Websites that Work: Carousel Sliders – do they work?

Carousel horses are so pretty. As someone who loves and appreciates design, I find them utterly appealing. But nothing beats a REAL, LIVE horse. All that muscle and power. As pretty as the carousel horse is, it keeps you going in circles, tethered to a fixed point.


So, lets talk about that very pretty carousel on your website – you know, that set of revolving sliders on your home page. Maybe you know where I’m going with this, but you’re not ready to admit it. Your revolving slider is classy, it manages to show off a lot of information, and presents options to your visitors. It looks good. It’s a great tool. It has an appeal. The carousel slider solves the tough question of which marketing message is more important for your home page, because you can load it to the max with more info, more content, more images. I’ve built a number of sites with fabulous sliders, so I too have at one time thought they were the best thing ever.

A convenient solution – but perhaps not so convenient for your site’s visitors.
Let me unpack why carousel sliders are simply not a useful or effective way to sell online or gather leads:

  • They’ve been rigorously tested, and the data shows they don’t encourage clicks or interaction. They incur something called ‘banner blindness’ – they don’t get people to engage at all. Is this really the best way to use prime (online) property?
  • Rotations irritate, annoy or confuse your visitor. They scroll past. If your carousel was your main feature with your CTA (call to action), NOW WHAT?
  • Very often the information your visitor is looking for is not on the slider. What’s the point in having it then?
  • Sometimes the carousel moves on too fast to read, or it’s too slow for others.
  • It can slow down the load time of a page, causing visitors to navigate away.
  • And of course, they don’t work as well on small screens like smartphones or tablets.

Now that I’ve unplugged your pretty spinning horses, and it has all come to a sticky halt, what’s to be done? All is not lost, so don’t panic just yet. Here are some ideas to fix your situation, without losing design integrity:

  • If you DO have a carousel slider on your site, make sure it doesn’t roll on automatically. Give your users the control and allow them to click through the images at their own pace.
  • If you can get rid of it, however, go for one static image instead, with a headline and call to action.
  • Using a long form home page is a very effective way of drawing visitors to your site – and keeping them there. We’ll be discussing one page websites, keep an eye out for that.

If you forget all else, remember this last design tip, though: Don’t follow the herd, follow what works.

Suggested further reading:
Auto-Forwarding Carousels and Accordions Annoy Users and Reduce Visibility
Carousels are Killing Your Conversation Rates
Images Carousels and Sliders? Don’t Use Them

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