Creating & Managing User Roles & Permissions in WordPress

Suppose you own a website, you’ll have various users with different tasks, and it’s essential to control what they can or can’t do. WordPress has “user roles,” a concept that lets you decide what actions other users can perform on your site. Assigning specific user roles brings organization and structure to your website.

By default, WordPress includes a user management system that grants different users specific permissions and limitations. As the site admin, you can allocate different roles to team members, ensuring the security of sensitive data and the overall website.

WooCommerce, an eCommerce platform integrated with WordPress, also involves setting user roles. In comparison to WordPress, WooCommerce introduces a few extra user roles.

This guide will provide you with a complete understanding of

  • WordPress User Roles & Permissions
  • WooCommerce User Roles & Permissions
  • How to add a New user in WordPress
  • Changing User Roles for Existing Users

Importance of Managing User’s Roles and Permissions

Once you involve others in managing your website, you give up some control. When you allow contributors, editors, and authors to assist you, they might unintentionally or deliberately harm the site. You can manage this risk to some extent using user roles.

A user role acts as a safety measure to protect your website. It limits the actions someone with that role can perform. Depending on your trust level, you can grant different capabilities. If you’re confident in their intentions, you can assign broader permissions. If you’re still getting to know them, you can give more limited permissions.

As long as the user has the necessary capabilities to fulfill their tasks, the rest is in your hands.

For instance, if you open your website to user submissions, you would want to avoid handing over admin powers to a random writer, allowing them to make changes.

Instead, you could start them with the author role, only granting them specific permissions. If they demonstrate reliability, consider upgrading their role. Another purpose of these roles is to keep users on track.

For instance, when you designate a writer with the author role, their ability is confined to logging in and writing content. They won’t be able to explore other parts of the website’s backend or delve into your plugins. Their actions are confined to what their specific role allows, which helps maintain their focus.

Exploring WordPress User Roles & Permissions

WordPress user roles determine what different users can do on WordPress websites. These actions are sometimes referred to as “user capabilities.” Each role has its own set of actions they can perform.

WordPress provides five user roles. Let’s take a look below to understand the various roles and what they can do on a WordPress site.

WordPress: Different User Roles
WordPress: Different User Roles


It is often known as the admin and holds the highest authority in WordPress. This user can perform almost any action on the website. They can change the other users, grant permissions, switch the website’s appearance, add or remove tools, delete pages and posts, and do many other things that help run the website.

The administrator user role comes with a range of abilities, such as:

  • Enabling plugins.
  • Exporting and importing files.
  • Overseeing comment moderation.
  • Elevating user roles.
  • Reading private pages and posts.
  • Crafting, altering, viewing, and eliminating Reusable Blocks.
  • Deleting users.
  • Changing website themes.
  • Handling categories, links, and settings.
  • Uploading files.
  • Entering the Customizer.
  • Editing and removing pages and posts.
  • Publishing pages and posts.
  • Updating plugins, themes, and the WordPress core.


The WordPress Editor role aligns with its name. They are responsible for editing pages and posts all over the website. Unlike administrators, they don’t have full control, but they can add, change, or delete pages and posts made by any user on the site.

It plays an important role in overseeing and managing all the content present on your website. It involves the authority to publish, edit, and even delete all posts and pages, even those authored by other users. Furthermore, they can handle comments and manage tags and categories on the website.

The Editor role has the following capabilities:

  • Crafting, modifying, and eliminating Reusable Blocks.
  • Editing pages and posts.
  • Handling categories and links.
  • Deleting pages and posts.
  • Publishing pages and posts.
  • Moderating comments.


Users with the Subscriber role can only read content on your site. They can also control their profiles, like their info and password. But mostly, they can just read posts and leave comments. This role can be handy if you want people to sign in to read your blog.

The capabilities of the Subscriber role are:

  • Comment on posts.
  • Handle their own profile.
  • Read posts.


A contributor can write and edit posts for your website. However, they can’t directly publish these posts. Instead, an Editor needs to review and publish the content created by Contributors. It is beneficial when you have freelance writers contributing to your site.

Yet, Contributors have a limitation: they cannot upload files to your site. Let’s examine the specific capabilities associated with the Contributor role.

  • Create and edit posts without the ability to publish them.
  • Read Reusable Blocks.
  • Handle their own profiles.


Authors can create and publish their posts. But they can’t access posts made by others. They’re allowed to delete their posts if required. Authors, however, can’t create new categories, only use existing ones and make new tags. They also can’t manage or remove comments, even though they can see them.

