Friday, July 6, 2007

Titles on Rails: 5 Reasons Why We Click

We are swamped in messages that lure us into certain behaviour. From advertising to the layout of grocery stores (ever notice that the two staples -- milk and bread -- are at separate ends of the store?), there are a variety of techniques and tricks that play on our psychology.

These aren't immoral, necessarily, but it is interesting to be aware of them.

Here are some things I've noticed about the title of posts on tech blogs: "the tricks for clicks", as it were.

1. Itemize

People are naturally drawn to lists, and geeks in particular. Tech bloggers owe a debt to Scott Myers, whose book, Effective C++, made lists very cool and, well, effective. Just a collection of info-morsels, each hand-tailored for today's collective attention span.

2. We Love Numbers

This just in: geeks love math and numbers! Plus, when we see "10 things about x", we subconsciously try and generate things in our head, and then compare the list to the post. Plus, some numbers have a certain charm: 7 and 10 are big winners.

3. Buzzwords

If there is a buzzword in the post, then all the better. Like bears to honey. We should all rename our companies' current projects to use 'Rails' even if they aren't a web technology. e.g. "Trilogy Internal Payroll System (TIPS)" becomes "TIPS on Rails".

4. Brevity Rocks

5. Passion is attractive

This isn't just the scourge of trolling. A good title will imply strong affinity or distaste for a concept: there's no middle ground. The truth is, passion by itself is often attractive enough for us to click, even if we disagree with the sentiment. We are drawn to confidence.

Those are some reasons I've noticed for my clicks...

and you?

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