Our app consists of different sections (here Section 1, Section 2 etc.) where the users can view and edit their data. The user can also choose to give read or read/write access for each of these sections to other users.

We have to design a new page which acts as an overview of the given permissions. As there are multiple sections and potentially hundreds of users, we have decided to use a table. It will have a pagination with 20 users per page. Please note that the user won't be able to change the permissions on this page, it only serves as an overview (there is a separate process for managing access).

We are trying to find the most efficient way to convey the different types of access and have so far created following design:

A table with the columns User, Section 1, Section 2, Section 3, Section 4. The permission for each section are displayed with three types of icons: a light horizontal line for no permissions, an eye for read and a pen for read/write access. A legend above the table explains the meaning of each icon.

Our worries with this design are that:

  1. The users may overlook the legend above the table
  2. The pen icon is usually associated with write/edit actions, but here it also implies read access, as you can not edit without being able to view. We are not sure if this will be clear for the users
  3. We already use a pen icon as an edit button in other parts of the application, although with a different design. The user may expect some edit action behind the icon and click on it

We have also tried following design but weren’t convinced of it as the icons have no meaning on their own and the page may look too cluttered:

The same concept as the first image, but with different icons: a light horizontal line for no permissions, a semi-filled circle for read and a fully filled circle for read/write access.

Do you have any ideas how we could improve our design?

  • Have you asked your users what they think?
    – Martyn
    Feb 26, 2021 at 7:16

1 Answer 1


Read and write are common terms for permissions. If users don't know them you can introduce them in the legend, but they are easy to remember so users don't have to constantly check the legend for their meaning.

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If you want to omit the legend entirely you can do something like my attempt below. There are three possible values and to make them easier to scan for, try to introduce some extra visual differences apart from the text itself. Not to say that this is perfect but to give an idea:

enter image description here

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