Slider or Carousel – Does A Website Need One?

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Houston_Web_DesignWeb design is an involved process that requires accurate implementation of different elements to come together as one. When important design aspects are not done right, a website could fail to attract viewers and readers due to slow loading speed, poor navigation, and many other reasons. A recent trend in web design has been to use photo or image sliders and carousels on home pages to highlight featured content, leading to some discussion as to whether this is beneficial to a website – or just the opposite.

Image Sliders and Carousels – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

There are many ways that images can be included in a website, depending on how they will be used. A current web design trend – sliders and/or carousels – has become a popular way to feature information; within the right website design, it has its merits. Of course, there are negative aspects from using this type of an approach that could make using sliders and carousels less appealing.

    • The Good – A slider or carousel provides a fresh, creative, and stylish way to display prominent information, usually photos or a similar image with headlines. It can be a more attractive option than simply putting small images on a page with headlines, allowing featured content to blend with everything else. A valuable asset is that a slider can conserve important home page real estate by displaying more content in the same space and rotating it, which provides more viewable content overall.
    • The Bad – Unfortunately, regardless of how great a rotating carousel at the top of a professional website design might seem – and even make logical sense – logic and fact are two different things. When designing for the web, logic in this case cannot combat the fact that rotating sliders are distracting – so distracting as to cause a reduction in website use and conversions – and that is in fact a problem.
    • The Ugly – A standard ‘rule’ of effective web design is that viewers often react exactly opposite of an anticipated reaction; as an example with sliders, viewers lose concentration rather than gain information. Instead of seeing each slide and making a connection with its relevance and importance, users are distracted from actually seeing the highlighted information. Any content concentration immediately turns to trying to read captions or sidebar text within the carousel as the slides rotate, missing the actual content and not wanting to continue on to other website pages.

This automatic rotation that was designed as a feature can be annoying and frustrating to viewers who are unable to stop or slow down the carousel. Conversely, having movement of the carousel only available manually means the carousel may not be touched – and other featured headlines and content could be missed. Considering that most sliders or carousels are placed below the banner and above the fold, which is the most valuable part of the home page, such placement should be seriously considered about using such valuable website design real estate with its inherent problems.

If It Must Be Done…

When owners are insistent on using a slider, the best thing is to make visual, functional and information usage as simple as possible. Use sharp, clear, and large photos, easy to find navigation buttons, and the least amount of slides as possible. Slider content should be 100% relevant to the features being highlighted, with links directly to such pages. Slider rotation should be slow enough to allow for reading and understanding of the slide information – or it should be manually controlled.

In website design, whether or not to include the current popular trend of an image slider or carousel is an important decision. Be sure the slider layout, planning, and content is configured for ease of use, evident display of important information, and slow enough to be read and absorbed. Although certainly not a necessity, sliders are a popular tool and can be used successfully with the right planning and execution!

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Comments (2)

  1. Is there any inexpensive Web design software that works on Mac and Windows and would be easy enough to learn for people maintaining a simple nonprofit site?

    • Although most Web design programs tend to come in either Windows or Mac OS X versions, software for both systems is available. For people who don’t want to learn HTML and other code languages, there are programs to create pages in a visual wysiwyg (what you see is what you get) environment.

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