User Management and Permissions on a Multisite Network

Posted on May 2, 2023 at 8:29 am

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Managing users and their permissions on a WordPress Multisite Network can be a challenging task, especially if you are new to the platform. However, understanding the different types of users, their roles and capabilities, and how to create user groups with network-wide permissions, among other things, can make the process much smoother.

In this article, we will delve into the various aspects of user management and permissions on a Multisite Network. We will discuss how to assign site-specific permissions to users, manage user registration and login processes, as well as password and account management to ensure maximum security.

Furthermore, integrating third-party plugins for user management to enhance the functionality of your network, and best practices for managing user permissions on a Multisite Network will also be explored.

Whether you are an experienced WordPress Multisite Network administrator, or just starting with the platform, this article will provide you with valuable insights into user management and permissions, and how to execute them effectively. Let's get started!

Types of users on a Multisite Network

A Multisite Network is a WordPress installation that enables the creation of various websites under a single domain. As the network admin, you can define user roles and capabilities that govern the access and privileges of users in the network. Here are the different types of users commonly found on a Multisite Network:

Network Admin

The Network Admin holds the highest level of access and has the capability to manage the entire Multisite Network. They can create and delete sites, manage user roles and permissions, activate and deactivate plugins, and modify themes across the network. There can only be one Network Admin per Multisite Network.

Site Admin

The Site Admin is the individual responsible for managing an individual website within the Multisite Network. They have comprehensive access to their site and can make changes that affect the site's layout, content, and configuration.


Users refer to the individuals who have registered for an account on a specific website within the Multisite Network. Once registered, users can log in to the site to participate in discussions, perform specific actions, or consume published content. They are classified into different roles, which determine their capabilities and what they can access within the site.

Super Admin

Super Admin is a unique role that exists only in Multisite Networks. They possess all the capabilities of the Network Admin, with the exception of the power to create new sites. Super Admins are typically high-level team members or stakeholders within the organization and can be granted access to specific sites or the entire network.


Subscribers are registered users who have the most limited access to the network. Their permission grants them access to the published content on a website and the ability to create a profile. In general, subscribers cannot be given any role that involves the ability to edit posts or pages.

In summary, Multisite Network users fall into specific categories with varying degrees of capabilities and privileges. Proper categorization is vital to ensure user activity aligns with network objectives. For more information on managing user roles, see this guide.

Managing User Roles and Capabilities

One of the most important aspects of managing a Multisite Network is controlling what users can and cannot do within the network. The key to achieving this is by assigning specific user roles and capabilities to each user on the network.

Understanding User Roles

A user role is a set of permissions that determine what a user can and cannot do on a website or network. WordPress comes with six standard user roles:

  • Super Admin: This role is reserved for the network owner and has complete control over all sites on the network.
  • Administrator: This role is for site owners and managers, who have full control over the site they are assigned to.
  • Editor: This role can publish and manage posts and pages, as well as manage other users' posts.
  • Author: This role can publish and manage their own posts.
  • Contributor: This role can write and manage their posts but cannot publish them.
  • Subscriber: This role can only manage their profile and view content.

Customizing User Capabilities

While WordPress comes with standard user roles, sometimes, your site or network may require custom user roles to meet the specific needs of your content or business. WordPress offers the capability to customize user roles and capabilities using plugins like User Role Editor or Members.

Customizing user capabilities allows network administrators to add or remove specific permissions for each user role. For example, you might create a custom user role for someone who moderates comments across all sites in your network but doesn't have full administrator access.

Assigning User Roles

Assigning user roles is a straightforward process. Simply head to the Users section in your WordPress dashboard, select the user you want to modify the role for and choose the role that best suits their position. It's important to only give users the roles and capabilities they need as it reduces the risk of unauthorized access or accidental data loss.


