WordPress User Roles: Basics of What They Do

If you are new to building a WordPress site the available WordPress user roles can be a bit confusing. When adding users to your site these roles will give your users different permissions to edit your site.

It is important to understand the user roles in WordPress when adding new users to your site since different roles offer more or less control over your site.

From subscriber to administrator we’ll break down what each WordPress user role does and what permissions they have in your WordPress site.

List of user roles when adding a user

Summary of WordPress User Roles

Here is a summary of the six default user roles in WordPress and their capabilities:

  • Subscriber: User who can manage their own profile (useful for commenters). This role isn’t typically used on WordPress sites.
  • Contributor: User who can write and edit their own posts but can’t publish anything.
  • Author: User who can publish and edit their own posts.
  • Editor: User who can publish and edit all posts of all users.
  • Administrator: User who has access to all site settings, plugins, themes, and content.
  • Super Admin (WordPress Multisite Only): In a WordPress Network the Super Admin can modify and administer all sites on the network.

Each WordPress user role has more capabilities to edit the site as you go up to Administrator. It’s essential to create users in the correct role when adding them for your site to run efficiently. If you just make everyone an Admin next thing you know they can be changing important options on your site.


We hope this quick guide gave you everything you need to know about WordPress roles and permissions.

Out of the box, these user roles should fit most site’s workflows. If you are building a more complex site with lots of users editing the site you can use a plugin like User Role Editor to create new roles. This plugin will let you cherry pick capabilities needed and make specific roles.

Have any questions about user roles? let us know in the comments!

Andy Feliciotti

Andy Feliciotti

Andy has been a full time WordPress developer for over 10 years. Through his years of experience has built 100s of sites and learned plenty of tricks along the way.

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