From a programming standpoint, soft deletes are usually better I've seen as long as you have the resources to store data.

If I do give my users the option to soft delete lists of parts that they made on my app, whats the best way to visually display that data (to allow the user to see what has been deleted) and how should I let them recover it?

Through my research/experience the only system I've seen to do this is the trash can method where once things are deleted they're in the trash and you can then go back and restore them if you want to.

Is there another system that is better?


3 Answers 3


An option is to show the deleted data along side active data with a visual cue that its deleted and allow for sorting between all, active, and deleted. Restoration could take place inline and visually change the styling to represent the active state instantly.

soft delete user experiece

  • 2
    This is the UX stackexchange. From the questioner's first paragraph, we can assume they already know the content of your answer. The question is about how to represent deleted items to the user. Commented May 9, 2014 at 18:45
  • So is the question "are there better options for calling it a trash can?" Im honestly confused, it wasn't my intention to be redundant. Commented May 9, 2014 at 18:48
  • The question was this: whats the best way to visibly store that data (to allow the user to see what has been deleted) and how should I let them recover it Commented May 9, 2014 at 19:05
  • Which should be visually display that data, gotcha - thanks for the clarification. Commented May 9, 2014 at 19:10
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    Updated my answer and deleted the mysql tutorial I answered with before haha Commented May 9, 2014 at 19:21

Having a starting point of "I want to represent deleted data" is already limiting the UX alternatives quite strongly.

Depending on the domain a user may find it a more fitting mental model to

  • UNDO one or more actions, possibly even not in sequence. IIRC the GIMP has an interesting UI like this, a history stack of actions where you can choose elements to undo.

  • RESTORE the status to a well known or well described point. Google docs automatically saves milestones which you can visualise changes and revert to earlier versions.

  • Change STATUS on an item. For example "inactive" is different to deleting. Users will expect to see Archived information in a broad search - but not in normal operation. GMail uses "Archive" area much like this. Common in CRM systems.


Here's how Netflix does it. Similar to Brian's answer. Netflix deleted item

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