WordPress allows 5 different levels of users/authors, each with different administrative capabilities and publishing rights. In order from highest level of administrative access to lowest, they are Administrator, Editor, Author, Contributor, and Subscriber.
Establishing different levels of user access is very important if you will have multiple authors writing blog articles or if you will have anyone else helping you update and maintain your WordPress site. To maintain the various WordPress, SEO, and theme settings that your or your web team has set up, very few people should be given administrator access.
Once a new user has been added to a WordPress site, their level of access can be changed at any time, by anyone with Administrator access.
WordPress User: Administrator
An Administrator has the highest level of access to a WordPress site, and can change anything, at anytime. They have access to all of the theme settings, WordPress settings, Plug-Ins and Plug-In settings, widgets, theme files, and an Administrator is also the only person who can add a new user or delete/edit an existing one.
WordPress User: Editor
An Editor has the next highest level of access to a WordPress site, and can edit any page or post and create new pages and new posts. They also have the ability to create new categories and tags and can administer all comments on every post or page with comments that have been enabled.
Besides and Administrator, and Editor can also change the author of any post or page to any other user on the site. When logged in as an Editor, you can see that a the majority of the settings are no longer accessible, including widgets, so if there is content in a widget area that needs editing, an Administrator must make the changes.
WordPress User: Author
The next level of access is Author, who only has the ability to create and publish new posts, and can only administer comments on posts that they wrote. An Author can create, schedule, and publish new posts at anytime, but unlike an Editor, they can only edit existing posts that they have written.
WordPress User: Contributor
The final level of access to create content within a WordPress site is Contributor. A Contributor can only create posts that are saved and must be reviewed by an editor or administrator to be able to be published. After a Contributor writes a post, instead of the large blue “Publish” button, it is replaced by a similar “Submit For Review” blue button. A contributor cannot edit previously approved and published posts that they have authored, and they also cannot access the comments on any posts.
When an Editor or Administrator views the lists of posts, they will see any new post submitted by a Contributor as “Pending”. From here, the post can be edited, published, or trashed.
WordPress User: Subscriber
The final level of WordPress user that can be created is Subscriber. A subscriber cannot edit any pages or posts, and has no administrative access. WordPress has a setting, only accessible to Administrators, under the “discussion” menu that can limit comments to only users who have registered and are logged in.