So we know there’s a backlash of the list article format going on. And we know that the general cure to the “disease” is to go for quality, not quanity. Discussions instead of a bombardment of links and screen grabs. Though of course, that’s debatable since if I’m a designer looking for these resources in the first place, I’d find them indispensable anyway.
The thing is though, if I am looking for that perfectly tiled background pattern or that brilliant CSS3 button tutorial, how do I scour through oodles of these lists to find exactly what I need? How would I know from my list of bookmarks or starred Google Reader items that the blog post titled “50+ Fresh CSS Techniques, Tutorials and Resources” is the one I need, and not “5 Useful Coding Solutions For Designers And Developers”? These titles are super vague and because the posts are super long, it’s now finding a needle in a haystack.
List article authors need to raise the stakes and add more useful features. A table of contents, for example, that summarizes all the items in the list. Tags too, that should describe the article with keywords as specific as possible.
Perhaps someone can even create an aggregator of these lists, with proper categorization and search. It could even be—gasp—the next “CSS gallery”.
Why fan the flames and tolerate list articles? Again, I know what they’re useful for. They’re a convenient way to check up on what’s new in the design blogosphere, and you can never have too many resources. They’re certainly taking up space for thought-provoking discussions, but the demand is high and we need them too. We might as well rally to improve the format instead of banish it.
The same goes for CSS galleries and image bookmarking sites. I welcome the large amount of sites because sometimes you can never have enough. But how I browse through and experience their content can definitely be improved.
I’m not just talking about aesthetics or readability here. I’m talking about what can be considered new forms of content with sub-content that can describe and classify them:
- the list article as a type of resource list that contains different downloadable files (e.g., brushes, vectors, photos), tutorials, screenshots, etc.
- the CSS gallery as a type of website list that contains different websites classified according to style, site type, color, CMS, topic, number of pages, designer, etc.
- the image bookmarking site as a type of image list that contains different images classified according to style, image type, color, resolution, designer, etc.
Is it possible to create new content formats for these? People have managed to do so many things with Twitter tweets, and Microformats are moving forward at a steady pace, so why not see if we can remix and mashup larger types of content, like ones contained in blog posts?
One of the biggest problems on the Web is that we’re marking things up on such a low level, while tapping into XML structures isn’t as easy to do yet. But imagine if we can make all these resources so much more organized and findable. Maybe people wouldn’t need to complain about list articles and CSS galleries as cliches then.