How to Create a Multi-User WordPress Website (Using Roles)

How to create a multi-user WordPress website using Roles.  WordPress is the most-used content platform on the Internet. Statistics show that over two-thirds of all websites built using content management systems (CMS) use WordPress and almost 40 percent of all the websites on the internet are built using this very platform. Predictions indicate that it will continue to be the leader well into the foreseeable future.

Among the features that make this CMS popular is its ability to allow for easy collaboration among users of various roles and privileges.

How to Create a Multi User WordPress Website (Using Roles)

In this post, we will have a look at how to create a multi-user WordPress website.

WordPress Users and Roles

In WordPress, a “user” is someone who has login access to the website. A “user role” is a term describing the different levels of access such users have on the site.

Now, let’s have a look at the user roles that are available on WordPress.

The content platform has six pre-defined roles, and from least-privileged to the highest, they are:

WordPress Subscriber Role

This role is assigned to the general public. It allows visitors to perform basic tasks like subscribing to the website, reading posts, and posting comments. They can create their profiles with customizations like preferred local dashboard themes (only visible to them) and a change of selected avatars allowed.

Subscribers cannot create or edit content and do not have access to any WordPress configuration information or settings.

This user role comes in handy if you, for example, want to publish some content that is only accessible to logged-in users or limit the comment section to registered users.

WordPress Contributor Role

A Contributor can only perform three tasks – read all posts as well as edit and delete their own posts.

This role is limited and doesn’t allow users to publish posts or upload media files. They’re also unable to add images or media files to their posts.

Once a Contributor’s post has been approved and published by an Administrator, it can no longer be edited by the Contributor. However, the post author will still be the Contributor and not the Administrator who published it.

This role is perfect for users who are guest writers to your blog but must still have their content proofread or approved before publication.

WordPress Author Role

Authors are allowed to create, edit, publish, and delete their own posts. They can also upload files and images as well as edit comments made on their own posts. They can tag posts and assign them to categories but cannot create new categories.

They do not have access to pages, nor to any posts that weren’t created by them. They also do not have access to website settings, plugins, themes or other users’ profiles.

This role is assigned to authors who are responsible for creating content and nothing else.

WordPress Editor Role

An Editor is responsible for managing content. They can create, edit, delete, and publish pages and posts – even when they belong to other users. They can also moderate comments, manage categories and links.

They cannot make site-wide changes, like adding plugins and themes or installing updates, for example.

This role is assigned to users who are responsible for overseeing the work of authors and contributors to the site.

WordPress Administrator Role

Administrators can do everythingthey can create, edit, and delete any content. They can manage plugins and themes, edit code, delete user accounts, and they can also delete the website.

This is the role assigned to WordPress website creators and owners or those who manage the website’s functions and appearance.

The Administrator is the most powerful user role and should never be assigned to any other user on a single-site installation.

WordPress Super Admin Role

This role is only available on multi-site WordPress installations. By default, these multisite Super Admins have, all capabilities – just like the single-site Administrators.

The only difference here is that Super Admins own more than one instance of WordPress.

Note: If you are interested in finding out more details about each role, you can go to the official WordPress “Roles and Capabilities” page.

Create a Multi-User WordPress Website

Now that we know what each role allows a user to do, we can go ahead and assign them to the users of a WordPress site.

Create new user

But, before we do that, we need to create a new user. This can be done by going to the WordPress menu and clicking on USERS -> ADD NEW:

This opens a new form for updating the details of the new user:

This is where details like the new user’s username, email, first name, last name, and website information are filled in.

The administrator can opt to generate a new password or manually type one in. They can also let the new user know via email that their new account has been created.

Assign a WordPress Role

Finally, there is the “Role” drop-down menu where the new user can be assigned their respective role:

Depending on the tasks the new user will perform they can be assigned one of the default roles we have seen earlier. In cases where there are administrator plugins installed, there can be more roles visible in the drop down menu and can also be assigned accordingly.

Here’s an example with Jetpack and an SEO plugin installed:

Once all the information has been updated, all that is left is clicking on the “Add New User” button, and the new user is created.

Allowing WordPress Users to create their own accounts

WordPress administrators can allow users to create their own accounts. This is usually the case when subscribers are needed to sign in – as a way of building a mailing list – or when special content is only available to members of the site.

To enable self-creation of accounts, administrators need to first go to SETTINGS -> GENERAL, scroll down to “Membership,” and select the “Anyone can register” checkbox.

Next, it is time to assign the default role each new user will have:

Once that is done and saved (by clicking on the “Save Changes” button), it is time to create a login form where the users can sign up.

Create a WordPress login form

WordPress offers a “Meta” widget (it can be found under APPEARANCE -> WIDGETS) that can be simply dragged and included in either a new page or in the sidebars of an existing one.

The new login menu can be named (E.g. “Sidebar Login”) and placed in the Main Sidebar of the page, like so:

Meta added to sidebar WordPress

And that’s it – the login form appears on the page or section that it is attached to.

Plugins for creating and editing user accounts and roles

Administrators that need very detailed roles with granular privileges for their users, can opt for plugins. WordPress offers numerous plugins for creating accounts and modifying roles. A simple search for “roles” will yield a result that looks like this:

One popular plugin is the “User Role Editor” which can be used to easily configure custom roles for both single- and multi-site WordPress installations.

But, why do we need multiple WordPress User Roles?

There are many reasons why a WordPress website might need multiple users with different roles:

    • Job allocation – to delimit the privileges each user has on the website.
    • Collaboration – to allow more users to contribute to the work being done on the website.
    • Increasing subscription – to allow users to become more than just visitors and gain access to more exclusive content.
    • User management – to control user access easily and manage roles and privileges, if there should be any change in their contribution statuses, for example.
    • Security – to make sure every user does what they are expected to do, and nothing more; also, to make sure no one, that shouldn’t be on the website, is allowed access to it.

Bringing it all together: by ensuring everyone has their allocated privileges, the WordPress website continues to be the secure, easy-to-manage, and collaborative CMS that it has always been meant to be. All thanks to its multi-user and roles creation capabilities.

You can contact us if you plan to adopt the Cloud and install WordPress on AWS or prefer to keep it local and install WordPress on a Windows Server – we can help either way.

Avatar for Liku Zelleke
Liku Zelleke

Liku Zelleke is a technology blogger who has over two decades experience in the IT industry. He hasn’t looked back since the day, years ago, when he discovered he could combine that experience with his other passion: writing. Today, he writes on topics related to network configuration, optimization, and security for Cloud Infrastructure Services.

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