How to Add New User Roles & Manage Capabilities in WordPress

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WordPress uses the concept of user roles and their capabilities to manage what a user can or cannot do in the CMS> User Roles can be complicated.  By default, WordPress comes with following user roles: Subscriber, Author, Contributor, Author, Editor, Administrator and Super Admin. Each of these roles have a pre-defined set of things they can and cannot do. For example, a subscriber role can edit his profile and view the content, that’s that. Any user with Subscriber role cannot add, edit or delete a post. Whereas Contributor role has permissions up a notch, he can only add new posts, but cannot publish them. And.. an Author-role user has the capability to publish post as well.

Each role has its set of limitations. They have pre-defined permissions like writing and publishing posts, managing plugins & themes, adding users, changing site-wide settings, etc. With 6 default user roles, this should be enough control over users for most site owners. But for those looking to modify these default user roles or add new user roles, this tutorial is for you.

In this post, we will learn how to add, edit and manage user roles and their capabilities. Are you ready?

User roles, in a nutshell

This is a good place to start. These are the six user roles that come pre-packaged.

  • Super Admin: this is the role way up Administrator role. It is capable of creating a multisite network and other such features.
  • Administrator: can add plugins, themes, users, manage posts and do pretty much everything except is not able to access network features
  • Editor: can add, modify, delete, draft-ify posts of himself and other users. He can publish posts as well
  • Author: he can only manage his own posts and publish them
  • Contributor: somebody who can add new posts, but cannot publish them. He has to submit the post for review to the admin/editor
  • Subscriber: a user with this role can only manage his profile

With the method told below, you will be able to add more user roles and control and what they can do or cannot do.

What is Members?

Members is a WordPress plugin that gives you control over user, blog, role and its capabilities management. It lets you create user roles other than default Subscriber, Contributor, Author, Editor and Administrator. It goes extra mile, let’s you manage capabilities or permissions of the user roles. With better management of user roles and their capabilities, it enhances control over your users. It’s a must-have plugin especially for those with multi-author blogs.

How to add, edit and manage user roles?

Install and activate Members plugin. Once activated, go to Users > Roles.

Here, you can manage default user roles as well as add new ones. To add new user roles, click “Add New” on top. Give the user role a name. Tick things that you’d like users with this role be able to do. For example, I can add a new role by name of User Manager(not recommended to do, unless you REALLY trust people with this role). Give it following permissions: add_users, create_roles, create_users, delete_users, delete_roles, edit_roles, edit_users and remove_users.


Another example, let’s just say you don’t want Contributor role to be able to delete his posts. You can simply click “Contributor” role and un-tick delete_posts capability. Click “Update” to save settings. Voila!

With this plugin, a lot of enhancing and management becomes possible. Think imaginative ways to make use of it! 🙂

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