I am working on a (web-based) application that shows a list of items. Each item belongs to a particular user. When a particular user logs into the application, they see a list of their items.

When an administrative user logs into the application, they see a list of items belonging to all users, the idea being that they can delete some if necessary.

What I would like to do is differentiate items belonging to the current user from those belonging to other users, but I am struggling to come up with a nice UI that makes this obvious to the logged-in user what the difference is.

Any suggestions?


More detail:

The application is a website for submitting files containing data to be imported into a database (this application is a thin front end for getting data into another already existing system). Each item in the list represents a "job" - a set of files that will be imported at the same time. The application's sole purpose is to see the status of these jobs (i.e. is it running, has it completed successfully). Once a job has ran, there is nothing that users can do with them other than view the history of what happened.

The current UI looks something like this, with the job created most recently at the top:


download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

  • 1
    And what are you doing? Please, give us some details except "items" and "users" and "administrators". What this app is for? What items are for? How users will use them? Your question is way too generic and it's impossible to answer it without suggesting something very common like "use colours", etc. Screenshots or mockups will also be a plus. Commented Dec 18, 2012 at 14:51
  • @alexeypegov I tried to keep it farly generic so as not to confuse, but I see what you mean. I've added more detail. Commented Dec 18, 2012 at 15:14

5 Answers 5


Few obvious options

  1. Different background colour
  2. Different font weight
  3. User names

I agree with others to use a background color.

Plus, I think it would be nice to have a separate filtering to show current users tasks only if needed.

Moreover, I think that sometimes it's better to show users tasks by default and has a "show all tasks" as an option because I believe your users wish to see their own tasks status first.

You may also try to hide the successfully completed tasks so users will only see unfinished, errorneus or queued tasks.


The simplest way is to use different background colour. Logged user usually have very light orange - I base this on my observations.

  • 3
    Do you have anything else to support the idea that logged-in users are usually light orange? I can't think of any examples of that.
    – kastark
    Commented Dec 18, 2012 at 15:53

If you have icons or images in the list then changing the background might be little tricky.

To solve this & maintain consistency you could add indicators on Left or Right side, which ever gives you more white space. Usually I prefer ending the rounded rectangle with a color, works better than coloured dot indicator.

Give good white space for each row, specially if the titles of the items are important than the item icons. Use light divider.

  • "ending the rounded rectangle with a color, works better than coloured dot indicator" - do you have any examples in mind that I can take a look at? I don't recall seeing this convention in use. Commented Dec 18, 2012 at 16:08

I would separate the users items from the rest and give them their own lists with headings, like this.

enter image description here

This does assume that the current user cares more about his own items than others'. If the most important item is the most recent one regardless of who made it then this isn't the best solution.

If the lists can grow too big you can always add filtering options like only showing the last X by default.

An alternative to this is to provide 2 tabs.

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