One of our most popular client requests is to include a carousel or slideshow on the homepage. This harkens back to a time when everything needed to be “above the fold” and clients focused on getting as much information in their users faces as possible. While the concept of having the majority of your information “above the fold” has slowly waned, unfortunately the use of slideshows has not. Our priority is to make each and every one of our clients happy, which is why we still use them today. However, using a slideshow might do more harm than good.
- Chances are, most of the time your slides won’t even be seen by users. The University of Notre Dame did a study on their homepage carousel and found that only 1% of their users actually clicked on a feature within the carousel. That’s a shocking and depressing number! It doesn’t get any better from there. Of those 1% clicks, 84% of them were on the default slide. The remaining 16% were split between the other 4 slides. With such prime real estate, you would expect to get much larger returns, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
- Carousels are confusing. A homepage should have a core message its sending users. When you have 5 different messages, you dilute them and really have no message at all. Besides 5 different messages, there are other elements, like navigation, other calls to action and page copy pulling focus away from the carousel.
- Carousels are great in theory, but in practice annoy users. Users don’t like things moving on their own accord. Not to mention that the probability of a user finding exactly what they want is drastically reduced when only one message is displayed at a time.
- Automatic carousels don’t give your users enough time to act upon a call to action. If you have a carousel with 5 slides that rotate every 5 seconds, you’re only giving your users 5 seconds to read the slide, understand its message and act upon some sort of call to action. That’s not nearly enough time for a user to act, and in this go go go era most users aren’t going to stick around for the message to cycle back through.
- Because carousels move, people tend to skip over them due to “banner blindness”. Many people assume that any moving element on a homepage is an advertisement and will ignore them.
There is a better way!
Using a hierarchal layout allows you to display all of the content necessary in an organized manner. You still get the benefit of a lot of content without frustrating your users. For the main focal point of the homepage, the best way to serve your users is to choose a singular message that communicates your business or service. This way, it will always be front and center and won’t get hidden by less important information. Secondly, the time spent creating additional carousel slides is greatly decreased. You can keep your site fresh by updating the single message every couple weeks as necessary, rather than trying to come up with content or promotions for 5 slides. Your time and efforts can be better spent managing social or other marketing efforts.
This is not to say that carousels are completely without a useful purpose. They come in handy when showing off a gallery of photographs, or for a step by step presentation. E-Commerce sites also use them effectively to cross promote products. In the right circumstance it can make sense.
If after all of this you still want a carousel on your homepage, never fear! We can help you create one that will engage your users and keep them on your site.
Slideshows Be Gone!