What’s the Big Deal with Lists?
Lists are all over the internet and they are used for so many different things. Psychologically, there are many reasons why they are so popular and why our short attention spans are attracted to them. If a blogger or editor had the choice of writing a long article vs. listing several different things, it would be much more beneficial to them to use a list wherever possible. Check out this “list” about why lists are so important!
1. People Don’t Like To Read
Why don’t people want to read long articles? Sure, you will often find those that are so deeply interested in the information that they will read whatever and however much is given. However, the fact is, people don’t like to spend a long time reading, skimming, or sorting through words and information, especially if given a large page of just text. It is much easier for a reader to skim over a list of things in order to perhaps find something that will be of interest to them. Skimmers often will read more into something within a list if they can quickly find that which is interesting to them.
2. People Are In A Hurry
In this day and age, people have the tendency to zip around here and there with their short attention spans violently controlling them in every aspect of their life. Partially due to our new age of technology and quick response devices, we want information and we want it now! A great example of this is Twitter. In essence, Twitter is just a large list of headlines from several different people. If you follow several news or blogging networks, you generally skim through the headlines and click on the ones you are most interested in. Now, instead imagine your Twitter feed as the complete posts of every single link. Not very interesting anymore is it?
3. Lists Are Multipurpose
There are so many reasons why you might need a list of items to display your information. It catches your eye, why wouldn’t you use them? Lists can be used for all different kinds of types of information. Images can be shown in lists. The folks at Buzzfeed have mastered this idea and turned into a major traffic source for their website. Here is a list of 27 genius things you never knew existed. Every single one has an image that draws the viewer in and makes them want to know what the next item on the list is.
Lists can also be used for comparison. If you have a lot of information that you need to display efficiently, a detailed list or table may be the best option. This allows the viewer to quickly browse the options available and quickly make a decision based on the information displayed. For example, this list of the top seo companies in 2013 provides a great demonstration to rank many different companies to help people determine who they may want to hire for their business.
4. Lists Are Shareable
The combination of all the previous things make a list even more popular simply due to the fact that more people will share them with their friends. If more people read it, like it, and use it, the chances are they will want to pass that on to their friends so they can do the same. It’s lists like these that can easily and quickly catch the Internets attention and only make them more popular.
In short, there may be many many more reasons why a list is used on the internet. But, in part, these four are primarily the reasons why they are so popular. Next time you read an article, think about how they may have done better by turning into a list. However, not every piece of content should be represented this way, but if it benefits the end user, a list may be appropriate depending on the information given.