WordPress User Roles

WordPress provides user management, giving 5 different access levels by default with a stacking tier of functions and permissions. A more experienced user can of course create more user levels, and reassign abilities to different users — but here we’ll cover the basics:

  1. Administrator
  2. Editor
  3. Author
  4. Contributor
  5. Subscriber

Below is an easy to read infographic showing most of the tasks carried out, and which user roles can do each.


  1. Administrator

By default, the first account made in a new WordPress install is set as Administrator. Through the email account attached to this username, you receive notifications regarding any core updates, new users created, passwords changed, and so on. Any new user accounts created can be also manually set as the administrator.

Being the Admin, accounts with this user role have full access to the website. One can install or uninstall any plugins or themes desired, modify any site settings, edit the code to the themes, and create or delete users. There is also access to edit and change the publish status of any posts made in the website.

Often, this user level is reserved for website owners, and those who may end up managing the website’s functions and appearance (most often the web designers and web developers!).

  1. Editor

Think of this role as the administrator’s “assistants”. They can write, edit, and publish anyone’s posts or pages – in general, they have full access to the content areas of the website. Editors can’t edit the plugins, themes, users, or site settings.

More often than not, this is the level that is given to the casual maintainer of the website. Being a “safe” user role, it makes sure that most changes on the website can be made, without the risk of breaking the “foundation” of it.

  1. Author

Authors are allowed to create, edit, publish, and delete their own posts. They do not have access to pages, nor to any posts that were not created by them. This role is perfect for users who will contribute regularly to your website’s blog, without the need of giving access to the other content of the website.

Being lower than Editor, they also do not have access any website settings, plugins, themes, or users.

  1. Contributor

This is a more strictly moderated version of Author. Contributors can create and edit their own posts – however, an Editor or Administrator must review and publish their posts, as well as assign categories. This role is perfect for users who are guest writers to your blog, and must have their content proofread.

Please note that with the contributor role, one cannot upload files to their posts without specifically modifying the capabilities of the role.

  1. Subscriber

This is the most basic user role out of the five. While they can log into the WordPress dashboard, they have no access to even creating new posts. Instead, subscribers can only read posts, post comments, and edit their user profile.

How to Create a New User

To create a new user account, locate Users > Add New User in your Admin Sidebar. You will be taken to a page that will allow you to choose a username, and designate an email address. With the update of WordPress 4.3, while you can set a password for a new account, they will be sent a password reset link to the email address linked: There, they will be able to decide whether to go with the supplied password (whether generated by you or WordPress), or create a new one.

The last step before clicking Add New User, is to select the desired User Role. By default, all new users are set to Subscribers.

Add New User

Most of the time, the default wordpress user roles will be more than enough for the various users that will be added to a WordPress-powered website. As mentioned, through the use of specialized plugins or even modification of a theme’s code by an advanced user, one can either create more roles with their own permissions and capabilities, or fine tune what each can or cannot do.

As always, be mindful of who you create a user account for, and what user level you give them!