WordPress is an open-source software kit built using PHP that can be used to build anything from a simple blog to full-blown websites, although the most common usage is as the former. According to the WordPress official website, the software has been used by 25 million users worldwide. And yet, it’ surprising how many people still aren’t fully aware of one the systems most basic and useful features; user management.

Adding new users to the site

The first step to take when approaching WordPress users is to decide how you want users to interact with the website. This can affect the method, which users are added; either by self-registration or by being manually added by administrators.

If you are setting up the site as a blog and you are the only writer, then you can probably ignore most of the features offered by WordPress with regards to users. At most you will probably want to allow people to register as ‘subscribers’, so that they can comment using their own usernames/nicknames. On the other hand, if you are building the system around multiple authors and/or managing personnel, you will get much greater use from the user management system, in particular, user roles.

Choosing the right user role

In WordPress the term ‘Role’ refers to the access privileges of a given user. Each role encapsulates a range of different functions that the user is allowed to perform. Below each user role is listed and their capabilities defined; the list is ordered in terms of hierarchy, with the most superior detailed last.

Subscriber – A subscriber is unable to change any of the websites content besides being able to add their own comments to existing posts on the website. They can only access and modify their own profile on the WordPress Dashboard.

Contributor – This is the first user role that is able to perform functions that can change the website. This comes in the form of being able to write and edit their own posts, yet these must be approved by an Editor or Administrator before they are published.

Author – An author is the next step up from Contributor, with basically the same abilities – the only difference being an author’s post is automatically published without needing to be moderated.

Editor – An editor is the first role to be able to perform functions outside of simply writing posts and pages. They are able to manage and approve other peoples content, but they can also moderate user comments and manage any upload media items, such as audio, video and image files.

Administrator – The top user role on a standard WordPress site is the administrator. Users with the role ‘Administrator’ can perform every action and have access to every feature on the system. This covers everything, including moderating posts, managing users or configuring the actual settings for the whole platform.

It is important that user roles are assigned carefully and there is never too much access given to those who don’t need it. You will probably find that if you have additional writers for your blog that they will rarely require a role higher than ‘author’, with ‘contributor’ often being sufficient if you have an editor or administrator to moderate their submissions.

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