Moreover, Authors can’t access plugins or themes on the site. Here’s a summary of the key abilities of the Author’s role:

  • Publish posts.
  • Upload files.
  • Edit and remove their own posts.
  • Edit and delete their own Reusable Blocks.
  • Create and read Reusable Blocks.

WooCommerce User Roles & Permissions

Following our discussion on WordPress user roles, let’s move on to the roles specific to WooCommerce. Upon installing and activating the WooCommerce plugin, two more roles are added: Shop Manager and Customer.

WooCommerce: Different User Roles
WooCommerce: Different User Roles


Like the Subscriber role, a Customer role encompasses users who register and log in to your site to make purchases through the checkout page. They can explore your products, manage their profiles, and review their order history. On a website powered by WooCommerce, anyone who registers or proceeds to checkout will automatically be assigned the Customer role.

Customer can:

  • Has reading access, much like a blog subscriber.
  • View orders and their order history.
  • Is capable of editing their own account information.

Shop Manager

When you bring someone to manage your store, you must grant them access to handle store operations. However, you might not want them to have access to the administrative side, such as file editing or plugin management. It is where the Shop Manager role becomes significant.

The Shop Manager role includes the same abilities as the Customer role, with the added capability to modify WooCommerce settings and products. Furthermore, this role can access WooCommerce Reports. Interestingly, the Shop Manager role is similar to the Editor role in WordPress, which means they inherit the general capabilities of the WordPress Editor.

Let’s delve into the capabilities that the WooCommerce Shop Manager role brings:

  • Handle WooCommerce settings.
  • Create and modify products.
  • Access the Reports section in WooCommerce.

Adding a New User and assigning User Role & Permissions

As an administrator on your site, if you wish to allocate a WooCommerce-specific role to a user, the procedure is similar to assigning any other user role in WordPress. To accomplish this, navigate to Users ➝ Add New within your WordPress dashboard.

Change Existing User Roles & Permissions
Change Existing User Roles & Permissions

Then, you can input the user’s details, including their first and last name, username, and email. You also have the option to set their password and decide whether you want to inform them via email about their new account.

To assign a particular role to your user, click on the dropdown beside the “Role” option and pick the desired role. Afterward, click the “Add New User” button.

Changing Users Roles for Existing Users

Likewise, you can modify your current users by selecting the “Edit” button located below the user’s name.

After clicking on the “Edit” button, navigate to the “Role” option to make modifications to the user’s assigned role, and then click on the “Update User” button to save the changes.

How to Choose the Right User Role for Assigning

Deciding which role to give a user can be a bit confusing. It depends on what your online store can do, and that helps pick the right role for a user.

Normally, when someone signs up on your site, they become a Subscriber or Customer. But if you need someone to create content, they need additional permission. Let’s explore some scenarios where you’d give different permissions to your users.

Providing Access to Website Management Experts

There might be times when you need to let technical experts manage your entire site. They might need access to all parts of the site to ensure everything is working. In such cases, you’d give them the Administrator role. Similarly, if external teams handle design and marketing, they could get this role if needed.

Adding Content Creator

For those who write content on your site, you can choose WordPress roles like ContributorAuthor, and Editor. Contributors can make content but can’t publish it. Authors can create, publish, and delete their own content. Editors can manage everyone’s content. You assign these roles based on how you publish content. Give the Author role to your team, the Contributor role to guests, and the Editor role to the one overseeing all content.

Including Users to Manage your Store

When you need someone to take care of your store but not the backend of the website, you can give them the Shop Manager role. As discussed earlier, this role lets them handle various store tasks like products, orders, refunds, and generating reports. However, you don’t want them messing with your site settings, plugins, themes, or user powers. In short, you can keep their role focused on store matters without giving them control over other parts of the website.

Take a look at our Frontend Product Editor plugin to edit your WooCommerce products right from the front end. For more details, check Frontend Product Editor Plugin Documentation.

Get Started with WordPress & WooCommerce Roles

In WordPress, user roles are like a hat that all person wears. They determine what each person will do. Just like the roles in regular WordPress, those that come with WooCommerce have a particular job. There are two main roles in WooCommerce: one for managing your shop and the other for your customers to shop better.

You can set these user roles using the normal WordPress Users screen. You can even change roles for existing users whenever you need to. It’s all about making your store run smoothly and giving customers the best shopping experience.

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