Beginners Guide to 6 WordPress User Roles and Permissions

This article is going to be all about how to change up the different WordPress User Roles and Permissions that WordPress provides for us as detailed below.

Firstly; WordPress comes with user roles and permissions management system that defines what a particular user of your website/blog will and can’t do within your site. Knowing these WordPress User Roles and Permissions are essential as your WordPress website traffic grows.

In this beginner’s guide to WordPress user roles, we’ll compare every WordPress user roles and permissions in a simple WordPress Illustration, refer to Methods on How to Install WordPress.

Out of the box once you install WordPress; there are 6 different user roles that WordPress provides for us as listed below;

Beginners Guide to 6 WordPress User Roles and Permissions
WordPress User Role & Permissions Explained!
  1. Super Admin
  2. Administrator (Admin)
  3. Editor
  4. Author
  5. Contributor
  6. Subscriber

Let’s begin with WordPress User Roles and Permissions

Super Admin

This user role can only accessible on a WordPress Multisite Network. Users with the super admin user role will add and delete sites on a WordPress Multisite Network.

On the other hand, they can also install plugins and themes, add users, and perform networkwide actions on a WordPress multi-site setup.


On a frequent WordPress install, Administrator is particularly the most powerful user role.

Users with the administrator role can create new user role, delete existing user role, edit user role permission, add new posts, edit any posts by any users on the site, and even delete those posts.

They can install, edit, and delete plugins in addition as themes. The Most important fact about an administrator user is that you can add new users to the website/blog, as well as changing the information about existing users including their security pins/passwords and can also delete any user (yes other administrators too).

This role is largely reserved for site/blog owners and offers you the total management of your WordPress site. If you’re running a multi-user WordPress site, then you wish to be terribly careful when you want to assign administrator user role.


Users with the editor role in WordPress have full management on the content sections of your website/blog. They can add, edit, publish, and delete any posts on a WordPress website/blog together with those written by others. An editor will moderate, edit, and delete comments in addition.

Editors don’t have access to your backend/database and therefore cannot alter your website settings, install plugins and themes, or add new users.


As the name implies, users with the author role will write, edit, and publish their own posts.

Also; They can delete their own posts, even after been published.

Authors are not allowed to create categories when writing posts but can choose from the list of predefined or existing categories. On another thought, they will add tags to their posts.

Authors can and will read comments even comments that may be pending reviews for approval, however, they can’t moderate, approve, or delete any comments.

Furthermore, they do not have access to settings, plugins, or themes, so it is a fairly low-risk user role on a site with the exception of their ability to delete their own posts after they’re been published.


Contributors will add new posts and edit their own posts, but they cannot publish any posts, not even their own posts. When writing article/posts they will not be able to create new categories and may have to be compelled to make a choice from existing categories.

However, they can add tags to their posts.

The biggest disadvantage of a contributor role is that they can’t add/upload media files Contributors can view comments even those awaiting moderation. But they cannot approve or delete comments.

Contributors do not have the access to WordPress settings, installed plugins or to install new plugins, or to install new themes and modifying installed themes, so they cannot change any settings on your site.


Users with the subscriber user role will log in to your WordPress website/blog and update their user profiles. They can modification their passwords if they have to.

They cannot write posts, view comments, or do anything else within your WordPress admin area.

This user role is especially helpful if you need users to login before they will scan a post or leave a comment.

Guide on Customizing Existing WordPress User Roles and Permissions

Default WordPress User Roles and Permissions are pre-designed to own capabilities that match the need of most websites.

For example; If you run a magazine web site, then you’ll assign Editor user role to your senior employees and author user role to the junior employees. You can assign contributor user role to your guest authors and subscriber user role for your web site guests.

But what if you needed to change the permissions of an existing WordPress user role?

One factor we tend to don’t like regarding the author role is that not only will they publish their own posts; however, they can also delete them after it’s published. This can undermine your entire editorial workflow. This could also be disastrous for the blog or publication if a paid author leaves them on bad terms and decides to delete or remove all the posts they wrote (the ones you paid them for).

Let’s suppose that you simply need to change the author user role, in order that the authors cannot delete their posts once they’re published.

Follow the steps below:

  1. First thing you would like to try and do is install and activate the capability Manager enhanced plugin, see our guide on How to Install WordPress Plugins – Beginners Guide.
  2. Upon activation, go to Users » Capabilities to modify user roles.
  3. Next, choose the user role you would like to edit from the topmost box in the right column then
  4. click the load button. This will load users capabilities in the boxes on the left.
  • Now uncheck the capabilities that you want or wish to remove from that user role and permission. For instance, we would like to get rid of the capability to delete published posts from authors.
  • We will uncheck ‘Delete Published’ capability.
  • Once you are done, scroll down to the bottom of the page and
  • Click on the save changes button to store your settings.
  • Navigate down to the bottom of the page and
  • Click Save Button to keep your settings.

Creating Your Own Custom WordPress User Roles and Permissions

You can create your own custom user roles in WordPress alongside with your own set of capabilities by the following steps;

  • Installing and using the same Capability Manager enhanced plugin.
  • After installing and activating the plugin, move to Users » Capabilities and
  • Enter the user role name below ‘Create New Role’.

For example, a magazine site may need some staff member to actively moderate a comment. In that case, you’ll need to create a user role that may only moderate comments.

All you need to try and do is create a brand new user role, and then select the moderation comment option from under ‘Other WordPress Capabilities’. We hope this article is a great help to the ideas you seek regarding WordPress user roles and permissions.

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