, click on Screen options top right. Here you can specify which columns you would like to view and the number of users you want to view per page, and once you are done, click Apply. It is possible to give visitors to your website the ability to register their own accounts to minimise the need for you to create new users. This is usually used for the Subscriber role. To do that, go to Settings and click on General, and next to New User default role make the necessary changes.

Editors have a high level of access as they usually manage content. Let’s see what the Dashboard looks like for an Editor. An Editor is someone who can create, edit, publish and delete posts and pages, including the posts of other users. They are also capable of managing media and comments. So what can’t they do? Editors cannot install themes, plugins or approve any updates. They also don’t have access to any site settings. Their role is to manage the work of other users and contributors.

The role of an Author is in the name, their role is to provide content to the site and nothing else. They are therefore only able to publish and manage their own posts and not those of others. As you will notice, they can upload media and create, edit, publish and delete their own posts. They also have the ability to create and delete Reusable blocks. Authors are therefore only in charge of adding content to a site and don’t have any administrative rights.

Let’s say you have somebody who is willing to contribute content to your site as a once-off, well then the role of Contributor is perfect for that individual. Seeing that they are not one of the Authors, they will only be able to write and manage their posts but cannot publish them. A Contributor cannot upload media files, and when they publish content, it will first be reviewed before publishing. As you will notice, it is almost the same as being an Author, but with a few more limitations.

The last role we will be looking at is the Subscriber. Subscribers only have access to managing their own profiles and nothing else. If we enter the Dashboard of a Subscriber, we will see they can only read all the posts on the site and change their profiles. This is not a role that will be used on many sites, mostly subscription-based websites.

And finally, you might also decide to search and install a user role plugin to extend this feature’s functionality.

All the best in managing the various user roles you wish to assign and visit Learn WordPress for more workshops and training material.

Workshop Details


Wes Theron

I am an Instructional Designer for the WordPress open-source project sponsored by Automattic. I am a strong supporter of the open-source movement. I have a background in education and content development. I am a husband, father, dreamer and lifelong learner.