For example if a user is going through an online request form and must choose from a long list of industries, forms, job roles, types of jams, whatever but some of the items result in a different UX path than others, what's a good way to show that in advance of them making the selection so they aren't disappointed after they make the selection if they are not able to continue with the path they want.

Another example: I want to create custom car mats for my car, I am given the "make" and "model" choices for all cars. If I choose one that I can get customize mats for, I'm on my merry way to pick out the colors. If I choose one that I cannot get customize mats for, it gives me a phone number to call the company.

Originally, I wanted to just list what they can proceed with but the business requires all types to be listed so they get the offline referrals as well.

It could apply to many situations. Another is a particular combination of location and service is not offered.

I would like to let they user know sooner if the transaction cannot be completed completely online before they make the selection while keeping it one list so its easy to find the list items within context and without having to review both lists. If they do make a selection and get the 'path 2/sorry can't do that online' message it feels like an error/bad UX. Any ideas how to remedy?

  • Could you clarify your last paragraph a bit? It sounds like this is where you're talking about your own situation that you're trying to solve. If you could provide more details, that might help us to be able to construct our answers. For instance, what do you mean when you talk about lists and finding the list items in context? Jun 21, 2018 at 21:45
  • Sorry about that, I am trying to use a different examples that may be simpler than the actual situations I'm using them in.
    – Sarah
    Jun 22, 2018 at 12:53
  • I'm asking about ways to display a list of choices that visually indicates which choices can be completed with one UX path vs another. Things I can buy online from start to finish and things I need a human to assist me with purchasing. But I want to keep all the list items together in one list so they can be alphabetized or otherwise categorized. For lists items in context, that's what I mean - grouping all the items so its easy to distinguish one from another and choose the most correct answer in one list vs having to compare two.
    – Sarah
    Jun 22, 2018 at 13:03

1 Answer 1


I think I understand what you're describing. You want to give them feedback on availability of a combination as fast as possible before they get too deep into the page..

Since your page can't read their minds, they will at least have to enter the first general item, e.g., Ford. It could then display a list of models that has that offering (e.g, Explorer, Focus and Mustang). So far, so good.

They could then hover over the list of models and see a balloon/pop-up window that displays items available, e.g., the colors and materials. If your selection process doesn't go too deep that is - for example, 3-4 deep would work. However, hover wouldn't work for tablets or smart phones (a growing segment).

Another way would be to give them a text box to type in "Ford Explorer 2011" and have the items display below that text box. This would be for folks who like to type.

One issue is query time. If it hourglasses for x secs every time they select an item it may sorta annoy them. There's optimization techniques here, e.g., pre-fetching all combinations beforehand, but at the expense of bandwidth and memory.

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