Blog 05/03/2016

When web designers support carousels

Web designers advice on carousel usage

The carousel debate for web designers has been going on for several years. Most web designers would argue not to use a carousel, most clients love a carousel.

The client vs the web designer on carousel.

Some clients have quite a few teams to please, all wanting an equal weighting on the homepage. A carousel is a simple solution. It saves space and allows for plenty of information.

Web Designer view on a carousel

The client is correct. Most web designers will agree it is space saving. Unfortunately research and figures do not support carousel usage. Figures do show that users tend to only click on the first slide and click less and less as the slides continue. See Erik Runyon’s article.

Really this is common sense, not everyone is going to use the carousel so as the slides progress, their will be less and less clicks. This can still actually work for you unless you have filled the carousel with five slides, containing your five key messages.  As with all websites content should come first and then the design and functionality can follow.  It is important that there is a point to the carousel, does the first slide entice you to the second slide. Can you operate the carousel yourself do you know how any slides you have to run through?

Sometimes web designers will support the use of a carousel.

I have been generalising here slightly. I am talking predominately about the slider which sits at the top of the page taking up prime retail space. Carousels for other usage I do support. For example, I often use a carousel for testimonials. I think for some companies testimonials are important. Showing a testimonials and being able to scroll to another makes sense. This works because, if the carousel is designed correctly and shows there are more testimonials the user is choosing to see more. If the user bypasses this section we can assume they are not interested in seeing more testimonials. The problem with top sliders they are often overlooked, because the fist slider doesn’t introduce the second slide so we have no reason to click to the next.

In my previous article I discussed scrolling and clicking and the choices a user makes. A carousel is a choice you have to click it if you want to see more. Therefore the user is making a decision. If you have five messages which are crucial to the user and have to be on the homepage, I would argue that scrolling down is much simpler and you would have more change of users reading the information. If you have five very simple statements, which are there to create atomsphere and tell a brand story rather than text heavy marketing spiel then you could consider a carousel.

A few rules for a carousel

Make sure it works across devices. Quite a few as the carousel gets smaller the text becomes less legible.

Keep the messaging short. You do not need clutter on a carousel. the user must not mistake them for banner ads.

Keep the controls visible and easy to use. If you would like the user to work the carousel it has to be easy.

Make sure one slide leads gracefully on to the next.

Most importantly consider whether you need one. Test whether a carousel is best for you. It make take an extra few hours but it will be worth it.

Again with web design I don’t think there is one rule for everyone. Web designers always have to consider the environment the website is being viewed in, the device most likely to be used and what their users are looking for. If we don’t take all of these things into consideration, it is impossible to decide the best functionalities and design for a site. What we do know for sure with the argument for a carousel is they can work, they often dont, and they shouldn’t be used for key marketing messages.