Why I Love Listicles

Listicles – or articles in list-form – have become incredibly popular in today’s online world. Although, some communication traditionalists look down upon them as an inferior format, I love them. Here are four reasons why:

1.     They use health communication principles in a simple and elegant way

A foundational strategy for communicating health messages is tailoring information for a specific target audience. By using lists, you can provide a series of messages and allow the reader to quickly find the section that they perceive to be the most relevant and meaningful to them. In other words, listicles facilitate self-selection of tailored messages and drive your target audience directly to the content with the highest likelihood of impacting their health behavior.

2.     They are an excellent example of plain language in action

Plain language, defined as “communication your audience can understand the first time they read or hear it,” has been a hot topic for government agencies since the signing of the Plain Writing Act of 2010. Not only is using lists a specific best practice within the plain language guidelines, there are a few other recommendations that listicles make good use of, including:

  • Organize to meet the readers’ needs
  • Use lots of useful headings
  • Write short sections

3.     They utilize web design best practices for content

Paying careful attention to how content is organized, structured, and labeled is part of sound user-design principles. Specifically, “chunking” content, which means breaking up large sections of text into smaller pieces, is key to designing an effective website. Shorter pieces of content are easier for a user to read than long-form documents, and the visual effect of small chunks of content help the reader quickly understand the types of content on the page.

4.     Readers love them

The internet has spoken. We love the listicle, especially for news. A 2013 study from Mobiles Republic found than “news snacking,” or checking news content far more frequently, for short, sharp bursts of attention, is now the preferred way to consume news content. The listicle format is ideal for presenting a series of small related news items or breaking down a complex news story into more manageable pieces.

So, when you’re developing your next communication, considering using a listicle. Until then, happy snacking.