User Role

User Role is a term that has it’s origin in software development and is therefore strongly related to the (future) interactive system. The International Usability and UX Qualification board does not define it.

User roles are extremely helpful for prototyping to identify, which views are needed for the human machine interfaces. A user can take different user roles. For example if I as a person add data to a system, I am in the role of a data provider, if I seek information in a system I am in the role of an information retriever etc.


  1. A user role is an abstract collection of needs, interests, expectations, behaviors, and responsibilities characterizing a relationship between a class or kind of users and a system
    Users are of interest to developers, not as people, but because of the roles they will play in relationship with the system to be designed and built.
    [Constantine, Larry L.. Software for Use: A Practical Guide to the Models and Methods of Usage-Centered Design (Kindle-Positionen1928-1929). Pearson Education. Kindle-Version.]
  2. While each user comes to your software with a different background and with different goals, it is still possible to aggregate individual users and think of them in terms of user roles. A user role is a collection of defining attributes that characterize a population of users and their intended interactions with the system.
    [Cohn, Mike. User Stories Applied: For Agile Software Development (Adobe Reader) (Addison-Wesley Signature Series (Beck)) (Kindle-Position892). Pearson Education. Kindle-Version.]

Comment for use in SAMS context:

On base of defined user roles, task modelling can be done quite efficiently.

Form of Documentation:

User role map

Example: Training app for Ethiopian runners (Bastian Walthierer, Bachelor Thesis 2014, Conception and prototypic implementation of a user optimised application to support Ethiopian runners)


user role map of an coaching app for Ethiopian runners

Data Collector: An athlete or coach collecting data during work out.

Data Analyst: An athlete or coach who analyses collected data.

Information Seeker: An athlete or coach who seeks and retrieves  information (eg. about training methods or nutrition) from the system.

Information Provider:An athlete, coach or expert who provides data for the system

Community Member: An athlete or coach who is member of a social running community

Data Maintainer: An expert, responsible to verify and maintain correctness, actuality and completeness of all data and information.

Interpreter: A specialist who translates the system into Amharic or other local languages

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