Should You Use Image Carousels?

Research shows that image carousels (rotating images) on websites are ineffective at delivering content and that they don’t provide a good user experience. Objects like carousels typically look like ads to users and will fall prey to banner blindness: They will simply be ignored and never clicked through. And if your image carousel is meant to tell a story, it will be lost.

In addition, image carousels invite serious web accessibility issues. For older adults, things that appear and disappear are confusing. For those who have sensory input issues, carousels can be distracting. For the vision-impaired, image carousels are a stumbling block and cannot easily be read aloud by text-to-speech software.

Last but not least, image carousels are not mobile-friendly. Your website needs to be mobile-friendly to rank high with Google and be accessible to the many users who visit your site on their phones. And for those with slow internet or older devices, an image carousel slows down the loading of your entire website.
 
Image carousels (rotating images) are ineffective at delivering content. Here are better options to try. Click To Tweet
 

Here are better options:
  • Use a different cover or hero image each time the homepage loads.
  • Always use large, crisp images, lots of white space and readable timeless fonts.
  • An image carousel shifts your entire site content lower down on the page to be easily overlooked. People don’t like to scroll. Images are nice but don’t compromise your content flow for them. Start with your lead content and use images to add to it, not substitute for it.
  • Use one large, high-quality image to draw visitors in — but then immediately provide them with your content.

 

If you must use image carousels or are still working on your redesign:
  • Help your site visitors navigate the slideshow: Add “To view more photos, click the arrows above” or “To read our story, click the arrows above”. For your responsive mobile design for users on their iPad, e-readers, or phones, add: “To advance to the next image, swipe left.”
  • Provide the option to stop the rotation.
  • Use slideshows that visitors click through at their own pace. Especially if your images have captions that tell a story. Remember, not everyone reads as fast as the average native English speaker.
  • Image carousels could indicate divided opinions on what to highlight or focus on within an organization. So, here’s my advice: Don’t give the impression that the only purpose of your image carousel is to satisfy multiple stakeholders that “their” information has ended up above the fold on the homepage.

Don’t make your site visitors work too hard.
 

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Content Strategist, -Designer, -Curator, Editor, Writer, Web Developer for content-rich websites with a global audience. Founder of Content+Design™ LLC. Helping you focus on your content to get your message out.

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