WordPress User Roles Explained – What Does Each Role Allow?

Nowadays it seems like everyone is building their sites on the WordPress framework and rightfully so. WordPress is one of the most customizable and versatile website solutions available and better yet, it costs nothing to install on nearly all web hosts. In most cases, WordPress websites are maintained by multiple contributors there sparking the need for multiple user accounts. Since some users should be given greater access than others, it is important to understand the default  Wordpress user roles in order to apply them correctly.

WordPress User Role Breakdown

Super Admin (Multisite)

Super Admins have the ability to access all capabilities within a WordPress Multisite installation. This includes managing the network, sites, users, themes, and options. If you're only managing a single site WordPress installation then this role will not be present.


Administrator are most common as they are allowed full control over a single WordPress installation. This includes all access to plugins, pages, posts, users, themes, settings, and file uploads. This user role should only be given to a limited amount of trusted users.


The editor role gives the user the ability to publish, edit, and manage any posts/pages created by themselves or any other user. Editors also have the ability to moderate comments and upload files. They do not have access to any plugin or theme settings.


The author role provides the ability to write, publish, and manage posts written strictly by the specific user. This includes the ability to upload files. They do not have the ability to make changes on posts or pages that are created by another user and have no access to plugin or theme settings.


Those who are designated as a contributor are able to create, edit, and manage new posts. Their posts are not able to be published automatically and need to be approved by an editor or administrator in order to go live on your site. Contributors have no access to any plugin or theme settings, comments, or file uploads.


Subscriber is the most basic level of a WordPress user and it simply allows pages and posts to be read while logged in. Though it is a bit unnecessary to even have subscribers (we have turned our subscriber user role off for that reason), it is best to set your default user role to subscriber.

Where Do I Set The Default User's Role?

In order to configure your default user's role you'll want to access your WordPress website's backend and go to Settings>General>New User Default Role (see image below)



How Do I Tweak Each Role's Capabilities?

Though the user roles above are configured by default, you have the ability to download a plugin and manually add/remove individual capabilities from your existing user roles. This plugin is available for download for free, right here.

Source: WordPress