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Lists are powerful and often used tools where web development is concerned. Not only can they create regular bullets and numbered lists, but they can also help organize long strings of related content, be used as menus, or keep order of things like comments. Knowing when and how to use lists the right way can be huge benefit, both for yourself, your visitors, and search engines. When you're building a webpage and you have content types that repeat themselves over and over or you have groups of content that appear in a list, or you have groups of content that should appear together, you're always going to use a list.
Not only does this make it easier to access for people who access the site, but it also tells the browser and search engines that these things belong together and it becomes easier to style for you. The accessibility benefit of creating lists is pretty obvious. When you put items that belong together or are related into a list, then they will be listed out in a list and they're easy to navigate. That also carries over into search engines; once you put items into a list, search engines will see those items as sequential and related and will treat them accordingly. There are several common uses for lists in HTML.
The most common one that you'll see on almost every site these days is Menus. Whereas before, web developers would create tables to contain menu items or they would just list off links, when you make a menu these days, you create an unordered list and then you put each menu item in its own list item. The reason for this is then you can create one style for all the list items and then every time you add a new menu item, it'll automatically inherit that style, so it's just easier to manage. You'll also find lists used extensively in blogs and other indexes. In many blogs you'll see that each post on an index page is actually a list item.
This is done both so it's easy to manage for the developer and also so it's easy to navigate for a person visiting that site. You'll also see lists appear very often in sidebars on blogs and other items, because then you can make one general style for the single list item, and then as you add more things to the sidebar, they just inherit those styles. When it comes to comments on blogs, you'll often find they use numbered lists with sub-lists. That way the browser can count the comments, they're treated as sequential elements, and they make more sense semantically.
Another use that's kind of novel and a lot of people don't know about is image galleries. If you wanted to make an image gallery, the easiest way is to actually to put all the images into lists, and then just style the list items. That makes it easy to manage and they also flow nicely on the page. To give you an idea of how this works, let's take a look at the example project. Looking at the website itself, it doesn't look like there are any lists here. If you look at it, we just have menus and content, but if I turn off Styles, you'll see that all the lists appear.
From the top here the Main Menu is an unordered list. And when we'll scroll down you'll see that this image gallery, the three images are also list items. You notice because they have these bullets next of them, and as we scroll further down, you'll see that each of the big blocks in the sidebar are also lists, and finally that the bottom menu is a list. There are several reasons I laid it out like this. Like I said in the beginning, one of the most important ones, at least for menus, is that once you create a list, adding a new menu item becomes very easy.
If we go into the code, you'll see that adding a menu item is as easy as adding a new list item. You see the menu item here, and all we have to do is simply copy out that code, add a new list item, and call it something else. I'll call it New. So all I did now was add a new list item with a new link, and when I reload the page, you'll see that that list item automatically appears and inherits the same style, as all the other elements. That means managing a menu becomes very easy. The same can be said for this image gallery down here. The reason why I created a list is because then I know that if I add another image, it'll automatically stack nicely underneath the ones that are already there. And if I take one away, the two other images will shift nicely in.
So it's an easy way of managing the image gallery without having to add new styles every time you add a new image. Let's take a look at that code one more time. If I go into my code, you'll see all these lists appear in the same fashion. They start off with an unordered list tag, and then you have each list item appearing underneath. If we scroll down to where the images are, the gallery consists of an unordered list with a class, gallery. And then we have a list item that contains an anchor, and within that anchor or link, we have the image itself, and then that process just repeats itself.
Another list item, another anchor, another image, another list item, another anchor, another image. And as we scroll down, we'll find the sidebar right here, the first sidebar list, the second sidebar list, the third sidebar list, and all the way inside the footer, again, we'll find an unordered list, this time called footer-menu that has list items inside it that point to those menu items. So see how using the list makes it very easy to manage the code on the code end, makes it very easy to style the code for display, and makes it very easy for people to access the code when it's displayed in the site.
Using lists effectively can not only make your site easier to access and understand for people and search engines, but it can also make it easier for you to manage. Looking around the web, you'll see that lists show up everywhere, and often in places you didn't expect. Try for yourself and see if you can start incorporating lists more constructively. When in doubt, a list is often the right answer.
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