How to Enable or Disable User Registration in WordPress

WordPress offers a built-in user management and registration system. That means you can allow visitors to register on your website to receive updates, make purchases, or submit comments. User registration is disabled by default, so you may need to turn it on.

Fortunately, enabling user registration in WordPress is simple. Once you complete the process, you can share a registration link with visitors so they can sign up at any time. WordPress will take care of the rest. This includes saving user data, assigning roles, and submitting email confirmations.

In this article, we’ll talk about when it makes sense to offer users the option to sign up on your website. Then we’ll show you how to enable and disable user registration. 

An introduction to WordPress user roles

Before we continue, it’s important to have some familiarity with the six user roles WordPress offers. Each user account is assigned a specific role, and as the administrator (the top user role), you have full control over assignment and permissions.

The default WordPress user roles are:

  1. Super admin. This only exists for WordPress Multisite networks. This level gets administrative permissions on websites within the entire network.
  2. Administrator. With this role, you can modify any aspect of the website through your dashboard. You can also create, modify, and delete user accounts.
  3. Editor. This account gets to create and publish posts. It can also edit entries by other users.
  4. Author. The author user role can create and publish posts, but it only has access to content published under its own account.
  5. Contributor. The contributor user role can create posts, but it doesn’t get publishing permissions. An editor needs to review the content and publish it.
  6. Subscriber. This is the lowest user role. Subscribers don’t get to create, publish, or edit content. They simply have access to their own profiles.

The default WordPress user role system is designed primarily for blogging. You can expand on existing user roles with plugins or by modifying your WordPress setup. Depending on your choices, you might end up with dozens of available user roles.

list of user roles, including ones added by plugins

When a visitor creates an account, they’re assigned a user role and a corresponding set of permissions. You have control over what role new users are assigned, and can change them if needed.

When to enable user registration in WordPress

By default, users won’t be able to register on a new WordPress website. This is primarily because a lot of sites won’t need this feature. If you’re running a one-author blog, for example, there’s little reason to provide this option. If your goal is to collect emails for marketing, there are plenty of choices that don’t require user registration. 

It does make sense under other circumstances, though. If you have a team of authors, you can enable registration and assign Author and Editor roles to specific users. For online stores, you can enable custom user roles like Customer and Shop Manager.

Here’s the standard registration form:

the default WordPress registration form

There are few downsides to enabling user registrations. You can avoid most potential problems by not giving accounts access to more permissions than they need.

Still, one issue you should consider is spam registrations. This is when bots or attackers register fake accounts on your website. They may do this so they can fill your comments sections with affiliate links, try to modify your content, or even steal user data.

Fortunately, there are several ways to prevent spam registrations on your website. So you shouldn’t let that concern stop you from implementing this feature if it suits your needs.

How to enable user registration in WordPress

Enabling user registration in WordPress is simple. If you want to make it easy for visitors to register, you’ll also need to provide them a link to the signup page. Let’s see how you can do this in just a few steps:

Step 1: Enable the user registration feature

First, log in to your WordPress site and navigate to Settings → General in your dashboard. Scroll down until you see the option that reads Membership. Tick the Anyone can register box.

registrations enabled in WordPress

Before you save your changes, take a look at the New User Default Role option. By default, WordPress assigns the Subscriber user role to new accounts, but you can modify this depending on your needs.

If you’re using WooCommerce, you might prefer to set the default role to Customer instead. That way, new users will be able to track their purchases through their profiles.

Step 2: Add a registration link to your website

Once you enable registration for your WordPress site, you’ll need to provide visitors with a link to the signup page. You can find this page by navigating to the following URL:

yourwebsite.com/wp-login.php?action=register

You have multiple options for adding this link to your website, but your best bet is to use the main navigation menu. To modify this menu, go to Appearance → Menus → Edit Menus. Next to Select a menu to edit, you’ll see a list of existing options.

choosing a menu to edit in WordPress

One of those should be called something like “main navigation.” Select the primary menu and WordPress will show you the links it contains under Menu structure.

editing the main menu in WordPress

The above menu includes links to three pages, which are Homepage, Shop, and Checkout. To add a link to the registration page, select the Custom Links tab in your left-hand panel. 

