Sample scenario to illustrate the type of problem I'm trying to solve:

Online store has orders and in the order it refers to a product. Users can edit existing unsubmitted orders and one of the things they can change is the product that they've ordered via a product select (html ). A separate business process can flag products as 'discontinued' meaning they are no longer able to be ordered in new orders (but existing submitted orders will still be honoured/processed).

A user goes to edit an unsubmitted order for a product that has since been discontinued. Would like the user to be able to see the name of the product that they did order originally (so they can recall what they were trying to order), but prevent them from saving this order as the product is discontinued. They can however use the product selector to pick a new product.

Suggested approach is to include the 'discontinued' product as a 'disabled' option on the HTML select for products and append the word (discontinued) after it. If the user attempts to save the order they will be shown error 'your order contains products that have been discontinued'.

So when the user opens the order they will see for example:

Qty 3  Product: Red Goo (discontinued) v   Price: n/a

They can then click the product selector and will see the valid products and "Red Goo (discontinued)" will also show in there but disabled. Use CSS to show the discontinued value in red.

Thoughts on this approach.

  • 2
    What happens if an order contains multiple items and only a few are discontinued? Eg hammer, screwdriver, lawnmower, goo, and broomstick,where lawnmower and hammer are discontinued?
    – tohster
    Mar 9, 2015 at 7:20
  • In the scenario I described I was envisaging a line item for each ordered product - so the selectors for those that are discontinued would include the disabled, discontinued item that was referred to on that line. The selectors for current items would just contain the normal list of valid products.
    – gamozzii
    Mar 10, 2015 at 6:31

2 Answers 2


In all other cases, when the product is discontinued, do you plan to show it in the selector? I would advise against it.

You are talking about a case where use has an un-submitted order of a product that is discontinued. I am assuming the errors are shown to the user when user goes to interact with that particular order (either save/submit it).

I would go with a clear info message that you had selected Red Goo, which is discontinued. followed by a selector of the products available. (If applicable, somewhere I will also throw in a control which asks user if s/he wishes to get notified when the discontinued product is available again.)

This provides a clear distinction of information and actionable content.


The idea of showing the item in your list is good - having it disappear or not labeled as "Discontinued" would be jarring and confusing.

Using the disabled style sounds fine. The product selector should be easily found from looking at the discontinued line item, and the discontinued item shouldn't be listed in the product selector.

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