Managing user roles and capabilities is essential to a successful Multisite Network. The ability to customize user roles and assign specific permissions to each user enables network administrators to exert fine-grained control over their network. By following best practices for managing user roles and capabilities, you'll create a secure and efficient network that provides a great experience for your users.

Creating user groups for network-wide permissions

Managing multiple users on a Multisite Network can often be a challenging task, especially when having to grant the same permissions to several users across different sites. In this context, creating user groups for network-wide permissions can be an efficient way to streamline the process and ensure consistency in user access to specific functionalities.

User groups typically consist of a collection of users who have been assigned the same roles and capabilities. These groups can be created and modified through the Network Admin dashboard, accessible only to site administrators and super administrators. Once a user group has been created, site admins can assign network-wide permissions to these groups, which will apply across all the sites under the network.

One advantage of using user groups is that it saves time and effort, as site administrators don't have to grant permissions to individual users manually. For example, if a particular group of users needs to be able to edit and publish posts across all sites in the network, a site admin can create a user group with these capabilities and assign the group to the relevant sites. This will ensure that all users within the group will have the same level of access, without the need to manage them individually.

Another benefit of using user groups is that it allows for greater control and customization of user permissions. Site administrators can create multiple user groups with different permissions, and assign them accordingly to different sites based on what level of access each group needs. For instance, a user group for editors may have more permissions than a user group for authors, and so forth.

Some plugins, such as the User Role Editor, can also help simplify the process of creating and managing user groups on a Multisite Network. Such plugins provide an intuitive and user-friendly interface for assigning network-wide permissions to groups and individuals.

To create user groups for network-wide permissions, follow these steps:

  1. Navigate to the Network Admin dashboard.
  2. Click on Users > Add New.
  3. Enter a name for the user group in the "Group Name" field.
  4. Select the desired roles and capabilities for the user group.
  5. Click "Add Group."
  6. Go to Sites > All Sites.
  7. Select the site(s) you want to grant network-wide access to.
  8. Click on "Bulk Actions" > "Edit."
  9. Select the user group from the drop-down menu under "Add User/Group."
  10. Click "Update" to save the changes.

Creating user groups for network-wide permissions can be a valuable tool for many Multisite Network administrators. It can save time, improve consistency and control, and make the management of multiple users much more efficient. Whatever your needs may be, make sure you take the time to plan out your user groups carefully and customize them to suit your particular needs.

Assigning site-specific permissions to users on a Multisite Network

One of the key benefits of a Multisite Network is that it allows for site-specific permissions to be assigned to users. This means that you can grant users access to specific sites within the network while restricting their access to others.

Assigning site-specific permissions is a simple process that can be completed in a few steps:

  1. Log into your Multisite Network as a Super Admin.

  2. Click on the "Sites" tab and select the site you want to assign permissions for.

  3. Click on the "Users" tab and select the user you want to assign permissions to.

  4. Choose the role you want to assign to the user for that particular site.

It is important to note that assigning site-specific permissions is different from assigning network-wide permissions. When assigning network-wide permissions, the user's role will apply to all sites on the network. Site-specific permissions, on the other hand, only apply to the specific site that the user is granted access to.

Assigning site-specific permissions can be useful in a number of scenarios. For example, you might want to grant a user access to a particular site so that they can contribute content, but not give them access to other sites where they might not be needed. Alternatively, you might want to give a user access to a specific site so that they can manage that site's content and settings, without giving them access to the underlying network.

Overall, assigning site-specific permissions to users on a Multisite Network offers a high degree of flexibility and control over user access. By taking advantage of this feature, you can ensure that users have the access they need to perform their roles effectively, without compromising the security or stability of your network.

If you want to learn more about assigning site-specific permissions to users on a Multisite Network, check out this helpful guide.

Managing user registration and login processes

One of the key aspects of managing a Multisite Network is effectively handling user registration and login processes. These processes are crucial for security and user management, as well as for ensuring a smooth user experience.

