The title is a little confusing, but it's hard to explain in one sentence.

Let's say I have a website where a group of employees can create newsletters. list of functions:

  • Adding/editing/deleting articles
  • reviewing the newsletter
  • sending newsletter
  • browse through the recipients

Some people can only review the newsletter, others can edit the content, others can send it out.

Now, let's say a second group of employees also want to start making their own newsletter. Most of them can't do/see anything from the other team. some (the admin-ish people) will be able to see both teams' work.

The team maintaining the recipients list will be the same, but the actual recipients will differ.

How would you split this up nicely? Ideas:

  • Split the project and have two websites
    • hard to maintain
    • admins have to run between the two websites
  • give the users who have 'roles' in both teams a dropdown in the top right to switch between the two teams
    • might be confusing
    • people who are only in one team won't notice a thing
    • recipient management is centralised

any other ideas? :)

  • 1
    What you're aiming to achieve is called Role-Based Access Control, coupled with Multi-Category Security. It's a fairly standard situation, tons of websites have similar models for how their data is displayed and used. It would be easier to comment on how specific tasks can cause issues for specific roles than it is to ask "how do you build a UX around RBAC". There is no research paper in usable security that gives a magic formulae for that. Jan 14, 2016 at 12:52
  • @SteveDL i've mostly been looking for some ideas. which i've now gotten. I had no idea on how this was called, so I got the answers I wanted :)
    – Stefanvds
    Jan 15, 2016 at 1:30

3 Answers 3


Split the project and have two websites

Absolutely to avoid, primary for maintenance. Administrators may switch between the two (same as users with multiple roles) but here you will pay highest price for any new addition/change (and if you pay this then your customers and your users will also pay).

Give the users who have 'roles' in both teams a dropdown in the top right to switch between the two teams

It's less bad than what you may think. Make it clear and outstanding: we are all used to some sort of switch, for example when we have multiple GMail accounts. If you write user name somewhere also don't forget to let group name visible too (or they will not understand where they are):


download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

Note that group name is in a prominent position (top left for most western countries) then hardly it will be ignored.

An example of this?

Stack Exchange navbar

Don't you think it looks like Stack Exchange navbar? It does and they had a nice design idea, IMO.

any other ideas?

1) Mix your two solutions.

Q. How do you differentiate two separate web sites?

A. Using different URLs.

However you may still have two different URLs that point to same website: www.example.com/group1/newsletters/compose and www.example.com/group2/newsletters/compose.

It's easy to do it using URL rewrite (details depend on your specific environment/language). Don't forget you still need a way to switch between the two (not everyone is comfortable writing URL and they may want to quickly switch from one profile to the other).

2) Have different user profiles.

Think about how you login to your Windows domain: domain_name\user_name (there are even tools to join same computer in multiple domains):


download bmml source

Note that if you use a multi-step approach for login then things will be even more clear:


download bmml source

This second approach is even better because users will not see other groups they do not belong to and who joined just one group will not even see third login screen. Note that first two screens may even be merged together.

To change profile you just need to log out (also do not forget to provide a quick shortcut when applicable):


download bmml source

Hardly users with multiple profiles will be confused because to join a group is part of their login process and they will associate login with group selection. Note that even if you use cookies to keep users logged-in you may still want to prompt them to pick a group for each new access (using a session cookie or Window.sessionStorage).


WordPress has something similar to Adriano's suggestion, where you can switch between multiple sites on the toolbar of the dashboardWordPress - switching between sites

The 'My Sites' link shows the dropdown menu for switching between sites. The link next to the home button (Group 1 in this example) takes you back to the dashboard for group 1. If you changed to Group 2 on the 'My Sites' menu, it would switch to the group 2 context and change to a link to the group 2 homepage.


It is common, and I have done it a few times.
The "groups" are called "audiences", you might want to google using this keyword and find interesting answers that fit your needs.
It happens in sites like Microsoft or IBM, that have consumers and developers among their audiences.
Check in those sites how the press audience is also taken to a different path in many, many internet sites.
In remote work portals, you would see a choice like "I want to hire" vs. "I want to be hired" first thing in the start pages.

This audience segmentation is a Good Thing, from the user's standpoint because it allows the authors to focus on each audience's needs.
This way, the users don't need to be sorting mixed content and reading copy that does not apply to them only to have to discard it immediately.
You either split your audiences at the outset, or in each and every step into the pages.

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