In my software application, multiple users can be created and every user belongs to a single Department.

Users can add tasks to other departments. For example, the accounting department can add a new task to the IT department in the 'printer configuration' category.

Below is the grid that I have used so far. In first column I have the departments to which a user can send a new task. The second column shows the category name. The third column shows time (how much time the department has to do this task). The rest of the columns show all departments. Checking a checkbox means that department in that column has access to the category in that row (I hope this is easy to understand).

A user can add a new category and change its settings using the 'Add new entry' button.


download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

This grid allows the user to define boolean access rights for users (can add or cannot). My question is how should I design GUI if I would like to include user access levels (worker, coordinator, manager, director). The problem is that I must have multiple user-defined access levels. Right now I have 4, but in future there could be 8 or more.

I could try doing this (x is a checkbox):


download bmml source

But this way having 20 departments, 40 categories and 6 user levels I'll have a very complex grid with checkboxes everywhere. I know that I can add filters to the grid but it won't help so much.

How should I design the access settings page so that it is easy to read and edit? Any examples are welcome.

My last idea was to group all departments as tabs or add a combobox on top to select the department to which users will be able to add tasks.


download bmml source

EDIT based on @obelia's answer

This is my latest idea - every row in the grid could be expendable, then in a secondary table I would have rows for all levels. This way editing could be possible only after expanding row.


download bmml source

  • "Checking checkboxes means that department in that column has access to category in row" <--- Is this really what what you meant? Or did you mean, "checking checkboxes means that department in that column as ability to send the task in col2 to department in col1"?
    – Jung Lee
    Jun 14, 2013 at 23:59
  • Another question. Is "category" unique to a department? In other words, category A can be only performed by department 1. In your first example, it applies that it's not unique.
    – Jung Lee
    Jun 15, 2013 at 0:01
  • @JungLee - sorry for unclear question, yes You're right, in my top example only Accounting department can add task in category Printer configuration to IT, second row means that all departments except Dep8 can add task in Cat2 to Dep1. Categories aren't unique to department. Idea behind it is that many departments can have same categories, but time can be different, so if I choose specific Category to Dep1 they will have 3 days for it, but Dep2 can have for same Category 10 days. Hope this clears my question a bit :)
    – Misiu
    Jun 17, 2013 at 9:26

2 Answers 2


Your approaches are very compact, which is something I always appreciate.

Here's another way to approach the UI. It's a Task-centric view. It also makes a distinction between task Assigner (from) vs Assignee (to).


download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

Edit: This alternate allows staff/mgr/director level settings.

enter image description here

  • Thanks for this idea, looks different from mine. But problems starts when I would like to add different days for user levels, for example if employee would like to add task then it would have 5 days complete limit, director adding the same task would add it with only 3 days limit. Sorry that I'm adding it right now, but I just got updated documentation.
    – Misiu
    Jun 18, 2013 at 9:25
  • Nice idea, now I must do a simple prototype to check if I'll be able to build something like this with ExtJS. Thanks for help :) I'll leave this opened for couple of days, maybe someone will add another approach.
    – Misiu
    Jun 19, 2013 at 10:32

Rows that can expanded downward (with a button) seem to be a common and useful device these days. Like accordions except I think it's better to be able to have multiple expanding items open at once, which accordions typically don't do.

You would divide each rows info into the more pertinent info which is be displayed in a single row, and all the secondary info that will be shown when the row is expanded (downward). The in-depth department access rights could be considered secondary info and only shown when the row is expanded.

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