Progressive reduction and progressive disclosure of content

I don’t recall where or when I ran across this article, Progressive Content for Progressive Reduction by Ben Barone-Nugent on the UXBooth site in the Content Strategy space, but I must say that this article clearly explains and demonstrates progressive disclosure of information as well as a new idea of progressive reduction of information as users gain expertise. As an information architect (which today seems to be called “content strategist”), I have been applying the principles of progressive disclosure for quite some time. Learning about progressive reduction of content was a nice surprise of a new tool to put in the toolbox as we design and redesign our information sets.

Today, I started thinking about how technical communicators might need to apply these principles as they develop the information sets. We need to develop information across information deliverables, and consider where the information should be presented and how much should be presented in each context. For example, technical communicators might be able to argue that a help topic might go away if the UI control was changed from a check box to two radio buttons, moving information out of “help” and into not just the labels of the interface controls but using different interface controls to begin with. Technical communicators need to write and review information across the layers of information as it is progressively disclosed; they need to think about users across releases and consider how to progressively reduce the information to be only what is absolutely needed.

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