I am in need of advice. I'm working on a web application with two distinct user groups. The application has both an admin and user view. Seemed simple enough, however the stakeholders have a specification which requires the user view to remain intact even in the admin view.

A little background - The application contains roughly 2000 forms an end user is charged with finding the correct form and filling in the information. The admin has to review the information, but also has a large number of controls for passing and reviewing information.

The stakeholders are a support group which in a addition to reviewing the information also provides technical support. They insist that the existing experience for the users stay in place for the admins so they can replicate support requests. The object being when a user calls and give a description of the information they can see the exact same and avoiding confusion.

At this point, my options seem limited. I can only think that I leave the user view alone and create a separate navigation on either the left or right hand side that access the control that are only available to the admin.

OK, so finally, the real question, has anyone had an experience like this? How did you resolve it? Are there any examples out there (visual learner)?

I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

  • Did the stakeholders reject the idea of, as an admin, being able to view what a user sees? So you have an admin view with the option of switching to a user view to see what the user is seeing?
    – bzav
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 18:08
  • It's actually the preferred method, waiting to hear back from the developers as to whether or not it's in scope. In the meantime I'd like to have plan B ready.
    – Johnny UX
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 18:48
  • Well, the control's I'm speaking of are actually in the header. Thank you guys for your answers. I was able to convince the client to stick with the original plan.
    – Johnny UX
    Commented Apr 22, 2014 at 19:21

2 Answers 2


If there's a lot of complex interactions where the admin needs to handle but the user doesn't, then what bzav suggested of having two separate views: admin and user is preferable.

If there isn't or the devs can't support two separate sections, you can try putting in permission based controls directly on the page.

I've worked on a previous project that required that. Depending on user permissions, additional fields/information or action buttons appears next to the relevant item.

Here's a quick diagram for you.


download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

Hope that helps.


I think the key thing you might not be remembering here is you can created fixed menus that hover above the content.

Make a fixed bar on the left with admin tools that only renders for admins. You can include the code in the navigation/header view and just not have it render for regular users.

If they need more space, have the toolbar expand out when you click an arrow? Just spitballing here.

If you have a second, check out the mean admin module for mean.io. I really like mean.js more than mean.io at this point, but mean.io has an admin bar as a module. Disclaimer: If you haven't installed the mean stack before, this could take more than a half hour to read the documentation. I'm assuming you're familiar with dev tools like command line, etc.

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