In a web application I wonder what's best practice to design an element (text link, button) pointing to an action where users don't have access to (e.g. create new user). Esepcially when this element is not the primary element of the page, but just like one link of many links.

I see the following possibilities:

  • Hide the corresponding element (link to create) - in thise case users could wonder where the action to create a new element can be found
  • Disable the corresponding element (link to create) - in this case the user could wonder why the element is disabled so an explanation would be needed
  • Show an error message
  • Show an error page - in this case the user would have to jump back

Another option that you haven't mentioned is to prompt users to switch accounts. I'm not sure how your application is used, but it might be beneficial to indicate in the UI that a user lacks permission for a certain feature by a subtle UI indicator next to the action (perhaps a lock icon).


download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

The button is not disabled, but explains that the feature is restricted. However, choosing to engage with the action could provide them with a convenient way to either authorize this action, or switch accounts. This could be useful in a manager/employee situation where an action requires manager approval.


download bmml source

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.