The Internet is peppered through with all kinds of lists, with, somewhat obviously, the main one being search engine results. Everybody wants to land on the first page (or within about the top ten) of a Google search, and Internet marketers are rabid about keeping track of what number they are at any given time. HTML is also simply a huge list of content elements. Websites themselves are made up of tons of lists as well. Think menu bars. Drop-downs. Categories. Even photo galleries.
And when it comes to actual written content, lists are highly recommended for web designers and content strategists. They allow for a number of details to be delivered in a short and concise manner, and are excellent for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes. If used properly, lists can often make including key words a lot easier.
Lists can be comprised of everything from a catalogue of ingredients to bullet points of the sections of your insurance plan to the steps to changing your oil. There are literally lists of lists on the Internet, and list-making is becoming so prevalent that it is now a very marketable skill. There’s even a word for an article with a list – a listicle. A writer that can come up with list after list of entertaining and interesting content is someone you want on your staff.
There are lots more reasons why lists are so effective for website content, and in order to celebrate this article’s inspiration, details will be presented as, well, a list.
What Makes Lists So Popular?
- Lists create order, which leads to faster understanding overall.
- Users can read lists fast – ideal for the browser.
- Lists give the impression of expert knowledge. Think “Ten Best.”
- Lists imply greater meaning. The act of organizing information into useful chunks means there may be more associations out there that we still haven’t thought of.
- Lists are easier to remember.
- Lists are perfect for those who scan instead of read.
- Lists allow for a lot of content on one page, hence avoiding making users scroll.
- Everything has an end, and often it’s better to be able to see it. Lists are good for that!
- Lists can allow content strategists to capitalize on SEO opportunities.
- For all their supposed simplicity, composing quality lists requires research and tenacity. All in all, they offer a whole lot for their size.
Lists keep people reading more so than the old-fashioned sentence, mainly because they tend to mimic the way we think and read. Brains generally don’t immediately provide complete sentences with perfect grammar, and when we read we also tend to skip words we can anticipate, such as “the”, “or” and “a”, in order to speed up the process. Extremely effective readers have been shown to look at entire paragraphs all at once, rather than just sentences. We digest information best a portion at a time, which is exactly how lists operate.