To Carousel or not to Carousel, that is the question.

Carousels, (aka Image Sliders) the name given to those annoying sliding images that seem to feature on most websites these days. As you might have gathered, I’m not a fan but is my dislike subjective (taste) or objective (they don’t add anything).

It’s objective and here’s why

1/ the human eye doesn’t respond well to movement – or maybe it responds too well.
We may not live in the jungle anymore, but we did once. Our brains are wired to react to sudden movement, and this movement is called a saccade. It’s our retina’s uncontrollable response to movement, and the speed of movement during each saccade can’t be controlled. The eyes move as fast as they are able.

This might have been great when hunting prey in prehistoric times whilst trying to make sure the odd sabre toothed tiger can’t creep up on us, but today, it’s your slider fighting for your attention.

2/ They take control away from the visitor
Visitors like to be in control when they arrive on your website. They don’t want to see something they have no use for, and frankly, the whole point of your website should be to give your visitor what they came for.

When you put an auto-rotating image slider on your homepage you take control out of your user’s hands and give it to the slider. You know what follows? Disaster. Image sliders keep rotating, attention keeps being grabbed and web visitors loose patience. This is not only frustrating, but is terrible for usability according to UX Movement.

3/ They take up Space and hardly get clicked?
How many times have you watched a slider waiting for something useful to appear? If it’s more than once then you’re in the minority.

You already know image sliders are so fast and distracting, visitors tend to ignore them. Erik Runyon ran a study at Notre Dame University  to test and measure the number of clicks made on the sliders in comparison to homepage visits and you know what?

The study revealed a mere 1% of visitors clicked on a feature on the slider. That’s like the unicorn of bad conversions.

4/ They reduce visibility
The Neilson Norman group (founded by Jakob Nielsen, “the Guru of website usability” New York Times) group ran a usability study, where a user was attempting to search special deals on Siemens washing machines. The user arrived on the Siemens homepage that looked like this with a deal on a washing machine at the top of the page.

  • The user didn’t spot the deal
  • She ignored the offer placed in a small box in the left-hand corner.
  • Then she ignored the big banner splattered on the page, even though it had an image of a washing machine on it.

Because the image slider looked so much like an ad, she left the website without buying the machine, costing Siemens an easy sale.

Jakob Nielson also pointed out that international users and users with low literacy get easily distracted and frustrated by the image sliders, as they are unable to read through one offer before another slides into place.

The bottom line is image sliders are ineffective. And to reinforce this idea, here’s a slider by WebAIM. [If you only follow one link, you should follow this one]

Why you should not use an image carousel