How to Show Different Menus to Different WordPress User Roles

How to Show Different Menus to Different WordPress User Roles

If you’ve already taken the time to nail down the perfect navigation for your WordPress site, the next thing on your todo list should be working out how much of your website’s menu should be visible to your site’s visitors.

For many websites, there probably isn’t much need to customize navigation. However, if you happen to run a website with multiple user types and access privileges, menu customization is a must.

Here are some of the reasons you may want to do this:

  • You offer members-only access to certain pages, content, and personal profile pages.
  • You accept guest posts and want to give them an easy way to log in without having to show a Login button to other visitors.
  • You have multiple user types that visit your website and you need to restrict access to certain parts of the navigation based on the role they play (i.e. administrator, editor, contributor, customer, etc.)
  • You run a forum or other discussion board and want to give logged-in users access to the private discussion area.
  • You want to include a registration link only to users who are not logged in or otherwise have access to your website.

If you’re looking for some simple tools and pointers on how to hide or show different parts of your WordPress menu to certain individuals, keep reading.

Plugins to Create WordPress Menus for Specific User Roles

Since plugins will play a crucial role in this process, let’s start there:

  • Add New Users Plugin

    Make sure to start with the Add New Users plugin. This will give you the ability to add new users and define their role and access privileges on the site. It lets you add up to 15 users at a time and you can set the username, email, and password for each user easily. It works with WordPress multisite and BuddyPress, too.

    Add New Users is available for free with a WPMU DEV membership.

    Interested in Add New Users Plugin?

  • Custom Sidebars Pro

    With Custom Sidebars you can create as many sidebar configurations for your site as needed – for first-time visitors or members, for specific pages on your site, for special landing pages, you name it – and trigger them to display as needed.

    Here are a few examples of how you could use Custom Sidebars:

    • If you run a blog that features reviews, opinions or tutorials, you could trigger a custom sidebar for each category that best reflects and supports the topic.
    • Share a calendar, promotional code or special offer with logged in users, based on their WordPress user role.
    • If you run an e-Commerce site, display a product list or list of featured articles.
    • Display advertisements only to users who aren’t logged into your site.

    And here is what you can control in the backend of the free version of the plugin:

    • Sidebars for all the posts that belong to a category
    • Sidebars for all the posts that belong to a post-type
    • Sidebars for archives (by category, post-type, author, tag)
    • Sidebars for the main blog page
    • Sidebars for search results

    Interested in Custom Sidebars Pro?

  • WPFront User Role Editor Plugin

    Here is another plugin that will allow you to manage user roles and access. The main difference with this one is that you can create new, custom roles for your site, rather than rely on WordPress’ standard ones. You can also change standard role names to give users a more personalized and brand-related experience.

    Interested in WPFront User Role Editor Plugin?

  • Nav Menu Roles Plugin

    This next plugin isn’t anything super fancy, but it will provide you with easy control over which pages or links to hide or show within your site’s menu. You’ll be able to restrict menu access based on the following high-level identifiers: Logged In Users, Logged Out Users, Everyone. If you choose the Logged In Users option, you can also restrict access based on specific roles.

    Interested in Nav Menu Roles Plugin?

  • Pages by User Role Plugin

    These next two plugins are related to one another and are going to sound similar, but they’ll help you accomplish two different goals.

    For the Pages by User Role plugin, it will help you do just that: restrict users’ access to different pages, posts, and post types on your website. This means that the pages will not show up in your menu nor will they show up in search if a restricted user tries to access them. So, if you’re looking for more control over the individual pieces of your website, take a look at this plugin.

    Interested in Pages by User Role Plugin?

  • Menu by User Role Plugin

    Now, for the developer that wants to focus on the menu build itself rather than on specific page access, this is the plugin for you. With this one, you can create a menu that is available to the general public, a menu for logged-in users, and a menu for each of the different user types who have access to your site.

    Interested in Menu by User Role Plugin?

  • If Menu Plugin

    The If Menu plugin will give your menus added flexibility in how you restrict user access. For instance, you can define extra conditions outside of user state (logged in vs. not logged in). You can combine conditions related to user role, page types, device types, and more. So if you have a reason to get more granular in defining access rules, check out this plugin.

    Interested in If Menu Plugin?

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Step-by-Step: Creating WordPress Menus for Specific User Roles

Once you’ve selected the plugin you want to use, it’s time to get started in setting up those menu customizations. Refer to the following checklist if you have any questions on how to do this:

Step 1: In WordPress, go to the Appearance tab and click on Menus. Make sure you’ve set up all of the menus and pages/links you want to include in your site’s navigation.

Remember: you don’t have to create a separate menu for each user role or state, unless you want to. This may make sense if you’re going to present a completely different menu to logged-in users versus logged-out users. However, if you only need to hide a login or register button, or you want to make some other minor change, you’ll be best off just creating one universal menu.

define-menus

Step 2: Download and activate the plugin you plan to use, if you haven’t done so already.

Step 3: Go to the Users tab and click on All Users. Before making any changes to access, ensure that you’ve clearly defined each of your users’ roles within WordPress.

user-management

Step 4: Go back to the Menus page. Review each page or link and set the appropriate user restrictions and roles. If you’re using the Menu by User Role plugin, you’ll only need to define which users have access to each menu.

restrict-access

Step 5: Keep in mind that if there are child menu items tucked beneath a page that you plan on hiding from someone, these will also be hidden from view too. So if you don’t want to keep users from accessing those pages, move those child menu pages out onto the top level so they don’t unintentionally get hidden.

Step 6: Once all of these changes have been completed, you’ll want to go through your site to confirm that all the correct links appear.

  • Test 1: Visit the site as someone who is logged out or does not have special user access to it otherwise.
  • Test 2: Visit the website and log in. Then view how it has changed.
  • Test 3: Repeat test #2 for each of the different user roles or conditional restrictions you have put in place.

Once you’ve verified that each user’s menu view is correct, get ready to start inviting others to sign up or join!

Wrapping Up

So there you have it. Six easy-to-use plugins and six simple steps to give you better control over how you create WordPress menus for specific user roles. Not too bad, right?

If you have more than one type of user, why have one-size-fits-all menus? Tailoring menus for each of your users is a must, especially if you run a membership site. First-time visitors to your site don’t necessarily need to see the same content in your sidebars as regular visitors. Likewise, it makes sense to display different information (or widgets) to users who are logged into your site (such as account details), as opposed to users who are logged out.

Brenda Barron
Now I want to hear from you. Have you ever created user role-specific menus? Tell me all about the steps you took in the comments below.