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I am working on a simple application. It's class/seminar picker application. The user logs in then selects the seminars they wish to attend. Some of the seminars have pre-requisites (which each user has and we will have access to when they log in)

My question is, would it be best practice to show the seminars that are unvailable or hide them for each individual user? There are three scenarios I've come up with:

  1. Hide unavailable seminars or classes from user

  2. Show unavailable seminars or classes, but visual identify them as unavailable

  3. Show unavailable seminars, but notify user when they try to enroll that they are unavailable

What option do you think is most user friendly? Is there another way you can think of handling this?

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None of the above, but #2 is the closest.

First, no classes should be marked as "unavailable". Your users, aka the students interested in taking these classes, may not be allowed to take a class without fulfilling the pre-requisite. As someone who in college regularly jumped into much more advanced courses without taking previous requirements (and hating the requirement system), I'd contest that you remove that pre-requisite system entirely.

Assuming that isn't an option however...

If the user has not fulfilled the requirements for a given course, then the first thing they should see when viewing the course is that the student "has not fulfilled the requirement(s)" with a link to the given courses, each named. Each link would open a new page to that course's information. That way, the student can see not only what courses are required to reach the course in question, but they can also see what that course is about.

Effectively, any student trying to read up on a course will want as much information about it as possible. Hiding anything for the sake of simplifying it goes against that need, and the student will either find the information out another way (calling the school, asking friends, or anything else outside of the app/website) or they will stop trying because they do not see the information pertinent to them.

Remember, if you wanted to take the class and had to go through the process, what would you want to see?

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I would like to write a comment but I cannot unfortunately (I am missing reputation points to do it). Therefore I write an answer, hope that it can help.

I have some clarifying questions that will help to get more understanding of the context:

  1. is it a web application? (I assume that this is the case)
  2. prerequisites = courses that a student needs to pass in order to select other courses? (I assume that this is the case)
  3. is the application going to be used throughout the whole studies and the courses that once were unavailable can get available after one gets all the prerequisites done? (I assume that this is the case)

If my assumptions are right then I think that it's necessary to give students a possibility to view all the courses available. This will give them a feeling of control and understanding of how the courses are linked together (prerequisites). Of course there should be some sort of indication of whether they can choose the course at this moment or not (I will get back to that). This might also work as a motivator for them and they can get to know about what they need to do in order to get the possibility of taking the selected course.

Visual identification of the course that is unavailable is in my opinion the best option. You could for example "gray out" the "enroll" button and include an info box with a reason for why they cannot enroll + which prerequisites they are missing.

I hope that my answer can help a bit. I am curious how you will solve this problem- let me know how you will handle it.

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