User registration

User registration is the process by which new users are added to your Multisite Network. There are two main approaches to user registration:

  • Open registration: Anyone can register themselves on your network.
  • Closed registration: Only network administrators can add new users.

Open registration can be useful if you are running a public-facing website and want to encourage user participation. Closed registration, on the other hand, is more secure and can help prevent spam and other unwanted activity.

To configure user registration settings on your Multisite Network, go to Network Admin > Settings > Registration Settings. Here, you can choose whether to enable user registration and whether to allow users to create their own sites.

User login

User login is the process by which existing users access their accounts on your Multisite Network. Common login methods include:

  • Email and password: Users enter their email address and a password to access their account.
  • Social login: Users use their social media accounts (such as Facebook or Google) to login to your network.
  • Single sign-on (SSO): Users use their login credentials from another system (such as a university or company) to access your network.

To configure user login settings on your Multisite Network, go to Network Admin > Settings > Login Settings. Here, you can choose which login methods to allow and configure other security settings, such as password strength requirements and login throttling.

It's important to remember that the login process is often the first point of contact that users have with your network. Therefore, it's important to design a login page that is easy to use and visually appealing. You may also want to consider using plugins such as LoginPress to customize your login page.


Managing user registration and login processes is an essential aspect of running a Multisite Network. By configuring the right settings and designing an easy-to-use user interface, you can ensure that your users have a smooth and secure experience on your network. Be sure to regularly review your user management processes to ensure that they are meeting your needs and the needs of your users.

Password and Account Management for Users

Password and account management is an important aspect of managing a Multisite Network. It ensures the security of user data and enhances the user experience. Here are a few best practices for managing passwords and accounts on your Multisite Network:

Strong Passwords

Encourage your users to create strong passwords that are difficult to guess. A strong password consists of a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols. It should be at least 8 characters long. Statistics show that 76% of data breaches occur due to weak passwords. Therefore, by enforcing strong password policies, you can prevent such incidents from happening.

Two-Factor Authentication

Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) is a security protocol that provides an extra layer of protection for user accounts. It requires users to provide two forms of identification to access their accounts. The first form of authentication is typically a username and password, while the second form can be a code sent to their phone or a biometric scan. 2FA can significantly reduce the risk of data breaches.

Account Deactivation

Inactive user accounts pose a risk to your Multisite Network's security. Hackers can exploit these accounts to gain unauthorized access to your network. Therefore, it is essential to deactivate accounts that have not been used for a long time. You can do this manually or use a plugin that automates the process.

Password Reset

Provide an easy and secure way for users to reset their passwords. It is often the case that users forget their passwords, which can be frustrating. By providing a password reset function, users can easily regain access to their accounts. Additionally, this function should be secure to prevent unauthorized access.

Account Recovery

In a situation where a user's account has been compromised or lost access, providing a means for account recovery is paramount to user satisfaction and network security. Utilize commonly used account recovery mechanisms, such as email verification or phone number verification to assist users in recovering their accounts.

By implementing these best practices, you can ensure the security of your Multisite Network's user data and enhance user experience. Remember to prioritize good password hygiene in all your user interactions, ensuring a have a secure and safe user experience.

Integrating Third-Party Plugins for User Management

While WordPress Multisite Network offers robust user management features, some webmasters may require more advanced capabilities. Thankfully, there are numerous third-party plugins available that can help enhance the user management experience on a Multisite Network.

Plugins like Advanced Access Manager, User Role Editor, and Members allow webmasters to customize user roles and permissions, create user groups with specific capabilities, and manage user registration and login processes in greater detail. These plugins offer a comprehensive approach to managing users on a Multisite Network, providing greater flexibility and control.

Moreover, third-party plugins allow webmasters to integrate with other tools and platforms seamlessly. For instance, the use of SAML and OpenID Connect (OIDC) protocols can enable single sign-on (SSO) between WordPress Multisite and other applications, such as CRM tools, marketing automation platforms, etc.

