Why you should kill your carousel

kill-your-carousel

You may have noticed that carousels (a.k.a. sliders) aren’t so popular anymore. There’s a good reason for this (several, actually!). I’m gonna tell ya why I may never in good conscience build one again.

One of my favorite-ever clients came to me for more work recently and mentioned she wanted to add a carousel to her header. I sent her to shouldiuseacarousel.com (mah dear, you’re lovely and I treasure you, but the answer is NO).

You may be thinking: Hold up, hold up, hold up, Nat!

Aren’t slideshows FUN?

Aren’t they a solid way to present people with a lot of useful information in a compact space, yo?

And my answer is NOOO to both.

In fact, carousels have been proven to lower your conversions — drastically. And most people effing hate ‘em.

Let’s dig deeper into the myths, bust open their skulls, and clear away the dust. Oh, and also, let’s explore more why carousels are the worst thing since Comic Sans.

Why you should kill your carousel

“Aren’t slideshows FUN and engaging?”

Um. No. In fact, most people find them irritating. And most times you see a slideshow, it’s kinda done horribly: it’s on the homepage, the slides advance automatically, too quickly, and/or show too much information.

Whatever happened to being practical? To putting the user first?

Carousels certainly don’t! They put crap first, users last. (Since we’re being blunt.)

Bottom line: carousels make a lot of people wanna punch their $3,000 Macbook Pro.

“Aren’t they a solid way to present people with a lot of useful information in a compact space, yo?”

Nope.

Long answer: studies show that only 1% of visitors clicked on a slide, and 89% clicked on the first one. Again: ONE PERCENT of people clicked on the damn slide, and that was only on the first slide. The rest of the slides essentially got swallowed up into internet oblivion. Don’t let this happen to your content. 

…And did I mention carousels are accessibility and usability hell?

Oh, accessibility. In other words, making your website accessible to all your visitors, including people who use keyboard and screen readers, like the blind or those with a cognitive impairment. They’re gonna have a very hard time with your dumb carousel (sorry, was that harsh?).

And usability — how good or shitty a time people have interacting with your website, basically. How easy it is to read your copy, how annoying to find that search bar or contact form, and so on.

A user trying to access information is NOT gonna be hoping you have a carousel they have to rush themselves to half-read through, you can beat your sweet ass on that much.

…They also f*ck with your SEO

Yep: they do this through alternating headings (H1, etc.), using Flash (can you believe that shiz still exists?!), and slowing down loading speed. No bueno!

Psst… by the way, here’s how to boost your SEO.

…And slaughter your conversions

Over and over, it’s been shown that carousels stab conversions in the face, especially on a homepage. Reasons span from them taking attention away from what’s really important on your website (like your products!) to being plain-ol’ confusing and frustrating.

…But, but… Amazon uses them. So does Apple.

Yes, I know. But neither you nor I are Amazon or Apple. Plus, chances are their carousels are working against them (hardcore) anyway. Companies like Adobe, Gap, and Hilton have already left ‘em behind and put static content in their place.

So let’s stick to best practices instead of following fads, sassypants.

OK OK but seriously — NEVARRR?

All right, here’s where we might consider, perhaps, maybe, bending the rule:

  • If your carousel doesn’t advance automatically from one slide to another so the user can easily do it while controlling the speed (you’d need to provide a pause link or button)
  • If you are using it to display very short amounts of relatively unimportant copy, such as testimonials, instead of images

Listen, I used to offer a carousel as a feature in one my website packages (because they’re popular and back then I didn’t know the damage they were doing). I’ve even made a few for clients who were dead-set on ’em. And ultimately, it’s your call whether you wanna make your visitors froth at the mouth with carousel rage or not.

But knowing that every time your carousel loads a puppy loses its mother, I’m hoping you’ll agree carousels need to be shot in the left temple.

