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I am currently implementing a trash / wastebin for a web-application that works with 3 different entities of data. Each such entity is displayed in unique views.

If a user deletes such an entity, should the record go to either

  • A global wastebin, accessible from everywhere through the header of the application that also provides other major links?

(This will then be splitted into 3 visual parts, one for each kind of entity)

Or

  • Should it go into a seperate bin that is accessible only from the major view of the corresponding entity?

I just can't decide. The oldschool concept of a global wastebin seems reasonable to me. Yet, the implemenation of seperate bins could improve the users workflow as he won't have to open another route before he can handle deleted files.

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3  
What is the use case for keeping deleted entities? –  Franchesca May 23 at 11:55
    
A user can add a pre-filled data template. If he deleted one, and it turned out to be the wrong one, re-typing it would be quite annoying. –  Sprottenwels May 23 at 11:57
    
How fast does the user usually realize that he deleted the wrong thing? Right away, or after a few hours/days? –  JonSpr May 23 at 13:35
    
@JonSpr I can't tell. May depend on the amount of coffee consumed by the user that day –  Sprottenwels May 23 at 13:47

4 Answers 4

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Do both in one. A global trash which starts with a filter determined by where you're coming from. A user visiting the thrash when viewing apples is probably looking for a deleted apple. Or maybe not and then they just need to change the filter.

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I think that this is a really great idea. Thank you! –  Sprottenwels May 25 at 14:02

Based on you not knowing when the users realize they clicked the wrong thing I would do a combination of two things.

First of all: Make an undo option. If the user deletes something they did not want to delete and notice immediately, they will be able to restore their actions. Gmail is a great example of this, when you delete a mail for instance.

The second use case I can imagine is a user realizing he or she deleted something on accident a few hours or days later. In this case I would suggest having one wastebin for everything. I don't really have sources for this other than that Gmail and Windows do this as well. From where ever you delete something on your email account or computer it always ends up in the same wastebin.

So deleting something on accident would result in being able to restoring it immediately without leaving your current page, or restoring it when you come back for a second visit and realizing you deleted the wrong thing.

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Undeleting something more than a few minutes after the fact is a rare-ish case, so forcing the user to search for a deleted file in 10+ different & unfamiliar places is a bad idea. Thus I would second JonSpr's answer that putting all trash in one bin is the best solution. I would add in a search feature if there's likely to be many (ie > 20) items in there at any given time. –  mouseas May 23 at 19:31

That said there are really two questions in your post,

  • where should waste be located in the interface?
  • should the waste-bin be global or entity specific?

80 : 20 rule

Unless the waste bin qualifies as being in the top 20% of user navigation, it doesn't belong as a first class citizen. So placing this feature in the view corresponding to a specific entity is likely the right approach.


All toasters toast toast

The factors to account for in choosing weather or not the bin should be global have to do with

  1. How similar are the entities?
  2. How many items might exist in the waste bin?
  3. Are there existing conventions regarding the manner in which these entities are related.

but really its:

How will users locate the specific item they wish to undelete?

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A global wastebin with a way to sort or filter down to the 3 categories would be helpful. Knowing that you go to one place to undo errors is calming. Realizing you deleted something is stressful. No knowing where to get it back makes it more stressful.

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