wordpress roles and capabilities

Beginner’s Guide to WordPress User Roles and Capabilities

If you are starting out with your WordPress website you probably don’t need to know much about WordPress user roles and capabilities. However, as your website grows, you will need more people to maintain your site. That’s when you need to know about WordPress capabilities of the user roles.

Yes, you can assign roles to people using your website. Those roles will determine what one can and can’t do on your website. WordPress websites are maintained from the dashboard. Normally the owner of the site has all the control over the dashboard functions.

However, when the website becomes huge, it’s hard to maintain all that all alone. That’s when you hire people for special roles like a moderator, editor, and many more. They help you divide the burden and help your website’s performance. 

But to do that, you need to know what each role is capable of doing so that you are assigning the right person for the right job. So, today we are going to show you the capabilities of those user roles. 

Types of WordPress User Roles and their responsibilities

WordPress has 6 default user roles,

Super Admin

We are going to start off with the Super Admin role. This role is applicable to only multisite WordPress installations. Most people get confused between the super admin and the admin role. They are obviously different. 

A super admin can,

  • Make big changes like deleting sites or adding sites
  • Manage users, themes, plugins
  • Control the individual site admins
  • Decide what plugins or themes to install

When there is a super admin, the normal admin’s job is modified. The admin can only activate or deactivate the plugins or themes that the super admin has installed. 

Usually, the CEO of a big WordPress company is a super admin.


This is one of the common WordPress capabilities in terms of user roles. When you have a single website, then this role comes into play. He/she oversights the whole WordPress admin dashboard. 

WordPress Administrator settings

An administrator/admin can,

  • Manage the whole admin dashboard
  • Delete, edit or create new pages and posts
  • Add or delete users
  • Customize the codes
  • Change any user role

It is obviously the most powerful role for a single site. And usually, the site owner is the admin.


Editor’s are responsible for the content of a website. That means they have full control over the content of the website. An editor can,

  • Create a page or posts
  • Edit posts
  • Delete posts
  • Moderate comments
  • Delete or edit comments
  • Alter site settings
  • Add new users
  • Access the media library as well.

WordPress editor settings


Authors are usually writers who write blogs or articles for your website. They can,

  • Create their own posts
  • Edit their own posts
  • Publish their own posts
  • Upload and manage their own files
  • Moderate comments of their own published posts

But they can’t,

  • Edit or publish other’s posts
  • Create or modify pages
  • Moderate other posts’ comments.

Basically, they are responsible for only creating content and nothing else.


A contributor is usually assigned to a guest writer. They are a miniature version of the author.

They can,

  • Read all posts
  • Edit their own posts
  • Modify their own posts

But they can’t publish their own posts. This user role is very much limited.


This role has a very limited capability. They are general users of your website. 

  • They can read all the posts you publish
  • They get their own profile’s 
  • Edit their own information.

Most of the sites don’t use this role.

How To Apply WordPress User Role Effectively

Well. Now you know what every default user role can do on your WordPress website. But, you should also know how to use these roles on your site effectively. You should,

  • Assign each role to the person’s capabilities
  • The admin role is very important, so assign that very carefully
  • Keep your users limited
  • You should use customized code or plugins to add custom roles
  • Give each user the access they need, not more or less.

If you follow these guidelines, then you won’t have any problem with using these user roles.

Do you want to edit the default role setting of WordPress and create your own? Learn more about customizing the WordPress user role.


The key of managing any team is to define their roles exactly. The reason WordPress is the most popular CMS is that it gives you the authority to do exactly that. You can easily manage WordPress capabilities for each role and enhance the effectiveness of your website as well as it’s performance.

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