I Used to Think Carousels Were a Good Idea

Image credit: "Paardenmolen bobbejaanland". Wikipedia

Confession time: I used to think carousels were a good idea and I was wrong.

If you haven't seen it yet: http://shouldiuseacarousel.com/ demonstrates through annoying use of a carousel, exactly why you should never use a carousel on a website.

The site explains why carousels are a bad idea, but why did I think they were a good idea? My belief was based on the idea that the carousel makes more use of the limited screen real estate by putting more content in the same number of pixels. "Real estate" is a dated term, and the whole idea comes from the flawed idea of keeping content "above the fold".

Notice the chain of flawed reasoning? "Above the fold" is a concept from print—put the most important stories above the physical fold on your newspaper, because when they're stacked on the newsstand, nobody sees the bottom half. Sure, few people click farther down the page—but if they're not going to scroll, they're even less likely to wait for 20 seconds to see some relevant content.

When you build a website, you naturally think it's the most valuable and interesting stuff ever to grace the Internet. It's not. Most of the visitors to your site are not interested in it. (Check your analytics.) Try this: think of your page as a filter to separate the interested parties from the disinterested. You're panning for gold—success depends on how quickly you can tell the few percent of interested parties what the site is about while sending the disinterested parties back on their way. Cluttering the page will annoy users. Don't annoy users.

Us web builders get some silly ideas sometimes. Flash... frames... blink tag... Don't beat yourself up. Just let go and move on. And remember that your visitors' time is valuable.

In other news, I'm working on a browser plugin for a tag—for extra shiny!!!

Comments

So there you are, surfing the net, when you see a link or a search result that you click on.

The page loads (unless it's scienceblogs.com, in which case it sits there for an age), and you are confronted with... stuff. Stuff to make sense of.

The longer I spend in a state of "What the hell is this? What am I looking at? Waaaat?" the more I hate the person who made the page and the company that is behind the page.

First, no damn acronyms. Are you that freaking lazy? Laziness is a bad sign. If you can't be bothered to type out what it is you have, I can't be bothered to give you my credit card number. IAWSAGI then TUWBU. 'Nuff said. Don't piss me off with acronyms.

Next, as the article points out with carousels, when you load a page, your eyes are now all over the screen sussing out what it's all about. If there's a carousel, I invariably don't start reading until it's ready to flip. Now, I've missed what the first part said, so I feel self-conscious about my literacy. Thanks for making my self esteem take a hit. I assume that was the point of the page. I'm leaving now.

If I flip back the damn thing always pops forward again anyway. Now I am in a fight with a piece of code. I assume the point was to frustrate me. I'm leaving now.

"Ah," you say, "I don't use a carousel. I have an image slider. Not the same."

I am sorry to inform you that you are an idiot. Just kidding. I'm not really sorry. You did the same thing as the carousel people only with picture. You've got image A, which I don't care about, image B, which I don't care about, image C, which I do care abo... Godammit! It flipped. Now I click back to it and it flips back again. I hate you. You make the world worse.

I'll stop hating you when you stop putting in concerted effort to piss me off. That's fair.