Then add your site’s registration link in the URL field, and type something like “Sign up” in the Link text field. Click on Add to Menu.

adding a Signup link to the main menu

By default, any new links that you add to the menu will appear last. If your site design displays a horizontal menu, the Signup link will show up as the last entry on the right. If your navigation is vertical, the Signup link will appear at the bottom.

a list of pages in the menu, with Signup at the bottom

If you want to change the order, you can easily do so by dragging and dropping the menu items. Then click on Save menu, and that’s it. When you check out your website again, you should see a Sign Up option in the main navigation menu.

Shop page with a Signup link in the header

Keep in mind that you can use any text you want for the link to the user registration page. “Sign Up” is usually a safe bet, but you can also opt for “Register Now,” “Sign Up Now,” or other variants.

Step 3 (Optional): Customize your WordPress registration page

If you want your user registration process to be as clear and user-friendly as possible, you may want further customization options. In that case, your best choice is to use a plugin like User Registration.

With User Registration, you get access to a drag-and-drop builder that enables you to easily add new fields to your registration page. This plugin comes with a collection of pre-built fields. This includes options that let you choose your country, upload a profile picture, and more.

After installing and activating the plugin, go to User Registration → User Registration in your WordPress dashboard. The plugin will automatically generate a basic signup form, which you can select and edit.

the default User Registration form with the User Registration plugin

User Registration will show you a preview of its basic registration form. You can use the menu to the left to select the fields you want to include. Then you can rearrange them on the right.

editing user registration form fields

Additionally, if you select any field in the right-hand panel, the plugin will show you its customization settings (or Field Options) to the left. These settings enable you to choose which elements are required, as well as what labels and descriptions to include.

field settings for the user registration form

When you’re done tweaking your registration form, click on Update form. Then copy the shortcode above the form editor.

copying the shortcode to add the user registration form to a page

You can use that shortcode to embed the new registration form on any page on your website. Simply add a Shortcode block to your chosen page.

adding the shortcode into WordPress

Publish the page, and it should look something like this on the front end:

a customer user registration form on a website

Since you’re using a custom registration page, you’ll also need to update the Sign Up link in your main navigation menu. To do so, replace the link with the URL for this new page (for more details, refer back to Step 2.) Then, test the link on the front end of your site to ensure that it leads to the new registration page.

How to update user roles in WordPress

After a user registers, you might need to update their role manually. This may occur if you set the default role to Subscriber.

To update a user’s role, go to Users → All Users and locate the account you want to modify. If there’s a large number of users, you might need to search to find the right account.

viewing a user in WordPress

When you’ve located the desired account, hover over it and click on Edit. That will open a new page for editing account settings. While you’re there, you can also manually update the Nickname, First Name, Last Name, and more.

editing user role information, like name and role

Most importantly, you’ll need to use the drop-down menu next to Role to select a new permissions level for the account. After altering the user’s role, save your changes.

How to disable user registration in WordPress

Disabling user registration in WordPress is simple. If you’re having problems with your website due to an influx of fake users or you just want to disable registration temporarily, you can do it in a few clicks. 

Go to Settings → General in your WordPress dashboard. Look for the option that reads Anyone can register and deselect it.

disabling user registration in WordPress

After you disable the setting, save your changes. If you have a user registration link in your site’s main navigation menu, remember to remove it as well. That way, visitors won’t try to register while the option is turned off. If they attempt and fail to register, it may create confusion.

Creating a strong community through your WordPress website

WordPress makes it easy to enable user registration on your website. You also get full control over what roles to assign to new users. As the administrator, you can edit existing users, change their roles, and even delete them.

Once you enable user registration in WordPress, you can link to your registration page anywhere on your website. A great place to add a registration URL is in your main navigation menu. Some plugins even enable you to create fully-customized registration pages, so you can ask users for pertinent information when they sign up to your site.

Of course, the more users who join your website, the harder it can be to deal with spam. Fortunately, Akismet can help keep your site spam free. That way, real users will be able to enjoy engaging with each other in the comments sections. Sign up for an Akismet plan and watch spam disappear!