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Introduction to roles in OpenCities

avatar of Kira Hartley

Kira Hartley

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All users in OpenCities must be assigned a role that will dictate what actions they can take in the system and which permissions they have. We have created a number of roles that you can use, and they correspond to how your organizational structure may work.

This is a brief introduction to how you might use the roles we have created. Alternatively, you can create your own roles, but it is best to first understand the purpose of these roles and the concepts behind them.

For a deeper look into how users and roles work, visit our Users and Roles section.

How to use OC roles

If you use OpenCities roles rather than creating your own, here's how your organization structure might look.


A person working on a laptop

System administrators 

Overseeing all aspects of your site are users with the OC System Administrator role. These people will typically be the main point of contact between your organization and ourselves at OpenCities. System administrators are trained in the use and administration of OpenCities sites and have control over key settings of the site they're added to, whether it is your main site, subsites, MyCity portal, or Intranet. Administrators can assign users to workflows, and set page permissions, in order to delegate responsibility for content created on each site. 

We recommend having at least two staff as system administrators, to account for leave, absence and staff turnover. 

Site managers

Sitting below your system administrators are site managers, with the OC Site Manager role. These staff members have all of the permissions of a system admin, with the exception of assigning users to workflows. They are only responsible for each site they're added to. If your city or council has multiple subsites, an Intranet, or a MyCity portal, you may want to delegate responsibility for individual sites to staff with experience in website management and expertise in the content for those sites. For example, a gallery subsite may have a gallery manager or arts officer as a site manager. This person will be responsible for the content and administration of that site. 

Smaller organizations with only one site might forgo this role entirely, leaving all site management responsibilities in the hands of their system admins.

Content managers and content authors

Content managers

two people working on a board

Content managers are experienced staff members responsible for overseeing the production and upkeep of various content types. These staff typically oversee a particular part of a site, such as news, events, services, and so on. In smaller organizations, these staff may also create content. Those content managers typically have the OC Power Publisher, OC Calendar Manager, and OC Map Manager roles. They may also be assigned as approvers in various workflows

Larger organizations with a deep management structure tend to have content managers whose primary responsibilities are delegating and approving work. In this case, these staff members would have the roles outlined above, as well as the OC User Manager and OC Workflow manager roles. 

Content authors

A person writing with an oversize pencil on a screen

These staff members are responsible for day-to-day content creation. Content authors are split between OC Publishers and OC Power Publishers

Less experienced staff are suited to the OC Publisher role, which has limited content creation permissions. These staff can create pages, but can’t archive or delete pages. Their content creation options in the WYSIWYG Editor are also more limited. Publishers should be assigned to creating content that doesn't require advanced content creation tools like plugins, custom HTML, maps, calendars, or accordions. Some organizations may want to use this role as the base to create their own. For example, you may want to keep the content creation restrictions of this role, but add the ability to archive or delete pages.

As staff gain experience, they become more suited to the OC Power Publisher role, which affords the full suite of content creation options in the WYSIWYG, and allows users to archive and delete pages.

Custom roles are most commonly variations on OC Publisher and OC Power Publisher roles. An organization with a deep management structure, for example, might make a role with the content creation tools of an OC Power Publisher, but the same restrictions on content deletion as an OC Publisher. Alternatively, you might want to restrict your publishers and power publishers to creating particular content types. 

Other roles


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Site designers can create and manage themes for your main site, subsites, and Intranet. Staff assigned the OC Site Designer role should be a qualified web developer with strong HTML, CSS, and Javascript skills, as well as a sound understanding of WCAG 2.1 AA. This is a specialist role that most organizations will not need to assign unless they are undertaking theme-related changes.


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Like site designers, the developer role is often left unassigned unless an organization has specialist staff employed with the requisite skills to get under the hood with OpenCities. We recommend that any staff assigned the OC Developer role is a qualified web developer with strong HTML, CSS, and Javascript skills, as well as a sound understanding of WCAG 2.1 AA. Developers will need to test and maintain customized themes for accessibility compliance, usability, and cross-browser and device support. For more information, see the developer section in this help center. 

Content moderators

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If you have the premium community engagement module installed, the OC Moderator role allows users to moderate community feedback on your site pages. This role can also be assigned to system administrators, site managers, or content managers.

What's next?

More on users and roles:

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