I don't know if this is possible, but I've got two user roles: Hero and Legend. When people subscribe to my website, they're assigned the Hero user role.

I would like to be able to toggle users to the Legend user role by having a button on /users.php in its own column

Is there a function that could swap user roles between the two roles? Or is that something that can't be done on the fly?

I know that you can "change user role" at the top of the table, but for other Admins of the website, I would like to be able to have a button so they feel like they have changed it.

Note: Legend's get to see more content than Hero users


1 Answer 1


As it happens, I have something very similar on one of my sites to to allow Administrators update some custom user meta.

Basically, you need to add an additional column and then populate it with a link to do what you want. When you click the link some jQuery fires of an AJAX request to update the user role and then you are redirected back the the /wp-admin/users.php page.

To main workhorse here is the wp_update_user() function, which I encourage you to take a look at.


First, add this to your functions.php file to add the additional column and it's contents. This will also add the AJAX function that will actually do all the magic when it's called upon -

/** Manage custom columns on instances of 'WP_List_Table' */
add_action('init', 'my_setup_custom_columns', 110, 0);
function my_setup_custom_columns(){
    /** Manage columns on the WP_Users_List_Table */
    add_filter('manage_users_columns', 'my_add_custom_columns');
    /** Populate additional columns on the WP_Users_List_Table */
    add_action('manage_users_custom_column', 'my_fill_custom_columns_return', 10, 3);

 * Add additional custom columns to the list table views in the admin area
 * @param required array $columns   The columns that currently exist
function my_add_custom_columns($columns){

    /** Grab the page that is currently being viewed */
    global $pagenow;
    /** Users specific columns (http://www.blog.com/wp-admin/users.php) */
    if($pagenow === 'users.php') :
        $new_columns['my-change-user-role'] = __('Change Role');
    $columns = $columns + $new_columns;
    return $columns;

 * Fill the custom columns by returning data
 * @param required string $column_value The current column value (in this case 'null' since the columns are new)
 * @param required string $column_name  The name of the column to return data for
 * @param required integer $object_id   The ID of the curent object to fill the column for
 * @return string $column_value         The value to fill the column with
function my_fill_custom_columns_return($column_value, $column_name, $object_id){

    switch($column_name) :
         * ID (the ID of the current object)
        case 'my-change-user-role' :
            $user = get_userdata($object_id);
            $role = $user->roles[0];
            if($role === 'legend') :
                $column_value = '<span user-id="' . $object_id . '" new-role="subscriber" class="change-user-role">Downgrade to a Hero</span>';
            elseif($role === 'hero') :
                $column_value = '<span user-id="' . $object_id . '" new-role="document_administrator" class="change-user-role">Upgrade to a Legend</span>';
                $column_value = '&#8212;';
    return $column_value;

 * Change the role of a given user
add_action('wp_ajax_change_user_role', 'my_update_user_role');
function my_update_user_role(){

    /** Update the user role */
    $args = array(
        'ID'    => $_POST['user_id'],
        'role'  => $_POST['new_role']
    $result = wp_update_user($args);
    /** Check whether or not the update was successful */
    if(is_wp_error($user_id)) :
        $message = 'An unexpected error occured, please try again.';
        $url = false;
    else :
        $message = 'success';
        $url = admin_url('users.php');
    $return = array(
        'message'   => $message,
        'url'       => $url
    echo json_encode((object)$return);
    wp_die(); // This is required to terminate immediately and return a proper response


Next, add this to a style sheet that is accessible when you are viewing the admin area -

.wp-list-table.users .manage-column.column-my-change-user-role{
    width:  150px;
.wp-list-table.users span.change-user-role{
    color:  #0074A2;
    cursor: pointer;
.wp-list-table.users span.change-user-role:hover{
    color:  #2EA2CC;


Finally, add this to a JS file that is accessible when you are viewing the admin area -

    var updateUser = {
         * Psuedo constructor
        init : function(){
            this.userChangeRoleButtons = $('.wp-list-table.users span.change-user-role');   // Grab all instance of the buttons to change the user role
            this.createEvents();                                                            // Create the events to be handled by this object
        }, // init
         * Create the events that are to be handled by this object
        createEvents : function(){
            var t = this;   // This object
             * Handle clicks of the change user role buttons
            this.userChangeRoleButtons.on('click', function(e){
        }, // createEvents
         * Updates the user role as required
        changeRole : function(clicked){
            var t               = this, // This object
                user_id         = clicked.attr('user-id'),
                new_role        = clicked.attr('new-role');
            var data = {    // The data object to pass to the AJAX request
                action:     'change_user_role',
                user_id:    user_id,
                new_role:   new_role
            /** Make the AJAX request to update the download count */
            var action_jqxhr = $.post(ajaxurl, data, function(response){
                /** Parse the JSON response */
                var obj = JSON.parse(response);
                /** Ensure that there were no errors and update the 'Change role' button text */
                if(obj.message.indexOf('error') === -1){    // There was no error, redirect the user back to this page
                } else {    // There was an error, tell the user about it
                    alert(obj.message); // Show the error to the user
            }).fail(function(){ // There was an AJAX error...
                alert('An unexpected error occured, please try again.');
        } // changeRole
  • This is exactly what I needed – Astonishing, thank you. Thanks for pointing out update_user, I'm pulling this apart now to explore what else I can change :D Feb 23, 2015 at 16:12

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