It's 2021 stop using carousels for calls to action

Stop sign painted on wall

I recently posted on Twitter that we should stop using carousels for calls to action. I then followed that up with another statement saying:

“Whilst we’re at it can we also do away with delayed pop-ups!”

At the time I was making a throw away comment due to my frustrations browsing websites on that day. However I realised, thanks to Matt Saunders, that I really should be providing context and facts to statements like these. Especially if I want to see genuine and thoughtful change in the way websites are designed.

So hopefully I can now right that wrong, and provide some references to help you make your own decisions about these two common web design practices which I personally find very frustrating.

Why you should avoid using carousels for calls to action

Primarily because they don’t create engagement and conversion you are looking for. The first spot in the carousel will likely get most of the clicks, with any remaining content largely being ignored.

The means that you suddenly have a lot of potentially important content that isn’t being seen by users. Thus less conversions and revenue, compared to you positioning this content appropriately elsewhere on the page or website.

Secondly, if the carousel could be making your page load size bigger than it needs to be. They are often image heavy, and images use a lot of bandwidth. Additionally they predominately run on JavaScript and have lots of unnecessary options, again making the page file size bigger. This leaves your users requiring more bandwidth, likely making your websites performance slower than it needs to be. This can be a particular problem on mobile. Especially when coupled with poor navigation interfaces on mobile that can make interacting with carousels difficult.

So how about some information to back this up

Jared Smith built a small site, Should I Use A Carousel, with a carousel to ironically a illustrate the point of how accessing information via a carousel can be frustrating. He also provide a list of studies and feedback about the ineffective nature of carousels. For ease of use I’ve listed these below, but be sure to checkout Jared’s site:

You can draw your own conclusions from these articles, and it’s fair to note that carousels should not be struck from the web entirely. There are select situations where they may be appropriate, but it’s very unlikely that situation will coincide with calls to action you want conversions for.

How about the delayed pop-ups?

I am still personally of the opinion that delayed pop-ups when browsing are incredibly distracting. However Matt shared a good and detailed article with me showing that they are very capable of converting when used appropriately and in the right context.

You can find that article linked below:


Photo by Jana Knorr on Unsplash

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