We have such little resistance for lists that… sorry, I was just distracted for the last two hours looking at lists for this article – that’s how little willpower we have to turn our attention away from lists! What’s the deal? Why can’t we get enough of lists? And why do lists matter for startups anyway (other than this writer trying to justify his eclectic reading and writing habits)?
The Internet is loaded with lists. Clearly there is high demand. Photos, videos, articles – they all manage to find their way into list formatting. Turns out we’re hard wired – culturally, physiologically – to respond to lists. Here’s a quick look:
1. Order, please
Licensed clinician at Change Happens, Doug Foresta, says that lists help alleviate anxiety, because they bring a sense of order to a chaotic world. With so much information, so many websites available online, we need something identifiable to keep us grounded.
2. Reading is old school
Be honest, how often do you hang around to read most online articles from beginning to end? (I’ll be thrilled if you’re still with me.) We like our information to come in tidy packages, easily digestible. We can scroll through a list quickly, and even if we don’t have time to read any further than the headings, we still feel like we leave with understanding.
3. Memory loves inventory
This might be a case of whether the chicken or the egg came first, but can you imagine getting through a day without a lists of things you have to do? Making it out of a store in one trip without a list of things you need to buy? We’ve become list-minded to help us remember what we need to do in our hectic days.
…and what does this have to do with startups? Ah, if you have anything to do with writing content or content marketing and you’re eager to boost page views, lists = clicks. Simple arithmetic.
Note the wild popularity of Buzzfeed. Give up all hope of productivity by going for a tour of Listverse. Or, if you missed it earlier, here’s an interview I had the pleasure of conducting with the founder of the interactive list startup (that is also delightfully addictive) – Listnerd.
Viva the list! Check out Hubspot’s full list of reasons we can’t resist lists here.