So tell me: are you gonna kill your carousel?
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20 Responses to Why you should kill your carousel

  1. Great post Nat! I definitely don’t like moving sliders that are above the fold on a web site – so my top slider is just a static image. But I do have a moving slider about 3/4 down on my home page. Should I kill it?? http://jeffcarter.me

    • Hi Jeff! Thank you :) You know I’ll be honest: I’m finding visually jarring — it definitely moves too quickly. I vote YES: eliminate it! There’s at least one slide in there that doesn’t need to be anywhere IMO. And your freebie deserves more prominence. Your testimonials would have greater impact elsewhere/in a different format. Hope that helps, Jeff!

  2. This is great info. I killed my carousel a few months ago when I changed my theme. I really liked the idea of it at first, but it even bothered me when I looked at my site. lol

  3. Ow, you’re harsh!! The 1% click does not really surprise me. But I do like sliders (well sometimes)
    Not too flashy, and definitely not flash, but just giving general info people might be interested in.
    Using one on our art gallery, first slider is upcoming exhibition, others are general info, one is pointing out we do have an online shop e.g.
    I do get your point though (pretty hard not to), but not killing mine (yet).
    Am keeping images very small so loading time is minimized, and there are sliders which let you do SEO on them too :-)

    • Hi Heyme,

      Haha yes, the article is harsh, that was my intention ;)

      You know what would be interesting? If you set up Crazy Egg or another way to test how people are responding to your carousel. They say the best way to hide content from your users is …to put it in your carousel! So I encourage you to test it and see if it’s really serving you or just frustrating your users.

      Thank you for reading and commenting, Heyme!

    • Hahahaha. Melissa, that quote is gold :)

      ‘When a carousel is on a website what it is saying is, “We can’t decide on our main message so here are five”.’ BAM. Love that article, thank you!

  4. I have a product based biz & use a carousel to highlight product images only with no text on my home page. Should I remove?

    Here’s my home page: http://jewelsbytrish.com

    As a shopper, I do like them for products. Can’t say I’ve encountered one with text…Can’t wait to hear your thoughts.

    • Hey Tricia!

      You know, carousels with images are considered the worst. And your slides aren’t even clickable, so my question to you is: what is the purpose of your carousel? I can’t see what its purpose is.

      I think you’d do much better having 2-3 clickable images side by side, with text on them, each one leading to a particular collection, for example.

      Let me know what you think :)

      • My web designer did it so when people landed on the site, they could immediately tell that the site is jewelry.

        Yes, I can do your suggestion! Thanks!

  5. Great post and well done for having the courage to drop them. We fell into the trap of offering sliders but dropped them as the evidence against them piled up.

    Everything on a web page must be there for a reason – to serve a purpose. Sliders/carousels just annoy users, get in the way, mess up your SEO and slow down your site.

    • Thank you, Pat! I’m on the same boat, used to offer them and now do all I can to dissuade my clients from using them.

      EXACTLY :)

  6. Hmmm… I cannot agree with any of these! Sliding images add plenty of interest to the website, whenever I land on a website without it, I just want to click away. I am bored!!! Show people what you sell, add CTA, tell them to click to see your collections, new offers, free shipping etc. Sliding images don’t take a lot of web space and they do catch the eye. While your article is fun to read, it is based on very personal opinion and not solid facts. I didn’t see any of the ‘carousel proved to lower conversion by 68%’, therefore I understand these are all assumptions. Please do not follow unproven, random advice!

    • Thanks for your input, Maggie. Here’s mine back: if you’re bored without a slideshow, well, perhaps you need to go to more interesting websites. I don’t have a slideshow and you say you read my entire blog post, so perhaps you need to visit more sites with great content. Next, my article IS based on facts — I’ve linked to plenty of research on the subject. My post is based, therefore, on facts, not opinion nor assumptions. Give it another read (and click on the hyperlinks) if you must. Thanks for reading!

  7. It looks like I’m booting the sliders I have on my website. I only have one slide on each of them that isn’t moving anywhere to a new slide but I’m still booting them all. Thank you for the heads-up on the damage it’s doing to my business!

    • Hi Lisa,
      So glad to hear the post swayed you! It’s important to know how you can improve your users’ experience so you can get more out of your website 👏

      Set up optimized, static images with alt tags and you’ll be golden. Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll be happy to answer them! And thank you for reading!

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