Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Five ways to make a 100 ways list...

The trend of list blogging has been around for a while. Although, recently I have noticed that the amount of lists floating around the Internet has exploded. In our bar-raising society it is common nature that people have to get more and more extreme to get their list noticed. Let’s take a look at some examples, in list format of course, shall we?

1. Numbers
The number of things in your list is crucial. When lists first began to appear many years ago, it was usually a simple list of 3, 5, or 10 things. Today’s lists are almost too much to handle. At some point somebody said “10 is just not enough for me”, so they went with 20. Then somebody decided to be a bar-raiser and went to 40. Then there are the people who are just plain lazy and name their lists something like “50+ ways to eat a stick of butter”. If this trend continues it won’t be long before we see lists like this: “1,000,000 design resources for pimping your blog!”

Top 100 User-Centered Blogs
70+ JavaScript Resources for Every Web Designer

2. Glow Words
When larger numbers stopped attracting people to lists, glow words had to be added. These are words that seem to say one thing, but really mean another thing such as “read me”. Words like “Amazing”, “Top”, “Hilarious”, “Crazy”, “Fantastic”, “Most”, etc. So now a list that would have normally been titled “10 Design Resources” has to be renamed “10 Amazingly Hilarious Design Resources”.

12 Fantastic Fall Photo Tips
13 Amazing Cirque du Soleil Performances

3. Give the Reader a Sense of Urgency
This is one that really angers me. Phrases like “Should Know”, “Can’t Live Without”, and “That Could Save Your Life” are all plays on the human psyche. They make us feel that we may be endangering ourselves if we don’t read this list. What is next, something like this: “10 Design Resources That You Need to Know Right Now or a Baby Will Die!!!”?

10 things you need to know about pandemic influenza
Top 10 Tools I Can’t Live Without

4. Apply Directly to the reader
If they don’t bite on glow words or fear, then why not try a bit of self interest. Using words like “You” and “Your” can create a sense of attachment to your list. If you see a list that says “10 Design Resources to Improve Your Blog”, you are more likely to think “Wait a second, I have a blog. I could improve it!”

48 Class Books to Boost Your Learning Experience
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5. Make it Sound Useful
Another common set of list whore phrases that I see are words that make the list sound useful. “Utilities”, “Tools”, “Tutorials”, and “Guides” are all used to make people think that a list can help them do achieve something that they may not be able to otherwise.

By GreenLantern
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