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I shall allow my users to have multiple profiles in my website, to allow them to impersonate identities they create to post. But I have doubts about the best way to accomplish this.

Assume that I want to make it easy for my users to quickly switch their profiles during their session, they will probably switch multiple times during a single section.

In the wild, Gmail let me switch between accounts by opening a new window, but Facebook allow switching your "persona" (you or a page) displaying a hint and changing your avatar but keeping you in the same window.

Which way does users fell more confortable? If none, how this feature should be designed for a best experience?

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2 Answers

Gmail opens in new windows because it is real-time environment, and it is vital for many multi-account users to track all accounts simultaneously — and it is simpler and faster to achieve by clicking through browser standard tools (tabs or pages), than through page reloading. This is compromise solution — for most users (in english-speaking segment of internet) opening in new tab/windows is not usual.

As I understood, there is no such need for simultaneous interaction in your case (for post writing), so it is better to switch accounts inside one page.

But it may be useful to add possibility to track events in different accounts by adding some indicators at the area, where you display your accounts info, for instance in such way:

mockup

download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

(Green circle indicates presence of new events, and numbers — amount of new messages/events etc.)

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I think the answer here really depends on how/why users are using this feature.

Google recently introduced the ability to use multiple users in a new window under the same underlying profile (using multiple Google accounts).

From what I've seen, sites and applications that support multiple users/profiles always display a unique icon for each account (Facebook chooses profile pictures while Google Chrome uses an avatar/icon in the top bar and on pages within Google products they show the avatar).

As someone that uses these features on Chrome, Google products and Facebook, I think that the best option (for a website) is to switch the user within the same window and make it easy to switch between them. Using different windows would probably confuse me more than anything as I'd keep forgetting which account I'm using. Just make sure to message to users what account they're using when it is important (like how when you're on a page on Facebook it says "You're commenting as <[page] name>"

Something like this doesn't really have best practices yet because it is a relatively new concept. The best thing that you can do is track your users and see how the use it. Let your users dictate the changes you should make.

Do you have an example of usage that you're trying to implement?

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