I'm currently working on a user permissions project for a SaaS product. It will be used to manage multiple users within our product and needs to obviously have some sort of hierarchal system to assign those roles.

My issue is that users tend to have specific ways of using our product in coherence with other web products (mainly having to do with social). So, during the discovery phase of this feature, what would be some good questions to ask to get qualitative data from our clients? And questions that would help sort of guide the design direction?

I've heard it's really easy to over design user permissions – so I just want to make sure that we're doing something that would make sense. I'm fairly new to user research and any advice would help.


PS: I've checked out Zendesk, Hootsuite, Hubspot, Salesforce, and Honey for examples, but it doesn't seem to quite fit for us.

1 Answer 1


When considering user permissions I think there's a few general questions to ask that could apply to any project:

  1. ROLES & PERMISSIONS - will users have different roles, with unique permissions, that allow them to perform specific tasks within the system? For example, Super Admin, Editor, Writer, Moderator
  2. GROUPS - will users be grouped so that you can assign a group of users to a task or project? For example, Department or Company
  3. WORKFLOWS - will there be specific workflows required in the system & what are these? For example, on an eCommerce site if an order gets placed then users with the Role 'Moderator' are notified, however if an order over a certain monetary value gets placed then users with the Role 'Manager' should get notified. Consider all possible workflows a system may need.

Maybe try look at some open source project management tools like RedMine which handles user permissions and hierarchies well.

  • Thank you! This helps a lot. I'd upvote you, but I don't think I am able to at the moment. But thanks anyway!
    – Alexander
    Oct 29, 2014 at 21:18

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