Does a carousel increase engagement?
Since 2012 having a slideshow, or carousel, on your homepage has been a popular client request. Trends in web design come and go.
Innovations, that improve the process and user experience, tend to stay. Also known as a rotating banner, these carousels have muscled in on the prime space of website home pages. However, other than having ‘a bit of movement’ on the page, what function do they serve?
Brad Frost suggests carousels have become popular as they ‘keep everyone from beating the sh*t out of each other’ in meetings. Why edit and prioritise content when you can just put everyone’s image choice and quotes on a slider.
Do they engage visitors?
Has anyone actually done a study to see if they have a purpose? In other words, do visitors actually click on these images? Harrison Jones looked at the data for 3 high traffic websites that had carousels on their home page.
You can view the full post. However, as you can see clearly from this table, the percentage of visitors who clicked on a carousel was less than 1%.
Based on these stats, I think it is safe to guess that the ridiculous carousel dots you get centered below the image has only ever been clicked on by web developers in the testing stage!
Hiding your main content
This wouldn’t be so bad if carousels didn’t tend take up so much prime position. Why waste the full width of a site and most of the screen height of a tablet or laptop of the most visited page of your site, with a banal image and meaningless 6 word quote?
By pushing useful content ‘below the fold’ – so visitors have to scroll to find it – you risk visitors missing it altogether.
Should you ever use carousels?
Unlike some, I don’t believe slideshows should be banished into web design history. If you want to present a small collection of 4-6 carefully selected images in a gallery, a carousel is ideal for this.
Just make sure it includes thumbnails so visitors are encouraged to view more. You can use this technique to encourage visitors to watch a video.
OK. I’ve removed it… Now what?
Resist filling it with a pointless static image and banal tagline or an ‘autoplay’ video. Now you’ve freed up this space, insert some killer content.
Succinctly explain(in 20 words or less) why customers do business with you. Consider this doctrine, often mis-attributed to Einstein,
“If you can’t explain it easily… you don’t understand it well enough.”
Get visitors engaging asap
For information sites, use this bite-size intro to ‘read more’ or watch a ‘how-to’ video. This means at their own pace, they are getting to know and understand your business. For e-commerce you can take a more direct approach, such as ‘book now’ or ‘sign up’ button.
Side-step trends like this, that fail to improve the user experience. Capitalize on innovations that improve your site and watch your enquiries will go up.