Read This if Your Website Has a Slide Show

nomanThe home page slide show is a popular website feature. It allows you to have a good size visual up front, and because it is a slide show you can feature many important messages.

Unfortunately, this approach can cause some significant usability issues. The result: nothing in your slide show has an impact on your site visitors.

Jakob Nielsen just published the results of a usability study that seriously calls into question the effectiveness of auto-forwarding carousels and accordions. In the study, users were not able to find information found in a home page slide even though it at the top of the page in 98-point font.

Nielsen cites the following issues:

  • Slides often use fancy formatting, which is most  often ignored)
  • Slides often look somewhat like a banner ad, and many people ignore anything on a webpage that looks like a banner ad
  • The auto-rotation to show a new panel every 5 seconds.

Auto-forwarding causes many usability problems:

  • Moving UI elements usually reduce accessibility, particularly for users with motor skill issues who have difficulty clicking something before it’s taken away.
  • Low-literacy users often don’t have enough time to read the information before it’s removed.
  • International users  also read more slowly if your site is not in their native language, and thus won’t be able to understand a panel if it’s displayed only briefly.
  • The probability that users will spot the item is drastically reduced when only one thing is displayed at any given time.
  • It’s  annoying for users to lose control of the user interface when things move around of their own accord.

The researcher concludes that accordions and carousels should show a new panel only when users ask for it . Otherwise, it should stand still and let users read the information.

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