According to a survey conducted by WP Engine, more than 62% of WordPress professionals use third-party plugins to handle user management and security on their websites. The use of these plugins is increasing by 3.6% annually, showing that webmasters are continually seeking better user management solutions.

To integrate third-party plugins on a Multisite Network, one needs to install and activate the plugin on the Network admin dashboard first. After that, webmasters can choose to either activate the plugin on a specific site or network-wide. Network-wide activation ensures that all subsites on the network have access to the plugin's features, allowing more streamlined user management across the board.

In conclusion, integrating third-party plugins for user management provides a comprehensive approach to managing users on a Multisite Network. These plugins enhance the network's built-in features, enabling webmasters to have greater flexibility and control. Understanding their capabilities and integrating them on a WordPress Multisite can lead to a significant improvement in user experience and webmaster workload.

Best practices for managing user permissions on a Multisite Network

Managing user permissions on a Multisite Network can be complex and overwhelming, especially if the network has a large number of users and sites. To ensure maximum security and efficiency, there are certain best practices that network administrators should follow.

Conduct a thorough user audit

Before managing user permissions, it's important to conduct a thorough user audit to determine who has access to what resources and to identify any vulnerabilities. This audit should include:

  • Reviewing each user's role and capabilities
  • Identifying any outdated or unused accounts
  • Determining which users have access to sensitive data or resources
  • Restricting access to users who don't need it

Use a role-based access control (RBAC) system

RBAC is a system that assigns access permissions to users based on their role within the organization. A user's role determines which resources they have access to and what actions they can perform on those resources. Using an RBAC system ensures that users only have access to the resources they need to do their job, reducing the risk of unauthorized access or data breaches.

Regularly review and update permissions

To maintain the highest level of security and efficiency, user permissions should be regularly reviewed and updated. This includes:

  • Removing access for users who no longer need it
  • Updating permissions for users who have changed roles
  • Reviewing site-specific permissions to ensure they are still appropriate
  • Checking for any permissions that may have been accidentally or maliciously granted

Educate users on security best practices

Educating users on security best practices is essential to maintaining a secure Multisite Network. This includes:

  • Enforcing strong password policies
  • Encouraging users to use unique passwords for each site
  • Training users on how to recognize and avoid phishing attacks
  • Providing resources for learning about cybersecurity best practices

Implement a two-factor authentication (2FA) process

2FA is an authentication method that adds an extra layer of security to the login process. Users are required to provide two forms of identification to access their accounts, usually a password and a secondary code sent to their mobile device or email. Implementing 2FA reduces the risk of unauthorized access to the network and its resources.

By following these best practices, network administrators can ensure that user permissions are managed effectively, reducing the risk of security breaches and ensuring the efficient operation of the Multisite Network. For more information on how to manage user permissions on a Multisite Network, check out this guide from WordPress.

In conclusion, managing users and permissions on a Multisite Network can be complex, but with proper understanding and implementation, it can be executed seamlessly. We have discussed the various types of users that exist on a Multisite Network, the different user roles and capabilities available, and user groups that can be created for network-wide permissions.

Moreover, we have covered the process of assigning site-specific permissions to users, managing user registration and login processes, password and account management, and integrating third-party plugins for user management.

It is important to note that best practices for managing user permissions on a Multisite Network include regularly reviewing and updating user permissions, ensuring that users only have access to the necessary capabilities, and monitoring user activity to detect any suspicious behavior.

As a reader, it is recommended to create a clear user management system that aligns with the goals of your Multisite Network. Assigning users to specific user groups and regularly reviewing permissions will help ensure that each user has access to the necessary capabilities without compromising website security.

By implementing the tips and best practices outlined in this article, users can successfully manage users and permissions on their Multisite Network. Furthermore, they can take control of their network’s security while ensuring that each user has the necessary access to execute their tasks efficiently and effectively.

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