Stick to the list.
As much as we may try to resist their allure, there’s something so appealing about listicles. What is it about these numbered articles that draws us in? For starters:
1. People Love Numbers
In the sea of online content inundating consumers, numbers stand out from the crowd. With so many options competing for readers’ time and attention, consumers are eager for easily digestible content — and numbered lists promise to deliver just that.
2. Readers Know What to Expect
A list is like a contract. When you’re promised 10 things, you get 10 things. Listicles are popular for the simple reason that they quantify their demands on a reader’s attention, establishing expectations from the onset and following through.
3. Organization is Appealing
Information organized in a spatially appealing way is more compelling than long chunks of straight text. Listicles break copious amounts of information into short, distinct components that are easier on our eyes (and for our brains to process).
4. Short-Form is the New Long-Form
Listicles don’t typically waste time belaboring minute details, and people love this shorter style of content. Much like a 30-second video clip, a listicle doesn’t threaten to take up too much of a busy reader’s time.
5. Short Attention Spans Crave Short Copy
As attention spans shorten with the advent of digital media, it makes sense that people are more drawn to clearly organized, short and sweet online content than ever. Rather than paragraphs of narrative, listicles stick to the point — appealing to the modern-day, easily distracted reader.
6. Lists Promote Engagement
Listicles are inherently social, setting people up to agree or disagree with the proposed Top 10 Cutest Animals…or Best Superbowl Commercials…or 2016 Celebrity Fails” at hand. Lists encourage readers to start or join a conversation, interjecting their own thoughts about what should have topped the list instead.
7. Readers Seek Easily Scannable Content
With the clearly delineated items in a listicle, readers can choose which information to consume, and which parts to skip over. There’s no need to sift through long-winded paragraphs to get to the one fact you wanted to find in the first place.
8. Lists Offer an Opportunity for Validation
People like to guess what will be on the list to see if they’re right or wrong. Listicles offer readers validation that their favorite band, food, movie, etc. is universally recognized as a top contender in its category.
9. Bulleted Points are Memorable
As the New Yorker points out, “It’s easier to remember everything if we write it down in bulleted, or numbered, points.” Listicles allow you to break big ideas down into several memorable concepts, making an article that jumps from idea to idea much more palatable to readers.
10. Lists are Ingrained in Our Culture
Throughout history, listicles have aimed to bring simplicity and order to otherwise complex concepts. From the 10 commandments in the Bible to David Letterman’s Top 10, lists have always been a huge part of our culture — and it doesn’t look like they’re going anywhere fast.