One of the most common requests I get from clients is for image carousels.
You know them.
An image with text, slides out of the way to be replaced with a new image with more text, and so on.
They are very popular and make an appearance on a huge number of websites across the web.
Web stores use them to highlight their products, agencies use them to highlight their services and blogs use them to highlight featured content.
So what’s the problem?
Image Carousels Don’t work!
Despite their popularity any testing that has been published has shown that they are not an effective way of generating conversions.
According to a study on Notre Dame University’s website of 3.7million visits to their site only 1% of visitors ever clicked on a sliding feature, of which 89% were on the slide in position 1.
This makes a click through rate of 0.89% for the first position slide and a 0.03% CTR for each of the other slides.
These are your main products or services your are promoting.
Visitors are coming to your home page because they have an interest in what you do and for only 1% of those visitors to click through to your featured product/service is a wasted opportunity.
Why Do Clients Request Image Carousels?
Animation is cool
There is no denying that animated visuals make more of an impact than statics ones.
Creating moving banners should therefore engage visitors.
If you sell multiple products or services then you naturally want them to have equal billing on your home page.
The logical assumption would be to use an image carousel to display each one.
Design by Committee
Get different department heads into a room and no one will admit that the next department is more important than theirs.
This encourages the above argument as no one gets to lose face.
The Competition Uses Them
The first place people look when planning their new website is to their competition.
The chances are at least one company in your field has a carousel on their website.
No business wants to be left behind and if your competitor is using carousels on their site then maybe it’s best you do too.
Every company wants their website to look modern, to promote all their products and to be inline or ahead of their competitors, but these are not good arguments for using carousels.
Why Don’t Image Carousels Work?
There are a few reasons why carousels fail to convert visitors.
To start they often resemble banner ads and people have learned to skim over banners without reading them.
They overload the visitor with choice and become a distraction.
Visitors don’t realise they are clickable.
They interfere with the goals of your website.
You would think that the animation would draw the users eye to the carousel but it usually just pulls them away from what they were looking at and before they have a chance to soak in the promotion, the carousel moves on to the next slide.
This means they miss the message you are trying to portray and fail to click on your call to action.
What’s The Alternative?
Think about your goals.
Is it to sell a product or service, or to grow your mailing list?
Place the most important promotion at the top of your home page, with no other distractions.
Secondary products/services can be placed in their own section further down the page.
Use hero images
Hero images are full width background images with minimal text and a call to action placed on top.
These prove to be just as striking, if not more, than carousels and can focus the visitor to a single, clear call to action.
Rather then have a whole background image move which will distract your visitors, use small animations to draw their eye to the call to action.
This could be as simple as a button changing colour shortly after the page loads, or having text move into location as the page loads.
The Bottom Line
The most important thing is that your website works as a lead generation tool and any fancy design gimmick that takes away from that should be removed.
Let your competitor keep their image carousel while you focus on converting your website visitors into paying customers.