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Carousel Design: Best Practices for UX

Follow these carousel design best practices to design slides that create a positive—not negative—user experience and interface.

We have all visited a website at one time or another that included a carousel design. Whether you are browsing an online food menu, a live gallery of photos, or even a modern site with visual presentations, carousel website design is still very much alive and well, for better or worse.

Understanding what works with website carousels and what can cause carousel design to fail can help you navigate the implementation of a carousel on your own website or blog.

What is a website carousel?

A website carousel is a virtual website element that displays multiple images or pieces of content simultaneously using a slider or another animated presentation. Using carousel UI elements can help share featured products, products on sale, or even spotlight pieces of content on a website’s homepage.

Website carousels have numerous purposes and can help share information rapidly while also providing a mobile-friendly method to share presentations in nearly any virtual setting.

With the use of proper carousel UX and UI, you can design a beautiful website that is memorable, impactful, and genuinely resonates with your target audience online.

Auto-forwarding vs static

Whenever you are thinking of using a carousel design or presentation on your website, you will need to choose between using auto-forwarding or static versions of the carousel slider.

Now that you are familiar with the differences between auto-forwarding and static carousel designs, you can compare the pros and cons of each.

Pros of auto-forwarding carousels

  • Automatically share more of your content or products
  • Increased traffic and CTR
  • Ability to direct visitors for specific campaigns

Cons of auto-forwarding carousels

  • Potential to slow down your website and increase the load time for users
  • May not load properly at all times for visitors
  • May scroll too fast or too slow for readers

Pros of static carousels

  • Easy to implement and do not require dynamic coding in many instances
  • Less likely to cause visitors to experience lag while accessing and browsing your website
  • Manual creative control over how your static carousel displays

Cons of static carousels

  • Lack of dynamic and modern features
  • No real-time updates
  • Often requires manual updating and editing
  • Loss of potential clicks and/or visitors to other areas and pages of your site(s)

Website carousel best practices

As web design evolves, the use of web carousels is likely to follow suit. Implementing a carousel website design should not be done without thoroughly considering the following:

  • The type of website
  • The number of visitors you receive on a daily and monthly basis
  • Industries and markets you intend to reach
  • Specific demographics you intend to appeal to and reach
  • What products, links, or images you will be showcasing using your web carousel

You should also consider various features and best practices of using carousel design for your website for the best possible carousel UI and UX possible. With proper carousel UX and UI, you can optimize your visitor's experience while maximizing your reach and ability to keep users interested in your website for longer periods of time.

Use high-quality graphics, images, and illustrations

One of the biggest features of using carousels to display products, showcase news and blogs, or even highlight specific content is to do so with high-quality illustrations, graphics, and photographs. High-quality graphics and imagery are some of the best ways to attract the eye of a visitor, especially if your website's carousel displays above the fold of your site's current design.

Include CTAs

With carousels, you can include CTAs, or calls-to-action, when using links to redirect visitors to pages on your website or blog. Using a CTA built directly into your carousel is ideal to help users easily navigate your website and boost your site's overall SEO, or search engine optimization.

The more optimized your website appears to popular search engines such as Google, DuckDuckGo, Yahoo!, and Bing, the more likely your website's URL is to appear within the first pages of search results for relevant phrases and keywords.

Display the number of slides included

You have the option of displaying the number of total slides for any carousel, which can help visitors who are curious or interested in knowing how long a carousel might rotate.

Include manual navigation buttons

One feature to use to provide additional navigation options for visitors with your carousel design is a manual navigation button. Manual navigation buttons help users easily locate featured or highlighted content that has recently disappeared—if you are using an auto-forwarding option—without having to wait for the carousel to complete its rounds again. Manual navigation buttons decrease the risk of visitors losing interest and using another resource to find the products or information they seek.

Include a pause button

With an auto-forwarding digital carousel, it is highly recommended to include a pause button. Regardless of the speed you set your carousel to, including a pause button is always ideal, as it places more control in the prospective customer or client's hands.

A pause button allows your users to pause any carousel to click on a link or to learn more about a featured product or piece of content. With a pause button, you minimize the risk of a user missing out on a potential product due to the carousel moving too quickly for them to learn more.

Start slides muted

Any time you choose to offer a virtual slide or carousel on a website that includes sound, do so with the sound automatically muted. If a visitor attempts to access your site while having music playing, or while in a private setting, and your carousel's sounds automatically begin to play, they may immediately leave your website. Incorporating a mute button automatically set on when a visitor first accesses your website can eliminate the risk of disrupting a visitor whenever they access your site's carousel.

Avoid using too many slides

If you are choosing to build a slide, keep in mind that the more slides you use and the more dynamic your carousel is, the more memory and RAM the browser your visitors use to visit your website will use. Keep your carousels to a tight 10-15 slides. If you are using high-quality graphics, you may even want to use fewer slides in each of your carousels.

Add only one carousel to one page

One of the most important landing page design tips to keep in mind whenever you are building a website (of any kind), is not to overload the page with a variety of elements. Even if you choose to use a static carousel on a page, you will require more RAM and more processing power for the website to load and run properly.

Visitors who are browsing your website using an outdated computer or even an older smartphone may have difficulties loading the entire website, which may cause them to look elsewhere for the information or products they need. Avoid using more than 1 to 2 carousels on a page, regardless of the size of the carousels. If you are using an auto-forwarding carousel, stick to 1 carousel for the page in its entirety to help prevent potential lagging issues.

Choose the proper placement for your carousels

Choosing the proper placement for your web carousels also matters. It is often recommended to place a carousel on a site's page above the fold, or above the line of content that is no longer visible, without scrolling further down the page. Placing a digital carousel above the fold will help attract more attention, which can ultimately result in more traffic and click-throughs to various sections of your site.

Whenever you are building a website for the first time, it is best to turn to a website development guide to help you through the process, especially if you do not have any experience working in web design.

Build your site with the user in mind

Whether you are creating a personal portfolio website or building a business website, it is always important to keep your website's users in mind. Regardless of your goals and intent, having your users’ best interests in mind at all times will help you design and develop any type of website. Website layouts that include a well-designed user interface provide a much more positive user experience.

With Mailchimp, streamline the process of designing, building, and promoting any type of website, big or small. Mailchimp is one of the most robust all-in-one marketing, design, and analytics platforms available for personal use, businesses, and large corporations alike. If you are looking for a way to optimize your website's marketing campaign strategies and how you reach your target audience, you can do so with Mailchimp.

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