My Progressive Disclosure


I want to take a short break from my current series on the language of participatory church to make this confession: I love learning new lingo. Why? So I can sound smarter? OK that’s probably part of it, but it’s mostly because I love having new language to describe what I experience on a daily basis.

Take, for instance, progressive disclosure — it’s apparently what turns a boring online sign-up form into a story.

User-interface (UI) designers are already familiar with this concept of progressive disclosure (PD), but I love how Mike Laurie at Made By Many relates it to storytelling:

“This technique really reminds me of the way that narrative arcs often work. You have a bit of exposition, you get to know the characters and sometimes you start to like, identify with or hate the people in it. There’s then a bit of confrontation or jeopardy, then possibly a climax and a resolution (if you’re lucky). You’re not told the entire story in one single shot, you’re told it over a period of time. It’s all about keeping the cognitive load to a minimum.”

Progressive disclosure also seems to be an important lesson to learn for anyone creating a slide presentation, as this slide presentation artfully explains:

Which is why I was surprised to not find anything about PD at PZ.

Apparently, bad presentations are also “a serious threat to the global economy.”

Oh well, Jakob Nielsen appears to be a fan of progressive disclosure, so that’s something to keep in mind. (Whether you love Neilsen’s opinions about Web design or hate them is going to be the key to what you do with that information.)

I like anything that helps tell a better story. And really, less is more. Right?


Oh, and if you’re looking for a different kind of progressive disclosure, here it is: I will be voting for Barack Obama for President again in 2012! (No surprise there, though, I suppose.) Have any progressive disclosures of your own to make? Share them in the comments!



Posted on 01-02-2012


  1. dlw says:

    January 2nd, 2012 at 10:51 am

    I will be voting strategically against the candidate that launches or has launched on his behalf a much more negative campaign in the last two weeks of the election. I expect that will be the Republican candidate, but my goal is to get others to also vote strategically as a way to deter such skulduggery.


  2. Steve K. says:

    January 3rd, 2012 at 8:00 am

    Thanks for sharing your progressive disclosure, David ๐Ÿ˜‰

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