The Internet

Why you need to remove the image carousel from your website.

I’ve worked with a lot of companies to remake their websites, from small charities to companies that reach across the globe and when helping them redevelop a website I always make sure I get rid of one thing: that stupid, sliding, image carousel. 

What is an image carousel?

When jQuery became mainstream, everyone wanted a quick way to highlight all the great things on the website. Everyone was using them, bloggers, universities, businesses, you name them – they had one. A quick Google search brings back 143,000 results and for me, the second result shows the “top 50” in 2017. 

Searching for major image carousels you can see that OWL Carousel, FlexSlider and JCarousel have all grown steadily since 2011 and 2013 and (even though they are losing some users) are still very popular today.

So what do I find wrong with the image carousel?

They can load incredibly slowly on some websites. Javascript is resource heavy, it’s why using async is now recommended. But if you include images, plus basic html on top of everything else, there is a strong chance that it will slow your website up dramatically. 

There’s an incredibly small chance that people will see content beyond the first image, I’ve done various experiments with some of the websites I work on to check views and click through rate. Everything beyond the first image (which is the first to load when you go to a website) is unlikely to be clicked on – so in reality there is no point in having more than one highlight image.

They hold a hell of a lot of content, and when you have a limited amount of time to woo your users then is there much point to having what might not be your best content sliding across the top of the page? Or even hiding what could be the best content you have? 

It looks like a terrible, 1990s style, PowerPoint presentation. There are so many effects you can add to them that also take up loading time and can make it look like a terrible PowerPoint that you would make in school to impress your friends. To me, for that reason alone, they should be gotten rid of. 

What should you use instead of an image carousel?

I realise that for all of this blog I’ve now told you exactly why the image carousel is bad, without giving you an alternative option to use instead of them. So, what should you use? 

Nothing. You don’t need anything fancy to highlight your most important content, you just need a couple of boxes that show 4 or 5 of your latest posts to the world. 

The new web experience should give your users the choice to take the journey they want to take. Look at social media, Google, and YouTube. Their experiences are tailored around the user of their website. Even the introduction of things like “Night mode” gives the user the freedom to play around and make the UI feel like their own.

Thinking about it, you probably don’t even need to highlight any of your recent posts. I do it if I am particularly proud of a post but in the grand scheme of things, I don’t actually think it’s required. I think highlighting things detracts from your main set of blog posts.

In conclusion

The 2018-2019 web experience isn’t about forcing what you think is best onto your users, with fancy javascript sliders. The web experience of recent and upcoming years is going to increasingly focus on personalising and making the user feel like they are in control of their journey through your website. 

As a website owner, or content creator, it’s up to you to guide your user through the website by holding their hand and taking them to the right places – with a little pushing as possible. 

And that is why you need to remove the image carousel from your website. This is one of the key things I included on what you need to remove on your website, you can view the full list here.