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What Are WordPress User Roles? (Video Tutorial)

When creating a new user in WordPress, you’ll be given the choice of making that user one of five types of user roles: ‘Subscriber’, ‘Contributor’, ‘Author’, ‘Editor’ or ‘Administrator’ (and sometimes a few others as well, such as ‘SEO Manager’ — depending on which plugins you’re using). So which user role should you assign? What are the differences between these different user roles? Fear not, because once again, we’ve put together a handy tutorial on all you need to know!

Here’s all that’s important to understand on the subject…

What Are WordPress User Roles? Explained:

– (note: video credits to Topher DeRosia – creator of HeroPress)

Video Transcript:

Hi! This is Topher with WinningWP. In this video, we’re going to answer the question what are WordPress user roles? In WordPress, when you go to create a new user, at the bottom, there’s a Role option, and you have to choose Subscriber, Contributor, Author, Editor, or Administrator. But how do you know which one you should use? WordPress user roles dictate what a user can do on the site, so each role has different things that it’s allowed to do and not allowed to do. The first one is Subscriber, and they are the most limited. They can manage their own profile, and they can manage their own comments. And that’s it. When a Subscriber logs in to WordPress, this is what they get. Now if you are accustomed to being an administrator, the left menu is usually much more full. But a Subscriber can change the way the admin area looks for them, they can choose whether or not to view a toolbar, and they can change their personal information. They can also view the dashboard for the site and the Jetpack dashboard, but they can’t change anything there. The only thing they can change is their personal information. Now you may wonder why someone would want to be a Subscriber if they can’t change anything on the site except their own information. Well, for one thing, when they want to comment, they don’t have to log in, and they don’t have to put in their information. It knows who they are. Additionally, they can set up an image to go along with their account. So when they comment, it provides an image. They can also change the way they are represented on the site. They can choose to put in a first name or last name, and they can choose what nickname to use and how they are displayed publicly. Now a Contributor is the next one up. A Contributor can do all of the previous but also create their own content, but they cannot publish. Here’s a Contributor’s dashboard. As you can see, they can make new posts. And under the Tools account, they could export and import posts in their own area, but they cannot publish. An example use of this would be for perhaps a new intern whom you want to create new content, but you don’t quite trust them yet to publish it themselves. You want it to be reviewed by someone. So they can log in here and create posts, manage their comments, et cetera, but all of their work needs to be reviewed before it goes live. The next one is Author, which can do all of the previous, plus create and publish their own content, but not other users. So this would be a person who is trusted to publish, but it’s not their responsibility to work on other people’s content. An Author’s dashboard looks like this. The only addition we have is the Media Library because now Authors can publish media as well as posts. An Editor can do all of the previous, can also create and publish their own content, but can also manage other users’ content. Basically, an Editor can do anything on the site that isn’t administrative. They can do anything on the site that is related specifically to content. So they can work with their own content and everyone who works under them. This is an Editor’s dashboard. The only change we see from Author is that now Editors can manage pages also. So they are in complete control of all content across the entire website. An Administrator can do all of the previous, plus manage every setting on the site. They manage plugins, themes, settings, adding and removing users, everything. There is nothing that an Administrator cannot do on a site. And this is the Administrators dashboard. And if you’re normally an administrator, this should look very familiar to you. You have all access to everything over here. Now there’s one more user role I want to show you called Super Administrator. It can do all of the previous, but can function as an Administrator on all sites in a WordPress multi-site network. A regular Administrator only has control over their own site. A Super Administrator has control over all sites. If your site is not part of a network, then Super Administrator doesn’t exist for you. Now it’s possible for additional roles to be created and used by plugins. Let me show you. Here’s another site. And when I go to choose a role for a new user, I have many more options. One of them is Translator. I have installed on this site a multilingual plugin, and a new role is Translator. I’ve also used the Give plugin for donations, and the various Give roles can do things like log in and only see their own donations or log in and only see all donations and manage them or log in and create new donor campaigns. I also have two for SEO. The Yoast plugin created those. It’s not uncommon at all for a plugin to create a new role for itself, so eventually you may end up with many. We couldn’t possibly tell you what they all do, so you would need to look at the documentation for each plugin to find out what that role does. If you’d like to read more about roles and capabilities in WordPress, the WordPress Codex has an excellent page here that describes and gets into much greater detail about what each one can do. If you’d like to learn more about WordPress, check out

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