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Why Homepage Carousels Don't Work
Rotating images in a ‘carousel’ or an ‘image scroller’ on the homepage are popular. They help display multiple messages or offers to theoretically satisfy different stakeholders.
The problem is, they don’t work.
One study shows that rotating carousels only receive a 1% click-through rate. And of those clicks 89% were for the first carousel image.
What the Experts Say
And other usability and conversion experts agree.
"We have tested rotating offers many times and have found it to be a poor way of presenting home page content."
- Chris Goward, Wider Funnel
"Auto-Forwarding Carousels and Accordions Annoy Users and Reduce Visibility”
- Jakob Nielson, Nielson Norman Group
"Almost all of the testing I’ve managed has proven content delivered via carousels to be missed by users. Few interact with them and many comment that they look like adverts and so we’ve witnessed the banner blindness concept in full effect."
- Adam Fellows, StackExchange
Why They Don’t Work
Let’s first review why people go to websites. Most of the time they are trying to find something. They are looking to pull information. Carousels are like ads and billboards, pushing information on viewers. People don’t like that because it interferes with their search for what they are looking for and if they do find something in a carousel they like e.g. an offer, it often switches to something else before they can click on it. This leads to what is termed “Banner Blindness,” a known issue cited by people who study and test websites.
What Does Work
Pages that clearly communicate what the page is about and make it easy to understand. Pages that have a central focus, without excessive amounts of colors or animations. Pages that are easy to read with adequately sized text (14 pt), and simple layouts that efficiently display the content.
So before suggesting solving the ‘what should go above the fold on the home page’ problem, with ‘let’s add a rotating carousel’ to satisfy multiple stakeholders, think about what visitors want to know and present that to them simply.