A Guide to WordPress User Roles and Permissions

A Guide to WordPress User Roles and Permissions

WordPress is by far the most popular blogging and web creation tool available. Third-party apps and documentation for the platform are enormous. With each new update, WordPress coders continue to keep core features up to date while exploring new CMS horizons. At the heart of WordPress are user roles and permissions.

The system defines each person’s position within the platform. From Super Admin to Subscriber, every individual who logs in has a specific set of permissions or capabilities that are assigned by the Super Admin or Administrator. A capability is a specific function or a set of actions that a user is permitted to complete. Each role is clearly defined, so there are no misunderstandings about security. A WordPress security plugin from the directory can help with these fundamental tasks.

Get the bonus content: A Guide to WordPress Security

Agencies, Freelance Web Developers, and Small Business Owners need to give a lot of thought into how the organization can best utilize WordPress user roles — taking the time to plan the organization before installation saves a lot of headaches later on.

A Few Tips Before Installation

Author, Contributor, and Subscriber roles are straight forward in their creation and permissions. The Super Admin, Administrator, and Editor positions can be a major area of strength for the organization if carefully considered and plotted out.

  • Multi-site installations should have one Super Admin, regardless of the number of additional sites. If there is any security, user, or core file issue, Super Admins are responsible. Security should be on the mind of every person involved with a website. WordPress is exceptional in the way it updates core files and security; however, having multiple Super Admins can cause havoc
  • Designate a single Administrator or Editor for each additional site in a multisite network. If there are hundreds of virtual sites, give Administrators or Editors more than one site to manage
  • Freelance web developers selling sites or Agencies should give Administrator duties to each site owner, but strictly forbid access to any network setting

A breakdown of the default WordPress user roles.

Super Admin

  • There is always confusion for new WordPress users when faced with this designation. This misunderstanding is settled with this statement, “A Super Admin has complete access to every administrative function within a WordPress Multisite installation. The role of Super Admin exists only in a multisite network. The Super Admin role does not exist in a single WordPress site”

Multisite networks using WordPress is one of the most advanced and productive features of the platform. What is a WordPress Multisite; Install WordPress on a server “once” and designate that installation as a multisite. You then have the opportunity to run as many virtual sites as you want.

A Super Admin can create new websites, manage themes and plugins across the multisite network, add, manage,



This article was written by Kristen Wright and originally published on WordPress News and Updates from iThemes – iThemes.

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