An end to graphic design list posts and roundups for graphic designers

Yes, I said it. Is it possible to end the graphic design list article format? Yes, but in a very particular way in very particular niches.

UPDATE 7/2012: The Big List of Lists is now up and running. Keep reading, but do pay a visit dedicated to the graphic design list article format we all love to hate and hate to love, but in any case can’t live without :)

But first, I ask that you do two things:

I) Subscribe to the RSS feed here and / or follow me on Twitter

II) Read this post and leave a comment. Feedback is already impassioned:

I think a nerve has been struck and I have more to say and deliver on this in the coming weeks. I ask you to stay tuned.

Notice I said “an end” and not “the end”. By “an end” I mean that I believe we have reached a level of information maturity in the graphic design field where I think certain niches can move from rehashed and regurgitated list post mode into a kind of “best of” page mode with a certain degree of finality for many topics. Some topics have been so covered and listed and rounded-up that there just isn’t a way to sensationalize them into another post with another crazy title that makes you click it only to realize you’ve read the same list 900 times before.

Please, do we have time for this anymore? I don’t.

For instance, do we really need another “Top 20 blogging platforms” post, any time soon? You know the type. Why not just have an authoritative, community-informed list of the top contenders and call it a day? We don’t need a new post about this, we need a page about this—a living yet archival page. But with the proviso that any page would be an infrequently updated page and not a post with a short shelf life, and it would updated only when a bona fide “top blogging platform” paid its dues and garners approval from a community to be listed. Think of it like the Constitution plus and Amendment every so often, as needed. Any changes to the page would be a new post about the minor change, and not yet another “10 Totally Awesome Fresh and New and Classic Blogging Platforms” post that we are all collectively growing a touch weary of, but yet we still click because we are afraid that we’ll miss something.

List posts will never die. I love list posts. Some blogs thrive on them and they always will. However, some information just isn’t all that list-post-worthy anymore, as there really isn’t that much to say that’s new and exciting. We are at the point in the saturation curve where topics that were once sensational for freelance designers are now just kind of rote—and why shouldn’t they be. Yet we still need updates. We just don’t need the hype.

Sometimes, you just want to look up an authoritative list on something, as a freelance graphic designer, and call it day and move on with the information you need so you can get back to running your design studio.

That’s why I say, for certain topics, there is an end to list posts and roundups for graphic designers, and it’s in sight.

Agree? Thoughts?


  1. Dave says

    Another thing that bugs me about the “Top 20 blah blah” posts is that the writers just copy whole-sale any introductory text about that system/program, and not their own take on why its good/sexy/innovative.

  2. says

    Hi Dave: I’m not sure what motivates people to even bother trying this. I think they think, deep down, that by copying content like that – including intros – they’ll somehow get traffic which gets their ads viewed. Even if they got a thousands of hits a day, advertising revenue is just not worth the effort unless you are a huge site with a dedicated following.

  3. says

    While I agree with you that I could do without reading “10 Totally Awesome Fresh and New and Classic Blogging Platforms” and the like everyday, I don’t think we have reached saturation point yet and nor will we anytime soon. The problem with these posts is that their titles are too darn clickable.

    Even though you make a good point that building a site with a dedicated following is better than getting short term traffic for ad revenue – there are just too many people who don’t get it and they won’t be able to stop themselves coming out with a new list. A definitive, authoritative source is what we all crave but doesn’t the nature of the net make that difficult to find?

    Having said that, I think your trimmed-down, nuts-and-bolts, finite, curated, laser-focused, and eminently-useful site for freelance graphic designers is a great idea!

  4. says

    “…they won’t be able to stop themselves…”

    LOL. Too true. That said, I’m hoping to uncover a niche of SOME people that know better :).

    I used to click those kinds of “24 totally awesome and best most used…” links just to see how bad of a rip-off those articles were but now I just don’t have time, especially since they are all about on the same level of bad. I’m hoping as we, and the net, matures, there grows a place for a more seasoned web-surfer-freelancer to get some decent info. Whether or not I can help provide that remains to be seen, but I’m willing to give it a shot. I can always let a bad idea’s domain expire :), and it wouldn’t be the first time either…

  5. says

    I still click on them and then regret it instantly, lol. If you need any help with your designer’s wiki (if that’s a good description for it) then let me know!

  6. says

    Hey Doug,

    Endless reams of list posts are something that has bugged me for ages – something I’ve addressed on my blog (, which I myself don’t keep up w enough). Otherwise good blogs have begun doing this – and I’d tender the opinion a full 80% of a lot of their content is done before, it’s just been either reordered or had two a three bullet items chopped in favour of a couple others that are equally redundant and meaningless. I hate naming names, but is one of the worst. “27 Firefox Plugins You Need To Have!” or “The BEST 967 WordPress Themes You Have To Download!” – where half the list is simply culled from someplace else. does this with their own content even.

    The sad fact is that these posts attract large amounts of traffic and therefore receive the sponsorship. In a numbers game, there’s very very little room for real creativity and good writing. It’s a self-feeding, self-replicating pattern. Blog posts lists, blog gets traffic.

    Now, I draw my own silly little line at sites like Abduzeedo – which largely does, or at least used to, post such lists. Websites that make a sole business out of inspiration are fine. Inspiration is intangible after all, so at the very least *who’s to judge* what inspires one and not another? Ergo, if it’ all you do, make an effort to keep the list items original and I can forgive it, or even enjoy it myself on occasion.

    Such is the sorry state of internet publishing, and the madness of advertisers to simply attract quantity of traffic, not quality. We should be nurturing the original writers.

    Thanks for addressing this.

  7. says

    @ Derek:

    It seems some of the big sites have graduated past a total reliance on list posts. I like list posts, as I mention, just not the rehash-and-tweak-2-bullets kinds. I really, really like the idea of a site that attempts to make definitive, authoritative lists. It would have to grow into that with some modicum of community support and acknowledgment, but it could happen – niche by niche!

    I can’t see the shotgun list approach working for a site that first gets a generic template, a horrible logo, and then nameless and faceless regurgitated post, and wraps it all in a right column of ads that feature webhosting and PSD to name-your-template ads. Ick!

    But yes, there will be traffic, but I think there is room above those kinds of bottom feeders since people are really looking for MORE than than.

    If you read any number of magazines in a popular niche, you’ll see that they do the same things over and over too. But it’s the magazines that add even just a few GREAT articles in an otherwise droll issue that do better than all the rest. If they bag the “one” interview, or do that one “truly useful” post on something to do with WordPress – those are the ones that will succeed. And again, I do think there is room for success and legitimate list post heaven in niches. I think that is the future for many blogs, but not all. There will always be a few biggies on top that can do the generic list post 3 times a week and pull it off.

  8. says

    Perhaps my post was a bit “rantish” but as I say it’s bugged me for a while.

    And again, I agree with you: There are quality lists and there are rehashed lists. However, a site that purports to ‘teach’ and then simply posts lists that are nothing more than images or quick tips otherwise explained and taught better in a feature article, these are the sites that get under my skin.

    As we both said, the blogs with original content – even if it is posted less often – should be the ones we promote.

    Thx for the time to respond btw. :)

  9. says

    Hi Folks:

    BIG update time :) I’ve been working on this when I can but it’s just about ready with a first big post.

    Essentially, it’s a BIG list post site with VETTED links. It’s going live very shortly. Maybe tonight :)

    Ok, I just flipped the switch for the first article: 135+ Top Graphic Design Blogs for 2012 (Ranked and Sortable)

    I’d love to get some feedback!


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