Should you put a carousel on your homepage?

November 7, 2013


According to the Neilsen Norman Group, no. They annoy users, reduce visibility and just plain do not work.

This is a very interesting topic for me because we get a LOT of requests for carousels. Usually, the client wants to promote a few things on their homepage and carousels are a great way to save space and add some movement.

Nielsen Norman’s study could not be more clear. Don’t do a carousel. Here are some highlights from the article:

  • Users ignore design elements that look like ads
  • Users do not respond well to clever marketing content
  • Accordions and carousels should¬†show a new panel only when users ask for it
  • The probability that users will spot the item they want is drastically reduced when only one thing is displayed at any given time
  • Because it (the carousel) moves, users automatically¬†assume that it might be an advertisement, which makes them more likely to ignore it.

Read the full article here.

What should you do instead?

Nielsen Norman don’t give a lot of suggestions in the article, but here are our thoughts in order of simplicity:

  • Pick on thing to promote at a time. Consider it to be a campaign. Run the banner, track the clicks and then assess the success of the banner at the end of the time period that it runs.
  • Randomize your banners. Show a different banner on each page load.
  • Employ split testing (aka AB test). Split your visitors into groups randomly. Show each a different banner and see which performs the best (gets the most clicks).
  • Use a software like HubSpot to serve up the banners as a smart CTA or as smart content and target the user. For instance, if the user is already a customer, show banner A, if a user is in the middle of the sales funnel, show banner B and so on.


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