Five reasons why carousels have no place on your intranet
Carousels are great news for the stressed out intranet manager who wants to keep their stakeholders happy by telling them their story or campaign is on the front page.
What they’re not very good for is communicating a message to users. Here are five reasons why you should ditch your homepage carousel and focus on giving users information they can actually find and read.
1. Everyone ignores them
Users are great at quickly scanning pages to find the information they need. This means filtering out anything perceived as an advert – and that means your carousel. Eyetracking studies show people will scan over these in search of content.
1a. They definitely ignore the second and subsequent items
In Erik Runyon’s study on carousels, of the 1% of users who clicked the carousel at all, 89% clicked the first item. The second item in the carousel got just 3% of what was already a tiny proportion of site traffic, with third, fourth and fifth items getting even less traffic than that. If something is in the third spot on an intranet’s homepage carousel, it might as well not be on the homepage at all.
2. They’re not accessible
Accessibility expert Jared Smith commented: “Carousels pose accessibility issues for keyboard and screen reader users that simply cannot be adequately addressed by markup or hacks. Carousels are this decade’s <blink> tag.”
3. They slow down your site
They need a bunch of jQuery script to work, and most will load all of the content that is to be displayed in the slider on the initial page load. That means that the page will have to load up three or four 600px by 800 px images before your user sees anything at all. You’re wasting your users’ time. And if they’re accessing via a slow VPN connection or on a phone, that could be quite a wait.
What happens when users find a page takes a long time to load? They leave without looking at anything at all. Well done.
4. They’re only as good as the content on them
…which, lets face it, means they’re just not very good. Great imagery can be an exceptionally powerful way to boost engagement, but too often intranet carousels feature frequently-reused pictures of their CEO, the outside of their building and some children holding a giant cheque, with a sprinkle of cheap stock photography thrown in the mix.
5. Movement is an overrated quality of content that’s designed to be viewed or read
If you must use a carousel – and I’d hope by now that I’ve convinced you not to – then for God’s sake make it one that doesn’t auto-rotate. As Neilsen Norman concluded, these annoy users and reduce content visibility. Users get annoyed when they’re not in control.
Lee Duddell concluded “Carousels are effective at being able to tell people in Marketing/Senior Management that their latest idea is on the Home Page. Use them to put content that users will ignore on your Home Page. Or, if you prefer, don’t use them. Ever.”
Do you use a homepage carousel and find it effective? Do you think they’re great? Let us know in the comments below.