WordPress Roles

Today we’re going to look at how to use roles in WordPress to help facilitate content-generation, and how roles can help you develop a smarter publication workflow.  This post will focus on how roles relate to content-generation, and the different access levels an editorial team might need.

The Built-Ins

WordPress comes with built-in roles.  You can think of them as “access levels” to different functionality.  The goal is to allow different people to access different functionality in the control panel without giving them access to core settings on the site.  Users can be added in one of two ways: by signing up, or by being added by the administrator.  Roles can only be assigned by an administrator.

If your site allows people to sign up, they generally get signed up as Subscribers:  this is the most limited role.  Public users who “sign up” to your site are assigned this role.  For instance, if you require a login to comment on a page or post, the user can join your site as a subscriber.  Basically, subscribers get to add or delete their own comments, edit their own profile, and very little else.  While the subscriber’s role is very limited, it can be extended significantly with plugins to create social networks, content aggregation… the sky’s the limit.  In fact, the core of WordPress is designed to be simple and low-frill so that plugins can be added to suit your needs without having to override a lot of cruft.

The other path to creating users- through administrator action- goes as follows: the administrator adds users through the “Users” link in the control panel.admin_menu

At the bottom of the user information screen the administrator can set the user’s role.


Let’s talk a little bit about each of the other roles besides Subscribers – they each have a sub-set of the site’s functionality.  A Contributor is a user who can contribute posts, but cannot publish them.  The following image shows a contributors “New Post” page.  Likewise, a contributor cannot edit other users’ posts.  An Author can write and publish his or her own posts without editorial support.



When a Contributor submits a post for review, the post will appear in the list of posts for Editors and Administrators.


The users’ role also dictates what appears on the control panel menu.  For instance, below are the menues for Authors.  Compare that to the menu for Administrators at the beginning of this post, and you’ll see a big difference.  What you as an Administrator are trying to do is protect the sensitive stuff, and direct users toward the activities they should be involved in.


Building a Workflow

The roles built into WordPress help support the different tasks an editorial team performs.  With a little bit of imagination and planning they can become a part of the editorial toolbox.  However, tools like editorial calendars, email reminders, or task-assignment are not built in, but can greatly improve the effectiveness of a writing team. Next week we will look at some plugins that add workflow capabilities.

Do you use WordPress roles for your team?  Let us know what tools you use to support your writing and publishing team.

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