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I have a combox box showing the possible roles that a user can have in an organisation.

There is a rank to these roles such that:

Super User > Administrator > Manager > Cashier

When creating a new user you choose which role that user has. Is it better to present the list in alphabetical order:

Administrator
Cashier
Manager
Super User

or rank order:

Super User
Administrator
Manager
Cashier

This is complicated by the fact that users can add new roles that have ranks between the existing ones so that the list could very easily grow from the current four a much longer list. For example, they could add a "Regional Manager" that has a rank between "Administrator" and "Manager", so the lists would become:

Administrator
Cashier
Manager
Regional Manager
Super User

or rank order:

Super User
Administrator
Regional Manager
Manager
Cashier

I can see that alphabetical order is better if you are looking for a specific role. However, rank order is better if you are looking for a role that places the user in the correct place in the organisations hierarchy.

Is there a right solution? Or are we going to have to live with sub-optimal behaviour for one case or the other? Would having an option to reorder the list be of any use or be clear what it does?

One thing to note, the ability to add new roles is a new feature that hasn't been implemented so there is the opportunity to change the UI for this. I'm open to replacing the combo box with some other UI element if that's going to make things easier.

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    Alphabetical order is only good for huge lists that could not be sorted otherwise. This is not one of them. You should go with the rank order if you want to keep it simple and understandable. But I challenge the fact you're using a dropdown for this, and the fact any user could add a new role. You should probably think of different UI for different user types. We cannot say more without you providing mockups or context of use... Please edit – Leths Oct 9 '15 at 9:37
  • @Leths - Hmm - I hadn't considered using something other than a drop down for this. The ability to add new roles is a new feature that hasn't been implemented yet, so there is the opportunity to change the UI here. – ChrisF Oct 9 '15 at 9:41
  • I would suggest having an algorithm sorting the options by the number of times they have been selected by that user in the past, in descending order obviously. So you start with an order by rank, but as the algorithm has data of previous usage for the authenticated user the order changes accordingly putting the most used types first. – AJJ Oct 9 '15 at 10:05
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I would definitely keep the rank order, as you will probably never have thousands of roles and users need to clearly understand.

Ideally I would put a kind of gauge beside the role name to indicate that the order is linked to a rank in terms of access rights.

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I would set it by the hierarchy of rank. OR let it auto populate by amount of people in each category, meaning the category that has the most users would be on top, that means it is the most popular category and most likely more users will want immediate access to it.....Kind of like the SE upvote system.

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