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I am building a conference/tradeshow application where a user can assume multiple roles within the application and within a particular conference. For example a user can be an attendee, and have access to the conferences for collaboration with other attendees. The same user can be a member of an organizer account (even multiple accounts) and be able to manage the conferences the organizer produces. And at last, the same user can be a member of exhibitor account and have access to the conferences exhibitor exhibits at and manage promotional materials etc.

What are the visual/interactions patterns to allow users play all three roles and make it painfully clear what "role" they are in? What is the best way to allow for "switching" the roles?

I have been looking at Facebook and Google+ pages, and how a user can select from a top right menu "User Facebook as: BrandA" and assume that brand's identity. Seems like they are training a lot of users on the concept. Are the competing UI models for switching roles?

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This might help: conferencebadge.com Different colors for different roles. –  jgthms Mar 13 at 14:51
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2 Answers 2

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As far as alerting the user to their active role, it seems like that is something you would want to show them peripherally; I would look into using a different color for each role, and linking that color to the role selection tool. For example, the button to enter exhibitor mode could be orange, and while operating in exhibitor mode, the title bar background or left/right site margins changes to an appropriate shade of orange. You can pick three colors that contrast with your site design and find a good place in the peripheral to incorporate them.

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What about a kind of 3 state "toggle switch" with user icons wearing different hats. Can be located on the top of your screen.

This way the user can easily switch from one "hat" to the other

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