5 tips for crafting a good list
Lists are power points in your content marketing pieces and on your webpages.
Here’s a list of ways to make the most of them:
1. Use more lists.
Review your site for places where a bulleted list would help visitors skim more easily. Then substitute lists for prose.
2. Organize lists logically.
Choose the right structure:
- Alphabetical structure is best for glossaries, for instance.
- Chronological structure is the right choice for a series of steps. [As everyone who’s ever put together an Ikea bedside table well knows.]
- Hierarchical structure works best for top 10 lists.
However, you’ll also want to …
3. Take advantage of the last item on the list.
The last element on a list often attracts more attention, says usability expert Jakob Nielsen:
- The first few items get the most attention.
- The middle items get less attention.
- The final item gets more attention than the one before it.
So if you’re creating a hierarchical list, consider an hourglass-shaped structure: Start with the most important items, bury the least important items in the middle, then end with the second- or third-most important item.
4. Add a subhead to let readers know the topic of the list.
Visitors are looking for it, write Pernice, et al., authors of How People Read on the Web. “The eyes go almost instantly to the bulleted list, only stopping first to scan the bolded text above it.”
5. Make list items short.
“These are called ‘bulleted lists’ and not ‘bulleted paragraphs’ for a reason,” Pernice, et al., write. “Sticking a bullet in front of a paragraph is no good.”
Sources: Kara Pernice, Kathryn Whitenton, and Jakob Nielsen; How People Read on the Web: The Eyetracking Evidence; Nielsen Norman Group; Sept. 10, 2013
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