Access rights

  • Updated
This topic is for CMS administrators and developers with administrative access rights.

By using access rights in Optimizely Content Management System (CMS), you can control the content visitors see, what editors can do, and where they can do it in the content structure. For example, you may give members of the marketing department access to edit the website marketing material that other company users should not edit. You can set access rights for different types of content, such as pages, blocks, images, and documents, in the navigation and assets panels.

You can also use access rights together with audiences and give an audience from a local 10-mile radius access to an advertisement page.

Access rights are normally managed from the administration view in CMS, but you can give editors the right to manage access rights for a single page in edit view.

Video: Manage access rights

 Video tutorial: Manage access rights (6:39 minutes)

Different types of access

You can grant or deny access to users and groups: Read, Create, Change, Delete, Publish, and Administer.

Access right Description
Read The user or group can access the content as a reader; otherwise, the content is invisible.
Create The user or group can create content under the item on which this right is set.
Change The user or group can access the content to modify it. Typically, Create and Change are set together, but there may be cases where you want someone to modify created content (but not create their own) or vice versa.
Delete The user or group can delete the content.
Publish The user or group can publish the content.
Administer The user or group can create and edit approval sequences and set access rights and language properties on individual content items from edit view for content given this access.

This does not provide access to the admin view. To access the admin view, you must be a member of the WebAdmins group, see Built-in user groups).

Access rights to assets

As for pages, access rights can be applied to assets in the content structure, such as folders, blocks, and media. You can define specific access rights from the "Root" level and down, including the Recycle bin (Trash) and For All Sites that store blocks and media. Blocks and media share the same folder structure.

Editors must have Create access rights to the global or site-specific folder under For All Sites or For This Site where they want to upload an image or create a block, or to the current page when adding assets to the local For This Page folder. Suppose media should be automatically published when uploaded. In that case, editors who upload must have Publish access rights to the global or site-specific folder or the page if media are uploaded to the local folder.

See Folders for a description of global, site-specific, and local folders.

Media are never automatically published if an approval sequence is set on the folder to which the media are uploaded.


Should I set access rights for a single user or a group?

You can set access rights to content for a single user. For example, you can set the access rights so only Abbie (and system administrators) can edit the Book a Demo page. You can add Abbie to any number of pages and content and set Abbie's access rights to each content item the same (or differently) for each page.

If you have several users who need common access to content, managing access rights on a user-by-user basis can be complex. Create user groups with similar access needs, add the users to each user group, and then use the user group to set access rights to content. This lets you manage access rights. You can add a user to one or more groups.

For example, add Abbie, Erin, and Reid to a Marketing user group and give access rights to any number of pages and content to the Marketing group instead of each individual. You modify the Marketing user group to add Eddie to all of the Marketing content (or remove Abbie). You do not have to visit each page or content item to update users' access rights.

Built-in user groups

By default, Optimizely CMS has built-in user groups that align with user roles. You can extend predefined groups and roles; see Managing users and user groups.

When your website is set up during development, the membership and role providers available for your website must be configured to use the built-in groups and roles in Optimizely.
Group Description
Administrators It comes from Windows and is defined when the website is created. An administrator can access all parts of the system and can edit all website content. Often, administrators are developers setting up or maintaining the website.
WebAdmins It comes with Optimizely and can access admin and edit views and the administration interfaces for add-ons and audiences. To use it, you must add this group through Settings > Access Rights > Administer Groups > WebAdmins.

Membership in WebAdmins does not provide editing access to the content structure by default. In most cases, only a few system administrators or "super users" belong to this group.

WebEditors It comes with Optimizely and can access the editing view. To use it, you must add this group through Settings > Access Rights > Administer Groups > WebEditors.
Add users to this group who need access to the edit view. Then, add the users to other groups to give them specific editing rights to content. On large websites, editors are often organized in groups according to content structure or language.
Everyone It comes from Windows and provides "anonymous" visitors with read access to website content. Unregistered visitors to a public website are anonymous, meaning the system cannot identify them. Removing access rights for the Everyone group requires login to access content even if it is published.

Set access rights

  1. Go to Settings > Access RightsSet Access Rights. The Set Access view displays with a content tree structure of the website.
  2. Click a node in the content tree (for example, Alloy Track). Typically, a content item shows Administrators (with all access rights) and Everyone (with Read-only access rights). You can change these rights or add users or groups.
    • If the users or groups are inactive (grayed out) for a content item, then the content item inherits the access rights of its parent content item. To set access rights for this content item, clear the Inherit settings from parent item check box.
    • To add settings to the selected node's subitems without affecting their existing settings, select the Apply settings for all subitems; see section Set access rights for all subitems below.
  3. Select Settings > Access Rights > Manage Users.
  4. Click Create User (or select a user from the list). You can enter a name or email address in the search field to find a specific user or group.


