So, I have been tasked with developing a comment system on an existing document reader on both tablet and desktop. A requirement is that I use the "Comment" structure for all types of annotations on the document including private to the creator, private to a group of people, and public to all readers.

Below is the current interaction I am proposing where the comment defaults to "public" and then can be adjusted to "private" and "private to..." permissions

Changing Permissions on Comments

When the user selects "private to...", they are shown an overlay where they can add users and groups to the private discussion.

What are your thoughts on this permissions model? Does it make sense?

FYI, this is maybe the 5th option that I went with and think is the strongest.

3 Answers 3


A few things:

  1. The visibility (public/private) for the comment is presented very subtly and it would be really easy for a user to post as public when they intended the comment to be private.
  2. It's really not at all obvious that the little arrow in the corner would have anything to do with posting as public or private. It's particularly confusing for desktop applications since that space is normally for a close button.
  3. It's unclear what "Close Comment" or "Delete" would mean in the context of a not yet posted comment. Seems like both of those options would do the same thing as "Cancel" on the dialog.

What about setting it up kind of like an email:


download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

Clicking "To..." would simply bring up a dialog where the user could choose Everyone or a specific list of people. This design also lets the user see the specific target list for the comment right on the dialog.

It's also worth noting that the locations of the Post/Cancel buttons will be specific to the target platform. For a Windows application, they should be located in the positions shown in my mockup.


I would consider merging these two dialogs in one. So it is something like:

[ Filter field ]

Some inprovements are on the picture.

  1. No comment icon, there are a lot of controls in the window header. The icon distracts the eye.
  2. Move triangle which opens drop-down closer to the text.
  3. Open drop-down list by clicking on the whole area (text + triangle)
  4. Highlight this area to make it affordable.
  5. Familiar close dialog control in the right top corner.
  6. Display primary and secondary actions.
  7. Private to ... selector window shouldn't be so small, it isn't convenient, especially on mobile.
  • This was a concept we had at one point. Do you think the dropdown menu indicates a radio selection state of the 3 different options?
    – Jeff O
    Jul 19, 2013 at 20:06
  • These are icons in dropdown menu, no radios. You could use radio-like check mark but as there are tree items only (easy to scan) and clear indication in the header (easy to detect current state), it is not necessary. Jul 19, 2013 at 20:17
  • I think it's clear and you understand, but I just want to make sure. It is only possible to select one option before posting. And I used the term 'radio' to indicate that only one is selectable; not that the actually radio control should be shown.
    – Jeff O
    Jul 19, 2013 at 21:11

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