User Roles in WordPress and Joomla Explained

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wordpress roles

Managing a website is not a simple matter, and it often requires the involvement of more than one person, if not the whole group of people. To avoid chaos and mistakes, it’s necessary to assign certain rights and responsibilities to each user. Luckily, most modern CMSs come with the built-in role management system, which generally defines what each user can or cannot do. To help you get the hang of managing your website users properly, we have decided to outline the available user roles in two popular CMS platforms – WordPress and Joomla.

WordPress

WordPress uses a concept of Roles, created to give the site owner the possibility to control what users can and cannot do within site. A site owner can manage the users’ access to different tasks. Such as writing and editing posts, creating pages, creating categories, moderating comments, managing plugins, managing themes, and managing other users by assigning a specific role to each of the users. WordPress roles are:

  • Super Admin. This role is the most powerful one, and it gives the user full control over the specific WordPress site. This role has access to the site network administration features and all other features.
  • Administrator. This role allows us to create and edit posts, manage, install and delete plugins and themes, add new users, etc. Even though it is possible to have multiple Administrators, it is advised to think carefully, who you assign this role to. It is best to reserve the administrator role for website owners. Note, if you are managing WordPress multisite, you will also have the Super Administrator role available to be able to overlook the entire network.   
  • Editor. This role gives the user control over all content on the site, but, restricts the access to website settings. Editors can create and manage posts, pages, comments, and categories, including those added by other users. What they can not do, though, is change themes, plugins, and widgets.  
  • Author. Authors can manage only the content they have created, but have no access to anything added by other users. They are also not allowed to distribute pages or create new categories. The role of the Author is to create, edit, and delete their own posts.  
  • Contributor. Contributors have a very small set of permissions. They are only allowed to add and edit posts, but cannot publish them. Their post has to be submitted for review and then published by an admin or editor. Another peculiarity is that users with this role have no access to the Media Library.
  • Subscriber. This is the role with only a few basic permissions, such as read all publically available content and leave comments. Subscribers can also change their profiles and passwords, but nothing more than that. This role comes in handy if you want to enable commenting only for registered users.

Now, let’s take a brief look at user roles customization in WordPress. You can easily add or delete the users, as well as change their roles from the “Users” tab in your admin panel. However, if you want to edit the existing user role or create a new one, you can only do so with the help of a plugin. There are numerous options to choose from, such as Capability Manager Enhanced, User Role Editor, etc.  

To sum everything up we have created a simple chart with WordPress user roles and their basic permissions.

wordpress roles

Joomla

Joomla has a more complex user role, or, as it’s referred to, Access Control Level structure than that in WordPress. The very first thing necessary to clarify us that Joomla makes a distinction between Access Levels and Permissions. Basically, Access Levels define what users can see and Permissions – what they can do. Another peculiarity is that those can be controlled on different levels – Global, Component, Category, and Article. This makes it possible to create a very precise set of permissions for each user group and control exactly what each user can see and do.

Now let’s talk a bit about the user Groups. In Joomla there seven default group available:

  • Registered. It provides solely the ability to log in to the front end interface and read the posts.
  • Author. It can contribute content, but cannot publish it. The content contributed by the author has to be submitted for review and later published by the Publisher.
  • Editor. This group allows us to add and edit all articles, including those created by other users. However, the Editors still cannot publish or change the publishing status of the articles.  
  • Publisher. Publishers have all the same permissions as Editors, but in addition to that, they can change the publishing options of articles and make them visible to the other users. Note, the four categories described above are the front-end users, who do not have access to the back-end of the site.
  • Manager. The Manager is the first user group in the Administration section. Managers can access the content from the back-end and create new Categories, Menus, and Sections. However, their access rights are restricted to content management only, for they are not allowed to modify the mechanics of the system, such as extensions, templates, etc.     
  • Administrator. The Administrator has access to most of the back-end features of the site. This user group allows managing content, components, and modules, site statistics, user accounts, etc. The restricted area, however, is the global configuration options, template management, and the Super Admin account information.
  • Super Administrator. This user group has the highest level of access and can manage and modify all parts of the website. Only the Super Admin can create edit or delete another Super Administrator account.

All later Joomla versions keep the 7 default groups but also add the option to add unlimited custom groups and assign them to various access levels. This introduces even more flexibility to the system, as it becomes possible to create any desired combination of permissions and entrust them to the user-defined group.

The process of changing and managing the User Access Levels and Permissions is described in detail in the official Joomla Documentation.       

Here is a chart for User Groups in Joomla.

joomla roles

Summary

The permissions management in WordPress is quite minimalistic, yet comprehensive. It provides enough roles to successfully operate a typical multi-user site. The benefit of such a system is simplicity in structure and ease of use. The drawback  – is an inability to create and change custom user roles with out of the box functionality.

As for Joomla, it introduces a more complex Access Control Level structure, offering a larger number of user groups and a deeper division of access levels and permissions. On the upside, such a system provides more flexibility and room for maneuver. However, with more functions also comes to a steeper learning curve, managing user roles in Joomla may not be as straightforward as in WordPress.

All in all, there is no ultimate better or worse, the choice depends on the personal preferences and requirements of the website owners. However, if you feel like you’d rather transfer your site from WordPress to Joomla or vice versa, CMS2CMS is always there to help you.

You can start the free demo migration right now and see how your website will look like on the new platform.   

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Valentyna Tysiachna

Valia is a vivid CMS platforms observer, that’s why she found her dream job of marketer manager at CMS2CMS migration service. Keen English learner, music lover and passionate content writer, she enjoys constant improvement and is open to challenges.
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