A well-designed carousel (or slider) is a neat way of showcasing some important bits of information that
hopefully clearly direct you to where you need to go to “learn more”. I recently read an article by Blair Keen that discusses whether or not carousels are indeed helping the overal user experience of any given website.
I do still feel that the integration of a user-friendly, clearly defined carousel has a purpose in some cases, however Keen outlines some very good points for overal usability that we can all learn a thing or two from.
UX Master Jakob Nielsen, and conversion pro Peep Laja are among those who believe that the use of an unadulterated carousel says “We couldn’t figure out or agree on exactly what you need, so we decided to show you a few options instead”.
In Keen’s experience there are three main reasons why carousels find their way into production:
- Unsure of the purpose of the page
- Having the belief that it doesn’t matter where the content is displayed so long as it’s somewhere
- Carousels are an out-dated trend that has been left unchallenged for too long.
If you take a look at your analytics, you may be surprised to see that the majority of users will click on the first slide and will ignore the rest of the information in your carousel, just because it was presented to them first.
This decision-making “strategy” attempts to meet an acceptability threshold that is referred to as “Satisficing“. Essentially, this is mashup of the words satisfy, and suffice or sacrifice. It describes the tendency to select the first option that appears that addresses most needs rather than choose to search for the optimal solution.
“What do we do, if not
use a carousel?” you ask?
Straight off the bat, you need a clear definition of what the primary goal of the page is. Only then can you make the necessary logical decisions on where information should be displayed and how. What are your users trying to achieve? What path do you want them to take, or rather what path will help them arrive at the answers to their questions?
Upon arriving at your homepage, there will obviously be a lot you want your users to see and do, however a clear specific hierarchy system will help narrow down and prioritize those actions.
Idea 1: Remove It!
Keen makes a good point stating that “before optimizing something you should first establish a benchmark of current performance. What contribution does the page or piece of content make to your conversion rate at the moment?”. He dares you to try removing the carousel altogether. In Keen’s case, removing a carousel for one of his clients increased sales by 23%. In another, it made no change.
Another bonus to removing the carousel is that it frees up a significant amount of screen real estate. Removing the carousel allows the rest of the content to move up, giving the users more clarity and specific call to actions at a much faster rate.
Idea 2: Try a Targeted Static Banner!
Try opting for more specific, targeted content over general. Keen talks about an example of a homepage where Adobe Target checks the user’s cookies to see if they have been on the site before. It then shows a different message and call-to-action if they have, versus if they haven’t.
Idea 3: Use Specific Imagery (this includes big text)!
Visuals help establish hierarchy and clarity to users who don’t want to spend too much time browsing for what they are looking for.
As I stated before, I do still feel that there is a time and place for the use of a well-designed, user-friendly carousel as long as the call-to-actions are clearly defined and visible. If you feel that yours is taking up far too much screen real-estate, try looking at your analytics to see where people are going. Really think hard about what the users who come to your site to actually want to achieve and keep on testing to find the optimal solution for them to have their best user experience.