5 Reasons Why List-based Articles are so Popular
It looks like it’s getting harder and harder to find content on the Internet whose title doesn’t start with a digit. Why are these things so popular..? Here are the top 5 reasons ;-)
If you Google “25 ways”, you’ll get a nice list of life-changing content, including:
- 25 Ways to Wear a Scarf (this is actually a video, but it’s funny)
- 25 Ways To Up Your Ponytail
- 25 Ways to Show You're a Man
- 25 ways to kill Yoshi (WTH!?)
- 25 ways to communicate respect to your husband
These things are known as listicles, which are—like the name implies—articles written as lists.
Listicles are everywhere, and it looks like people love them, because it almost seems like that’s all you see around the Web nowadays.
How did this thing get started..? Was it content farms? Is it a conspiracy? Some even claim it goes back to the 10 commandments.
One thing’s for sure: they’re pretty popular. Here are 5 reasons why.
1. Listicles are great for skimming
With listicles, each part is a self-contained piece of content (a mini-article?), so you can easily scan all the items in the list and just read what looks good to you.
With traditional articles there is no such thing. If you skip content you might miss important information that you need to understand the rest of the piece.
2. Listicles are easier to read
With listicles, you don’t even have to read every single paragraph. You know what the topic is. You can just read the headings and get what each item is about.
With a traditional article, you pretty much have to read the whole thing.
3. You can stop and resume reading anytime
When you start a listicle, you don’t have to commit to finishing it. You can stop reading and resume later without it being a big deal.
With a traditional article, resuming reading is somewhat more difficult, since you might not remember what happened or where you left off. You generally need an uninterrupted stretch of time to read the whole thing and concentrate so you don’t get lost.
4. Listicles don’t lie to you
With listicles, you know what you’ll get. You get 12 healthy habits of successful people. Not 7, not 15. If you just read habit 6/12, you know you’re half way through.
With a traditional article, it’s harder to keep track of how you’re doing. Sure, Medium says this is a 3 minute read, but what if you are a fast reader? You just can’t know for sure.
5. ..and, listicles are easier to write
Listicles are easier to write. Why..? Because you can pretty much take any given number of facts, add some details or fluff, repeat x amount of times, and you have an article.
With traditional articles, you actually have to think about the whole thing—not just each bit. You have to know what you want to write first and how to best get your point across. You might have to do more serious research about the topic, and the whole thing must feel consistent, so you have to keep focused for a longer amount of time.
I actually don’t particularly hate listicles (mainly because I don’t read them). I was talking to a friend today about how it would be fun to write a listicle about listicles, so here it is.
This might be my dumbest article yet, and probably the #1 of the top 10 reasons why you shouldn’t click on the green button and recommend this article.
My name is Niccolò Brogi, I’m a web developer/consultant from Florence, Italy. You can learn more about me on my website.