WordPress User Management: Control User Access & Permissions

Users in WordPress sites perform crucial tasks, from designing the website to creating and managing content. A single site can have as many users as possible, all with different responsibilities. Therefore, it’s crucial to manage all users effectively and implement necessary controls.

There are various reasons to manage users in your WordPress site. It improves security, user productivity, and site overall site management. The level of user management depends on the size and nature of the website. For instance, small to medium sized websites have a few users creating and publishing content on a regular basis. This requires minimal user management. However, large websites like ecommerce require efficient user management as there are lots of risks involved.

This article discusses WordPress User Management: Control User Access & Permissions. Read on!

WordPress User Management: Control User Access & Permissions

1. Understand WordPress User Roles

The first step in WordPress management is understanding user roles and how they work. User roles dictate the actions the user has on the site, as well as all their permissions. Each role is different, and the actions change from one role to another. In addition, each role is tailored for specific tasks, and this ensures that users only contribute to the site based on their responsibilities.

  • Super Admin. This role is found in multisite installations. The super admin has access to all features and all sites on the network.
  • Administrator (Admin): The admin accesses all features in the dashboard and manages other users as well. In most WordPress sites, the admin role is the most powerful as it has control over the entire website.
  • Editor: Editors have extensive control over the content on the website. Basically they write, edit, and publish posts, including those written by others.
  • Author: Authors write, edit, and publish their own posts. However, they cannot modify or delete posts made by others. Once they are ready for publishing, the post has to be reviewed by an editor or admin.
  • Contributor: Contributors write and edit their own posts but can’t publish them. Useful for guest authors or new writers.
  • Subscriber: Subscribers only read and comment on posts. This role is the most limited role in WordPress.

Each of these roles is important. When running a WordPress site, you need to understand these roles in depth so as to assign them correctly.

2. Add New Users

Adding New User in WordPress

When managing a WordPress website, you may need to add new users from time to time. For instance, you want to add new authors or editors to take on various tasks on the website. Here’s a more detailed process of adding new users:

Navigate to Dashboard > Users > Add New:

Here are the user details to fill in before creating a new user:

First Name & Last Name: Actual names of users on your website.

Email: This is the user’s email address.

Username: The username is a unique identifier for each user that enables the user to log in.

Password: Either generate a strong password using WordPress’s built-in tool or set a custom one. However, you must ensure to use a strong password to maintain security.

Send User Notification: If checked, the new user receives an email about their account details.

After filling in these details, you assign a role. Choose a role based on what you want the new user to be able to do on your site. Once all the details are filled in and the role is assigned, finalize the process by clicking the “Add New User” button. The new user is then added to your website. They log in using the credentials provided.

3. Change User Roles

In WordPress, you change user roles as long as you are an admin. You might want to elevate someone’s permissions or reduce them based on the tasks they need to perform. You also change user roles due to security considerations. Here’s a more detailed step-by-step process of changing user roles:

Go to Dashboard > Users > All Users:

Manage all the user accounts associated with your WordPress site. View every user registered on your site, together with basic details like username, name, email, role, and posts. When you place your mouse cursor (hover) over any username, you view several options beneath it. Then, click Edit and select the desired role.

Once you click the role select the role you want to assign to this user, click ‘Update User’. This saves the changes you made, including the role change.

4. Customize User Permissions

WordPress user roles come with a set of capabilities (specific permissions) that define what actions that role can or cannot perform. However, it’s possible these predefined roles do not perfectly fit your requirements. If this is the case, you can create custom user permissions.

Custom roles are user defined roles that are not part of WordPress’s default set. For instance, you might want a “Content Reviewer” role, specifically for individuals who review content but don’t necessarily edit or publish it.

These are specific permissions associated with roles. For instance, assign custom permissions such as the ability to edit a post, delete a page, or moderate comments. When creating custom roles, you have the flexibility to define custom capabilities or assign existing ones.

Explore our WordPress Single Sign On SAML plugin for easy and secure user sign on process. 

