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Configuring Your App's User Roles for Safety and Success

Mac Logan

September 8 2023

Building the blueprint for your app is exciting. In fact, it’s often our favorite part of app design and development. Planning well is an art, and can prevent the need for expensive recalibration down the road. This is especially true when it comes to configuring user roles.

During the discovery process, we collaborate with you to delineate every step of your user’s journey, envisioning their concerns and needs along the way. By thoroughly planning user roles and access requirements, you can limit users’ access to storage assets and mitigate potential security risks. This protects your digital assets and ensures a safe and enjoyable experience for all of your users.

Including User Roles in an MVP

In the Discovery Process, we help you nail down a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). This identifies the most essential features needed to go to market. Specifying an MVP allows you to stay within budget while also planning for long-term success.

Most business developers brainstorming an app are ambitious dreamers—personalized coupons, social features, in-app purchases, the sky is the limit! We absolutely love seeing it.  

But app development can quickly stretch beyond the budget. Don’t forget that 44 percent of startups fail because they run out of cash. Planning reveals which features are necessary, and which are nice to have when it comes to crunch time. 

One essential element to include in an MVP is user roles, along with their access requirements. This is important to plan from the beginning, as different iterations of the app configured for different kinds of users can greatly multiply the scope of work needed. 

During the discovery process, we map out your desired features on a value matrix weighing how many customers will access the feature and how much it will contribute to your business goals against the time it will take to build. This shows which features are worth the investment, and which could probably wait until the next iteration of your app.

Design - Generic Slides for Sales (6)

App Security and Role-Based Access Control 

Role-based access control (sometimes referred to as RBAC) grants authorization according to user roles. Instead of manually designating what each person can access, or fielding queries left and right all day, you set a user role and assign a set of permissions to that role. 

There’s one main rule behind role-based access control and app security: give people the most limited access possible while allowing them to do what they need to do. Sometimes known as “the principle of least privilege access,” this is the single best way to keep sensitive information secure on your app. 

Even if every user on your network is 100 percent honest and never violates the privacy of other users or your app’s confidential data, each login represents another opportunity for security breaches, wherein malicious users hack an account to get access to your app’s data. Following the principle of least privilege access limits the number of open channels to your app’s bucket storage and reduces the fallout of broken access control.


Walking a Mile in Your Customers' Shoes (AKA UX Design)

Mapping out the user journey requires imagination, as well as enough experience to anticipate user desires and expectations. It also requires data-based research to back up your instincts. If you have several different kinds of users, you need to map out the journey for every single one of them and determine what kind of access and control they’ll need for the app. 

In fact, ideating user roles won’t just include your customers’ journey, but also your team’s access and any API permissions or contractor access. 

To illustrate the importance of user roles, let’s imagine you’re building a marketplace app where people can buy and sell boats. Everyone will need to upload content for their profile information, such as a photo. Sellers need to be able to upload boat photos and edit their listings. However, they shouldn’t have editing access to anyone else’s listings. Buyers will need to access listings, and maybe save them, but they shouldn’t be able to edit them. And your customer service team will need to access enough user information to assist customers with any problems that arise. 

Seems simple enough…but wait! What if later, you decide that you want some listings hidden behind a paywall, or only accessible for people with a membership? If you want to add auction functionality, who will be able to see the bids and who they come from? You may also have universal attributes on a listing that only an app admin can adjust. What if your sellers also want to be buyers? Will that complicate their role and access, or will they need to set up a new account? Can a seller add an employee to their account, allowing them to monitor bids and listings? 

Design - Generic Slides for Sales (7)


Some Tips for Effectively Ideating User Roles From the Get-Go 

  • Think near-term (what’s needed for your MVP) as well as long-term (what you would like to grow into). 
  • Identify any need for access based on relationships between users.
  • Identify variations on your target audience, and rehearse the user experience from each user’s point of view. 
  • Conduct alpha testing with defaults set to “Deny Access” to assess all incoming access requests.
  • Hire a software development company with extensive experience in app architecture, security workflows, and user experience optimization.

Managing User Roles with ScoutUS Pro

Our client ScoutUS Pro was a great illustration of the need for thorough ideation of user roles. This platform allows athletes to upload a profile featuring their stats and videos of them in action. These profiles can then be accessed by scouts searching for new talent. The two main role types were, of course, athletes and scouts. However, during the discovery process, we recognized that many scouts (or managers or coaches using the “scout” role) would be part of an organization that might want to share information and even platform membership access with others within their franchise. This meant that we had to add roles for organization admins and organization members. This additional function allowed organization admins to moderate who in their company could access the app and adjust their membership plan accordingly.

Building Your App With Vincit 

We love hearing from clients and learning more about your big ideas. Any software development company can code an app. Our team understands how to bridge the gap between business leaders and technology. We specialize in turning your ambitious dreams into actionable, well-defined game plans. Our tried and true communication and collaboration methods ensure that your project fulfills your expectations in design and features, while also meeting your budget and timeline requirements. We create custom apps that are scalable, functional, and beautiful. 

Don’t let poorly configured user roles slow down your development process and compromise security. Reach out to our team for expert planning and UX design. 

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