  5. Go to Settings > Access Rights > Set Access Rights and select Add Users/Groups. A list of available users and groups displays.
  6. Modify the access rights settings as you want them and click Save Access Rights. The users or groups display in the Set Access Rights view for the selected content tree item.


If you set conflicting access rights to content, selected access rights prevail over cleared access rights. For example, Abbie is a member of the Marketing and Support user groups, each with different access rights set on the same content; Marketing has Publish rights, but Support does not. Abbie, who is in both groups, has Publish rights to the content, but Erin, who is only part of the Support group, does not have Publish rights.

Setting inheritance for content subitems

Content inherits access rights from its closest parent item by default. When you set access rights for a content item, the rights apply to it, and subitems that have a selected Inherit settings from parent item option, subitems with this option cleared are not affected. For example, Alloy Plan, Alloy Track, and Alloy Meet have the same access rights because they inherit the access rights from the Start page.

Image: Folder structure under Start

  • If you break the inheritance for Alloy Meet and change its access rights, the access rights become different from the parent (Start) and its two siblings (Alloy Plan and Alloy Track).
  • If you add a Marketing group to Start, Alloy Plan, and Allow Track, inherit the Marketing group (because inheritance is selected). Still, Alloy Meet does not because its inheritance is unselected.

The following image shows the access rights for the Alloy Track content; it will not inherit from the parent item. Any changes of access rights on Marketing will not be pushed to subitems unless they have selected the Inherit settings from parent item option.


Campaigns is a subitem of Alloy Track. It has Inherit settings from parent item selected, so the access rights are identical to that of the Alloy Track content item.


Book a demo is also a subitem of Alloy Track, but contrary to Campaigns, it has Inherit settings from parent item cleared, so its access rights are not the same as the parent content item.


Set access rights for subitems

Selecting the Apply settings for all subitems check box applies the access rights of the parent item to its subitems, even if a subitem has inheritance cleared. The option adds settings to a subitem it did not have before and does not change or remove any existing settings.

For example, the Alloy Track content item has Abbie as a user with access rights.


When you select Apply settings for all subitems, Abbie is added as a user with access rights to Book a demo because Abbie is part of the Alloy Track content item's access rights. Reid, who already had access rights to Book a demo, remains unchanged on the list of access rights.


Suppose a parent item and a non-inheriting subitem have the same user or group, and the access rights for the user or group differ between the parent and the subitem. In that case, the parent's settings are applied when you select Apply Settings for all subitems. For example:

  • If the Alloy Track parent item has user Abbie with only Read access set, and Book a Demo has user Abbie with all access rights set, then Apply Settings for all subitems resets Abbie's access rights on Book a Demo to Read access only
  • Conversely, suppose Alloy Track has user Abbie with all access rights, and the subitem has user Abbie with only Read access. In that case, Apply Settings for all subitems gives user Abbie all access rights on the subitem.

Remove a user or group from the access rights list

To remove a user or group from the access list, clear all of the access rights for that user or group and click Save.

Use an audience in an access rights list

The Personalization feature uses audiences; you need administration access rights to manage audiences. If you want an editor to manage audiences without providing access to the entire admin view, you can make the editor a member of AudienceAdmins. This group provides access only to the Audience option in the top menu. AudienceAdmins comes with Optimizely, but you must add it through Settings > Access Rights > Administer Groups > Create Group > AudienceAdmins.


You can set specific access rights for audiences, letting them view specific "hidden" content that is not publicly available. For example, you may want only members of the Visitors from London audience to have access to a Family day at the zoo page with a discount coupon.

This feature is useful to create a "customer area" for registered customers on your website. Being a member of an audience requires a registration and login to access the content.

  1. Go to Settings > Access Rights > Set Access Rights.
  2. Select a node in the content tree.
  3. Click Add Users/Groups.
  4. Select Audiences to view available audiences.
  5. Select an audience and click OK.
Audiences can only have read access.

Access rights for languages

If your website has content in multiple languages, you can define access rights for languages so editors can create content only in languages to which they have access. Enabled languages are displayed in the Config view, but only users with access rights to a language can create and edit content in that language. See Website languages.

Access rights for the CMS platform

See Permissions for information about managing access rights for other parts of the Optimizely Content Management System (CMS) platform.