Use Plugins for Custom Roles

Plugins such as User Role Editor and Members offer a user friendly interface that simplifies the process of creating custom roles. Using plugins, you assign specific capabilities to your custom role. Fine-tune the exact permissions a role has, giving you granular control over what users with that role achieve on your site. They provide a visual interface where you click to add or remove capabilities, rename roles, and more, without touching a single line of code.

5. Implement Content Access Control

Content access control refers to the ability to restrict or grant access to specific website content based on user criteria. The best way to implement content access control is through plugins. Plugins like Restrict Content Pro and Members enable admins to choose which parts of their website is accessed by different users or user roles. 

With WordPress plugins, website admins easily set up tiered content access, ranging from free to premium content levels. For example, a fitness website might offer general workout tips to all subscribers but reserve in-depth training modules for premium members only. By implementing content access control, site owners monetize their content more effectively.

6. Implement Dashboard Access Control

The dashboard acts as a central control panel for your website. From the dashboard, you control all plugins, themes, users, settings, etc. In essence, the dashboard is the key to your website features and tools. Since it provides significant control over the entire website, it’s crucial to restrict its access.

Ensure not all users on a WordPress site may modify every aspect of the website. For instance, while a blog writer should have the ability to create and edit posts, they should not be able to change themes or plugins.

There are various methods to limit dashboard access. Either control through user roles or use code. By adding specific code to the functions.php file, restrict dashboard access depending on your needs. Also, plugins such as  Remove Dashboard Access provide a more flexible and automated approach to dashboard access control.

7. Implement Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

WordPress User Management: How to Control User Access and Permissions Wordfence 2FA

Two Factor Authentication (2FA) is an identity and access management feature whereby the user has to provide an additional identification to verify their identity. In WordPress, the user enters their user and password to access the dashboard. However, with 2FA, you add a second layer of verification before accessing the dashboard. This added layer ensures that even with the user’s password, no malicious user accesses the account.

Implementing 2FA in WordPress is an effective way to heighten website security. To implement 2FA in WordPress, use a comprehensive security solution for WordPress such as Wordfence. When the 2FA feature is enabled in Wordfence, users have a second verification step before they access the site.

8. Audit and Monitor User Activity

After implementing all the above user access controls, it’s essential to audit and monitor user activity. This involves tracking and recording the actions and changes made by users on a website. By keeping a log of user actions, you quickly detect and respond to suspicious activities. For example, multiple failed login attempts from a particular user indicate a security breach or unauthorized access.

Also, if something goes wrong on the site, a detailed activity log helps to pinpoint the cause. This addresses and rectifies any issue efficiently. Plugins such as WP Activity Log provides a comprehensive real time log of user activities. With it, you track actions such as logins, post and page edits, plugin installations, theme changes, and more. It provides crucial insights that help understand user behaviour, ensuring security, and managing website operations effectively.

9. Try WP Cloud SSO - WordPress SSO for Easy and Secure User Logons

  • Ideal security solution (WP Cloud SSO plugin) allows  WordPress SSO Single Sign On to give you extra security to your WordPress logins.
  • Login to WordPress (WP) using Azure AD, Azure B2C, OktaADFSKeycloakOneLogin, Salesforce, Google Apps (G Suite), and other IdPs (Identity Providers).
  • The SAML SP (Service Provider) is configured to establish a trust between our WordPress SSO plugin and IDP to securely authenticate and enable SSO / Login for the user into the WordPress (WP) site.

Thank you for reading WordPress User Management: Control User Access & Permissions. We conclude this article now. 

WordPress User Management: Control User Access & Permissions Conclusion

The following are the ultimate steps to managing user access and permissions in WordPress. As evident, there are different categories of users, each with designated roles. It’s crucial to ensure each user is assigned the role they need to perform their tasks. With proper user management in place, it’s easier to maintain website security and productivity.

Avatar for Dennis Muvaa
Dennis Muvaa

Dennis is an expert content writer and SEO strategist in cloud technologies such as AWS, Azure, and GCP. He's also experienced in cybersecurity, big data, and AI.

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