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[WP 101] WordPress User Roles: What Are They?


[WP 101] WordPress User Roles: What Are They?

Many of CreativeMinds’ plugins have features related to WordPress User Roles. From Subscriber to Editor and all the way to Administrator and beyond, User Roles grant different levels of access to your users, being an essential part of WordPress. As such, it’s important to know what you can achieve with them.

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This post is an overview of what are WordPress User Roles and how they affect the plugins.

We’ll use various examples to make the subject as clear as possible.

blog user roles

What is User Role?

WordPress allows you to have many registered users in your website. Just like a company has different roles (for instance CEO, manager, accountant and intern), so does WordPress. 

What makes each role unique is its capabilities.

What are Capabilities?

Different roles have access to different information.

Real Life Example: Company Financial Records

Going back to the example of the company, let’s think about financial records. 

Not all personnel has access to the financial records, which might be stored in a locked safe. In other words, not every user has the capability to view them. The CEO and the accountant will surely have the “key” to see all pages, but the managers might have only limited access. And finances probably don’t fall under the scope of interns, so they won’t be have access at all.

So, in this example:

Company Roles and Capabilities
Role Access to Financial Records
CEO Full
Accountant Full
Managers Limited
Interns None

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What About Capabilities in WordPress?

In WordPress, capabilities are related to what users can do in the site. For instance, creating pages, switching themes, updating plugins and even deleting the whole website!

The following is the list of default roles in WordPress. 
Read their Codex for more information.
  • Super Admin – somebody with access to the site network administration features and all other features. See the Create a Network article.
  • Administrator (slug: ‘administrator’) – somebody who has access to all the administration features within a single site.
  • Editor (slug: ‘editor’) – somebody who can publish and manage posts including the posts of other users.
  • Author (slug: ‘author’) – somebody who can publish and manage their own posts.
  • Contributor (slug: ‘contributor’) – somebody who can write and manage their own posts but cannot publish them.
  • Subscriber (slug: ‘subscriber’) – somebody who can only manage their profile.

So, let’s use as an example the capabilities related to creating and editing posts:

Post-related Capabilities by Role
WP User Role Access to Creating or Editing Posts
Super Admin Full (Can create, publish and edit all posts)
Administrator Full (Can create, publish and edit all posts)
Editor Full (Can create, publish and edit all posts)
Author Can create and publish posts, but can only edit his/her own posts
Contributor Can create posts, but not publish them; can only edit his/her own posts
Subscriber Cannot create posts; cannot edit posts

How Do I Edit User Roles in WordPress?

Assigning an existing role to a user is straightforward. You simply edit the user,

However, in order to edit or create user roles in WordPress, you need to install certain plugins. Some of these, can be found for free on 
WordPress.org.

What About CreativeMinds’ Plugins? Do I Need To Worry About That?

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Don’t worry: our plugins do all the work for you. Whenever you install a plugin that uses new roles or changes existing ones, this is done automatically.

However, the information in this guide can be useful to understand better some features such as
Moderation. One example:

Download Manager Example

The Download Manager plugin allows you to choose if each user can:

  • view the downloads
  • preview files and use the media player
  • upload new files with the need of moderation
  • upload new files without the need of moderation
  • moderate new downloads
  • and more

Additionally, the admin can assign users to groups so that many users have the same capabilities (for instance, a group that can only see files).

In more technical terms, the admin will be assigning different
capabilities to each role or user group. Learn more in the specific guide.

Other Quick Examples

Business Directory with Payments add-on – The admin can allow paying users to add listings. These can be moderated or not, depending on the settings.

Pay Per Post – The admin can the websites’ restrict content only to paying users.

Locations Manager with Anonymous add-on – The add-on allows the admin to enable even guest users (logged off) to suggest new locations.

This post is also available in General Support – WordPress – WordPress User Roles – CreativeMinds Products Documentation