Homepage Slideshows Be Gone!

Website homepage slideshowOne 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.

  1. Chances are, most of the time your homepage slideshow 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Look Beyond the Website Carousel

Here are a few website examples that we have launched with this idea in mind:
Raxco, Glycosade, & Washington Auto Show

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.

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There are currenty 4 responses.

September 4, 2016

Excellent article. Arrividerci slideshows!

Sylvia Cabrzynski
May 6, 2014

Thank you for your comment Ed! Your site certainly does show the personal side of an IT department and helps to remind people that there are human beings working behind the machines and are happy to help.

While Glycosade does have images that rotate, the messaging and calls to action remain the same. In this case the client sought to portray the benefits customers received from using the product, while also being able to choose to learn more or share their own story. A traditional slideshow has content that is different on each slide, allowing website content copywriters to create multiple messages targeted at their users. It sounds great in theory but most users won’t see any slide past the first one.

The Washington Auto is also different. They are not utilizing any sort of slideshow. They have images that change each time the page is refreshed. It is an easy way to keep the homepage fresh as users will see a different image each time the page is visited. The messaging and calls to action remain the same.

Of course, the web (and web design) is constantly evolving, but we’re always looking to maximize the user experience. Keep an eye on our portfolio page to see new, slider-free, designs all the time!

Ed Puckett
May 5, 2014

Interesting article. I certainly get why the sliders are going out. I always thought they took up too much space. Our own site (www.uhcl.edu/uct) gives a lot of real estate on showing the personal side of our higher ed IT department. Don’t blame the developer and designer, I encouraged them to do this, based on the patterns we saw in other higher ed sites.

However, of the three examples (Raxco, Glycosade, & and Washington Auto Show) only Raxco appears to have replaced the slide show with a Win 8-like tile approach, given more pixels to the more important info. Glycosade and Washington Auto Show still display their slide shows. Not seeing how these have taken a better approach or did I miss something.


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