Can anyone point me to research about hidinginterface elements?

12 Feb 2010 - 5:11am
661 reads
William Hudson

There is a long-standing design principle called 'progressive
disclosure'. The interface is kept to the basics for the majority of
users, with more advanced settings available through the use of an
'Advanced' or 'More' button. It has both benefits and drawbacks. The
benefits centre around simplicity for the majority of users. The main
drawback is that users may not realize that some features are available.

One particularly notorious application of progressive disclosure was an
earlier version of Microsoft Office where the menus shipped in the
'short' version. Users had to really dig (or be told by tech support)
how to turn on the full menus. (Coincidentally, TomTom is just now doing
the same thing with their in-car navigation systems, but at least the
button for making the change is not deeply buried.)

In answer to your specific situation, I would not encourage the hiding
of the features in unobvious ways. For example, a Adobe Air application
I was using (can't remember which) changed the photo area of a message
into four menu items when you moused over it. I found this accidentally
after about three weeks of fairly frequent use.

I am still a big advocate of self-explanatory design - you should be
able to tell what something does by looking at a screen shot, not
scrubbing over the whole interface with a mouse. (Also, if you have any
interest in accessibility, interfaces that *require* mice - that is
without keyboard alternatives - violate disability discrimination laws
in most countries.)


William Hudson
Syntagm Ltd
Design for Usability
UK 01235-522859
World +44-1235-522859
US Toll Free 1-866-SYNTAGM
mailto:william.hudson at

Syntagm is a limited company registered in England and Wales (1985).
Registered number: 1895345. Registered office: 10 Oxford Road, Abingdon
OX14 2DS.

Attend our courses on Ajax design & usability, card sorting and web
CHI 2010 Conference (Atlanta, Georgia)
UPA 2010 Conference (Munich, Germany)

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at
[mailto:discuss-bounces at] On Behalf Of
Gabor Vida
Sent: 10 February 2010 09:02
To: discuss at
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] Can anyone point me to research about
hidinginterface elements?

A project that I am involved in has raised an interesting debate about
reducing clutter in an interface.


Syndicate content Get the feed