20 Reasons Why Vapid BuzzFeed-Style List Posts Make You Look Like An Idiot

A lot of people say “there’s no such thing as bad publicity.” Actually, that’s a load of bs, and I’m not going to go into too much detail explaining why.

There are plenty of outrageous and outlandish things anybody can do to get attention, that ultimately end up damaging your reputation in the long run.

I thought this sort of behavior was limited to “celebrities” trying to desperately extend their 15 minutes of fame, but no. It has begun to spillover in my beloved web design community.

Case in point: 1st Web Designer’s article entitled 20 Hot Female Web Designers That Will Take Your Breath Away

Is This A Joke?

No, that headline isn’t a joke. You totally read it right. It’s a real post that includes 20 of the hottest computer-using, pixel-crunching, internet-subscribing (possibly wifi-stealing) female web designers on the web today.

And yes, this is a publication that I previously had some respect for. They even published an interview about me.

Well, all that respect is gone now.

I Thought This Was A Serious Publication

I’m not going to get into the gender equality arguments over the “hot female” premise of the article, and that it was a follow up to another 1st Web Designer article called something like “15 Most Influential Web Designers” that was exclusive to men.

Many outraged commenters in the 1st Web Designer article have already done a great job arguing that.

I’m not going to go into how the website design of 1st Web Designer reminds me of a cheap imitation of the Smashing Magazine design (which is a web design publication I still do have some respect for). That actually has nothing to do with my point, but it does look like a lame knockoff.

My point is, the article is absolute garbage, BuzzFeed-wannabe drivel that has no place on a website purporting to be a serious publication.

It’s All A Numbers Game

It looks like 1st Web Designer (allegedly) has over 150,000 followers. That’s way more than me, Theme Lab, whatever, ever had combined. They must be doing something right.

Judging from their BuySellAds page, they charge $4 per 1,000 impressions with millions of estimated impressions per 30 days. So they’re probably making a killing selling ads.

I also had no idea about the going rate for sponsored tweets. $200 per tweet from an account with ~45,000 followers. Got it.

This is just a general problem with the state of publishing and media today. This article from The Onion may be satirical, but it explains why many “reputable” news sources constantly beat dumb “stories” to death.

More viewers = more money. Quantity > quality. That’s just how it works, as unfortunate as that is. And it’s all downhill from there.

The BuzzFeed Model Works For BuzzFeed, Not For You

BuzzFeed actually has a super interesting business model, which has a lot more going on than meets the eye (cat gifs). And it’s no secret that list posts, even before BuzzFeed reached critical mass, are great for linkbait and generating traffic.

The problem is, people expect silly lists of animated cat images that “restore your faith in humanity” from BuzzFeed. They’re posts specifically designed to make you go “LOL!” or “WTF?” before you share it on your social network of choice, and subsequently goes viral.

I know it’s tempting to replicate that model for your own, serious/professional website, but your serious/professional audience is going to see right through it, and it’s just going to make you look like an idiot.

Plus, your serious/professional business website probably has other goals besides “get as much traffic as possible.” Maybe you want to generate leads, or sell a product. Not all traffic is created equal. And “viral” traffic is about as bottom of the barrel as it gets.

They just want to read your crappily put together, obvious linkbait article, and leave, never to return again. Maybe investing in some smarter/higher quality content will better help your business reach its goals.

You’re Taking The Bait! It Worked!

Well, if it makes any difference I nofollowed any links in this post to 1stwebdesigner.com and their BuySellAds page. But yes, I did give them attention and maybe a few extra hits of traffic.

Considering they (allegedly) have over 150,000 total followers, and my blog has like 2 subscribers, I doubt I helped them out too much.

My point remains, the post sucks. And those few extra visitors who made their way there as a result of my blog post probably agree. So whatever.

Wait. Where Are The 20 Reasons? You promised it in the headline!

I tricked and misled you with a catchy title to get you to clickthrough to this post. Just trying to up my pageviews so I can up the price on the zero ads I’ve ever displayed on this website. I’m so unethical and hypocritical.

If you comb through the actual post content, you can probably dig up well more than 20 reasons why vapid BuzzFeed-style list posts make you look like an idiot.

I just didn’t nicely number and organize them, but they’re probably in there somewhere.

You’re just being oversensitive!

Nah, I’m not. The article is absolutely awful for a multitude of reasons.

Make an article titled “20 Most Talented Female Web Designers” and never use adverb/adjective combos like “sizzling hot” to describe the physical appearance of any web designer, male or female, ever again, and I’ll be happy.

I don’t think that’s too unreasonable of a request.


Yes, I’m aware the author of the original 1st Web Designer article is a female. But that’s irrelevant. I think I’ve made my point pretty clear.

Sound off in the comments, please.

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  1. Yes sadly we all fell for the link bait and they are taking their winnings from the traffic to the bank…

    They could headlined the article “20 up and coming female web developers” but that wouldn’t have done anything for the traffic on the site.

    It is sensational journalism in it’s truest form… It should also be noted that they retweeted out the article later in the day hoping for more traffic… 

    They don’t really care about the creditability in the industry all they want was a spike in traffic to sell more expensive ad space… Sad but true 🙁

    1. Robert, couldn’t agree more.

      Is the short-term traffic spike really worth the long-term damage to credibility?

      Seems most would take the short-term traffic in a heartbeat.

      1. All too common in the news industry. My previous career… Report something sensational, controversial or half true and watch the money roll in. The tabloids have been doing it for years.

        They and other websites like them are just taking a touchy subject and using it for commercial gain. Google will see a spike in traffic rank them higher and traffic via search engine will come rolling… 

    1. Probably not. They get so much traffic and make so much off of advertising, losing even a handful of readers from this will only show up as a minor blip on their radar.

      I wish people would realize that you can maintain some level of credibility and have high-traffic posts at the same time.

  2. Its really a zero-sum game. With the number of quality publishers adopting this dumb sensational headline style isn’t really going to affect the credibility of large publications ( like it would have in 2004 ) any more than sticking to more traditional headlines is going to improve credibility. Its easy to tell that a credible source for a niche community will remain credible unless it adopts some radical source. I agree with Leland that the title could have been a little less sexy for slightly less traffic, but in the competitive age of digital advertising and tight world of traffic, the question is Why Not?

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