It’s been said that the internet primarily consists of two things: porn and lists. While the former may only appeal to certain demographics, it seems everyone loves lists. Why? Because in the simplest terms: they make an easy reading experience – lists are effortlessly acquired data for our brains.
For those interested in making a standout list/slideshow article, here are some tips and tricks that can make it more appealing, and hopefully get those viewing figures up.
1. Have a subject that appeals to people
Although it may sound obvious, no one is going to bother reading a list if the subject is of no interest to them. Topical subjects will usually do well, as do lists on upcoming big games (e.g. 10 things we know so far about X, why to get excited about X, 10 reasons why X will fail). Check what’s trending in the gaming community, as any lists based on these subjects should get plenty of interest.
The other avenue to take is making the list something that will start debate and discussion. Offering a difference of opinion on a universally accepted view will often guarantee a lot of readers (e.g. “10 reasons why Bloodborne isn’t as good as everyone thinks”). Of course you may have to deal with a bit of abuse and shouts of “clickbait!” but this is the internet, after all.
Try to make it fresh, new
Try to make the piece something that hasn’t been seen before. This can be the hardest part of the process, as there seems to be a million gaming-based lists online today, so thinking up a new one isn’t easy. One option is to add a spin to a common subject: instead of ‘The 10 greatest video game bad guys’, try ‘The 10 greatest video game bad guys you feel sorry for’. Alternatively, make the list more specific: ‘Scariest games’ has been done to death, so try something like ‘scariest clowns in gaming’.
The importance of the main image
They say ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, although it seems this rule doesn’t apply when it comes to online lists. The importance of the article’s main image cannot be understated.
A huge number of people decide whether or not to read a list/slideshow based on the main image alone. It’s vital that you make it eye-catching, relevant, and something that arouses people’s curiosity – enticing them to click and read.
2. Research is key
All slideshows/lists require some level of research. If you accidentally put an incorrect fact into an article, then not only will it likely be pointed out by readers, but the validity of the entire piece may be called into question. It’s always best to check any facts from several sources before including them.
Remember, even the smallest discrepancies may be exposed in the comments section, there are some extreme pedants out there.
3. Make it engaging
The best list/slideshow content manages to combine facts with opinions in an engaging way. Most people don’t want to read a long series of statistics for each entry, so try to include only the most important and relevant information in a presentable manner.
As interesting as a writer makes each entry, the image or video which accompanies it can help improve a reader’s experience immensely. If you want to include a picture based on the entry’s subject, make sure it’s high-quality and captures the essence of what you’re talking about.
If you decide to include a video instead of an image, then unless it’s directly related to the entry (e.g. a twenty-minute Twitch video of a world-record speedrun), it’s best not to link in vids that are overly long, as most people won’t bother to sit through them.
Having a good introduction and summary to your list/slideshow can really set it apart from the crowd. Possible things to mention in the intro include:
- Expansion on what the article is about
- What criteria the entries need to meet in order to make it onto the list
- A brief history of the subject
Summaries aren’t always necessary, but they can add that something extra – rather than simply finishing an article with the number 1 entry. They don’t need to be as long as the introduction, and a good idea is to include any conclusions that can be drawn from the list.
Share your work with the class
Once the whole thing is finished, get sharing. Many Twitter and Facebook game accounts like to repost list articles based on their titles (though they obviously tend to do this when it’s a positive piece, rather than one stating the 10 reasons why their favorite game is crap). With something well written, researched and shared amongst the right groups, these kind of articles can get well over 100,000 views.
Here are some examples of great lists:
An example of a list article with a pretty unique premise, something that people are interested in reading. Using a main image from Aliens: Colonial Marines definitely helped get the reader’s attention. It is well written and researched, and has a good combination of images and videos, not forgetting it also has that slightly controversial element about it (why was this game included/not included?)
Also, notice that despite being an excellent piece, the small typo on the number one entry has been picked up on in the comments; the internet loves to point out the tiniest of faults. This list has so far achieved 1.1 million views.
This is how to make a list article more specific. Rather than going with the so often used ‘Best Characters in Gaming’, the author has instead made a list of the best unlockable characters. It’s informative, interesting and well researched, with great images used to showcase each game.
Every entry is a constant 2 paragraphs long, and there’s a summary at the end that invites people to comment on the piece.
Another list with a great, readable concept. This is an example of how to include a lot information in each entry without it becoming laborious to read. Lots of links, good images/videos, well written, and it doubtlessly required extensive research.
This is one of the most viewed gaming lists on the site.