This seems like a fairly common flow, but I'm not sure I've ever heard of what it's called:

  • A user has to enter some basic, mandatory information in order to establish a record in the system
  • But, in order to complete their main goal, they have to enter additional information, which they might not have at hand right in the moment (or might not be willing to provide yet)
  • So, the user can save the record, but they can't complete their full task without entering additional information.

Example 1

A user tries out an online product. They give the system their name and email address, and evaluate it at a limited trial level. One week later, when they've decided to upgrade to a paid account, they enter their credit card information.

Example 2

A medical platform collects a patient's name and date of birth to schedule an appointment. It's used to establish the patient in the system. A few days before the appointment, the user is asked to complete a mandatory medical questionnaire, which is added to the patient's record.

Example 3

A blogger creates a new post and saves it, without a title. He comes back to it the next day, finishes the post, adds a title, and publishes it.

The common connection between these examples is that the user didn't have all of the information that was needed in their first encounter with the system, but they were still able to establish something. A gap of time might elapse between their first and second encounter - but this isn't required (if the user does have all of their information in the first encounter, they can still meet their goal elegantly. If the user needs multiple encounters with the system and the system allows it (such as in the blogger's case), that could still work, too.)

I want to keep calling this a broken flow (because there's a potential break in time between encounters), but to me, a broken flow has a negative connotation - there's a disconnect, something that needs to be fixed. We can use words like draft or pending in the user's interim state, but it feels like those don't describe the entire flow.

Is there a term for this in the abstract? Or do we need to be specific?

  • Maybe you didn't mean broken but interrupted? But I wouldn't see it as an incomplete or interrupted workflow. It is more a complete workflow for a multi-stage content lifecycle.
    – jazZRo
    Jun 23, 2022 at 11:14
  • I was thinking "interrupted" as well, but that feels like the user didn't complete what they needed to do, when it's possible that they've completed the first encounter and are waiting on someone else (or the system) to act next.
    – Izquierdo
    Jun 23, 2022 at 14:20

1 Answer 1


Content Delivery Workflow

I mentioned multi-stage content lifecycle in my comment and this was the name that came up after a search.

  • This is definitely the case in the content context. I wonder though - for cases like account creation/upgrades, does it still apply?
    – Izquierdo
    Jun 23, 2022 at 14:19
  • I think it does. Otherwise, where does content stop being content? It is contributed to serve a purpose, even if this is a futile detail.
    – jazZRo
    Jun 23, 2022 at 15:50

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